Sybelle Timberlake

Sybelle Timberlake

URBANA – Sybelle Timberlake, 85, passed away at 8:58 a.m. Wednesday (Dec. 6, 2017) at her home in Urbana.

Sybelle was born on Sept. 17, 1932, in Brooklyn, N.Y., to David and Frieda (Hollinger) Sherman. After earning a degree in psychology from Brooklyn College, she attended Hunter College and then began a career in education, teaching elementary school in New York, and later in Chicago and then in Urbana, where she also taught special ed and taught English to students ranging from elementary school through junior college.

When she wasn't working, Sybelle enjoyed a number of avocations, including writing poetry and short stories (and even a few songs), painting and sculpting, Yiddish and international folk dancing, gardening, yoga and tai chi, and reading literature in English and Yiddish. She maintained a lively interest in her cultural heritage, enjoying reading Yiddish and contemporary Jewish literature, listening and dancing to Yiddish music, and participating in a weekly Torah study group.

One of the highlights of recent years was a trip to KlezKanada, an institute for Yiddish/Jewish culture and the arts, in 2008. She had always wanted to return and had made plans to do so this year, a plan sadly prevented by her final illness.

Sybelle is survived by her sons, Elan Omessi and Josh Timberlake; brothers, Rubin and Russell Sherman; husband, Scott Rohde; five grandchildren; and four nieces.

Sybelle will be remembered as a caring wife, mother, grandmother, aunt and friend and will be sorely missed by all those to whom she gave so much.

A special thanks goes to the caretakers who watched over and comforted Sybelle in her final months.

A burial service will be held at 11 a.m. Friday, Dec. 8, at Mount Hope Cemetery, Champaign with Rabbi Jody Cook officiating. A meal of condolence will follow.

Online condolences may be made at

In lieu of other expressions of sympathy, please send donations to the Yiddish Book Center, 1021 West St., Amherst, MA 01002, or to the KlezKanada Institute for Yiddish/Jewish Culture and the Arts at: KlezKanada, c/o Pete Rushefsky, Executive Director, Center for Traditional Music and Dance, 32 Broadway, Suite 1314, New York, NY 10004.

The following is an excerpt from "Ruth's Song," written by Sybelle in 2000:

Where you go, I will follow

I will follow, follow thee.

Where you go, I will follow

Where you go, there I'll be.

I will love you like a daughter,

And your people shall be mine.

Let me come and sit beside you.

Let me share your cup of wine.