Denise Guren z”l


In loving memory: My sister Denise passed away on Sunday after a 5.5-year battle with cancer.  She courageously endured unspeakable treatments, multiple hospital stays, and, towards the end, almost constant pain.  “I’m still living,” she would tell us.  She crammed more into these past few years than many people do in a lifetime, continuing to be active in her congregations (two!), playing fiddle in her klezmer band (What the Chelm), working, and even leading a team of knitters for Keep the Fleece (a project sponsored by Heifer International, one of her favorite charities).  She loved folk dancing and ethnic music, and was thrilled to have survived long enough to dance at her son’s wedding.  She expressed her creativity through natural textiles (mostly spinning, weaving, and knitting).  Three weeks ago, I watched her spend an hour in a  natural dye shop—she was still eagerly planning new projects and looking forward to experimenting with these plant dyes.

I am grateful that I was just there and had a week with her.  The chance to say a proper good-bye is a real blessing.

This picture was taken half a year before her diagnosis.  With her is her husband, Doug Dodd.  In addition to our parents, myself, and our sister Tracy, Denise is survived by her two sons, Tavi and Noam.

The tradition of reciting the psalm eishet chayil is especially appropriate for Denise, because she truly was a woman of valor.


8 responses to “Denise Guren z”l

  1. sara shonfeld

    My condolences for your loss.
    It is truely beautiful what you wrote about your sister! She was a beautiful person.
    So sorry!
    May your entire family know only happy times !
    I am sure that you will keep her memory alive in your hearts,thoughts and your prayers.

  2. Deepest condolences on your loss. Your sister sounds like a remarkably talented and courageous woman.

    This past weekend was my first experience listening to what sounded like a klezmer band in Ithaca, New York, accompanied by dancers–men, women and children. Actually, the band described itself as “a ten-piece roots reggae and dub band performing original music inspired by traditional Hebrew melodies.” I’m sure your sister must have enjoyed performing because this group sure was having fun entertaining the crowd.

  3. I’m so sorry to hear about your sister, Leah. I envsion my grandfather (who was instrumental in starting Heifer International) and my Uncle Bobby (who was Heifer International’s 3rd employee) hugging your sister on “the other side.” What a beautiful tribute you have written to Denise.

  4. The service was lovely Leah. I am glad you got to be here so recently. We saw her again at Folklife. I will miss her greatly, but she will continue to be an influence on my life.

  5. We had such a wonderful talk via Skype this morning. You really did write a beautiful tribute to Denise. Thanks for putting up that great picture of her and Doug, which I had never seen before! I saw Megan, Alan and Ryan at the funeral. We were all touched by the incredible outpouring of love and support from all Denise’s friends and extended family. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten so many hugs from so many people in one day! Thanks, too, to Sara Shonfeld (who works with me at the Temple Israel Religious School) for your kind words!

  6. Bruce Jackson

    Speechless. Like Janet said in her brief note she and David have no words of their own. I can’t imagine losing my daughter Ellie before her time and I couldn’t have imagined such an emotion until Ellie entered my life.


  7. Bunny and Fran Wood

    We’re so sorry to hear of Denise’s passing when we returned to Seattle from Boston yesterday. She was a remarkable girl, woman and, in the past, neighbor! Leah’s note was beautiful as was the accompanying photo! Very best to all family and friends as they (we) adjust to the loss.
    Love and support to all,

  8. Rick Lippincott

    My sympathies and condolences to you and your family on the loss of your sister. I recall in Atlanta you mentioned that you were going to go visit after the conference, I’m glad you had some time you could spend with her before your return home.

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