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Life Cycle


Sam Block July 26, 1910~April 12 2011
Sam Block, born in Harlem, New York, passed away at the age of 101 on April 12th. At the age of six
he contracted a near fatal case of Spinal Meningitis that left him deaf.

All of his school years were spent in Manhattan, and most of his working life was spent at the U.S. Railroad Retirement Board, starting as a statistical clerk and working his way up to the position of Director of Research, retiring in 1973. Sam said that rising to this position was his second greatest accomplishment in life, but his greatest accomplishment was marrying Frieda (of blessed memory) in 1941 and raising four wonderful sons: Michael, David, Joel and Philip.

For his stellar achievements, Sam was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree by Gallaudet University. He had no formal Jewish education but accompanied his parents to synagogue for the holidays and trained for his Bar Mitzvah with a local retired rabbi. When he came to California he became a member of TBS, attending Shabbat services, serving on the Board of Directors and helping with convention planning.

He was a wonderful poet and began writing in his early teens until the end of his life. The last poem he sent to us, in June of 2010, just before his 100th birthday, aptly titled Temple Beth Solomon.

Gloria Balacaier, Charter Member January 22, 1925-May 4, 2011
GloriaBalacaierTBS Charter Member, Gloria Balacaier, passed away in May at the age of 86. She was born in the Bronx, New York January 22, 1925 to Abraham & Sadie Shotland. Abraham, an emigree from Poland, was a designer of fine woman's apparel.

Gloria was diagnosed as deaf at a young age, so Abraham and Sadie investigated all their options for her education and at age 5, she entered PS 47 School for the Deaf. Sadie and Abraham wanted Gloria to have a normal childhood, so in addition to her schooling they enrolled her in ballet and music classes and sent her to a camp in the Berkshires every summer for five years. All of these extracurricular activities nurtured Gloria's interest in art. Over the years she produced many fine pieces, several of which were on display at TBS' art exhibit in 1995.

In an interview with Gloria, from the early 1990s, she said, "I loved to go downtown on Saturdays and see all of the popular musicals. I really loved watching Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. To this day I try not to miss a musical comedy. I can feel the rhythm so it makes up for what I cannot hear."

In the early 1940's, the Shotlands hired Harriet Balacaier, a speech therapist, to work with Gloria on her speech training. This eventually led to Gloria meeting her future husband, Harriet's deaf brother, David. They married on New Year's Eve, 1944; she was 19. They moved to southern California and became charter members of TBS; Gloria was the Sisterhood President from 1979-81.

Gloria and David enjoyed 55 years together traveling, taking classes and being very active in the deaf community until sadly, in 1999, Gloria was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease, spending the last twelve years in a facility near her brother. David faithfully took the train to Orange county every month to visit her, even though she did not know who he was, until he could no longer physically make the trip; he passed away in 2007.

Source: Congregation News, Temple Beth Solomon of the Deaf