This growing online collection contains reminiscences of a variety of recently deceased American Jewish women who made a difference in their community and beyond.
Buz Hahn lived life the way she wanted, standing up for what was right, kneeling down to lend a hand and always, always getting the most out of every experience. When Buz died earlier this year at age 74, there were tears, of course. But there were no regrets for opportunities squandered. Nobody could say she lived anything less than a full and fantastic life.
Once she became a famous performer, Hart was always aware of which musical theater greats shared her lineage. "Everybody in the theater was Jewish," she declared matter-of-factly. "Except Cole Porter." She only gradually became aware of antisemitism around her. "I went to a dinner party – and in those days, everybody dressed up for dinner parties," she recalled. "And they were talking about the Jews in a way that was just awful. It was unbearable. And I got up in the middle of dinner, and I said, 'I am Jewish, and I won't sit here and listen to this kind of talk for another five minutes.' And I left. The bravest thing I ever did."
Rivka got me to other agunah rallies, including a pitiful one with five other women circling the tiny front yard of a Manhattan brownstone. It was my last agunah rally but not Rivka’s. She never gave up and never turned down a request for help. For her, it was about justice and compassion, not numbers.
She encouraged people of all ages, especially young people, to keep a journal and record their stories. She believed that all stories were unique to the individuals writing them and each life story important in its own way.
…Her ability to see the potential in every person and to help translate that potential towards reality – through teaching and shared organizing; through coaxing and prodding towards action; but mostly, through the most respectful and honest listening one could ever encounter – had enormous political ramifications.
In every organization in which she was involved, she was recognized not only for her effective leadership but for her independence, intellect, hard work and kind heart.
She was a natural-born writer, she wrote long hand-written letters ... I can't begin to summarize the contents of the hundreds of letters that passed between Eva and me over more than 45 years of friendship ... Eva's letters were graceful, evocative retelling of events, powerful confessions of emotion and desires, and commentaries on my own struggles with writing.
She cared passionately about the arts, Boston, literature, politics, and her family and friends… She was one of those Jewish women who helped pry the door open continually so that others less assertive than she could follow.
We should hear her when we need courage to oppose sexism, whether political, historical, or unconscious; when we strive to balance family commitments with demands of career; and when we seek to follow in her footsteps to chart new paths in making and writing Jewish history.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "We Remember." (Viewed on January 31, 2015) <http://jwa.org/weremember/toc/H>.