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40 KATYA STORIES - Page Text Content



1: You were a beautiful baby. Although babies were not expected to see well at birth in those days, you looked your Dad right in the eye the first day, happily having a clear connection with him. Although babies were then removed from their mothers at night in the hospital, you convinced the nurses to bring you to me to nurse. “Would you please take her?” asked the nurse. “She’s waking the other babies!” -Mom | Katya went to pre-school at Skytown, a progressive school. Most of the parents hated the idea of gender bias. We all dressed our daughters in Oshkosh. Katya kept coming home from school (as did her friends) asking for frilly dresses. To this day we have no idea how that happened. -Dad | I remember the dark curly headed baby that suddenly appeared in the small Berkley house and then "Arlington" house- but I also remember visiting in Gilroy- lots of blocks and books, we knocked the blocks down and read the books. Such JOY! Katya loved to put make-up on me and somewhere are pictures of her carefully applying make-up on my face. -Tess

2: In preschool I remember that we argued over who got to be the dad...After all, HE got to go outside and play in the sandbox when he went to "work". Do you remember "pushing" the car up the hill to Sky Town by pushing on the back of the front seats? Also, yawning meant "I'm NOT tired". I remember hiding in your closet when my mom came to pick me up. We would all hide behind the clothes, giggling and "shhhh-ing" each other. Remember when we dressed up in as much red as we could find, dug out the pillowcases and filled them with toys and such, and pretended we were Santas handing out gifts? I remember dying of heat in your downstairs bed on sleepovers with that fabulous down comforter and countless other blankets. You were just perfectly warm!! I remember that through the years it has always been that, no matter how much times has passed, it was as if we simply had catching up to do every time we got together. -Gabi

3: I did a book of watercolors and Katya's mom did the poetic prose on the facing page. We called it KATYA AND THE SUN. When we read it to her, and she followed the pictures, then, as now still, her face beamed like the sun. The rays were immensely pleasing. -Mardi | I remember playing Mrs. Finkelstein and Mrs. Goldfarb with you in the swimming pool at G'pa Beryl and G'ma Jeanne's and eating red and black licorice sticks. Somehow a very positive memory because, in addition to swimming and licorice, I remember feeling very much a sense of belonging, of us having fun together, that you so often played with me and treated me as your very good friend and not just your pesky little sister, and you still do! For which I am so grateful. I love you! Shosh

4: I think Katya was about 12 or 13. We were in the car on the Arlington heading toward Kensington. She said that when she grew up she wanted to be nurse. I said why not a doctor. Because I want to be a mommy and you can't be a doctor and a mommy at the same time, she said. And nurses do really important work too, not just doctors. I agreed, but suggested she might have more control over her life if she were a doctor rather than a nurse, and that she could too be a doctor and a mommy at the same time. She said she'd think about it. -Dad | Remember when we all got together in my parents’ backyard in Santa Rosa to tie dye? Karen, Shoshana, Katya, my brother, my parents, and myself all were there. We had large buckets with different colors of dye and we wrapped up our random old clothes in rubber bands and started dipping. Then we hung all the clothes on a clothesline attached to the oak tree and the fence. Good to know you’re still tie dying! -Leah Soltes Zumwalt

5: Katya, some of my earliest memories of you involve your bat mitzvah and a Winnebago. To come celebrate with you, my family hopped in an RV and drove up the coast. Such a wonderful simcha, such an unfortunate choice of transportation. It was like National Lampoon’s Jewish Vacation. The RV was a real “lemon”—every roadside mechanic along the way wished you mazal tov. But when we finally arrived, I remember it being a lovely family event that was well worth the journey. I guess a few years have passed and now you're celebrating another birthday milestone. Please accept our congratulations from afar as we will not be driving in for this one. We hope to see you soon. Happy 40th and many more! -- Much love from Josh, Malka, Sonya, and Leo Katzin

6: At sixteen, you were looking sad as we passed by a front yard with white crosses in memory of people lost in Central American troubles. I asked “What are you thinking?” You answered that if you died young, you would want your epitaph to say “She had a big smile for everyone, got straight A’s, and loved to sing and dance, do art and make music.” Hopefully when you are old, it may be the same, although one might say you also “enjoyed saving people’s lives, and loving your family and friends.” Go for 120! -Mom | Some years later I invited Katya and Shoshana to go on a cruise to Alaska with me. I remember I did a "bad thing"- I let Katya put a couple of quarters in a SLOT MACHINE. My neighbor who was a travel agent got us a suite with a window and 3 single beds. Shoshana complained because another child on the trip had a room with 3 beds that went into the walls. She thought we got cheated. - Tess

7: At our senior house party before we graduated from college, Katya and I went for a swim. We chose the most public visible spot in the community, right off a large lawn where all the main community buildings are located. No one seemed to be around, so of course, we ended up deciding to skinny dip! Katya has always been there for me, by e-mail and phone and for visits we can manage, through many ups and downs. That is the kind of sentence that seemed ordinary to me when we graduated from college. Today I get how rare and special it is. -Cary

8: Wheeler, Katya and I drove cross-country together from California to Boston in 1994. After making it through the desert, our car broke down very suddenly in Phoenix, AZ. We were considering ourselves extremely lucky to have broken down within a stone's throw of a gas station (and contemplating how much worse it could have been!), when Katya remembered that she had a cousin in Scottsdale, a neighboring town. She called him up and within a couple of hours we were on our way to a lovely 5-day stay with Cousin Evan, hanging out in his pool and having a great time soaking up the Arizona sun while the car was being repaired. Wheeler and I found it hilarious, and heartwarming and wonderful, that of course Katya would have friends or family nearby, and we joked that this would have been the case no matter where we had | broken down (including in the desert)! I have always admired Katya's amazing ability to find ways to stay connected with family and friends no matter how busy she is or what is going on in her life! All my love on your 40th Katya! -Kate

9: So, what do I remember? I remember all the nights we spent in our suite, you teaching me how to knit, laughing at my mistakes, the dance parties and philosophical discussions about post-structuralism, Derridas and Foucault. I remember the runs along the Charles River, and trips to the Peabody Museum shop after class to look at earrings. Then there was the shared birthday cake my senior year, and all the birthdays thereafter spent together, with Ethiopian on the 26th while we reviewed the year, significant others, and life goals, my graduation dinner with you, Kate and my parents. Then there was grad school, you teaching me how to cook so I’d have something to contribute on my nights of the week, and how I loved spending Shabbat with you, enforced relaxation by proximity. And then came joyful weddings, marriage and babies and lives created many hours apart. How much I have cherished your visits over the years, feeling blessed and so very lucky that we got to see you at least once a year, again reviewing the our relationships, the growth of our children, our life goals, our state of the union I will never forget the year you lived here, all the museum trips, nature walks, park playing, feeding the children together in the kitchen, taking pictures of them playing together. And then there was time you took care of Caroline so I could finally finish an article for publication. And when William was born, you came into my home when I was barely holding it together, talked to me, and made me laugh. I can still picture you, standing in my kitchen making me meatloaf and loaves of bread. What that food, and all the love that went into it, meant to me there are no words to express. I will always be deeply grateful to you for that day. | But all my memories of you are so full of love. My father once visited us in college and commented afterward “You girls really take care of each other.” And I think we always have. We live a country apart but I always know that whatever joys or losses or transitions life brings, you and I will be there to consider our lives together, to support and love, to bring groceries or make bread. Half my life is full of memories of you, and though the years and distance make them fewer, they will always be full- of love, of support, and of joy. Happy 40th Katya. I love you. Anne

10: Remember dancing together on that first simchat torah? And at your formal? And our wedding? We're still dancing, and now with Zeke and Jesse, too! -Joel | When we first met at the beach house in Delaware, you came upstairs to say hello when I had just gotten out of the shower and was still naked. Lisa told me to put some clothes on, but I said “Don’t worry- she’s from Berkeley!” And you’re still speaking to me all these years later! -David

11: So many people told me I should hurry up and marry you- I’m glad I finally listened. I remember that you forgot to circle me under the chuppah. You were so happy and in the moment, you forgot about the details. I love the way you give yourself up to joy. Remember on our honeymoon? We couldn’t get the top up on Shoshana’s convertible and we were freezing our butts off as we drove north, but you kept me warm. -Joel

12: Katya--Happy Birthday! Throughout med school and residency, you were always the one I was able to be most candid and honest with. Thank you for listening and sympathizing. I remember coming over to your place one warm afternoon sometime in the summer of 2000 when I was pretty pregnant with Nicholas and you made strawberries and cream for dessert and it was delicious! I can't even remember what we talked about but it must have been about my baby jitters. You gave me some hand me down t-shirts for post-pregnancy wear that I still have (red with little black polka dots). Thank you for being my go-to pediatrician (and answering all my neurotic or dumb questions that I felt too embarrassed to ask my own pediatrician). I also remember one year, not so long ago, you wrote me a lovely long holiday card--it was handwritten. I still have it. In the age of electronic email, a handwritten letter is to be treasured. Much love and happiness on your birthday! -Jenny Lin

13: First of all, Katya has always fed us really, really well; Delicious challot and baked chicken on Shabbat, and of course all of the goodies she produces from deep in her knapsack on roadtrips, this is Katya. When our daughter Shai was born Katya (and family) even walked 5 miles from JP to Boston to bring us food in the hospital. Katya is always so patient with us, even when we ask her all of our medical and parenting questions during her off-hours. And so easy to travel with -- we once took Katya sailing and we saw a shark and she got seasick. But even when she was green and quiet, she never complained. We love you and miss you Katya! -Lee, Vered, and Shai Wexler | It was a thrill to visit Katya and Shosh at Harvard - both doing well- and to eventually go to their graduations on the same day. And then on to marriage and parenthood- Katya and Joel's wonderful and joyous wedding. And now Katya is 40- a pediatrician with two loving boys of her own and a devoted partner and husband- and I'm a 94 year old grandmother still enjoying her visits and her beautiful self and her consistently dependable love. What a LUCKY grandmother I AM! HAPPY ROCKIN' 40TH BIRTHDAY! -Tess

14: My kitchen times with Katya.. I remember cooking~A LOT of food.. in your tiny apartment in MASS. It was your graduation, and SHosh's too~ and we were just smiling and happily prepping and cooking. Joel's folks were there and his mom was making cherry pie~and we talked about Flathead cherries, and I sent her a cherry pitter when I got home. Then there was a Passover when I was in Berkely, and Kaya and I went to a great produce market and then went home to clean and prep and cook~I don't remember what we made, but always feels so nice to remember those long afternoons together in the kitchen!! I'd love to do more of that..will you come cook with me in Montana sometime? XOXO Beth

15: About 15 years ago, I used to talk about Katya as my amazing cousin who threw her own pottery and baked her own bread, all while attending medical school and taking her medical boards. She was such an icon to me that she attained the status of legend among my friends. For instance, at that time, my good friend Len used to reference her in conversation, such as “well, you may think that’s impossible, but it wouldn’t be a problem for Melanie’s amazing cousin Katya.” The legend has not faded. Cut to the present – January 2011, to be precise. Olivia and I are visiting Berkeley to spend time with our beloved cousins. Katya is teaching my daughter to make Challah. After “we” have made the dough, we head to Berkeley Bowl to shop before Shabbat. It is a big shopping trip, because Katya is shopping for Karen as well as for her own family, us guests, and the many people she is going to feed that night at Shabbat dinner and in the coming week. Katya says we have to bring the Challah dough with us so we can knead and punch it down from time to time, or else it will rise too much. So here we are walking across the parking lot into Berkeley Bowl, when we are approached by a woman, a mother of one of Katya's patients. Well, this woman goes on and on about how amazing my cousin Katya is. And here we are walking into the market with our Challah dough in our shopping cart. I couldn’t help but flash back to my image of Katya of 15 years ago, this superwoman fabulous human being from another planet. As the woman gushed on and on about how wonderful Katya is, I had to tell her “it’s all true! And she’s always been this way, too. Trust me, I know.” This story is my quintessential Katya story, and it brings me joy (and mirth) to share it. But it’s not what she does – it’s who she is. Katya knows the art of being a happy person. She knows how to compromise, how to speak her mind, how to ask for help, how to process, how to be practical, how to be idealistic, how to form a community – and how to make challah and absolutely stunning pottery. The love she feels brims over and is always palpable. Just had to share. Love, Melanie

16: I feel so fortunate to have found a colleague in whom I have such deep trust and respect and in whom I take such delight. Anything medical is within the realm of our conversation and that spills out to medical situations that our families and friends are facing as well. We can laugh at how sweet our babies behave and the funny things they do and say; we can support each other through the very rough patches of our medical and personal lives. We can question and try to make better policy both for medical management and running our practice. Having someone who understands the importance of presence and that listening is a path to healing makes the process work so much more smoothly. I was happy working at Bayside; after Katya joined us and found her place, I was thrilled. I appreciated her trust in me and I was open to what she could teach me. I delighted in her success. I am glad we found ways to carve out some talking time (let’s hear it for clay!) as well as feeling great being in the office at the same time (although we just say hi in passing or will you look at this rash ??) Recently I have been facing many troubling issues including having eye surgery for retinal detachment. The last day I worked was a long one and I was on call that night. I had barely been home (it was one of those late night exits into exhaustion) when Carl said, Katya just called and put herself on call tonight. That is the kindness that is moving and gratifying. That is what working with Katya is about. Toasting you with a virtual glass of champagne. Much love always, Janet

17: When our two families were camping together at Woods Lake a few years ago, we arrived a day early to secure a campsite and get in a little extra hiking. We ended up going for a longer hike than expected on Friday and returned to the campsite exhausted and starving, unsure when our lovely companions would arrive, and paralyzed by the specter of preparing dinner for four in a timely manner on our tiny camp stove, with only our one dull knife and small cutting board to aid us. Just after we staggered into the campsite, and before we had time to mobilize our limited resources, we saw a familiar white car approaching. Yes, the Gerweins had come to our rescue again. Katya jumped out of the car with her usual good cheer and enthusiastic smile, and proceeded to unload a fully prepared and miraculously still warm Shabbat dinner! While Katya's delicious roast chicken, sweet potatoes and mushrooms, and freshly baked challah are always a treat, this was one of the best, most truly appreciated meals in memory, and to enjoy Shabbat dinner with the company of the Gerweins and the splendor of the snow-capped mountains in the background just couldn't be beat. Happy birthday, Katya! With love, Sophia, Jonas, Jacob, and Celia

18: We were all with you for Thanksgiving a few years ago, living downstairs and frequently migrating upstairs- that was a magical time that has stayed with us. One of the highlights, for me, was walking in the Park with Katya. Everyone else had forged ahead, the kids exploring, the adults keeping up, and Katya and I found ourselves sauntering lazily together in the beautiful setting on a beautiful day. I can't recall what we talked about but I can recall the vibe. It was deep and rich and loving and has never left me. -David Weiner | We put Elijah to bed every night rocking and reading to him in a wonderful nursing glider chair brought over in the days after his birth by Katya. This sums up so much that I love about Katya-generous and loving, thoughtful and considerate, do-gooder and accomplished. I have so many warm thoughts and appreciations of Katya. She is kind and includes us so often around your Shabbat dinner. I can always show up in whatever space I'm in, cranky, happy, exhausted, sad...I feel I can be myself in your home. I love being with your family on Shabbat. The delicious food...always!! You model true hachnasat Orachim, I feel like royalty when I'm in your home. Katya models this for the entire community. She reads Torah, she cures babies, she gives hugs to friends, she raises spirited and intelligent boys, she cooks/bakes/shops. Katya is amazing and I want to grow up to be like her! -liora

19: For years now, every Passover you make roasted sweet potatoes to quiet the mob before Seder. You have a way of getting them to carmelize just right, and there’s nothing so urgently delicious when the Jews have to leave Egypt before you’ll see a dinner plate. It’s hard to be an adult when she brings in the sweet potatoes, fresh out of the oven. I have to contain my desire to grab all the wedges off the plate, and I watch silently as the children do exactly that. Eventually, they have each had their turn, and I take the one or two wedges remaining, trying not to look greedy. Obviously, it’s not possible to wait until Passover to eat this dish just once a year. Fortunately, roasting is a simple process, and while I don’t make the sweet potatoes as well as you, I do it well enough that my wife clamors for them constantly. I always make a big plate-full, so we can both be satisfied AND keep our marriage intact. -Daniel | Katya, I enjoy having role models who're younger than me, and you are one of mine! I have fond memories of camping in Tilden with you over at least a couple Succoth, but mostly I've enjoyed many of our spontaneous talks on Shabbat, as we reflect on the juggling acts that we both share-- particularly on the themes of parenting and doctoring, both with immense challenges and rewards. You're amazing! Love, Tali

20: Both times you gave birth, you worked right up to the last moment, like a peasant woman giving birth in the field, as you would say. Both times you were such a fierce and powerful mother in the face of trials and tribulations. I’ll never forget the way you nursed Zeke as they wheeled you down the corridor in the middle of the night for some test or other when you had the staph infection. And the way you fought with the intern when he wanted to induce labor with Jesse. You are a real tigress! -Joel

21: Ima, I love the way you always try new things with me. I remember the times you took me out for Ethiopian food and for Indian food. You didn't think I wouldn't like it just because it was different. I'll never forget my first mango lassi! Love, Zeke | Gwendolyn stepped toward Katya with a smile. "We have need of a new healer," said the matriarch. "And I know that you will serve the Mouseguard well! Zaxon has spoken highly of you. Welcome to our ranks, and may your herbs always be potent!" Love, Jesse

22: Of course, I have a plethora of positive associations with Katya, and reasons to think of her frequently--to me she personifies generosity, hospitality, chesed, and dedication--and yet the thing that I most often associated with her is chicken. Chicken snapshots: 11:30pm, a Thursday night in January or February 2003, the desperate cries of student chefs at Berkeley Hillel who are missing most of the ingredients for Shabbat dinner can be heard over the phone. A fax is sent. Katya's chicken. The note: "Nothing easier. Nothing better." Indeed. A serious and socially-conscious 8-year-old friend of the family (you know who you are) declares herself a vegetarian "except for Katya's chicken.” Understood. Vacation in Sea Ranch, cooking with friends erev Shabbat, making Katya's chicken, “Is Katya your grandmother or Adam’s?” Wishful thinking. To date, Katya’s chicken legacy includes untold numbers of sated Jews, and their guests. All recognize that the key to the recipe’s success reflects both the outcome and its namesake: reliable, practical, no fuss, health-conscious, and deeeelish! Ad meah k’esrim!! With much love, Rachel B. & co. | I dream of a better tomorrow when chickens can cross roads and not have their motives questioned.

23: You have captured our hearts, our sister, our bride! We love you!!!

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  • By: Joel G.
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  • Title: 40 KATYA STORIES
  • Book of stories and pics for Kat's birthday.
  • Tags: None
  • Published: over 8 years ago