The year after Ben and Marla were killed was a year of mourning for our whole community, even for those, like me, who never had the pleasure of meeting them. The first Yom Iyun shel Chesed enabled us to come together and celebrate the lives of two fellow students by creating something positive from the midst of this tragedy, some light from the darkness. Marla and Ben had been in the Pardes Educators Program, learning, working, and planning to become Jewish educators. As such, we were able to tangibly feel the immense positive influence these future teachers would have undoubtedly had on the lives of thousands of children.
One idea behind the Yom Iyun shel Chesed was that this would become a yearly Pardes tradition that would eventually impact thousands of people for the better, just as Ben and Marla surely would have. It was therapeutic for our immediate Pardes community at that time, and it also was a way to somehow make up for Ben and Marla’s lives being cut so short.
Reflecting on this now, it’s powerful and rewarding to be here in person and to see that indeed this tradition is alive and thriving today, ten years later. Our greatest hopes, nascent in that very first Yom Iyun shel Chesed, are every year coming to fruition. The legacy of Marla and Ben, who were both so committed to making Jerusalem and the world a better place, is truly commemorated and celebrated each and every year through the annual Yom Iyun shel Chesed.
Stu Jacobs (PEP ’11-’13), who was first at Pardes as a year student in 2002-2003 and helped organize the very first Yom Iyun shel Chesed, reflects upon Ben and Marla’s legacy of kindness.