Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Archive for the tag “Jewish tradition”

A Year On – Remembering Rebecca

Today is the first anniversary of the death of a dear friend, Rebecca Dale. She passed away after battling cancer for many years. Rebecca would have been 45 years old today and leaves behind a wonderful family who, however you try and positively frame it, have been denied an amazing, kind and loving mother and wife.

In the week before she passed, as she lay in bed, drifting between pain and sleep, she struggled  to try and work out how to help me with my children as my wife was out of the country. That sums up the type of person she was. When I came to the US several years ago, it was clear to her that I, and later my family, would live with them, until we found our feet, even though she didn’t know us very well (her husband and I go back 30 years and he and my wife are good friends).

Over the past year we have tried to be there for her husband and children. But everyone gets embroiled in the day-to-day and I left with the distinct feeling that we never did enough … that we can never do enough … that the task is simply to awesome.

Today, in the Jewish tradition, her family and friends will gather at her grave and leave a permanent marker – a stone setting, we call it. Then we will return to the family’s house and have a barbeque and exchange memories and stories. There will be many people because Rebecca touched the lives of so many.

We will try and celebrate the life of an amazing woman, but it won’t be easy. It never will. It never should.

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/ and on Twitter (@alonshalevsf).

A Tribute to Debbie Friedman

Debbie Friedman passed away 30 days ago today. In Jewish tradition, the shloshim (thirtieth day after death) marks the end of the mourning period. I would like to pay tribute to a musical icon in the Jewish and interfaith world.

This past Friday night, our Hillel Jewish Student Center lit up to the voices of students singing a song she wrote – Miriam’s Song. It is a empowering song for Jewish women and, in particular, the female students were in full song.

I am not sure that any words can pay better tribute than the vibrancy of young Jewish women as they put their arms around each other and sang the words of Miriam’s Song. Debbie – you will be sadly missed, but your songs will continue your legacy for generations to come.
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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com

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