Birth: August 20, 1940 in Winnipeg, Manitoba
Death: January 17, 2018 (aged 77) in Victoria, B.C.
Plot: South Zone
Published in the Victoria Times-Colonist 08 February 2018:
He is survived by his loving wife [edited for privacy], his children [edited for privacy], grandchildren [edited for privacy], and sister [edited for privacy]. Fred was a well-respected physics professor at the University of Victoria, photographer, essay writer, badminton player, handyman, and world traveller. He is fondly remembered for his intellect, sage advice and incredible sense of humour. A funeral service was held on January 19, 2018 in Victoria. Donations in his honour are greatly appreciated and can be made to Magen David Adom (the Israeli Red Cross).
Published by The Jewish Post and News:
Victoria, B.C. – Beloved Fred Cooperstock, 77, died Wednesday January 17, 2018 at the Royal Jubilee Hospital. He is survived by his loving wife of 55 years, [edited for privacy]; his children [edited for privacy], grandchildren [edited for privacy], daughter-in-law [edited for privacy], son-in-law [edited for privacy], and sister [edited for privacy]. Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba on August 20, 1940 to idealistic immigrant parents, Fred completed his Ph.D. in Physics at Brown University. He was a professor (and then Emeritus) at the University of Victoria. Fred was a prolific writer, with his body of work spanning two books and over 100 scientific articles, two of which were published in the prestigious journal Nature. An article about his research was published in the Economist. Aside from his passion for Physics, Fred was a talented photographer, essay writer, badminton player, handyman, and world traveller. He was an avid supporter of Israel, where he lived for several years, both in his youth and as an adult. As an active and well-respected member of his local Jewish community, Fred was always happy to lend a hand whenever the need arose. He is fondly remembered for his intellect, sage advice and incredible sense of humour. A funeral service was held on January 19, 2018 at the Jewish cemetery in Victoria, B.C. where his parents were also laid to rest. Donations in his honour are greatly appreciated and can be made to Magen David Adom (the Israeli Red Cross).
Rabbi Lynn Greenhough gave the following eulogy at the funeral:
From the Hebrew name אֶפְרָיִם (‘Efrayim) which meant “fruitful”. In Torah Ephraim is a son of Joseph and Asenath, the daughter of Potiphar, a priest of On (Ex.41:52) . One can only imagine such a situation as the source for all Jewish mother-in-law jokes.
Joseph named the younger son Ephraim – “God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering.” He would become the founder of one of the twelve tribes of Israel, situated near the central plains of the Land.
Year later when Jacob, on his deathbed was blessing them he placed his right hand on the head of Ephraim, and said his younger brother – Ephraim) will become greater than he. As we bless our sons on Shabbos, we bless them with the names of Joseph’s two sons, Manessah and Ephraim.
Ephraim grew up with wealth in the land that did not know him; he left to go to a land he did not know. His father Joseph was the much-beloved son abandoned by his brothers, a man who married the daughter of the woman who saw him sent to jail, but he brought his sons to love God, and to learn to live with faith and hope. What did the boys know about their father’s circumstance, about his family? Had they absorbed Joseph’s stories of conflict? We only know Epharim by his name, his fruitfulness.
So how to tie this namesake to the life of Ephraim, Fred Cooperstock? True confessions: I do not know what calculus is. I failed physics which surprised me because I loved the poetry of it all – but the math eluded me. That said, I can add and subtract, so we will do some arithmetic together.
We are going to parse the name Ephraim through the letters in the name.
Aleph: oneness and unity – olam. Only Einstein, as a Jew, could have understood this sensibility, this merging of all time and all space as One-ness. .
Peh: 17th letter –peh means mouth –peh follows the letter ayin (eyes), so we learn that whilst the eyes may see, it is our mouth that brings insight into reality. Fred was, slapping his forehead, for all of his love of the cosmos, a pragmatist.
Resh: 20th letter – head, rosh, also in relation to meaning, cognizant intelligence or wisdom, reish means “beginning.” My favourite weekday prayer is the blessing in the where we ask God to increase our capacity for intelligence, and wisfom, discernment – and most importantly seicle. Fred possessed all of these aspects of intelligence.
Yud: 10th letter, the letter that forms all other letters. In the mystical tradition the yud is a mere dot, a divine point of energy. Yet this mere pintele is used to create all letters, all the words in God’s holy language of Hebrew, and so the yud represents Gods Presence – olam in all time and space.
Mem: 13th letter, the sign of water, the “well-spring” of Torah. A mem can be both open and closed – a mem sofit is closed. Some aspects of God are revealed – open – and some are concealed – closed. Again, a flowing stream of wisdom can be revealed with the gift of speech. “The words a man speaks are deep waters, a flowing stream, a fountain of wisdom.” Proverbs 18.4
Through his name we know a man, this man, Ephraim, Dr. Fred Cooperstock. A man of words, of wisdom, a teacher whose ideas flowed from the depths of his learning. A man who knew the unity of God and the oneness of science. A man who knew we are here for a dot of time, and in that mere dot are all words, all wisdom, all teachings. And sometimes a man who knew that a mosquito was just a mosquito.
As I said earlier I don’t know calculus, but I can do basic arithmetic.
If we add up the value of the letters in his name, Ephraim (1+17+20+10+13) = 7.
Seven is one of the greatest power numbers in Judaism, representing Creation, good fortune, and blessing.
The Hebrew word for luck, mazal, equals 77. Fred died at 77. Heaven forfend, that I suggest his death was luck. Not at all – but his life was full of mazel and full of mazzal. Mazel is from the Hebrew mazzal, a star or planet, though its main meaning has come to mean “luck”.
In fact, your mazal is the source of your deepest and most essential tendencies rooted in your higher soul. Mazal is the source of your innate talents, desires, intuitive experiences, inclinations and inspirations. Finding your mazal is one key to finding your unique purpose in life.
Looking at the photographs of Fred with his family, at the devotion of their children and grandchildren I suggest that Fred’s mazal and his mazzal were truly his cosmos. His memory is truly a blessing.
Tom Cooperstock 1904-1984
Sima Lipen Cooperstock 1902-1978