The Passing of Adrienne Harber
Adrienne Harber, of Boulder, died recently of liver cancer. Unfortunately, once diagnosed, it spread quickly. She died shortly after the condition was diagnosed. Virginia Culver’s obituary of Harber printed in the Denver Post (click on her name above) does Adrienne justice. It is very nice and appropriate.
I saw Adrienne twice in the past year, the first time at a small informal memorial of another long time friend and Jewish progressive – Hedda Dayan who was her dear and long time friend. We spoke at some length then. I also saw her at WILPF meeting of which she was a dedicated member. I was asked to talk about lobbying for Middle East peace a few weeks later. It was a good productive meeting.
I just want to talk about one aspect of her work where our interests converged. In Culver’s obituary, Adrienne’s work for Middle East peace is mentioned and Elissa Tivona is quoted. Together with two others – Leslie Lomas and Jill Breslau – Adrienne and Elissa - four Jewish women – organized what I consider to be a `watershed’ conference on Israeli-Palestinian peace making here in Colorado – at least for the state’s Jewish Community.
Up until that time, in the years I had been in Colorado since 1969, there was nothing like it.
Called `Perspectives on Peacemaking’ and taking place in 2002 (I believe) it brought together some 300 or so people from all over Colorado (mostly front range) most of which were Jewish, and most of which were astounded to see how many progressive Jews (on Israel Palestine) existed in the Front Range, whom, despite minor differences, supported the creation of a viable Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza and Israel security within its 1967 borders.
It was like a progressive Jewish `coming out’ party and while the program was excellent – even more important for us all to know was the simple fact that we weren’t alone, nor marginal and that indeed, the polls which have for years indicated mainstream Jewish sentiment for a two state solution and opposition to Israeli occupation practices were genuine.
Shortly before the `Perspectives for Peacemaking’ Conference another small organization formed called `Colorado Jews For A Just Peace’ that had essentially the same program (and whose founding meeting was equally emotionally powerful for those in attendance). Adrienne was `a founding member’ of that too. The conference and CJJP are all history in a way, but they opened the ground for organizations that would follow – J-Street, B’rit Tzedek, Tikkun, Jewish Voice For Peace – all of which have entered into the lexicon of American Jewish life and, here and there, even pierced – or probed – its mainstream.
Adrienne was at `ground zero’ – the center of that organizing effort, an effort the heart and soul of which was put together by four progressive Jewish women. She was an organizer in the best sense of the term…and countered the annoying pessimism of people like myself with a permanent optimism and sense of humanity.
I’ll miss her. Maybe she and Hedda are already up there organizing in heaven where she’ll be just as effective as she was here down below