These and Those

Musings from Students of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem

[Alumni Guest Post] Beloved Ben and Marla: Teaching for their Memory

Posted on July 31, 2014 by Amanda Pogany

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amanpogIt’s been 12 years since we lost our friends Ben and Marla and this day never seems to get easier. I dread July 31st. Every year I hope that somehow we will transition from July 30 directly to August 1st. And somehow this year feels harder. Knowing that we are back in a moment of fear, of loss, and of great tragedy for Israel, for Jewish people around the world, and for the innocent victims caught in between.

On this day I am reminded of my blessings. Of my incredible family, my supportive community, my friends and my teachers. And I am reminded of possibility. For me, there is a new year ahead, another birthday, another opportunity to create, to build and to love. And then I am reminded of Marla’s 24th birthday that we celebrated together in Jerusalem. Her last one. And I still, 12 years later, am in disbelief that she won’t have another. That there is no more getting older, no more possibilities, no more opportunities.

Last week I graduated from the Day School Leadership Training Institute. Yossi Prager, Executive Director of the AVI CHAI foundation spoke to the group and as I sat and listened to him, I was reminded of the last time I graduated, 11 years ago, in the Pardes Beit Midrash, from the Pardes Educators Program. It was less than a year after we lost Ben and Marla. At the time, he charged us to do our work as educators not only for ourselves, but for the memory of our beloved Ben and Marla, and all the children they didn’t get to teach.

On most days their memory drives me to work harder and to be better. To reach more students and more families. To be more patient and loving, kind and generous. To do my part in building and sustaining my community and educating our children.

But today I’m not working hard. I’m just wrecked. I’m not driven and I’m not focused and I’m not making the world a better place. I’m taking the day to miss them, to love them, to feel the desperate pain of all of those who are grieving right now, who lost their loved ones last week, yesterday and tomorrow. And I’m praying for the end of grief, despair, and terror.

Tomorrow, I promise I’ll go back to putting everything I have and everything I am into honoring their memory. And tomorrow I will go back to being grateful that I have the opportunity to try and make the world a better place.

Amanda Pogany (Year ’01, Pardes Educators Program ’03) is the Head of the Luria Academy of Brooklyn. She and her husband Aaron Bisman live in Brooklyn, NY with their two children Asher and Maisie.