Death of Tamara Brooks, 70, Robs Theodore Bikel of Treasured Companion

Appreciation

A Companion Lost: Tamara Brooks was a treasured companion of Theodore Bikel, center, and friend of columnist Leonard Fein, left.
courtesy of Leonard Fein
A Companion Lost: Tamara Brooks was a treasured companion of Theodore Bikel, center, and friend of columnist Leonard Fein, left.

By Leonard Fein

Published May 22, 2012, issue of June 01, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 2 of 2)

It is odd, but perhaps instructive, to scan through the myriad of memories and come to one that rises above all the rest. Six years ago, I wrote of an evening I spent with Theo in Kibbutz Geva in the Jezreel Valley, where we sat together with the members of Geva’s popular folk choir, the Gevatron, and sang, mainly the old songs, songs of love and innocence, songs mostly of a time gone by. No performance; just a bunch of people who started singing at nine in the evening and finished some time around one in the morning. Songs, some of them long unsung, dredged from dusty memories and greeted like long-lost friends.

And suddenly without warning, someone started and all joined in the haunting, yearning melody of Psalm 34, “Mi haish?” “Who is the person who treasures life, who loves each day to see the good? Guard your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceitfully; turn away from bad, and do good, love peace, and seek it out.”

The detail I omitted in that telling goes to our walk to the somewhat ramshackle room where the singing happened. I was having a bad back day, and was walking – hobbling, more accurately – very slowly towards our destination, Theo at my side. And suddenly, he began to rub my back with his hand, ever so soothingly.

End of story, except to note that there was such wondrous gentleness in his action that I can recall the sensation of it even now, years later.

And now my friend is once more alone. On the one hand, he is 88 years old. On the other hand, he has kept to an intimidatingly hectic schedule of performance.

On the one hand, he is, as one may imagine, devastated by his loss. On the other hand, his energy at 88 is legendary, his life force extending well beyond all the movies, the plays, the concerts, the 40 or so recordings.

On the one hand, the one that caressed my back … no, there is no other hand. Tamara, in her absence, will remain an enduring presence. And Theo, God willing, will do exactly what she so certainly would have wanted: continue to do good; love peace and seek it out; fight the good fight; sing the good song.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • The rose petals have settled, and Andi has made her (Jewish?) choice. We look back on the #Bachelorette finale:
  • "Despite the great pain and sadness surrounding a captured soldier, this should not shape the face of this particular conflict – not in making concessions and not in negotiations, not in sobering assessments of this operation’s achievements or the need to either retreat or move forward." Do you agree?
  • Why genocide is always wrong, period. And the fact that some are talking about it shows just how much damage the war in Gaza has already done.
  • Construction workers found a 75-year-old deli sign behind a closing Harlem bodega earlier this month. Should it be preserved?
  • "The painful irony in Israel’s current dilemma is that it has been here before." Read J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis of the conflict:
  • Law professor Dan Markel waited a shocking 19 minutes for an ambulance as he lay dying after being ambushed in his driveway. Read the stunning 911 transcript as neighbor pleaded for help.
  • Happy birthday to the Boy Who Lived! July 31 marks the day that Harry Potter — and his creator, J.K. Rowling — first entered the world. Harry is a loyal Gryffindorian, a matchless wizard, a native Parseltongue speaker, and…a Jew?
  • "Orwell would side with Israel for building a flourishing democracy, rather than Hamas, which imposed a floundering dictatorship. He would applaud the IDF, which warns civilians before bombing them in a justified war, not Hamas terrorists who cower behind their own civilians, target neighboring civilians, and planned to swarm civilian settlements on the Jewish New Year." Read Gil Troy's response to Daniel May's opinion piece:
  • "My dear Penelope, when you accuse Israel of committing 'genocide,' do you actually know what you are talking about?"
  • What's for #Shabbat dinner? Try Molly Yeh's coconut quinoa with dates and nuts. Recipe here:
  • Can animals suffer from PTSD?
  • Is anti-Zionism the new anti-Semitism?
  • "I thought I was the only Jew on a Harley Davidson, but I was wrong." — Gil Paul, member of the Hillel's Angels. http://jd.fo/g4cjH
  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.