[Note: This is the eulogy which Rabbi Kaplan delivered at Enid's funeral on October 3, 2008. -Peter]
My name is Louis Kaplan. I am rabbi emeritus of Congregation Ohev Shalom in Wallingford. For those who may not know, Wallingford touches on Chester and Swarthmore.
I want to thank Rabbi Kuhn for graciously inviting me to speak at Enid's funeral.
I had known Enid Mark since 1961, the year I began serving as Ohev Shalom's rabbi. She and husband Eugene were members of Ohev Shalom. Their children, Peter and Melanie, were students of mine in the congregation school. When Enid and Gene moved to center-city Philadelphia several years ago, they joined Congregation Rodeph Shalom.
Even after the Mark's move to Philadelphia we saw each other occasionally. The last time we got together socially was shortly before Enid became ill. A friend and I had spent a delightful few hours in their South 19th Street apartment, chatting and being shown Enid's latest, and some of her earlier, book work.
In the course of our conversation that evening I reminded Enid of her gift to me about 20 years earlier. I had helped her select biblical verses to place under certain pictures that Peter had snapped in Israel and she had masterfully hand-colored. [Note: I took some of the photographs in that book; many were also taken by Enid. - Peter] An unexpected thank-you from Enid was two of those enhanced photographs, each in a frame. As I told Enid and Gene, one is displayed in my living room and the other hangs on a wall in my younger daughter's home.
As many of you are aware, when one chatted with Enid the conversation was liable to touch many areas. That was not unusual: she was informed about many subjects – photography, art, books, book-making, food recipes, politics, and more. While Enid was not reticent about giving her opinion on such matters, I never heard her voice a personal criticism of anyone – with the possible exception of certain politicians.
Not unexpectedly, one area of conversation when we met was always Ohev Shalom. Even after leaving Wallingford, Enid wanted to know how the congregation was faring. AFter all, to cite but two examples, she had encouraged Gene to be an active solicitor of pledges for construction of the new Ohev Shalom and had put in hours as a literary editor of the 135-page Dedication Book issued in 1965 in connection with the congregation's move from Chester to our new building in suburban Wallingford.
Literary matters occupied a key place in Enid's life, and not only artistically. She had a very special association with the late poet Sylvia Plath. The two of them were friends, beginning with their years at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. Even after college, they continued to correspond. Many years ago Enid gave Plath's letters to their alma mater.
Enid herself was a reader of keen insight. I remember a telephone conversation with her in which I mentioned a book I had just finished reading, Brenda Maddox's Nora 1. It's about Nora Barnacle, wife of the famous writer James Joyce. Enid proceeded to tell me that she had read the book and made several perceptive comments about Nora and James Joyce. She was sensitive, penetrating reader.
Enid possessed a deep love of books – their contents, appearance, and very feel. Her attitude was much in accord with the Jewish tradition's reverence for books. Enid would have understood and agreed with these two statements from Sefer Hsidim, a 13th-century Jewish work: 1. "If a drop of ink fell at the same time on your book and on your coat, clean first the book, and then the garment"; 2. "If you drop gold and books, pick up first the books and then the gold."2.
Enid Mark is undoubtedly best known as the artist/editor of ELM Press, which, as she stated on her website, "publishes finely crafted limited editions that feature hand-lithography, letterpress printing, and archival hand-binding. They have been acquired by over ninety public collections in the United States, Canada, and England."3.
Enid had an amazing talent for arranging words – those of others as well as her own – on the printed page in a highly skillful, tasteful, esthetically striking way, complementing the text with captivating images of her own creation. The result was that words and image notably enhanced one another.
I had the privilege of having been given tours by Enid of her workshop in the two Mark residences. I've seen many of her books in both places and have also lingered over two of her solo exhibits in Swarthmore College's McCabe Library. Her work is obviously outstanding.
It is little wonder that she received two fellowships and a foundation award as well as the 2004 9th Biennian Carl Hertzog Award for Excellence in Book Design. Not long ago an authority in the field said that Enid Mark is the best American book artist of the last 25 years.
One might think that such an exceptional artist would be reluctant to share her expertise. Not Enid. This good-hearted woman willingly revealed details of her approach to other artists and to persons who, having tasted a food she had prepared, wanted her recipe. Yes, this extraordinary brush, pen, and book artist was also an artist in the kitchen. In fact, Enid balanced remarkably her art work with the various home responsibilities she willingly assumed.
Home and family were extremely important to Enid. The Mark home was not the stereotypical messy dwelling of the preoccupied artiste; nor was Enid the boastful, loose-living individual still too often associated with persons in that field. The home was orderly; she, a modest, approachable, good-natured woman of high character.
What a fine model of motherly love, concern, and respect she demonstrated in her relationship with her children, Peter and Melanie. What a close, loving, beautiful bond linked Enid and husband Gene. In my visits to the hospital of the University of Pennsylvania to see the dying Enid, I readily perceived – as I'm sure Rabbi Kuhn did during his times there – the agony and frustration in Gene's face and voice when he and Melanie and I talked. He realized his beloved Enid was slipping away.
I hope that in the days and years ahead, Gene, Melanie and Peter will not primarily recall the Enid of cancer-stricken months, but of the many years of health. They have overwhelmingly fine memories. May they also find some consolation in the realization that just as she meant so much to them, they added so much to her life.
1. I have read that a Chinese proverb is "Make the past serve the present."4. Let the good memories of Enid inspire family and friends to live more gratefully and responsibly to help create, like Enid did, a more beautiful present.
Rabbi Louis Kaplan