Tomorrow I will resume blogging on more or less my regular schedule. When I announced that I was taking a break for personal reasons, a number of friends and readers expressed concern. The absence was occasioned by the death of my mother, Annette K. Dorf. At her funeral I read a eulogy that my sister and I wrote together, which contained various personal remembrances. Here I thought it appropriate to say something somewhat less personal but still more expansive than the official obituary.
Born an only child during the Great Depression, my mother's own father, Louis Kaplan, died when she was a young adolescent. She was raised by my remarkable grandmother, Sadye Kaplan, who owned a toy store and was later a bookkeeper. Grandma and mom were quite devoted to one another, and much of my grandmother’s spirit lived on in my mother.
As an adult, mom was passionate about learning and teaching. After a year at Brooklyn College, she transferred to Brandeis University, then in its very early years but already an intellectual hotbed. She earned her BA from Brandeis (where she was retroactively elected to Phi Beta Kappa fifty years later, when Brandeis started a chapter), and then received her Masters in history from Columbia, writing her thesis on the New York slave conspiracy of 1741.
She married my father, Stanley Dorf, and worked for most of her adult life as a high school teacher of history and other subjects in the New York City public schools, meanwhile lovingly raising me and my older sister, Laura Dorf Queller, in the house on Long Island where our father still resides. Up until the end, mom doted on her five grandchildren, read voraciously and frequently attended lectures, operas and concerts. She was en route to one such concert when she collapsed. Today would have been her 80th birthday.