The Shalvi/Hyman Encyclopedia of Jewish Women

Features thousands of biographic and thematic essays on Jewish women around the world. Learn more

Anne Heyman

June 16, 1961–January 31, 2014

by JWA Staff
Our work to expand the Encyclopedia is ongoing. We are providing this brief biography for Anne Heyman until we are able to commission a full entry.

Philanthropist and founder of the Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village to shelter orphans of the Rwandan genocide, Anne Heyman (1961-2014).

Photo courtesy of her husband, Seth Merrin.

Inspired by the youth villages that allowed Israel to welcome staggering numbers of orphans after the Holocaust, Anne Heyman created the Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village to shelter orphans of the Rwandan genocide. Heyman graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1982 and earned a law degree from Columbia in 1985. She worked for the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, prosecuting white-collar crime, until the birth of her third child in 1994. Heyman had a significant history as a philanthropist for her family’s foundation, including chairing Dorot, a New York organization for the elderly, but a 2005 lecture on the Rwandan genocide changed her life. When she asked the speaker to identify the biggest problem Rwanda faced, she was told that a country of orphans had no future. The following year, she began plans for ASYV, which opened in 2008 and as of 2015 hosts 500 children. Taking its name from the Kinyarwandan word for “place where tears are dried” and the Hebrew word for “peace,” the village offers children counseling, education, extracurricular activities, and opportunities to give back. A skilled equestrian, Heyman died in a tragic accident during a horse-jumping competition.

Anne Heyman is a grantee of the Jewish Women’s Fund of New York (JWFNY), and is featured as part of a partnership between JWA and JWFNY spotlighting Jewish women social entrepreneurs.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Anne Heyman." (Viewed on September 27, 2023) <>.


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