The Hero Within

Joy's Comments
Reprinted from 

 March 1, 2006

The Hero Within, Dr. Melamed-Cohen's story by Sara Yoheved Rigler

Joy Krauthammer wrote: I have new understandings of life.
From Dr. Melamed-Cohen's story by Sara Yoheved Rigler, I have new understandings of life and empathy. 

My husband, Dr. Marcel Krauthammer, zt'l, Menachem Elimelech ben Shulim v'Thea, died a month ago, January 17, 2006 after being in a similar situation to Dr. Melamed-Cohen. Marcel was on life-support with respirator, tracheostomy, feeding tube for the prior six months (NG tube only), paralyzed a few years, but with worsening metastatic brain cancer for almost 18 years. 

From this story I have a recognition and better understanding that my beloved also had his purpose in life, although possibly not knowing it, giving "encouragement and strength". 

Marcel was brave, courageous, defiant, powered by will, hope and faith (Emuna v'Bitachon) in Hashem. Family photos were always facing Marcel. Yes, there was a "rectification, a tikkun", in his and our lives. And Marcel also had his "reasons not to give up." Marcel, too, prayed throughout the day with his siddur until he could no longer hold the book, and then the prayers were in his heart, and he acknowledged to me with a slight nod. I would also pray out loud with Marcel, although he could not talk the last six months. 

Marcel never despaired, he NEVER GAVE UP –only his body. 

Marcel's dream was fulfilled three weeks before going on life-support; and he rode down the aisle to our daughter Aviva's chuppah to Brett. 

As a UCLA Professor of Medicine and ICU Director, Marcel continued to teach from the other side of the bed, all medical staff and visitors during the two dozen hospitalizations and surgeries that he endured. Marcel was awesome, the "Comeback King." 

I decided that Marcel was a 'Vessel of Love' because all that he could do in the final months was to receive all the love given to him from family, friends, colleagues, staff and strangers (my spiritual friends whom he had not known), and we knew it through his eyes. 

Marcel under earlier conditions, was a stand-up to lying-down comedian. In his ICU bed, he made me laugh when he was able to circle and point his index finger to his head and at me as if I was loco, when I was the ventriloquist for his stuffed bear, Oatmeal, always a mascot by his side from ICU to ICU to ICU, and now in Shamayin/Heaven. 

As the month of Adar enters, I send blessings of increased joy to Dr. Melamed-Cohen, and also to author, Sara Rigler, in whose home I had a Shabbat lunch about 15 years ago. From her I met my dearest friend from the Old City, Ruthie Fogelman.

Blessings of joy, shalom and love,
Joy Krauthammer
Northridge, California

~ ~ ~

Marcel's toast video at Wedding of Aviva & Brett

Marcel photos mostly by his photographer wife, Joy

Dr. Marcel Krauthammer, UCLA/VA Pulmonologist, Critical Care Specialist and Gifted Teacher

Garden of Joy, Barlow Hospital
Page 6, right side

HOURS, Difficult story

Marcel drummed one time at Remo
photo by Joy Krauthammer ©

HOPE collage for Marcel

HOPE Square IMO Marcel  © Joy Krauthammer 

HOPE is in memory of my husband, Marcel Krauthammer, z'l.  Marcel had faith, trust & HOPE / emunah, bitachon & tikvah, never giving up, for the 18 years he suffered with metastatic brain cancer, paralysis and then life-support, until G*D, Giver of Life, reclaimed his shining soul on 17 Tevet.

We never gave up HOPE.

During Marcel's last years I slowly created HOPE collages from found HOPE words, and gave them to others, and continue to do so. 
HOPE is a collage of HOPE words cut out from newspapers and cards, while serving as Caregiver Angel Warrior for my husband, Marcel, of blessed memory.

HOPE collage is for my dear friends and family who hold HOPE, and in memory of loved ones, z'l who have held HOPE.
HOPE collage is in memory of the victims z'l of the Holocaust who did not give up HOPE.

HOPE is what we all need to continue to do our work in our world; to have peace/shalom, love, compassion, connection, healing, wholeness and harmony in Kabbalistic Four Worlds of spirit, mind, heart and body.

- Joy Krauthammer

HOPE quilt square is a photo transfer of my original HOPE colored paper art collage onto an 8”x8" white suede cloth, with added 2D hand embellishments of stickers, gold paint pen and colored markers.

HOPE collage is a quilt square in the Mount Sinai Shoah Quilt (on quilt's
far right).
The large finished quilt in memory of Shoah victims was dedicated on Yom HaShoah 2008 at Mt. Sinai Memorial Park, Simi Valley.

HOPE Square IMO Marcel  © Joy Krauthammer 
in Mount Sinai Shoah Quilt


Garden of Joy, Barlow Hospital

Garden of Joy, Barlow Hospital

Attached is this letter within underlined link which just came from Barlow Respiratory Hospital along with four garden photos, and extra one of me, and my friend, AriellaShira Lewis (married to Michael L), planting bulbs in the earth creating in a few spaces, a garden of joy. I am so pleased to just receive this during the season of Marcel's 2nd yahrzeit. 

I feel that my tears can water the garden. In synagogue both tonight and tomorrow, I am holding a special memorial for Marcel.

We remember our loved ones  ...and we plant for our children...
And just in time for Tu B'Shvat, Jewish planting holiday.
BlesSings of health and joy,

click on :
This formal botanical plaque, standing in the garden filled with hundreds of purple bearded irises (which Joy and her friend AriellaShira planted) at the main front door of Barlow Respiratory Hospital, where Marcel z'l led doctor meetings when he was president of the LA Lung Association, doctor's society, and where patients sit outside, reads:

October 2007

Garden of Joy

Dr. Marcel Krauthammer, a pulmonologist and a renowned professor of medicine at UCLA, passed away in January, 2006. His wife, Joy, planted lovely purple bearded irises at the Barlow main hospital in his memory. The bulbs became a wonderful improvement to the hospital grounds, and have since multiplied, and return year after year in spectacular bloom. The Garden of Joy, as it’s been affectionately named by the staff, blooms beautifully, even in the cold of winter. It brings smiles to the staff and warms the heart and brings hope to our patients and their families.

photo collage by Joy Krauthammer

Garden of Joy, Barlow Hospital, 2000 Stadium Way, Los Angeles, CA 90026-2696,   213 250-4200 X 3331

Page 6, right side

~ ~ ~


Marcel's First Yahrzeit, 
with love from Aviva, January 2007

My Dear friends and family,

This coming Sunday, 1/7/07, which corresponds to the Hebrew date of 17th of Tevet, will mark the first Yahrzeit of my beloved dad, Marcel Krauthammer zt"l. I think about him every single day, but on this anniversary, you can join me in remembering a multifaceted man who achieved great things in his life, and positively affected the lives of so many people.

We have compiled a few photos and videos from my dad's life that we wanted to share with you. At the bottom of this page is a web link, which will bring you to a website with a photo album as well as two short videos (a wedding speech and comedy routine) of my dad.
 The photo slideshow highlights many of dad's loves and talents:

Family: Loving Husband, Father, Father-in Law, Son and Brother

Friends: Entertaining, Honest, Loyal

Teacher: A respected and loved medical professor who challenged and embraced his students (*below are stories from a couple of his students I wanted to share).

Coach: Taught me everything I know (and coached CSUN golf students)

Jewish Learner: Studied Torah and Talmud weekly, chanted Torah for 2 synagogues. (And not only was it technically impeccable, but he embellished each word with subtle undulations that transformed the phrases into elegant and enjoyable music.)

Scrabble player (the scrabble dictionary was in tatters from his memorizing allthe 3-letter words + all the words you can make with "Q" w/out using "U").

Poker player: Texas Hold 'em and High low where his games….

Golfer: studied every aspect of the game, and in his last year in the VA league, won the league championship.

Stand-up Comedian: started out on a cruise ship talent show…and never stopped

Through his life, my Dad tried to do his best at anything he tried.  This was not an ego thing, it was a personal motivation and will that was unmatched. This drive was manifested in all areas of life…professional and personal. He never pushed anyone like he pushed himself.  He would feed his brain, his curiosity and his knowledge with a voracious appetite. My dad pursued so many interests in his life that it's hard to really capture them all. Above all, my dad was a modest guy; self-deprecating and always willing to learn from his failures and from others.
I hold these lessons close to my heart.

Love, Aviva


                             Marcel's 10th Yahrzeit

On Marcel's 10th Yahrzeit, Aviva arranged a memorial with friends and family
held at Temple Ramat Zion with Rabbi Ahud Sela officiating for prayers 
and Aviva leading reception. 

Marcel's 10th Yahrzeit Memorial
© Faye Melton

Marcel's 10th Yahrzeit Memorial
© Faye Melton

10th yahrzeit memorial candle created with love by Joy

I was pleased to see present so many of our long-time friends and family.
We held the memorial in one of the 2 shuls where Marcel for 18 years had read Torah every Shabbat for the traditional Minyan. Marcel read at both Temple Ramat Zion and Chabad of Northridge.
- Joy Krauthammer 

~ ~ ~

Marcel's 9th Yahrzeit

Marcel's, z"l, 9th Yahrzeit

24 hours later
© Joy Krauthammer 

Today I posted photos on FaceBook of Marcel with his friends and rabbi. Aviva, too, had posted a loving photo.

At Chabad of Northridge to say Kaddish, a friend Michael, who recently lost his wife, gave me a photo that I had given to him a couple dozen years ago. There was Marcel with his beloved Rabbi Menachem Bryski, founding rabbi of Northridge Chabad, and also with congregant, Michael G. I had taken the photo at Young Israel of Northridge, so there must have been a simcha that day for Chabad members to be at YION. Some of us are involved at both orthodox shuls, and others.

After saying kaddish (always on weekdays the only woman on my side), I donated tzadakah for the rabbi to plant pretty flowers at shul in lieu of the calla tubers which are not in bloom in the winter. Mine were blooming only a few weeks ago. The shuls' callas are orange and mine are yellow with red. Rabbi said I could have some tubers.

Friends were in shul at 7am, and greeted me from the other side of the mechitzah. Larry Block always says good words about Marcel. Today he didn't tell the 'Marcel story' about "judgement" that he shares every year. Maybe next year...  Each yarhzeit and yiskor I go the the memorial board at shul, and I give a kiss to Marcel's plague that I had created for him. I don't think we had discussed it ahead of time, as we did the grave monument.

After shul, at home, I called my mother-in-law. We each acknowledged the day by saying we were in shul. Aviva had gone with Thea last evening.  A couple weeks ago, Aviva and family, and friend, Brian, went to the grave, and we left stones. The candle is now almost flickered out. I talked to Marcel, and to G*d.

With memories, Joy

Marcel's 8th Yahrzeit

Dec. 20, 2013,  17 Tevet 5774

Secular Yahrzeit is Jan. 17th, but very early this year, by winter's solstice.

Marcel's, z'l, 8th yahrzeit today

by Joy Krauthammer ©

Spoke to mother-in-law, and children, sharing love.  Went to one of shuls, Chabad, where Marcel served as Ba'al Koreh, Torah chanter. Touched his shul lit memorial plaque, (accessible also from women's section).  Appreciative of memories shared in shul by friend Larry Block; annual ritual that warms my heart.  Shared Dirvrei Shulim, the book of Torah's from Marcel's saved 10 years of letters by his father from when he studied with Rav Yosef Soloveichik.  Gave tzedakah.  More mitzvot in Marcel's name.  Made photo memorial collage for Aviva and sent it (and include here).  Thanked cousin Bruce Mossman for saying Kaddish at his Chabad, as my family did last night on East coast. Studied Torah. Viewed left over golf ball still sitting under rose bush in my garden since at least a decade ago from before Marcel was paralyzed.  (Every morning I stand next to that little white golf ball at edge of my property, as it lies where I shoot the sunrise.)

I'm grateful our friend Brian Reff went to cemetery with me, as he does every year, and cleaned flat granite gravestone, rubbing off salt remains from water. Since marker is flat, it is ruined by the elements. We left stones. I feel the years.

Flickering memorial candle was color of sunrise. Made more memorial art, and share this with you below.

BlesSings, JOY

'Out of focus' memories come more into view with yahrzeit candle lit against the rising sun.

(A few photographic 'Bokeh balls'.)


I shot the flickering candle in the cold wind with 6am sunrise in background, watched flame blow out, and lighted again, and again, and then photographed from inside for stillness.
In shul, I shot Marcel's lit memorial plaque. 
In a shul's parking lot, Temple Ramat Zion, also where Marcel had served as Ba'al Koreh, I saw this personalized vanity auto license plate, and photographed ABA / Dad ♥ YOU.  
Aha, perfect for today.  Made the collage and sent to Aviva!

Friend Brian and I drove to Mt. Sinai for our annual ritual together.

One month ago at Chanukah, I visited also with Aviva, Brett and Maya, which we do each time they come to LA.

Our friend Brian, caringly cleans Marcel's Matzeivah at grave 118.

~ ~ ~

One last photo I shot today.


During this year of Marcel's 8th yahrzeit, it would have been our 40th wedding anniversary

Today would have been my 40th wedding anniversary. We had a Chabad wedding. I bought my dream wedding gown in Tijuana for $25. Woven white cotton, fringed and sniut / modest. Made my veil, added Lilies of the Valley, and held three sweet white gardenias in purple ribbon. Made the boutonnieres for the honored men. My hubby, z"l, was a computer maven and I didn't need to know anything! So I'm spending the day today at Apple store. I've been learning...  - Joy

Something I never do is ascend, when the Lev Eisha women are called to the bima to celebrate their anniversaries with an aliyah to the Torah.  This year I did and announced that it would have been my 40th, an auspicioius time.  2014

Marcel's 7th Yahrzeit

17 Tevet 5773  2012 

Shalom, dear friends,

It's Shavua Tov time, motzei Shabbos, and I've lit the yahrzeit candle for Marcel's, z"l, 7th yahrzeit. Not quite middle of January, this 17th Tevet, but Dec 29 and cold and damp.

Maybe the magnificent double rainbows this week with seven colors each is in honor of the 7th yahrzeit.

Was really unconscious today about what I was doing as I stopped and gazed at length at the large hanging painted photo portrait of Marcel. I never do that, gaze. Then tonight, eating a sandwich, I unconsciously touched my upper lip while holding the sandwich and realized that that is what Marcel would do. Don't think I've done that before. Of course, the sandwich came from Subway an hour ago and for years that was Marcel's favorite eatery. 

Yesterday I scanned photos of Marcel with a baby kitty he rescued in NY. I'll put it in his web site. I'd tried doing it earlier in week but new scanner wouldn't work until his yahrzeit.

There is one of Marcel's white wiffle golf balls under a rose bush. It's there all these years, uncovered from top leaves. Wiffle balls weigh nothing. Why didn't ball get blown away? Others rear their little round heads throughout the garden. Every morning as I photograph the sunrise, I stand by the little white golf ball and acknowledge it. Maybe Marcel dropped it from on high, just for my pleasure.

At Chabad where Marcel served as Baal Koreh / Torah chanter for 18 years, I'll davven in the morning, which I do also for all Marcel's yiskors.
Marcel's Chabad friend, Larry, always shares the most meaningful and funny story about Marcel and Torah. Larry always makes sure that I have a minyan to say Kaddish along with me, as I am across the mechitzah. I share a huge book of Torah teachings from Marcel's father, z"l, that Marcel collected over the decades. On the memorial board, the little light is lit by Marcel's name. Rabbi Rivkin always shares special words about Marcel. He learned in hospitals that Marcel always asked about others, even when he himself was in critical condition.

I'll go to Mt. Sinai cemetery following shul and kiddush, even if rainy.
Interested in going with me?
Good loyal friends, especially Brian or Shelly, go with me each year, and we lay stones.

Aviva is possibly watching Marcel's favorite program tonight and drinking Cel-Ray, Marcel's favorite drink.
Aviva brought little Maya Sage Nechama Sivan to his grave site during Chanukah.
Thea said she is remembering. Family gets together in Maryland and goes to shul.

We remember you, and the true friendship you gave us all especially in the most trying tough times.
I still keep alive the two plants given to Marcel in 1988 by his pals. 
At Chanukah we sang Marcel's favorite holiday songs. On another note, Aviva says that Marcel liked "M-i-c-k-e-y M-o-u-s-e" so she sang it tonight.

Hope all is light-filled with you.

BlesSings for health, wholeness, peace, revealed miracles, creativity, discovery, wonder, blooming gardens, love and joy,
and for LIGHT to DISPEL the darkness.
"Serve G*d With Joy"

"Divrei Shulim"
Marcel's collection of father's Torah teachings.
For many years, Marcel saved the weekly hand-written Torah mail from Shulim, 
written in several languages, following classes with Rav Yosef Soloveichik.
The letters were transformed into book copies for family members.
For Shulim's annual yahrzeit, Marcel shared the Divrei Shulim at shul.
I, Joy, continue to do this on Marcel's yahrzeit, in his memory.


 March 12, 2012

- Joy Krauthammer

Looking for a small travel alarm clock, I decided to check my husband's, z'l, top dresser drawer where he kept all his miscellaneous items, i.e. coins, paper bills, pens, pen knife, business cards, beeper, keys, locks, name tag, buttons, giant paper clip, tape, screwdrivers, gum, golf things, strange toys, small metal balls, etc. (The Rebbe's dollar bill had been in the drawer in years past.) Those things remain there as I have not bothered with deleting them.  It was too hard seeing them six years ago. Clothes I gave away from all the neat stacks in the tall men's dresser that I had purchased in 1977; the finest well crafted lovely wood modern dresser. I really appreciated it's smooth styling.

Today I thought to myself, yes! -- I am proud of myself that I can rummage through his large top drawer six years later, through dozens of pens, makers, baby flashlights and personal small items, looking for what I want, and not get upset.  

Then it hit me--boom; I saw the little plastic red DREIDLE. Yup, it got my guard down, and there was the love, humanity and history in it all. Chanukah was important to us from the beginning, and this thumb sized symbol reminded me in a flash of the decades we had lighting chanukiyot and with our daughter, playing dreidle with pennies on the holiday. That little Jewish spinning toy has a lot of power.
And I thought I was finally through to the light at the end of 'the tunnel'.

photo © Joy Krauthammer

Hazon Essay Dedication to Marcel

Hazon essay dedication to Marcel, z'l, by Reb Yosef Ben Shlomo Hakohen.

This letter is a continuation of our discussion on how a proper understanding and fulfillment of the “halacha” – the detailed steps of the Torah path – enable us to serve as an ethical and universal role model. This letter has two inspiring stories, and it is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Marcel Krauthammer - Menachem Elimelech ben Shulim. Today, the 17th of Teves, is the first yahrtzeit – anniversary of his passing. In honor of his yahrtzeit, his daughter, Aviva, and her husband, Brett, sent out a letter of tribute which mentioned that this beloved and respected medical professor regularly studied Torah wisdom, including halacha and ethics. His wife, Joy Krauthammer, is an active participant in our e-mail Torah study program, Hazon – Our Universal Vision. May she and the family be blessed with comfort, strength, and good health, so that they may continue to do many “mitzvos” – the Divine mandates which connect us to the Compassionate One.  - Yosef