Miriam Bharier - 16 October 1912 - 29 April 2001 (6 Iyar 5761)
How do you sum up a long and active life in a way that describes someone accurately? In the case of Miriam Bharier it's easy - she was someone who cared, both about others and for others.
She was born Miriam Anderson (known as Minnie to her friends and family), in Newcastle, the only daughter of Ada and Benjamin, who had come to Britain from Lithuania not many years before. She grew up with her three brothers Ephie, Mannie and David in a house where a love of Yiddishkeit, learning and culture was around, despite the difficulties for new immigrants in a new land.
She went into a caring profession as a physiotherapist, working first in the London Jewish Hospital and then in the London Hospital. She lodged with the Signy family in Golders Green and developed a life long friendship with Rita and Rose Signy. She introduced Rita to her brother Mannie and they were married in 1942, cementing Miriam and Rita's close friendship. They shared the same love of the arts and mischievous sense of humour.
Miriam met her husband Louis in December 1939 in Middlesbrough. It was love at first sight, and for the next 53 years. They married in June 1940 spending the first night of their honeymoon in an air raid shelter during a bombing raid and moved around the country as Louis was directed because of his war work in the aircraft industry. Miriam was able to continue her work as a physiotherapist and wherever they were, she managed to make a Jewish home despite the war-time difficulties. Her caring continued, for example working with Belgian refugees in Hull.
Shortly after their son Michael was born, they moved to Middlesbrough where she also took over caring for Louis' nephew and niece who were only 12 and 15 years old. Later on Rose and Judy were born and Miriam's life as a wife and mother continued.
She was a life long member of WIZO, receiving the Rebecca Sieff award for her work and was a stalwart of the Middlesbrough Jewish community. She also helped the wider community, volunteering for the Citizens' Advice Bureau and helping local Cancer charities.
Her principal concern was her family and apart from looking after her three children she also cared lovingly for her mother as she grew older.
Miriam and Louis moved south in 1987 to be nearer their daughters and their families and chose Watford as a small community where they could continue their Jewish involvement. Miriam continued her caring role by running exercise groups for the elderly residents of the Jewish home in Hemel Hempstead, many of whom were younger than her at that point.
She and Louis were able to travel and very much enjoyed their trips to Israel to see friends and family and to America to see Michael and his family.
Miriam was Louis' main support in his final years and missed him terribly after he was gone. Her own health declined in her last few years but her life was warmed by the loving care of everyone at Hammerson House and her daughters Rose and Judy.
She was fortunate to know all her ten grandchildren, eight granddaughters and two grandsons and to watch them grow. She was able to see them all together at the wedding of her eldest granddaughter last year, including her youngest, who had been born in 1996.
Throughout her life, she had a love and sensitivity to the arts and painted and embroidered with skill. Her knowledge was sophisticated and it was her love of music that brought her and Louis together at their first meeting all those years ago. She encouraged all her family to share these interests and build on them, so they were nourished not just by her excellent cooking and legendary gefilte fish, but by artistic understanding. She also imbued the family with her love of Yiddishkeit which she and Louis shared. She encouraged strong and abiding links with the wider family which continue through the generations with memories of family times together full of laughter sharing her warm and lively sense of humour.
To quote "Eshet Chayil" (Proverbs)
Kapah parsah le'ani, v'yadehah shilchah la'evyon.
(She reaches out her hands to the poor and extends her arms to the needy)