Sandy Fine helped thousands through darkest hours
Sandy Fine came into people’s lives when they were the most vulnerable and ended up becoming their friends for life. As a Jewish funeral director, she served with knowledge, grace, compassion, and a sense of humor. She never forgot anyone. Now we remember her.
According to Rabbi Heidi Cohen of HaNefesh, “Sandy was a funeral director extraordinaire! It was more than a business; it was her passion. She made house calls, sat with grieving families, cried and laughed with them, and inevitably, she was related to or knew you or someone in your family. She was the first funeral director I ever worked with and took me under her wing. She taught me so many lessons of being there and guiding families and friends through the most difficult moments of life. She showed me what a gift it was to be in this space with families and how sacred it was.”
Rabbi Stephen Einstein, Rabbi Emeritus of Congregation B’nai Tzedek, who performed the eulogy at Sandy’s memorial service, said, “When I first met Sandy, I was astounded that she served as a memorial counsellor only to people who were her close longtime personal friends. It didn’t take me long to discover that I was so wrong. She had
just met these folks. But…they took to one another immediately and simply connected. It was AS IF they had been fast friends for years.”
He related that “scores of tributes to Sandy have been posted on Facebook” and quoted from one that “epitomizes how this woman, who was an angel to so many, lived her life in this world.” April Quinn Akiva, longtime Orange County educator, wrote, “She was there for me when both of my parents died and gave me much comfort. I’ll never forget the little chuckle we shared on one of the worst days of my life. I was placing 1920s sheet music inside my dad’s casket so she started singing the music with me right there next to my dad’s casket. I didn’t have to sing alone.”
Sandra Beth Malchick Levy Fine (October 19, 1936 – January 10, 2023) was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, to Bertha Levenson (z’l) and Norman Malchick (z’l), and older brother S. Paul Malchick) (z’l) (Lynn). She married Herb Levy in 1955, and they had three daughters, Bonnie Sharfman, Deedee Levy, and Bette Alkazian. Their family moved to Southern California in 1961, where they were very involved at Temple Beth Emet in Anaheim.
In 1969, Sandy and the girls moved to Los Angeles, where Sandy married Fred Fine, and they joined Hollywood Temple Beth El. Sandy worked at HTBE where she started her career as a temple administrator.
In 1979, Sandy became the temple administrator at Temple Beth Hillel where she got interested in the funeral business. She transitioned to being a full-time funeral director in 1989, passing many tests and certifications to become licensed.
Sandy helped thousands of families through the hardest times in their lives. So many people were positively impacted by Sandy’s special brand of comfort and gifts of humor and storytelling.
For the past four years, Sandy lived at the Jewish Home for the Aging where she was beloved by so many friends as the life of the party, postmistress, and honorary mayor. Sandy is survived by her three daughters, two sons-in-law, eight grandchildren (plus four spouses), and three great-grandchildren.
Ilene Schneider is a contributing writer to Jlife magazine.