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521 West Main St
Phone: (413) 663-6523
Myrna Hammerling

Myrna Ilene Hammerling (Galler)

Monday, September 7th, 1942 - Tuesday, June 1st, 2021
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Myrna Ilene (Galler) Hammerling was born in New York City on September 7, 1942 to Jack and Sally Galler.
Put simply, Myrna was the kindest of souls. She embraced life with a joy of learning and a thirst for knowledge, caring deeply and living fully, leading and making a difference without ever seeking the spotlight, and taking pleasure in helping others thrive and grow. Myrna loved a good crossword, met her friends regularly at the gym, meditated, did yoga, enjoyed live music and the arts, and was a nightly devotee of Rachel Maddow. Myrna was as authentic and genuine as a person could possibly be. She worked hard to build her community strong with a sharp intellect and infectious smile, forging lifelong friendships with those she came in contact with along the way.
Any memoir would not be complete without acknowledging the 62 year love affair she enjoyed with Elie Hammerling. The two dated at Wingate High School, were together at Brooklyn College, and got married on April 4, 1963. They were at each other’s side, laughing, loving and learning until Elie’s passing in 2020.
In 1963 Myrna graduated Brooklyn College with a Master of Arts in Speech and Theater, finishing with high honors of Magna Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa. She spent the next decade as a High School Speech and English teacher in Brooklyn.
In 1976 Myrna and Elie relocated from Brooklyn to the Berkshires to raise their two children. She co-founded Evergreen Realty in Pittsfield MA where she found true joy in helping people find their dream home. As is often the case with Myrna, some of her best clients would become her best friends.
In 1997 after 18 years as a realtor, and in her mid-50’s, Myrna wanted to return to teaching. She commuted between Pittsfield and Manhattan for three summers to earn her Masters in Judaic Studies at the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS). Not one to do anything halfway, she also studied to become a Bat Mitzvah as an adult. The journey to her Bat Mitzvah inspired and mentored many adult congregants wishing to do the same for themselves.
After graduating JTS, Myrna began working at Knesset Israel Synagogue in Pittsfield as an educator for children and adult students. Despite her illness, Myrna continued to teach through April, in no small part by overcoming her lack of technological confidence to teach on Zoom. She leaves behind a long legacy of enriched students and community.
Myrna also served as President of Knesset Israel during a year when the temple was without a Rabbi. She said of that transformational period: “If the Jews could wander around for 40 years in the desert, the Congregation could survive for a year!” She helped assign readings for each family in the synagogue to take a turn leading the prayer service over the course of the 12 months. Myrna’s leadership empowered the congregation to create a strong, engaged community at Knesset Israel that continues to thrive today.
Myrna was predeceased by her beloved spouse and best friend Elie. She is survived by her sister Lynda Galler, son Eric Hammerling (wife Andrea), daughter Jaimie Hammerling Bern (husband Rick). Eric’s son Mateo (21) and Jaimie and Rick’s sons Zachary (13) and Ari (10) will always fondly remember her warmth, kindness and spontaneous sandwich kisses from a grandmother they called “Savta.”
Funeral Services for Myrna Hammerling will be held Thursday June 3, 2021 at 2 PM at Congregation Knesset Israel, 22 Colt Rd. Pittsfield, MA with the Rabbi David Weiner, Spiritual Leader, officiating. Burial will follow in Knesset Israel Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks to honor her life by following in her footsteps. Do something generous, selfless, and meaningful for others in your community. Go out of your way to be kind and welcoming to someone who just moved to your neighborhood. Set an example for others to follow.
Donations can be made to the "Hammerling/Adult Education Fund" at Knesset Israel, 16 Colt Road, Pittsfield MA 01201, or to your favorite cause. To add to the Book of Memories, please visit
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Service Details

  • Service

    Thursday, June 3rd, 2021 | 2:00pm
    Thursday, June 3rd, 2021 2:00pm
    Congregation Knesset Israel
    16 Colt Rd.
    PITTSFIELD, MA 01201
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
  • Interment

    Knesset Israel Cemetery
    484 Pecks Rd.
    PITTSFIELD, MA 01201
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email


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Dave Mourad and Heather MacFarlane

Posted at 05:01pm
Myrna was as authentic a person as we had ever met. She embraced and lived the values that were important to her and the world at large. Much love...
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Jeff Ardis

Posted at 01:42pm
My condolences to Eric and Jamie for the loss of both parents in such a short time.

I was a housemate of Eric's in WDC by way of an ad in the local paper, and we have remained friends for (gosh) 30 years. Once every few, Ellie couldn't make the annual trip to Ann Arbor for Michigan football and he'd invite me along - but I did have the pleasure of one trip that included Ellie and Myrna.

Wonderful people to travel with, warm and a little salty when we encouraged Myrna to be more expressive on a whim :) I will miss her.

Jeff Ardis
Sturbridge, MA

Mara Winn

Posted at 06:42pm
I feel so blessed to have been able to study with Myrna every week on ZOOM during the pandemic. She always had wonderful insights to share and encouraged everyone to discuss and share their thoughts. Those sessions brought such warmth and comfort into my life, I will always remember them and her fondly.
Mara Winn

Wendy Coakley

Posted at 12:11pm
As a member of St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in Pittsfield, I would like Myrna's family and congregation to know how much I appreciated her involvement with my sons' First Communion classes. In her role as educator at Knesset Israel, she generously volunteered her time to teach the children about Passover and the Seder, gently reminding them (and their parents!) that the Last Supper which is so central to Eucharist theology was, in all likelihood, a Passover Seder. She was such a gifted teacher - my boys are two years apart and I remember vividly how, in both cases, their occasionally rambunctious classmates settled right down to listen to her speak and watch her demonstration.

My sincere condolences to all who loved Myrna.

Wendy Webster Coakley
Lenox, Mass.

Sharon Karlin

Posted at 08:50pm
My father really enjoyed contributing to the tapestry that Myrna put together in Knesset Israel's social hall. He was very proud of his parents. Myrna put her heart and soul into everything that she did. Sharon Karlin

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