Miriam Nothmann, Sister of Saint Joseph of the Apparition, devoted much energy to the Hebrew speaking Catholics in Tel Aviv-Jaffa. She passed away on January 31, 2012.


Miriam Nothmann was born in Jaffa in 1938 to a Jewish father and a Christian mother, who had arrived in Palestine as they fled the Nazi regime. Miriam was sent to the school of the Sisters of Saint Joseph in Jaffa and when she completed her studies there she entered the congregation.

After a number of years of formation in Europe, Miriam was sent back to Israel. As a polyglot, she was able to find work in different places including working for the Austrian Embassy. However, she also threw herself into a lifelong commitment of working with all Christians living in Israel and especially with Hebrew speaking Catholics. She is best remembered as a close collaborator of Father Alfred Delmée, the beloved pastor of the Hebrew speaking Catholics in Jaffa from 1958 until his tragic death in 1985. Miriam worked closely with him in building up the kehilla in Jaffa and seeking the lost sheep of the flock.

Together with Father Delmée, Miriam participated in the various ecumenical and interfaith initiatives that drew people of faith together in Tel Aviv – Jaffa. At home in different languages, cultures and traditions, Miriam was a natural border crosser.

Miriam was with Father Delmée in the terrible car accident that claimed his life. Delmée was killed together with Miriam’s own mother and she was seriously injured. She was unable to attend the funeral, and spent months in hospital, having to relearn how to walk. For her remaining years, she would walk only with difficulty, using a stick when she was once again mobile.

Miriam continued to seek out the poorest of the poor with a passion, challenging her sisters, the Church and the kehillot to be more committed to solidarity with the poor. She prepared generations of children for first communion and confirmation and prepared many couples for marriage. She was a listening ear to many who sought her out with their problems and sufferings. In recent years, Miriam was a pioneer in educating the children of the migrants – both migrant workers and asylum seekers – in Hebrew. African children came to her for religion classes and she introduced herself into the religion classes for Filipino children at Saint Anthony. At first, she took on some of the handicapped children but soon the other children flocked to her too because of her fluent Hebrew and pedagogic ability.

Miriam was ever faithful to the kehilla in Jaffa and looked on with joy at the revival of the kehilla in recent years. She was loved by one and all, keeping a low profile and a set place at mass. She is sorely missed!

May her memory be a source of blessing and strength!