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Phyllis Werbel

Phyllis Werbel, 85, of Ann Abor, Michigan, died on 26 December 2021.

The Funeral was held at Beth Israel Congregation, 2000 Washtenaw Ave, Ann Arbor, MI 48104 on Wednesday, 29 December 2021 at 11:00 AM .

Rabbi Nadav Caine and Rabbi Robert Dobrusin officiated. Interment at Beth Israel Memorial Garden in Arborcrest Cemetery, 2521 Glazier Way, Ann Arbor MI 48105.

Click for Directions for Cemetery

Only those that are fully vaccinated should attend the funeral and masks are required inside the synagogue.

“I have lived for art. I have lived for love.” Puccini, Tosca.

Phyllis Irene Werbel (age 85), Ann Arbor, Michigan, passed away in her home surrounded by her children on December 26, 2021. She was born in Chicago, Illinois, a city that always remained in her heart, on January 9, 1936, the daughter of Erwin and Mollie Isaacson and middle sister to Beverly Rosenthal and Sharon Ritt. After graduation from Von Steuben High School as a member of the National Honor Society in 1953, she completed a Bachelor of Science in elementary education at the University of Illinois in 1956. During a 38-year career in the Ann Arbor Public Schools, she taught everything from kindergarten to 12th grade at Dicken, Meadowview, Allen, Wines, Clinton II, Bryant, Northside, Haisley, Scarlett, Slauson, Clague, and Pioneer. She spent the most years teaching kindergarten and social studies. She so valued teaching and mentoring her students and peers, forming life-long friendships along the way. In later years it was common for her to see former students as they walked the streets of Ann Arbor with their own children, pausing to say, “Mrs. Werbel? You were my teacher!” She was dedicated to lifelong learning and received advanced degrees from the University of Michigan in education (M.A. 1979) and certification in teaching English as a second language.

Phyllis had a lifelong love affair with travel and the arts. Among many other places, she visited China, Australia, New Zealand, Israel, France, Italy, Ireland, England, Hawaii, Alaska, many other states, and most notably Cape Cod. Though she had many favorite operas, the quote above from Puccini’s Tosca sums up her life’s philosophy. She instilled a deep love of opera, musical and dramatic theater, dance, symphony, jazz, and all the visual arts in her children and grandchildren through seasonal trips to Stratford, Ontario for the Shakespeare Festival, monthly openings at the Power Center in Ann Arbor, and the Art Institute of Chicago. Even more than travel and the arts, Phyllis lived to love. She cherished her friendships throughout life. She remained close to childhood friends from Chicago, her beloved Ann Arbor friends from her neighborhood and Beth Israel Synagogue, fellow educators, and of course all her book club and social club friends. Her love of friends was only surpassed by her love and devotion to family.

She met the love of her life, Leslie Werbel, at a Hillel party while attending the University of Illinois. She loved that this mature graduate student had his own car, courtesy of the GI Bill, and season tickets that included their first date seeing the Robert Shaw Chorale. They married in 1958 at the Drake Hotel in downtown Chicago and moved to Ann Arbor in 1959. They built a home on the west side when it was mostly a marsh and remained in that home for 62 years! They were active members of Beth Israel Synagogue and supporters of local Jewish life. She was preceded in death by her husband of 55 years in 2013. She is survived by her children Dr. Cheryl Good (Mark), Debra Lucaric, Esq. (Francis), and Captain Aaron Werbel (Nechumah); her grandchildren Miranda (Colin), Ian (Jess), Alan (Hannah), Nikolas, Eliana and Mollie; and her great grandchildren Willow, Finn and Aidan.

It is suggested that those who wish to further honor the memory of Phyllis Werbel may do so by making a contribution to:

Haddassah : The Power of Women Who Do
40 Wall Street
New York, NY 10005
(800) 928-0685
Click to Visit Charity Website

ORT America Ann Arbor Chapter: Impact Through Education
3960 Penberton
Ann Arbor, MI 48105
Click to Visit Charity Website

Beth Israel Congregation of Ann Arbor
2000 Washtenaw
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
(734) 665-9897
Click to Visit Charity Website

International Essential Tremor Foundation
P.O. Box 14005
Lenexa, KS 66285
Click to Visit Charity Website