I met Marcia at a gathering of concerned Jews in Barbara Kane’s living room in Manhattan either in late 2001 or early 2002. She was just back from a trip to Israel, and brought us up to date on what was happening on the ground. Being Marcia, she challenged us to get more actively engaged, and informed us of an upcoming conference of peace activists in Washington who were going to discuss the formation of a grassroots Jewish organization opposed to the occupation, and to advocate for a 2 state solution, so desperately needed given the stifling of dissent in the organized Jewish community. I was so moved by her presentation that I agreed to attend the conference scheduled for late April.
It was a life-changing decision. As it turned out, my long ago first love, Gil Kulick was also planning on attending. We met before the start of the conference, attended it together, and have been so ever since. Moreover, we were among the founders and active members of Brit Tzedek v’Shalom. Gil was on the board till its merger with J Street.
Since then, my personal friendship with Marcia grew. We made sure to spend time together on her visits to New York and mine to the Bay area. We both were deeply involved in work concerning seniors, and how to help enable people to remain living in their own homes even as they grew older and more frail. My work was on helping organize supportive communities for people residing in NORCs (naturally occurring retirement communities) and she in the Village model. As a founder and leader of the Ashby Village, Marcia helped build an organization that has succeeded in providing such support. This past year as she grappled with declining health she was a beneficiary of what she helped to build.
On my last visit to Oakland in late August, I had the good fortune to have brunch with Marcia, who seemed to be doing well after her hospitalization last spring, and I said so. It was then that she broke the bad news that she was given less than 6 months to live. She assured me that she was reconciled, that she knew she had lived a fulfilling life, was grateful that she would have the time to say her goodbyes and finish whatever she felt necessary, and most especially to die in her own home. She was so glad that her daughter was coming to be there with her, and thankfully was there at her end.
Marcia Freedman, of blessed memory, was a remarkable woman, a change agent, a force for good, who made her presence known in so many ways. She lived a life of purpose and meaning. I for one know that my life has been enriched because of her, and so very sad because I won’t be able to visit with her anymore…