Noe Valley Voice April 2009

E'nam Fatima Abu-nie, 1958-2009

By Steve Steinberg

E'nam Fatima Abu-nie, wife of the owner of Shufat Market at the corner of 24th and Church streets, has passed away. Abu-nie, a warm, smiling person known to many of her Noe Valley customers as "Maria" or "Mrs. Shufat," died of a stroke on Jan. 14 at the age of 50. According to her niece, Suhad Omar, she collapsed in front of her house on Church Street on Jan. 12. Rushed to the hospital, she died two days later.

Abu-nie was born in East Jerusalem before the Arab-Israeli Six-Day War of 1967, when East Jerusalem was still controlled by Jordan. She married at the age of 15 and emigrated to San Francisco the same year with her husband, Jamil (or James, as he is known here), his three brothers, and their families. The Abu-nie family settled in Noe Valley, where 30 members of the family still reside.

The mother of five children--four boys and a girl--E'nam Abu-nie was active in running the market. "She opened the store almost every day," said Omar, who characterized her aunt as very youthful, someone who was "always happy, always laughing, and was a very understanding person."

When not in the store, Abu-nie devoted her energies to her children, and to cooking and shopping for food. "She loved to shop at Costco and the farmers market," said Omar. The dedicated mother saw to it that her five children all received a college education.

Her son, Amer Abu-nie, said, "Everyone who knew E'nam remembers her sweet and genuine smile. Although we can no longer physically see it, her beautiful smile exists in our hearts."

Towards the end of her life, E'nam Abu-nie expressed a desire to return to Jerusalem and finish out her days. "She missed her relatives in Jerusalem," Omar said, noting that her aunt hadn't seen some of her siblings in 30 years.

In the weeks after Abu-nie's death, Shufat Market at 3807 24th Street was filled with flowers and notes from loyal customers. The Abu-nie family issued a statement, thanking the market's many patrons for their condolences, love, and support. It continued with the words: "The kindness and love people have given has been a significant source of strength in dealing with the passing of a woman who embodies strength, courage, truth, and a passion for the well-being of humanity."