She came each Sabbath to the Tifereth Israel Synagogue from Silver Spring, her pocketbook bulging with traditional Jewish cookies (ruggleh), candies and lollipops to give to children in the congregation when they began to squirm in ther seats or wander from their parents during the services.
A tiny, white-haired woman, somewhat stout, and always unassuming, as her friends recalled, she was known as "the grandmother of the congregation."
Yesterday most of the families of the Tifereth Israel congregation were represented at the funeral service for Rose Cohen Blanco, 68, who was fatally shot Tuesday morning as she washed her living room window. Police have yet to find her assailant, or establish any motive for her killing.
They came - doctors who had left their offices, lawyers who gave up their lunch hours to attend the 2 p.m. service at the synagogue at 16th and Juniper Streets NW. They heard Mrs. Blanco eulogized by her rabbi as "a loving and beloved woman with a heart of gold."
The sanctuary of the synagogue, normally "crawling with kids," according to one member, was filled almost to capacity yesterday with adults. But Marica Goldberg had brought along her two children, Devra, 5, and Eliot, 7. The youngsters had insisted on it, Mrs. Goldberg said.
"Devra said she wanted to go (to the service) because Mrs. Blanco was her best friend. My son protested at that and said she was his best friend too, and he wanted to go also," Mrs. Goldberg said.
"Some people win their place in heaven as a result of a single hour, a single heroic act," Rabbi A. Natihan Abramowitz told the congregation as he looked down at Mrs. Blanco's simple wooden casket.
"But Rose Blanco won her place in heaven - and in our hearts - with the smiles she gave when her heart was broken; with the concern she showed for us when she needed attention more than we; with the help she gave on the Sabbath; with the candies and home-baked goodies she brought for the children," the rabbi said in a soft emotion-soaked voice.
The Blancos joined the congregation four years ago after their only son died and just a month after the death of their eldest daughter in a fire.
Since then, Blanco has been the congregation's voluntary sexton, and his wife, "the organic matrix which made the congregations into a family," according to Dr. Jack Zeller. Zeller, a Washington Physician, left his office Tuesday afternoon immediately after receiving news of Mrs. Blanco's death and spent the afternoon with his wife at the Blanco home.
Both Zeller and a D.C. lawyer sent the entire night at the Baltimore medical examiner's office, where the body was taken, in keeping with the Jewish "SHMIRA", tradition, by which friends of the deceased keep a vigil over the body.
"These two men are busy people but they packed air mattresses and went up to Baltimore; that was what this woman meant to the people of the congregation," said Barbara (Babs) Abramowitz, wife of the rabbi.
Friends said the Blancos' devotion to the temple was matched only by their devotion to each other. "They were an incredible source of inspiration and strength to the younger people in the congregation . . . They showed us something about relationships," said David Cohen, president of Common Cause, a citizens' lobby, who also attended yesterday's funeral.
The Blancos married in their native Brooklyn 48 years ago, Rabbi Abramowitz told the congregation. He was a Sephardic jew whose ancestors had come from Syria, she an Ashkenazic Jew whose family emigrated from Romania. A marriage between the two strains of Judaism was highly unusual at that time. But Blanco reassured his future wife's family by showing them the Jewish prayer book he is never without, the rabbi said.
yesterday, Abraham (A1) Blanco, surrounded by his daughter, Carol White, and his six grandchildren, sat far from the fourth-row seat where he and his wife normally sat on the Sabbath. He sobbed throughout the service.
In keeping with the congregation's belief that all members of the synagogue are part of an extended family, the Tifereth Israel congregation is underwriting the cost of the Blanco funeral, according to Phil Shandler, past president of the congregation.
Police said they have questioned two men who were seen driving a silver and red truck near the Blanco home at 2301 East-West Hwy, a short time before the slaying, but still have no suspects, according to Lt. Thomas Rufty, who is conducting the investigation.