Marilyn Krensky Smith
My mother -- Marilyn Krensky Smith -- felt grateful and immensely lucky to grow up with her extended American family intact. She was raised in the holocaust's shadow; acutely aware of the 6 million killed. When she learned about the Jewish connection to ethical wills, she wrote about wanting "to leave more than money and memory but a statement of legacy...the last and most precious gift from me." While an ethical will provided a context to begin to mourn a very full and greatly shortened life, it also provided meaning in memorializing 6 million sols who died never knowing if legacy would proceed them.
While she was not religious, she loved Jewish communal life. My years at home were filled with community and extended family -- engagement, meaning, respect and joy was where the action was. "...Only through action, morality and compassion does one earn a good name...I hope that you will choose -- consciously and proudly -- to be who you are -- life life Jewishly and that...world politics will provide you and your children the opportunity of freedom that should never be taken for granted." She appreciated all voices in the conversation as evidence of freedom. Non-participation was never an option.
Her legacy -- written and lived -- was large; filled with wisdom, humor, hope and love. In spite of my earliey years of rebellion, her legacy seeped slowly into my DNA and later my consciousness. Although my mother died at age 48, 30-plus years ago, I am filled with connection and joy knowing that her legacy percolates inside of me, has not been lost and is carried forward with the grandchildren she never knew.