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Ruth Levitt Watnik Obituary (1923-2021)
Ruth Levitt Watnik was born Ruth (Hebrew name Rahel) Levitt on January 27th, 1923 (10
Sh’vat 5683) in New York City to Louis and Feiga Levitt—both first-generation
immigrants to the United States. Louis immigrated from Minsk in 1911 and was
naturalized in 1919; however, his wife Feiga was turned back at the US border in 1911
due to a health concern and returned to Eastern Europe—pregnant with their first child,
Ruth’s older brother, Abraham. Following Louis’ service in the US Army during WWI and
receiving the Purple Heart for having been wounded in the Battle of Verdun, Louis
worked with advocates to secure a US Passport for Feiga through Warsaw and bring
her to the United States where she joined Louis in Brooklyn in 1921—ten years after
their forced separation at the US Border. In coming to the United States, Louis and
Feiga unknowingly escaped the horrors which would befall both the Watnik and Levitt
families along with the larger Central and Eastern European Jewish communities in the
decades to follow. Sixteen months after Feiga arrived in the United States, Ruth was
born in Brooklyn.
Ruth grew up in East New York, Brooklyn with older brother Abraham and younger
Ruth married Isidor Watnik (later changed to Edward Steven Watnik) in New York in
1946 and lived in Brooklyn until 1963 when they moved to Howard Beach, Queens.
They resided in Howard Beach until shortly after Edward’s death in 1982. During this
time, they raised sons Lloyd and Allan and were involved members of the local Jewish
community. Ruth also worked in various administrative support positions throughout the
New York area during this period. Ruth and Edward visited Israel for the first and only
time in the mid-1970s, less than a decade after the reunification of Jerusalem under
Jewish control in the Six-Day War of 1967.
In 1984, Ruth moved to Marlborough, New Jersey where she took the initiative to study
for and complete her adult Bat Mitzvah in 1988 and was an active member of the
Marlborough Jewish Center community until 2003 when she moved to South Florida.
Ruth’s thousands of hours of service to synagogue and community while in
Marlborough earned her recognition from former President Bill Clinton.
Ruth resided close to children and grandchildren in Rochester NY from approximately
2007 until her passing, spending her final ten years at the Jewish Home of Rochester.
Ruth lived nineteen months shy of one century and passed away of respiratory failure in
Rochester, New York on July 4th, 2021 (24 Tamuz 5781) at 98 years old.
Ruth is laid to rest alongside her late husband of 36 years, Edward, at Wellwood Jewish
Cemetery on Long Island in West Babylon, NY. She is survived by her sons Lloyd and
Allan, her grandchildren Mitchell, Eric, Ezra, and Aaron, and her great-grandchildren
Edward, Simon, Nathan, Rachel, and Caleb.
Ruth was always delighted to see family (especially the children) and loved catching up
with loved ones (“what’s doing?”). Ruth was always dressed to the nines even if only to
visit with close friends in the living room. She never missed an opportunity to sneak in a
witty comment or humorous remark, and she was always the life of the party. Ruth will
be missed dearly by her family and by so many who knew her.
Zicronah L’vracha May Ruth’s memory be a blessing.
Donations in Ruth’s honor can be sent to the Jewish Family Service of Rochester, NY.
Jewish Family Service, 255 East Ave – Suite 201, Rochester, NY 14604.