Abraham Jacob Meth
June 5, 1912 to May 27, 2017
Abraham Meth loved learning since a young child in Budapest Hungary. His father told him to learn as many skills as possible, for they would serve him well. Abe heeded that advice and as a young boy learned to play the violin. In his teens, Abe was playing with the Orchestra where he studied under Hungarian Composer Bela Bartok. Abe learned to speak four languages including Hebrew. He loved learning and teaching about Jewish and World histories. Abe also learned calligraphy, an art which ultimately saved his, and thousands of other Jewish lives.
In 1944 the Nazi’s invaded Hungry, forcing the Jewish people to live in ghettos and endure severe persecution. Abe, his wife Lillie and infant son suffered many periods of separation, labor camps, and the loss of family and friends at Auschwitz.
The Nazi’s, realizing they were losing the war, sent Adolf Eichmann to rid Hungry of all Jewish people. But, as Abe put it “God sent Raoul Wallenberg.” Wallenberg, a Swedish Diplomat, offered Jews a “Schutz Pass” – a passport of sorts which gave Jewish people recognition as a protected person of Sweden.
Wallenberg established a refuge in the basement of a local glass factory where Abe, his family and hundreds of other Jews barely existed on beans and bread. As the fighting and bombing went on around them Abe volunteered his calligraphy skills, creating the false passports and ensuring as many Jews as possible received one. The passports were so well made that the German military and Hungarian Police rarely questioned them.
Abe couldn’t have known just how many thousands of lives he would help to save, allowing their stories to be told and generations to be born.
Now Holocaust survivors, Abe, Lillie, their son Joseph and daughter Agi sailed to America in 1948 to begin a new life. On that boat, Abe’s Opera “Out of the House of Bondage” was born. He also wrote a book titled, From Servitude to Freedom.
For thirty years Abe taught religious school and supervised congregation management at the Beth Shalom Synagogue in Kansas City. After retiring to Arizona, he worked for thirty-two years as Master Torah reader at Beth El Congregation in Phoenix and was at Temple Beth Shalom in Sun City.
Abe loved children and was a great mentor to countless youth through the decades, preparing boys and girls for their Bar Mitzvah and Bat Mitzvah ceremonies, and continuing to guide them as they grew up.
He and Lillie were married for 72 years, and served the community together, first in Kansas City and then in Sun City.
At the age of 101 Abe asked long-time friend Irene Smith out on a date. They were companions for over four years.
Irene said, “Abe was a very religious man. He loved reading the Torah, valued knowledge and enjoyed teaching others.” “He never stopped. Right up to the weeks before his death he was active and always on the go.” “Abe connected with all ages, he had a way of making everyone feel special and he always had a joke to tell.”
When Abe was on hospice care, Golden Heart Senior Care CNA Raven Sunderland remembers “a
friend visited and played guitar while they sang. Abe, always the teacher explained the meanings of the Hebrew words. It was a beautiful spiritual experience and I was blessed to be in his presence.”
Golden Heart CNA Patricia Burnside remembers “Abe enjoyed being in his office listening to music. He had a huge library of music, Broadway plays, and books on every religion. He was so active and mentally sharp I couldn’t believe he was 104.”
Sadly, Abe passed away days before his 105 Birthday Celebration which would have been on June 5th, 2017.
The Rabbis said that his death on the Sabbath (Saturday) and his funeral service on Shavuot, the Jewish holiday which commemorates God giving the Torah to the nation of Israel on Mt. Sinai, showed he was especially blessed.
He will be greatly missed by his Golden Heart Senior Care family. It was our utmost honor and privilege to care for and know Abraham Meth, a most extraordinary humanitarian who lived his life with hope and humor.