Shirley Berkowitz Dworkin


Shirley Berkowitz Dworkin, beloved mother and grandmother, died  peacefully on Sept. 9, 2014, at Linden Ponds in Hingham, where she had lived for the past four years. She was 92.

Shirley Dworkin was born Nov. 18, 1921, to Russian immigrants Dora Sulzer Berkowitz and Barnet Berkowitz on their Holstein dairy farm in Flemington, N.J. Dora and Barnet had four daughters, Zelda, Esther, Shirley, and Ruth. The youngest, Shirley and Ruth, were twins. Their father Barnet Berkowitz was a horse and cattle dealer, and a founding member of the Flemington Jewish Community Center and Flemington Jewish Cemetery.

Shirley studied journalism at the University of Wisconsin for two years and married Ira Bernard Dworkin, an attorney from Newark, N.J., on July 15, 1951. The couple resided in Flemington until Ira’s death on July 13, 2003. They were happily married for 52 years, and were the adoring parents of children Jonathan and Barbara.

Shirley was a part-time reporter for the Hunterdon County Democrat and a substitute teacher for the Flemington Public Schools in grades K through 8. She wrote and coordinated for the Flemington Jewish Community Center bulletin. Shirley and Ira loved to travel and take Sunday rides through the countryside. Her fondest memories were of Bermuda, where they honeymooned. Shirley loved children, not just her own, but all children. She also loved animals, especially dogs.

Known as “Shirley Sunshine” for her quick sense of humor, sunny disposition, and optimism, she was president of the Flemington chapter of B’nai B’rith Women and a lifetime member of Hadassah. She will be lovingly remembered, by her family and all who have known her, for her sweet smile, kindness to others, and as a selfless caregiver throughout her life, always putting other’s needs before her own. Even in the last few months of her life, she wanted to move to New York City to take care of her twin sister Ruth.

Her beloved older sister, Zelda Kaplan, was a humanitarian, a notable New Yorker, and a fixture in New York’s fashion scene for many years. All four sisters were quite dynamic in their own way.

Shirley is survived by her twin sister, Ruth Berkowitz of New York City, son and daughter-in-law Jonathan and Jane Dworkin of Poughkeepsie, N.Y., daughter and son-in-law Barbara and Richard Binder of Edgartown, grandchildren Steven Dworkin and Benny Binder, nephew Stephen Kaplan and niece Betsy Ann Kaplan, both of Texas. Her sisters Zelda Kaplan and Esther Berkowitz predeceased Shirley.

Private funeral services were held on Sunday in Flemington, N.J. Arrangements were made by the Robert L. Ford Funeral Home. Shirley’s family sincerely appreciates the wonderful care she received from nurses and staff at Rose Court in Linden Ponds and Erickson Living Hospice. Memorial donations can be made in her honor to Erickson Living Linden Ponds Hospice at 203 Linden Ponds Way, Hingham, MA 02043, or to the American Cancer Society.