On April 7, 2020, Maya Bleyzer passed away peacefully in her home, with her two sons by her side.
Maya was born May 1, 1924 in Kharkov, Ukraine, where she lived with her mother, father and older sister until the start of WWII. When the war broke out, Maya and her family were evacuated first to Kazakhstan and later to Kyrgyzstan, where she entered university. When the war ended, Maya and her family returned to what was left of their home in Kharkov – Buildings were destroyed; there was no electricity, nor running water; and food was in short supply. But Maya approached the situation much as she did every other challenge in her life: she accepted the reality and pushed forward; there was no time to mourn what was – The city needed to be rebuilt and life had to go on.
Shortly after returning to Kharkov, Maya transferred to the Kharkov University of Construction and Engineering, where she completed her studies in civil engineering. Over time, Maya became one of the leading civil engineers in Ukraine, designing water supply and treatment systems for cities throughout the region. It was during those early years that she met her future husband and the love of her life, Gedaly (Grisha) Bleyzer. The two married in 1950, and just over a year later, they had their first son, Michael. The family of three moved to Belarus, where Grisha began his career in medicine. Despite the difficult conditions they lived in, Maya and Grisha’s love only grew stronger, and they were soon blessed with a second son, Lev. After thirteen years in Belarus, the family moved back to Kharkov to help care for Maya’s and Grisha’s elderly mothers. There, they faced increasingly overt and often life-threatening anti-Semitism, which ultimately pushed them to leave the Soviet Union and immigrate to America in 1981.
Having previously retired, Maya dedicated herself wholeheartedly to her family. An exceedingly strong-willed, intellectual and charismatic woman, who often found herself the center of attention, Maya nonetheless happily took a back seat in this new country; as her husband, Grisha, spent his late 50’s and early 60’s recertifying to become a practicing doctor in the US, Maya kept their house running and supported him every step of the way. They were the ideal couple – a true team – and it was rare to think of one without the other. So much so, that many of our memories of Maya are inescapably linked with our memories of Grisha.
After his passing in 1995 after a difficult battle with lymphoma, it took Maya many years to adjust to life without Grisha. Now in her early 70’s, she was living alone for the first time in her life, and even though she had never before driven a car, she was determined to visit Grisha at the cemetery as often as possible; so, Maya, being the woman she was, passed the written and practical exams to get her first ever driver’s license. Nothing would stand in her way.
In her later years, Maya settled into a routine of reading Danielle Steel, visiting with her sister, traveling at least once a year to Ukraine and Europe with Lev and his wife, Irene, and pestering her grandchildren for at least one of them to produce some great-grandchildren for her. She became almost obsessive about preserving our family’s history, and despite her advanced age and various health issues, she wrote not one, not two, but three books about our family.
She was a strong but loving mother, a fiercely dedicated partner, a steadying and loyal sister, a wise and regal grandmother, and, yes, a doting great-grandmother.
Maya is survived by her sons, Michael Bleyzer, and his wife, Natasha, and Lev Bleyzer and his wife, Irene; her grandchildren, Rina (Bleyzer) O’Malley and her husband, Ryan; David Bleyzer; and Jessica Bleyzer and her husband, Danny; her great-grandchildren, Austin O’Malley and Leo Mueller; and her older sister, Esfir (Irina) Meyerovich.
A private grave side service will be held at the Beth Yeshurun Post Oak Cemetery, Cantor Vadim Tunitsky officiating.