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Rita Chotiner

November 8, 1921 - January 15, 2022

Services Date January 19, 2022

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Rita Chotiner passed away on January 15 at the age of 100. Deeply loved by her children, grandchildren, friends, and colleagues, she passed peacefully from a life of joyful dedication. And it was a life well-lived.

Rita Leavitt was born in Chicago in 1921 to a musician father Nathan and a homemaker mother Minnie (Norton), a family that grew to include her younger brother, Larry. Both parents instilled in her a love of classical music that would be a touchstone of her life. The family moved to Los Angeles, where she attended Fairfax High School then UCLA, graduating Phi Beta Kappa. At 21 she married Willard Chotiner. They lived happily in New York City during the war years, while he served in the Army Signal Corps, then returned to Los Angeles to raise a family. Rita always defined herself first and foremost as a wife and mother. She shared a loving partnership with her husband for 68 years and devotedly raised two children, Harry and Renee, who survive her.

Rita understood family expansively. She and Willard joined with a dozen other families to create a life-long network of friends who shared joys and tribulations, celebrations and vacations. And she expanded the notion of family further when she began to work in the Jewish community.

Rita volunteered in myriad aspects of Los Angeles Jewish life. She made major contributions to the Brandeis-Bardin Institute, the Bureau of Jewish Education, the Jewish Federation, and many Zionist causes. She worked in both established venues and new areas of Jewish activism, such as the cause of Soviet Jewry. She took pride in mentoring younger colleagues, especially women. And she treasured the relationships she built with both lay activists and staff workers.

Rita loved culture in many forms: classical music, theatre, painting and sculpture, and the historical and architectural treasures she discovered through travel. Her intellectual curiosity blazed into her 99th year.

She had a blessed life and a gentle death. She is survived, in addition to her children and their spouses Stuart, Patty, and Marcy, by six grandchildren: Isaac, Hannah, Sam, Miriam, Alicia, and Natalie, and six great-grandchildren. She will be deeply missed by those who knew and loved her.

The family wishes to express deepest appreciation to Linda Tiomico, who during the last seven years of Rita’s life was a great source of care, comfort, and companionship to her. Their relationship grew into genuine love and devotion to each other, and this extraordinary woman became part of our grateful family. We express thanks also to others who helped give Rita kind and competent care in recent years: Gloria Capalad, Maria Robles, Dolly Canoy, and Marina Thorpe.

The family requests that in lieu of flowers, memorial contributions be directed to The Music Guild of Los Angeles or Builders of Jewish Education.

Because of Covid-19, services will be private on Wednesday, January 19, at Hillside Memorial Park Chapel.