Eulogy for Marian S. Garfinkel

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Rather than give a conventional eulogy, I thought that it would be instructive to let my mother speak in her own words. So I am going to read from my mother’s dissertation, The Effect of Yoga and Relaxation Techniques on Outcome Variables associated with Osteoarthritis of the Hands and Finger Joints.

I think that it reveals better than anything I could say who and what my mother valued, both professionally and personally.

The dissertation is dated May 1992. My copy is inscribed, “To my Dear Son Simson with much love from your mom, July 12, 1992,” which was my 27th birthday.


To Dr. Marvin Levy, my sincere thanks and appreciation for his constant guidance, support and encouragement. I am fortunate to have had him as an inspiring teacher and devoted chairman.

To Dr. Cathleen Morano, my appreciation and thanks for her unique statistical expertise, personal support, keen humor, and clear thinking.

To Dr. Michael Sachs, for his help and astute comments.

To Dr. Walter Green and Dr. Ira Shapiro, for serving on my committee.

To Dr. H. Ralph Schumacher (-2017), my warm thanks and deep appreciation for facilitating the study and expanding my medical knowledge. His expertise and support made the study possible and brought it to fruition.

To Dr. Abid Husain, who gave willingly and unselfishly of his time and testing and measuring skills to assist me in the collection of the data at no compensation.

To Sharon Johnson and Siraj Sharma, MS, OTR-L at the Veterans Administration Hospital, and also to all of the individual participants who consented to be part of the study.

To Trish McFadden, for her supremely efficient and careful typing skills, and kind heart.

To Tiny Azzara, Frank Entiero, Frances Stokes Hoeckstra, Silva, Mira, and Shyam Mehta, Linda Muraresku, Rosemary Reshetar, Linda Surrency, Arthur Volgelsang, Rosa Wood, and Jushua Yudkin, for their special contributions.

To cousin Howard Schwartz, for his encouragement.

To Marvin Garfinkel, who encouraged and supported my return to graduate school, and to my son, Simson, for his patience and understanding.

To my many friends and colleagues who practice the art of yoga, and to Geeta and Prashant Iyengar.

To my beloved teacher and friend, Mr. B.K.S. Iyengar, who inspires me by his teaching and practice of yoga.

For nearly 20 years, I have been a student and practitioner of yoga. Because I am such a firm believer in the efficacy of the methods of Mr. B. K. S. Iyengar, I have undertaken this study to teach people how to achieve better health through yoga.

Since I have always been interested in hands, as I believe loss of hand function is accompanied by loss of dignity and self-esteem, I have focused on osteoarthritis of the hands and finger joints. My program has shown that those people who have received the intervention have benefitted significantly.

I hope the medical community will recognize my program as an alternative health care modality to treat osteoarthritis without drugs or surgery.


To my teacher

B. K. S. Iyengar.

My mother was devoted to yoga and to helping people. Both were more important to her than money, society, politics, or family. When her teacher B. K. S. Iyengar fell ill in July 2014, my mother dropped everything, bought a ticket for India, and was able to see him through the glass of his hospital door just days before he died. Looking back, my mother said that her final trip to India was one of the most important acts of her life. Less than a year later, she became a resident at the assistant living community in Wyncote where she lived for the remainder of her life.

Many of my mother’s friends visited her in Wyncote. Indeed, she passed up the chance to move to the Jewish community that she would have preferred so that her friends from Philadelphia and New Jersey would have an easier time visiting her. Unfortunately, that was no longer possible after the pandemic struck. I believe that this is the reason behind my mother’s decline this summer, and her death on Friday morning.

With no one left to help or heal, I believe that she felt that she had no reason to go on living.