Allison Feldman, 31, a Minnesota native whose family still lives here and belongs to Bet Shalom, was found dead in her Scottsdale, Arizona home on Wednesday afternoon. Police are investigating it as a homicide, but details such as the exact cause of death, or whether any suspects have been identified, have so far been withheld from the public.
The loss of a loved one–a daughter, a sister, a girlfriend–is impossible to comprehend for anyone who hasn’t gone through it. That much is clear. Her father Harley could barely summon words when reached over the phone yesterday. Her sister Kelly Feldman Weinblatt said that she “lost it” when she heard the news as she was trying to put her kids to bed. “I started screaming my head off,” she said. Allison’s mom Elayne had to be taken off the airplane–where she works as a flight attendant–on a stretcher. It is just incomprehensible, inconsolable, omnipresent grief.
Allison Feldman was not a member of this community at the time of her death, but her death still impacts this community and we want to honor her memory. Jewish tradition is overflowing with ways in which we honor lost loved ones: we sit shiva, we observe shloshim, we commemorate one’s yahrzeit, and much more. Judaism teaches us that respecting one’s death is often just as necessary as celebrating one’s life. It is in this tradition that we invoke Allison’s memory on these pages.
Those who knew Allison did not have a single negative thing to say about her. Sometimes this can simply be the natural human tendency to not speak ill of the dead, but Allison seems to have truly earned these praises by the way she lived. Kara Frank, who grew up with Allison at Bet Shalom religious school, said, “You don’t know a nicer human being than this girl.”
Her father described her as driven, kind, compassionate, having a great smile, and “everybody loved her because she was so engaging. She truly wanted to know more about them.”
Family was the most important thing to Allison. She talked with her parents almost daily, and she texted with her mom and sister all the time. The family knew something was wrong when she hadn’t returned calls and texts after a mere couple of hours. “She’s in medical sales,” sister Kelly said. “Her phone is her life, it’s never off. I mean, she loves her phone.”
Allison still made it back to Minnesota about twice each year, but she had moved down to Arizona for college and never came back. She found a job selling wound care products for a medical supply company. Her sister Kelly used to tease her about selling expensive band-aids for a living. But by all accounts the job seemed to fit her perfectly. The family has even gotten calls from customers of Allison’s, simply wanting to offer their condolences. Childhood friend Kara, who admitted to not being as close to her now as when they were growing up, was still quick to point out that Allison was, “Really sweet. Bubbly. The kind of person that would work in sales.”
And while formal Judaism didn’t play a big role in Allison’s life–she didn’t belong to any synagogues in Arizona–Jewish culture and tradition were still very important to her. She wanted to raise her kids in a Jewish home, her sister said. She poked around on JDate, and at the time of her death had been seeing a Jewish guy for about eight months.
It was the first time she found someone she could relate to, her father said. “He’s Jewish, and tall, and they had bonded. They were very, very close. And we found out from him that he was going to propose to her in Israel in July, when he was over there for a family bar mitzvah.”
“She was my best friend,” her sister said. “She was the maid of honor at my wedding. We’re four years apart so we weren’t always the closest growing up, but now, we talked almost every day… Everything was going great. She bought her dream house. She was dating an amazing guy. She finally found a nice Jewish guy. He treated her like a queen… My kids are never going to have the cousins we had talked about–and their Aunt Allie who’d spoil them rotten. It’s just hard, because you’re not supposed to bury your younger sister.”
Allison will be dearly missed by all those who knew her, but especially her family–the ones who loved her the most and who she loved back every bit as much. Funeral arrangements were just made yesterday for those who wish to pay their respects. The funeral will be this Thursday, February 26, at Bet Shalom Congregation in Minnetonka. If you want to offer condolences, the family asks that in lieu of flowers, donations be made in Allison’s memory to the Arizona Burn Foundation’s Camp Courage, which is a camp for burn victims and was very near and dear to Allison.