|Kadoun (Louise) Azose
|In Memory of Kadoun (Louise) Azose
These are notes that were written down by my brother, Rabbi Michael Azose, with a little editing on my part, and given as a eulogy to mom at the chapel at the Sephardic Brotherhood cemetery on the day of her passing and burial, May 27th 2005, Lag LaOmer.
Mom was born in Brusa, Turkey in 1904 to Ribbi Avraham Maimon and Vida Sultana or Victoria Maimon nee Franco. Papu Maimon was originally slated to continue in the family silk business but he had an insatiable desire to study Torah and become a Haham. So he set off for Istambul and made his way to the Beth Din and studied with the Hahamim, eventually receiving his Semiha. The reason Michael mentioned this is to give you an indication of mom’s high regard for Torah learning. Whenever she would see Michael learning, she would relate that often, as a child, she would wake up in the middle of the night and see her father poring over the holy books. When she asked him what he was doing up so late, he answered, “Meldando la Mishmara”. Mike wrote that this must have been Papu’s euphemism for studying late into the night. I, personally, feel that it is a contraction of Mishna and Gemara.
She also told us that when a highly respected Haham would pass by in his carriage, she and the other women would turn their faces away. When we asked her why, she indicated it was out of reverence.
How we enjoyed and delighted in listening to her telling us the stories of her youth in Brusa and Tekirdag. There was the story of Tio David, Papu Maimon’s brother, returning as a Turkish soldier from the battlefront and his knock on the door in the middle of the night. She told us they didn’t recognize him because he was emaciated from lack of food. She told us of how Papu and Nona Maimon took in a young girl who came to their home with a very unusual story. She said she had been kidnapped by Moslem Turks who forced her to become their servant. The young girl escaped and came to Papu Maimon revealing that she was Jewish. After Papu’s investigation verified her story, the young girl was invited to stay in their already crowded home. The happy ending is that this young girl who was known as Dona, eventually became known as Tia Dona; you see, she married Tio David.
When mom and Aunty Fanny, A”H, were unable to come to Seattle with the rest of the family in 1924, they stayed in Tekirdag with a good friend of Papu’s until they would be allowed somehow to join the family.
On a visit to Brusa, a cousin from Izmir by the name of Merkada Palachi told them that they should not go to the G-dless United States of America where their Judaism would be at stake. This is Nona’s story, the way she told it. She added that her cousin Mercada was the daughter of a big rabbi in Izmir. (Could this Rabbi have been Rabbi Avraham Palachi, the son of the illustrious Rabbi Haim Palachi? It is not unlikely.)
Papu had arranged for mom and Auntie Fanny to come in 1927, not to the United States, but to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Apparently the Jewish lawyer who worked on behalf of Papu to bring his young daughters into Canada was none other than the father of John Erlichman of the infamous Nixon Watergate scandal.
While in Turkey, mom and Auntie Fanny took oud lessons, and one of her greatest regrets was not continuing to play the oud. She insisted that she and Auntie Fanny were quite proficient in the musical art of oud playing. She also told us how Papu often requested that his daughters sing for him. Mom was proud that Papu expressed his great joy and delight in the musical talent of his daughters.
When the tickets finally arrived, Louna and Kadoun, aka Fanny and Louise, nervously, and with much trepidation, prepared for their long trek by boat to Halifax, Nova Scotia. As if the long arduous boat trip was not difficult enough, they now had to face a train trip through the entire length of Canada, from the east coast to the west coast.
Here is where another famous story of mom’s occurs. As the slow train chugged along, a gentleman approached mom and Auntie Fanny and offered the sisters some fruit, which they had theretofore never seen. Unbeknownst to them, the fruit was bananas. The two sisters, who couldn’t understand the language of the kind gentleman and were suspicious of his intentions, were concerned that this strange fruit was in fact some type of poison. So when the gentleman was out of sight, mom and Aunty Fanny threw the bananas out the window. When many years later they discussed this event, they recalled with regret their misguided actions regarding the bananas, which eventually became a favorite food for the both of them.
When Nona and Auntie Fanny finally arrived in Vancouver, Papu, through the Ashkenazic Rabbi in Vancouver whose name was Rabbi Pastinski, had arranged for the girls to stay with the Steinbergs, a kind family who had agreed to act as relatives of the girls for the sake of the Canadian immigration laws. This beautiful adopted family became real family, and many a trip to Vancouver included visits to the Steinbergs.
Mom was allowed to visit the United States and somehow she met Auntie Suzie (Angel) the daughter of Haribbi Yitzhak Azuz, my papu on my dad’s side, after whom I am named. Apparently, Auntie Suzie brought mom to the Madrona Theatre, in the Central Area. My father, a young bachelor at the time, was curious to meet the young daughter of the new Haham Maimon. He talked his way into the theatre without paying by telling the ticket taker that he was going in for only a moment to talk with his sister. The rest, as they say, is history. Dad was smitten to the extent that he devised the following plan to change her Canadian immigrant status to a more permanent ability to stay in the U.S. Dad went up to Canada on Sunday, his day off, with the intention of marrying mom in a civil ceremony, thus enabling her to enter the U.S. legally as the wife of a U.S. citizen. There was only one hitch in the plan. There were no government offices open on Sunday to perform the perfunctory ceremony. Dad was not to be deterred. He found a church and a minister who was kind enough to perform the ceremony and transfer to dad the proper papers to legalize her entry into the U.S. Of course, the actual Hatunah, Jewish religious ceremony, was conducted some time later with the proud fathers, Papu Azuz and Papu Maimon officiating on June 23, 1929.
On their honeymoon, if you want to call it that, Auntie Susie Angel, dad’s sister, went along as a chaperone. (No demandes!) ihch ihcnv. Those who understand, know of what I speak.
Life in those early years of marriage was not easy. The young couple at first lived with the in-laws and with Uncle Sam Azose. If you knew my mother, you can imagine how hard it must have been on her, but she never complained and she was always a diplomatic, skilled peacemaker. This uncomfortable situation lasted only about a year, and mom must have been elated when the young couple moved less than a block away from the in-laws but in their own rented house. It wasn’t too much longer that the behor, Yitzhak, was born. Can you imagine the excitement of both sides of the family? It was Papu Maimon’s first grandson. Unfortunately, because of his untimely passing six months after my birth, I was the only grandson he would be privileged to see.
One of the saddest days of the Maimon Family was the day Papu Maimon passed away on January 31, 1931, at the young age of 56. All his children had a special relationship with their father and this sad event would have taken its toll had there not been more semahot (joyous affairs or occasions) in each family. The other family members were marrying and having children and the closeness of the family was a great comfort and wellspring of strength. Most of the family lived in the same Central Seattle neighborhood and each family member had their own group of friends as well. Mom was a magnet and popular. Nona Maimon taught her girls well. They were all excellent homemakers. Family members can argue the point as to who was the best baker, cook, crocheter, etc., but in our eyes, there was no one who could make a tastier “yuvetch” out of leftovers than my mom. Her bulemas, borekas, boyos, biscochos, panderikas etc. were legendary.
She gave a course to U of W college students who tried to press her on amounts. My mother didn’t know from amounts. Una damla, a little of this, a little of that. In Chicago, one young lady taped her making bulemas and borekas and panderikas. The videotape has made the rounds in Mike’s community.
Mike remembers when mom was studying for her citizenship. She took her classes very seriously; so seriously, that for the first and only time that he could remember, mom did not have meals ready. She was too busy studying for her citizenship classes. She went along with a couple of other Sephardic women and they were at first put into the same class, but after the first couple of classes, mom was advanced to a class comprised of mostly fluent English-speaking Canadians. Mom complained bitterly that it was much harder for her than for her Sephardic friends.
Mom treated my dad like a true Pasha. His Turkish coffee was waiting for him when he got home from work. They enjoyed their life together and it was a beautiful relationship. But anyone who knew mom, also understood that when she wanted to get her way on a certain issue, Dad would succumb to Mom’s subtle suggestions.
Up until 2-1/2 years ago, as a 97 – 98 year old woman, she was as sharp as a tack. She would remind Mike of things that were long forgotten from his memory banks.
She was a devoted daughter to her mother, Vida Sultana, also known as Victoria, and she loved her brothers and sisters. If anyone in the community would criticize any of her siblings, she would not countenance the criticism.
Mom had a traumatic experience at the Kline-Galland Home once long ago. She never wanted to go back. However, when mom reluctantly understood that she could no longer brave it out at home taking care of dad, who had come down with Alzheimers, she allowed us to place him in Kline-Galland. We have only the highest of praise for this wonderful facility; from administrator to staff, some of the finest people to do a yeoman’s job in caring for the aged and challenged. But when dad was admitted to Kline-Galland, mom wanted more care for her Pasha. She came, at first with great trepidation, fighting the anxiety caused by that former traumatic experience. But she could not stay at home while her husband was at the Kline-Galland. Her devotion to Dad was phenomenal; she gave him a daily sponge bath to always insure his cleanliness, she fed him and stayed with him from morning to night.
In a sense, this helped mom because she socialized with so many of the wonderful Kline-Galland residents. She soon joined the discussion groups and the bingo and the learning sessions. She later joined the Senior Day Care program and thoroughly enjoyed it.
Earlier, when Dad had retired, my parents joined the Golden Age Club at the JCC and they went on short bus trips to Portland and Vancouver, B.C. among other places. They put on Broadway shows in full costume and had a grand time.
We got a kick out of their sneak performance for us. Both Mom and Dad had good voices and they used it to great advantage in their road performances.
Mom had the knack of making each of us feel as if we were her favorite. How she got away with it I don’t know but she did get away with it.
Her emunah in Hashem was solid. When Neil Armstrong landed on the moon, Mom was unconvinced. “After all”, she would say, “Hashamayim shamayim LaHashem v’haaretz natan livnei Adam. Los cielos son cielos para el D-o, i la tierra se la desho para los ijos de Adam”. To her, it was a great hoax perpetrated on man. The scene of the moon landing we witnessed on television was in her eyes a movie scene shot somewhere in Eastern Washington near Soap Lake.
Dad tried to convince her, but even the personal letter he requested, received and eventually showed to Mom, written from the hands of Neil Armstrong himself, didn’t change her mind.
Her name, as mentioned, is Kadoun. This Turkish, Jewish name translates closely to “efficient woman”. “thv lf vnaf”….as is her name, so is she. Mom never put off until tomorrow, what she could do yesterday. There was no such thing as rushing to prepare for Shabbat. The table was set by Thursday and the comida and desayuno was ready to be served. She always had time for a relaxing cup of coffee by 2:00 p.m. every Friday no matter how late or early Shabbat came.
Around 30 or so years ago Dr. David Raphael took the occasion of our entire family being in Los Angeles to cast us in a Sephardic Pesakh Hagadah scene for his then, yet to be released “Song of the Sephardi” movie. We all gathered at David and Esther Raphael’s home where the table was set for the seder. Mom, dad, Ike, Al, Dave, Selma, Aimee (Ike’s daughter), Esther Raphael and myself were all seated, ready to shoot the Ladino ceremony when the film’s photographer had his assistant take the scene clapboard and announced, “Scene 1, Act 1 of Song of the Sephardi”. He was standing right next to Mom as he clapped the clapboard. Mom, who was startled by the surprising noise, yelled out, “Ad-o Santo” at which, the family and crew all got a great laugh. Scene 1, Act 1, Take 2.
Speaking of camp, Mom worked very hard at Sephardic Summer Camp at Camp Benbow. She understood the importance of educating Sephardic children to appreciate their Jewish and Sephardic heritage.
I am reminded that Mom would always bless us with the traditional Sephardic blessing of “ke bives sien anyos” which literally translated means “you should live for 100 years”. Some commentators tell us that the well known statement of “ad mea ve’esrim shana” which means one should live until 120 years is really a misreading of the statement at the end of Parshat Bereshit which states that man’s life on earth is 120 years. Many feel that this refers to man’s life span but in reality it was referring to the 120 years prior to the flood in which Noah was given this long span of 120 years in which to attempt to persuade this wicked generation to repent while he was building the ark. In the Ethics of the Fathers (Pirkei Avot) we are told by Yehuda ben Tema that at the age of 5, one should learn scripture. At 10 years of age one should learn Mishnah; at 13 one is fit for Mitzvot; at 15 for the Talmud; at 18 for Hupah; at 20, he flees from punishment; at 30, for power; at 40, for discernment; at 50, for counsel; at 60, a man attains consideration as a sage; at 70, he attains gray hair; at 80, special strength; at 90, he is bent over; at 100 it is as if he is dead and has passed and been voided from the world. Mom was right! Ke bives sien anyos. She lived by those words.
Te’eh nishmata tserurah bitsror ahayyim.
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