Tale of Bashert

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Part Five Holy Land

Marti expressed the cultural identification in these words: “It felt like going home.” But, the Holy Land had another layer of meaning, as the sacred site for three of the world’s major religions.  On the first day of Marti’s trip to Israel, she planted a tree, which is a long-held tradition, signifying both the forestation of the land and a personal tribute (Interview Aug. 2012).

Justice, tikkun olam, bashert—a tapestry of connections—led to another transformation. In the early 2000s, Beth El, Marti’s current Conservative synagogue, hired an Argentinean cantor and rabbi. “Music has always had a direct line to my soul” (Interview Aug. 2012). The rabbi’s sermons and the cantor’s contagious, spiritual energy stimulated an urgency to act. Marti’s conscience challenged her, demanding,

What are you doing NOW? How are you treating others NOW? What messages and lessons are you passing on to your children through your words and actions NOW Tikkun olam—what are you doing to make the world a better place NOW? What mitzvot (good deeds) are you carrying out TODAY? (Interview Aug. 2012 )

No external voices chanting “Justice, justice will you pursue” were necessary. Shoftim’s Bat Mitzvah lesson was now internalized, to the benefit of family and friends, the Jewish community, the UNO and larger academic community, and beyond.

Marti’s legacy, at this juncture of her life, is broad and deep. I hope that I have recorded here what Marti might have said about herself and what our prayer book commands:  “Write thereon only that which you want remembered about you.” But Marti’s humility would have struck out my words, reflecting the verse in Shoftim that warns the Jewish people not to make a monument of themselves. Nevertheless, what is carved on her father’s gravestone is no less applicable to her father’s daughter: “He lives on in the acts of goodness he performed.”