OBITUARY: MIRIAM KARIN…An unforgettable sister

Mariam Karin, seated in front second from the right, with ladies attaending the Thursday morning latihan at Subud Clarinda in Melbourne.

Miriam Karin passed away in Melbourne on Friday September 16 after a long illness with cancer.

She was a deeply beloved and highly respected woman in many parts of the world, particularly in Israel, where she spent the early part of her life, and in Australia where she spent the last 30 years or so.

She was a woman of the greatest integrity and dignity.

She was born in Israel. She once explained to me that people born in Israel are called sabra, which refers to a tough plant which grows in the desert, a kind of hardy cactus (prickly pear), meaning that people like that can survive, and thrive, in the most difficult and desperate circumstances.The allusion also contains the idea that the thick hide of this tenacious, thorny desert plant conceals a sweet, softer interior.

I only knew her after she came to Australia, so I’ll only speak of that. Others may wish to add about her Israeli years.

I believe that the first contact with Australians came about with members of the Wollongong group and she first spent time with them after she came to Australia. The Wollongong group at that time had a great pioneering attitude, and Miriam and that group found kindred spirits with each other.

I well remember that during the time she was in Australia, and Bapak came around, he very frequently tested with her. It was a sign of how highly he thought of her and held her up as an example.

She was a woman with very fine artistic tastes and her home was decorated with many excellent paintings and artifacts. She was extremely intelligent and cultured with broad interests and sympathies.

In recent years she was extremely ill with cancer but lived with this illness with great courage and without complaint.  The illness reached a point where she was no longer able to live by herself and her last years were spent in an excellent facility for ageing Jewish people. She was still attending latihan with the Melboure group right up until her death.

It was a shock to hear of the death, because though I did not see as much of her in recent years as I had done in the past, she was always there.

Our sympathy to her son, Sean Adelrod.


Who could ever forget Miriam once they had met her? Her strong accent and witty charm made even a scolding seem like a love pat.

I met Miriam for the first time when she came to Europe some four decades ago. We bonded when she next visited England. She loved Sachlan dearly for his dedicated work for Bapak and Subud, and was delighted when we married some 38 years ago.

When we moved to Melbourne from Loudwater Farm, we expected the same strong Subud family connection. There was no dedicated Simon Sturton here to set the tone of the group. We had reckoned without Miriam. Being an experienced old helper of Bapak, she set the bar in the helper group. Sometimes she was sharp and prickly, yet when she was your friend, it was for life. As helpers we were invisibly guided to follow Bapak’s guidelines.

When we bought our first home, our closest neighbour was Miriam. So on her way to the shops she would stop off for a cup of tea and a chat. My children loved Miriam. Her love for them would flow freely and they reciprocated. She came in one morning and spontaneously we had a house warming party with a table cloth in the centre of the huge dining room floor, with food that we all shared. “Why wait for the furniture when you are living here, it needs to be blessed” was her opinion. She latihaned and prayed in every room so there would be no “negative energy” from people who had lived there before.

She was one of the few people who understood Aramaic. I recall a testing session we witnessed when one of the candidates being tested was speaking what we thought was gibberish. No, not so! Miriam strode purposefully to the Chairman’s table and explained the meaning of the Aramaic words. The atmosphere was electric as it dawned on us that the words were of worship and purity.

On another occasion, in the middle of a wedding celebration, one member took umbrage that ‘Amazing  Grace’, which she disapproved of, was being sung to the bridal Jewish couple. Miriam was quick off the mark saying “thank goodness it is not your wedding, my darling, I am sure the couple will love that song” and the celebrations continued without a hitch. No offence was meant and none taken. That was Miriam.

At the Melbourne group that I went to, we had a Thursday morning latihan. Miriam dubbed it ‘The Thursday Morning Club’. We were a close small group of women. Miriam often held court with her stories about the time when she was the Principal of a school in Israel and had to protect the students from enemy gunfire. Her exploits were always full of drama. Her charm was in the way she handled us all. She was the wise older sister who came up with all the answers. So as she started taking time off for hospital visits and surgery, our group was not the same.

When her illness took hold of her, I often visited her both in hospital and at her home. Instead of me comforting her, she would regale me with snippets from Bapak’s visits. She was very fond of Vernon (dad) and Sandra (mom) Fraval. She made the effort to visit him even though her health was failing. There was one particular story when Bapak had asked Sandra to show how she reacted when Vernon was cross with her. Miriam’s acting kept us all in stitches. She was an amazing mimic.

As she battled cancer and the pain associated with it became unbearable, she never complained. Instead, she would laugh at my gently massaging her spontaneously and joke that I could not resist her arm! “Now you have to stop all this show of affection” she would chide. She was in constant pain, and would plainly tell me not to visit as she felt very weak. Her strength was in her honesty. There was no back stabbing.

I saw Miriam a few weeks before the end. She was tired but still full of cheer. She firmly planted two big kisses on my cheeks and forehead. “This one is for Sachlan. Tell him I love him.” From the day we met her to the day she physically left us, she left a big impact on us. Her lifelong dedication to Subud was to be seen to be believed. She would walk tentatively to latihan on the Sunday morning with a walking stick holding on to Sean’s arm. Dear Sean, it could not have been easy, yet his dedication and committment to bring her to latihan was exemplary. She loathed missing her latihans. She was very sad she could not come to the Thursday Morning Club. It was not the same without her, and gradually whittled down to something that was totally different.

On the day of her funeral I was with another sister up in Kilmore doing a latihan and praying for Miriam. We shared some early stories of Miriam and laughed at all the funny things she would say like “leemon”. There was no sadness, only joy that she was now free.

Miriam, we salute you. You brought so much joy wherever you went. We pray you are safely journeying to your destination free of the pain that was your constant partner all these years. We thank Almighty God for your presence and friendship that had no room for judgements and criticisms. You were truly Subud. May God bless and keep you safe, dear sister. Rest in peace.

Loving embrace,

Rohana Fraval