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Gertrude Finkle

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FINKLE, GERTRUDE Gertrude Krevit Finkle's long and full life ended peacefully on Sunday, December 25, 2011, at the age of 98. Mrs. Finkle leaves her devoted and loving twins, Joan (and Steve) Swirsky and Jonathan (and Judy) Finkle; her beloved grandchildren, Seth (and his children, her great-grandchildren, Julian, Luke and Daisy); grandson David and (Katherine) Swirsky, and granddaughter, Karen Swirsky. Mrs. Finkle was predeceased by her beloved son Zachary Dan, who died in 1968, as well as by her brothers Alexander Krevit, Murray Krevit, Benjamin Krevit, Samuel Krevit, Irving Krevit, William Krevit, Charlie Krevit, and her sister Anne Krevit Orloff. Born on May 18, 1913, to Hyman and Tova Krevit in Storrs, CT, Mrs. Finkle grew up in New Haven. She graduated from Boston University with a BA in English in 1937. Always adventurous, she lived in Boston and New York City after graduating from B.U., studying French and serving as a volunteer English teacher to Jewish refugees from Eastern Europe. She was married to Joel Finkle in 1940. The couple divorced in 1962. In her middle years, she traveled to Israel, Italy and Egypt. Mrs. Finkle was known and respected in the New Haven community for her immense humanity and formidable intellect. A master of the English language, fluent in Hebrew and Yiddish and conversant in French, she was a biblical scholar, voracious reader, and inveterate student until her 90th year, studying in language classes and sharing her intellectual gifts and insights generously. She wrote illuminating texts for various organizations, including the Tarbut Pioneer Women, and her poetry was published in various magazines. She was also an accomplished sculptor, but had to abandon that pursuit because of health reasons. Mrs. Finkle maintained constant verbal and written communication throughout her life with all of her relatives, including sisters-in-law, friends, nieces, nephews, godchildren and neighbors, earning a reputation and even a plaque as "the most patient, encouraging and understanding person on earth." She never forgot a birthday, an anniversary, a Bar or Bat Mitzvah, a graduation, or simply a note of kindness, congratulations or encouragement. She was an ardent advocate for the safety and security of the State of Israel, consistently writing letters-to-the-editor on her trusty typewriter about her concerns, and just as regularly sending needy people her funds. She was a peacemaker in her large family, often devising "secret" and successful strategies to bring together warring factions. She was the source everyone sought out for comfort and wisdom. When Mrs. Finkle had a double mastectomy at the age of 76, she advertised the fact, telling every woman she knew that she was "grateful to modern medicine" for her survival and encouraging each one to seek an early diagnosis. When she contracted the intractable condition of lymphedema that required her to spend hours every day tending to her swollen limbs, she told people that she was "lucky" to have a "manageable condition." In spite of lifelong vision difficulties, great difficulty in hearing, and an imbalance disorder that required her to depend on a walker and wheelchair, she never expressed a word of complaint. In 2002, Mrs. Finkle moved to Great Neck, NY. Although legally blind, she continued to read, with a reading machine, the poems of her favorite Hebrew poet, Yehuda Amichai; the speeches of Abraham Lincoln; and the Bible, which those who knew her said "she knew by heart." Until her death, she was regaled with cards, letters and e-mails by loving and admiring nieces, nephews, godchildren, former neighbors, and friends. Mrs. Finkle was buried at Young Israel cemetery in East Haven, CT. In lieu of flowers, her family requests that any gestures in her memory be sent to The Zachary Dan Finkle Garden at Boys Town Jerusalem, 1 Penn Plaza, Suite 6250, New York, NY 10119-0002.

Published in the New Haven Register on Dec. 29, 2011
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