Vivian Fish Forman

by | Sep 8, 2022 | Obituaries

Virginia Beach—Vivian Fish Forman died at the age of 83 on August 22, 2022.

She was beloved and survived by her four children (and their spouses), Julie (Lewis Kay), Joseph, Sharon (Steven Marx) and Alisa, her grandchildren Raphael, Shira, Abby, Josh, and Ben, and her sisters Miriam and Cherie (Bill Artz), and sister-in-law Joy (Judah) Fish. She was predeceased by her parents, Joseph and Esther, and her brothers Judah, Charlie, and David.

Vivian was a devoted wife for more than 30 years to the father of her children and her former husband, Rabbi Lawrence A. Forman, serving as the rabbi’s wife in his pulpits including at Ohef Sholom Temple in Norfolk, Virginia.

Born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, she lived in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and Cleveland, Ohio, moving in 1970 to the Tidewater Virginia area, where she remained.

Vivian was a proud graduate of Walnut Hills High School and the University of Cincinnati. She worked as a primary school teacher and later as a Hebrew School teacher at several synagogues in the Tidewater area. She served as president of Congregation Beth El Sisterhood and on other committees there, as well as working with Young Audiences Arts for Learning. Vivian was a lifelong learner. She carried a deeply religious spirit and her Jewish faith defined her very essence. Vivian loved to go to synagogue and study groups, as well as studying the weekly Torah portion on her own. Since 2020, she regularly attended Sabbath and holiday services, classes, and Passover seders on Zoom, most often those led by her children.

Vivian loved the arts and culture, including Shakespeare and classical music. She played piano and listened to the Metropolitan Opera broadcasts nearly every Saturday. One of her greatest joys was listening to her young children play string quartets and solo instruments and she instilled in all of them a deep love of music and the arts. Not everyone knew that Vivian was a lover of the many family pets and of roses, and that she was a devoted Cincinnati Reds baseball fan. She was also a fanatical Jeopardy aficionado, with an incredible storehouse of knowledge, including every major university’s fight song, details of American history, and Mozart Köchel and Bach BWV listing numbers.

Vivian wanted to be known as a good mother and a good person—and she was! She was devoted to her many friends and spent hours on the phone connecting with them. Vivian embodied the ideal of “love your neighbor as yourself” and cherished her literal and virtual neighbors. Her heart was open to so many causes that she could not resist giving to an incredible array of charities, including medical, scientific, educational, political, patriotic, cultural, and Jewish organizations.

Vivian lived by the saying from one of her favorite Jewish texts, the Ethics of the Fathers (Pirkei Avot): “Who is rich? Those who are happy with their lot.” She was always grateful for her blessings, especially her family and friends, enriching experiences, and the support of those who were part of her medical team. She particularly enjoyed connecting with her family and other communities during COVID on Zoom, which enabled her to see her loved ones who live and work far from her home and to celebrate birthdays and other milestones together.

Her family extends their heartfelt gratitude to all who helped take care of Vivian during the past challenging years, with special appreciation for those at the Beth Sholom Terrace assisted living facility who cared for her during her final years when she faced many health difficulties with grace and resilience.

Vivian will be deeply missed by so many. May her memory be an abiding blessing. Donations in memory of Vivian and her beautiful life can be made to Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem ( Notes of condolence may be sent to or to Joseph Forman, 296 Barbertown Idell Rd., Frenchtown, New Jersey 08825-4015. Her funeral was held at Temple Israel in Norfolk, and included a private burial in suburban Philadelphia, where she was laid to rest with other members of her family.