Pauline Weinstein Ledeen, 97, who visited Jewish inmates for decades, celebrated Pesach with them and volunteered for decades with prisoners and the mentally ill, died Nov. 27, 2007.
Ledeen was known as “Bubbe Teresa,” according to a Los Angeles Times obituary.
“To those of us who were actually visited by Pauline while incarcerated, she listened to us intently and with genuine interest,” Carrie Newman, who met Ledeen while in jail, wrote in an e-mail published in the Times. “She made it a point to let us know we were still cared for, and she gently urged us to become better human beings.”
Ledeen identifed Jewish inmates by reviewing lists that sometimes topped 20,000 names.
“A person can get himself dirty, but no one is inherently dirty,” she told the L.A. Times in 1992. “I believe everyone is entitled to respect unless they have reached the point where they throw it away, like your wanton killers who don’t give a damn about anybody, including themselves.”
Ledeen was born in Boston and moved to Los Angeles when she was 12. Her family helped found Temple Beth Israel, the second oldest congregation in Los Angeles to continuously hold Shabbat and High Holiday services in their original building, according to the Jewish Journal.
Ledeen told the Jewish Journal she grew up in the synagogue, which she described as “never a wealthy congregation in any sense of the word.” She appeared in the community’s 1924 Purim production as Queen Esther.
According to the Times, Ledeen is survived by three stepchildren, Helen Fiul and Amo Etlin of Los Angeles, and Robert Ledeen of New Jersey. A memorial service for Ledeen will be held at 7 p.m. Dec. 19 at Beit T’Shuvah, a Jewish anti-addiction treatment center and service, 8831 Venice Blvd., Los Angeles. Memorial donations may be made to Temple Beth Israel, 5711 Monte Vista St., Los Angeles, CA 90042, or Gateways Hospital and Mental Health Center, 1891 Effie St., Los Angeles, CA 90026.