Rava A. Zee

Zee—Rava A. Zee (nee: Nora J. van der Water), 75, on June 3, 2022, of complications from dementia, including COVID-19 and pneumonia, in Philadelphia, Pa. Rava was born in Philadelphia on February 17, 1947, the daughter of Eric and Betty van der Water. She was a member of Doylestown (Pa.) Meeting from 1960 to 1975, and a lifetime Quaker at heart.

Rava attended public schools in Philadelphia and Bucks County, Pa. She received a bachelor’s degree from Temple University in Philadelphia. While an undergraduate student, she met her future husband, the noted sociologist Szabi Ishtai-Zee. They were married for more than 50 years.

Rava had many artistic talents. She was an accomplished artist, sculptor, seamstress, chess player, and flautist. She had a dry, witty sense of humor.

In the 1970s and ’80s, she teamed with her brother, John “Jacques” van der Water, and they became “Puppets by Jacques & Rava,” making puppets to sell at crafts fairs and at Head House Square in the Society Hill neighborhood of Philadelphia. The pair also produced a great many puppet plays and performed in schools, hospitals, department stores, malls, fairs, libraries, and at many other social functions.

Rava became interested in therapeutic art education for special needs children and taught at the Home of the Merciful Savior (HMS), a school for children with cerebral palsy, and for the visually impaired at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Rava was predeceased by two and a half months by her husband, Szabi Ishtai-Zee. She is survived by a brother, John van der Water (Dan Polastre); a sister-in-law, Elizabeth Lineberger; one niece; several grandnieces and grandnephews; and many cousins.

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