Shirley Kirsch ... she was devoted to the Tel Aviv Knitting Group

A very lively and successful ESRA activity is the long-standing Tel Aviv Knitting Group. Shirley Kirsch was one of its initial organizers and ran the group until sadly, she recently passed away.

Those who knew her attest to her many fine qualities, such as her cheerfulness, modesty and devotion to the group and its members.

According to Henriette Sheffer, “Shirley’s energy and determined hard work created a solid group of skilled and creative knitters who provide beautiful garments for needy children. I loved Shirley and I loved belonging to her group. If anyone had difficulties or was ill, she would call regularly. When I was in hospital a few years ago, Shirley called daily.

“Shirley’s modesty was her particular quality. She was a woman of outstanding bravery in every aspect of her life; she never gave up. The most important thing now is to continue with the work she established. That’s the best recognition we can offer an outstanding lady.”

Lucie Sherman says, “Our friend Shirley was multi-faceted and very modest. She was giving and generous and always gracious. Our lives were enriched knowing her and she will always be a positive example of how to do our best even when the going is tough.”

“My first impression of her was of a ‘mother hen”, says Lucille Laketer. “Her main concern was the welfare of others. Only now I realize how much work and effort she put into running our group, but she never complained. When I was unwell, she called every day to check on me and each and every time I travelled abroad, she called to wish me bon voyage. When I returned, there was her call, welcoming me back. It was a shock to realize that I wouldn’t receive her cheery messages any more. It really brought it home that my dear friend Shirley is no longer with us.”

Mona Dezent writes, “I remember Shirley as a very quiet person…more of a doer. She was a very devoted, hard-working volunteer. She had wonderful leadership qualities.”

After some 10 years as a member of the Knitting Group, Olive Simon comments, “My first impression was that this was an extremely pleasant social group with amazing skills and I enjoyed the meetings enormously. From my first visit, Shirley was always welcoming and generously accepting.

“She would exhibit and kvell over completed sweaters from her prolific knitters, frequently unique works of art. But if occasionally, a sweater lacked a few centimeters or if a seam was not well sewed, Shirley herself quietly made the repair or murmured to one of her skilled group to fix it. Her only concern was for how people felt; she knew that everyone did their best. She was so kind hearted that she preferred to give herself extra work rather than possibly upset anyone.

“When I crassly protested that the so-called milk powder for tea was not milk, she brought milk herself from her own home every time. We would often beg Shirley to take a taxi home when she had a huge pile of sweaters to cope with, but she would insist that she would far rather spend the money on buying more yarn.

“It was only when Shirley was no longer with us that I began to realize what a huge amount of work it had been for her to establish and throughout the years to maintain the group week by week. Apart from the fact that vast quantities of yarn and finished sweaters crowded her apartment, day by day, Shirley kept scrupulous records of every detail.

“I have learned a great deal from knowing that sweet lady. I shall miss the “chesed” of Shirley forever. My knitting skills have improved, but that is truly the least of it.” 

Merle Guttmann adds:  Shirley was loved and appreciated not only by her fellow knitters but by those of us in ESRA who knew Shirley through her knitting group which she loved dearly and nurtured whole heartedly. I had the privilege of being invited one morning to talk to the group and Shirley’s graciousness to me was unbounded. Shirley was not of the computer world, a throwback indeed, and she used to post me to print in the magazine handwritten articles about her group in her clear warm handwriting, and copies of the many letters of thanks the group received for the beautiful items they gave to disadvantaged children and elderly persons. Shirley was a true example of the spirit of ESRA, giving of herself completely and selflessly and caring deeply for others. Thank you Shirley for being you and for the wonderful knitting group you created in ESRA.

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About the author

Merle Guttmann

Merle Guttmann was born and educated in Zimbabwe and immigrated to Israel in 1962. She is well-known in Israeli Anglophone circles and Israel’s social and volunteer fields. A social planner, ...
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Mona Dezent

Mona Dezent was born in Montreal, Canada. She came to Israel in 1970, after completing my B.A.in Psychology at Sir George Williams University in Montreal. She continued her studies at a specia...
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