I recently received two striking letters at the RFC. Although they are very different in almost every regard - tone, content, and the personal histories of the authors - taken together I believe they illuminate the core of the RFC and our work.
The first communication came from a supporter who wished to share her memory of her late husband’s response to the execution of my grandparents:
The evening Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were killed (it was a Friday night) my husband – who was a rabbi – preached a powerful sermon about the injustice of the murder. [He] also said it was deliberate and heinous of the state to choose to commit the murder, which it was, on the Sabbath. It didn’t matter he said, that they were secular Jews… the fact remained that they were Jewish, and the judge – who was himself a “member of the tribe” – knew this full well and did it and showed his contempt for them and was forever guilty in their death. It was a wanton, cruel act done without a whit of justice, without pity, without reason.
I will never forget that sermon. It was a long time ago and [my husband] has been dead many years, but whatever the quarrels we had, this one courageous and commendable act he committed. I will not forget it for it holds – for me – the key to the injustice of that decision, which leaves a stain on the memory of that judge, forever, and cannot be erased by any current actions on the part of our generation.
The second note came from a former beneficiary who, along with her siblings and cousins, received grants from us for many years and attended several Gatherings (RFC-hosted retreats for our beneficiaries to meet one another). She shared:
I've been carrying this RFC contribution card around with me for I don't know how long...never quite felt like I had the extra cash to send you a check, but always intended to one day...
I'm always inspired to read your newsletter and blog posts, and the [grant] I received from you during college was very helpful, and both my trips [to RFC Gatherings] were pretty eye opening & very enlightening. Though I come from a strong family & community of activists, it was still very striking to get to meet & hang out with a bunch of young people who had similar (yet different) experiences.
Both notes were accompanied by modest donations. These letters (and the others like them that people from across the country send to us year after year) represent the RFC community so well. They encompass the horror of my grandparents’ executions for those forever impacted by Julius and Ethel’s deaths and the actions (or inactions) of the writers’ families, communities, friends and society. At the same time, these letters reflect the hope which infuses our work: providing children and youth experiencing oppression because of their parents’ progressive activism, with the support of many thousands of people committed to making sure our grantees can attend summer camp, visit an incarcerated parent or grandparent, receive therapy, take art classes and know that they are not alone.
I am grateful for both of these contributors and all the others who have come to the RFC from so many different paths in our 25 years. Collectively, they continue to honor my grandparents’ legacy of resistance and their “sure knowledge,” as they wrote in their final letter to my father and uncle, “that others would carry on after us.”
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