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Miriam Abileah


Miriam Abileah Z'L (1917 - 2006)


Miriam Abileah (Z'L), Mother of Ron Abileah, passed away in Toronto, Saturday, March 11th, 2006.

Message from Ron Abileah


Many thanks to all of you for the condolences and memories you sent us over the past week. We are also very grateful to cousin Adi and sister Ilania for passing on the news about my mother while we were off to Toronto.  Also thanks to Ilania for setting up a really wonderful web page in my mother's memory.  

As many of you know, my mother was something of a recluse in
Toronto for the past couple of decades.  But not a complete recluse:  there were a few political and environmental organizations that heard plenty from her!  In the past week we collected her papers and a few books from which we can surmise a few more interesting details of her life.

Despite the fact that my mother lived on a very modest pension income it appears that she was a frequent and generous financial contributor to many organizations related to medical research and Israel-Palestinian peace.   I was quite surprised at the amounts on cancelled checks we found among her papers.  She was a frequent contributor to
Mt. Sinai Hospital which turned out to also be one of the institutions that provided her excellent care in her final months.  

One of her many political/environmental causes was getting cyclists off
Toronto sidewalks and pedestrian trails.  (Try Googling: abileah cyclists.  Googling "miriam-abileah" will turn up some additional links not related to cyclists)  We now have a collection of humorous posters she designed to advertise this issue.  We don't know if these posters were ever printed and distributed.  We did notice on our last day in Toronto that downtown has marked bike lanes, which perhaps came about in part through her activism.

We also found a large number of books on Napoleon and on travelling in
France.  My mother was a frequent traveller to Europe, especially France.  We found many detailed maps, train schedules, Michelin guides and postcards from every region of France.   There are numerous notes in the margins of books related to her interest and writings about the Napoleon era.   My mother obviously loved France and we have decided that France is where she would have chosen to return to rest in peace.

Marlene and I  are planning to scatter her ashes over
France in June.

Miriam with Ron

Miriam Kauders was born in Berlin 10 October 1917.  She came to Israel as a very young girl.  During the 2nd World War, she joined the RAF (Royal Air Foce) and served in Egypt doing Metrology, and  photography.  After the war, Miriam lived in Jerusalem where she met my Father Hans Abileah (Z'L) and married him in 1946.  After the War of Independence (1948), they moved to Ramleh, where I joined them after a 3-year stay in Kibbutz Geva.  Miriam was a dedicated educator.  She really tried to help me keep practicing German.  When I was 13, my brother Ron was born (1950).  Then we moved to Givatayim, Ramat Gan.  When Ron was about 6, she went to the US.  She worked in the Yeshiva University as an assistant to a Professor in the Medical school, doing all his scientific translation to and from German.  She after two years, she was able to bring Ron to the US where they lived in Forest Hills, Queens, NY.  When Dodi & I came to New York on our way to Canada, we spent some time with Miriam and Ron in Forest Hills. 


In 1970, after Ron has moved away to go to college in Kansas City and then in San Jose, California, she came to live in Montreal, where I lived.  She was a wonderful grandmother to my son Rami, and I still remember the beautiful books and gifts she brought for him.  After a few years she moved to Toronto because the situation in Quebec was bothersome to her.


Miriam worked as a free-lance translator.  She also read a lot and had an extensive library.  She believed in public transportation and walking.  She had strong legs and kept herself in good shape.  She traveled to Europe and across Quebec, doing archival research.  She wrote an interesting book, about a woman born in a village in southern Quebec, when the borders with the US were not as defined as today.  The lady joined a circus and traveled all over Europe, married a German prince, who joined Maximilian's army in Mexico.  She let me read the book and I could not put it down and read it until 3 a.m. 


Later on Miriam started doing research about Napoleon and traveled to all the places that Napoleon passed through and wrote about it.  In the past few years, we have not seen Miriam.  However, we do have good memories of times spent with her.  Rest in peace Miriam.


Note:  When we were growing up, it was Miriam who actually took all the pictures with her box camera.  This picture and the one in the previous page, were taken by me when she came with us to visit Linda and Hank Avery in Bromont in 1975 (Miriam is in the center with myself and Dodi (David Negev.)


My last communication with Miriam was about two years ago when we exchanged cards.  I have scanned some of her writing here.

Ilania Abileah (Mookie)
Miriam's stepdaughter

When Michael Werbowski studied in Toronto, he spent a lot of time with Miriam.  He has good memories to share too. 


"I had the chance to spend some wonderful times with Miriam in Toronto many years ago...she inspired me, or at the least sparked my interest about several issues.  Miriam had strong views on "hot topics", as those of us who knew her often remarked.  Yet this made her a passionate observer of the world scene.  And whether you agreed or disagreed with them, one thing was certain: they stemmed from her deep and unswerving commitment to the global causes of social justice.


Such people are a very rare breed these days.  Miriam, in addition to being well versed in almost everything that related to history, also had a great interest in the life of Napoleon.  She shared her admiration for this legendary leader with me during the occasions we met.  She was a generous person, with impeccable good taste for the best in life, yet at the same time she remained modest.  Her writings on the many topics she researched and documented will hopefully be preserved for us all, as part of our family's rich cultural heritage...

I will miss her in many ways...


Michael Werbowski

My brother and I wish to thank all our relatives and friends who sent condolences.  Ilania Abileah