Monday, February 22, 2010

Saying Goodbye to an Authentic Hero

This week marked a tragedy, not only for those of us who were privileged enough to know her and work with her, but for all of us and any of us who are truly intrested in creating a more just and compassionate society. Norma Cohen, who passed away this past week was the heart and soul of the Long Island Chapter of The Interfaith Alliance inspiring us all with her keen intellect, her insights, her absolute integrity and her willingness, even as her seemingly boundless energy finally began to fail her, to get down and do whatever it took to defend the religious and civil liberties of her fellows, and to promote peace. Even in the last few months, when it became harder for her to get to our meetings, her spirit loomed large in everything we did as it always will. One of the proudest moments of my life was watching her receive the honor she deserved at the national Interfaith Alliance banquet this past Fall and to be privileged enough to sit with her and her remarkable husband and family at their table.

Norma Cohen was a remarkable woman of many gifts, who understood that we are put on this earth to share what we have for the benefit of all. She was always on the side of right, but she was never self-righteous. She had little patience for hypocrisy or oppression, but she had a lot of patience for people. She and Harvey were an inspiration both in the work that they did and in the way they lived their lives together, in the family they raised, in the big and the small things they did. Like all of us at TIA and in all the various capacities that she served her fellow human beings, I will miss Norma more than I can express. But I will always be proud, very proud to remember that she called me "friend." Hers was a life well lived, a life that mattered.