To Shoshana – December 30, 1992 – April 28, 2006
Shoshana was a very private person. She was not one to boast or brag about herself. She believed that the facts of her life were personal and not for general public consumption. She would have been very uncomfortable to have her life talked about by people she did not know. While we would normally respect her wishes, in the last few days we have discovered the (literally) 1000’s of people Shoshana touched and feel an obligation to issue a statement about our memory of her and how we wish her to be remembered.
Our family has been overwhelmed by the tremendous support the Community has given us in this time of tragedy. Hundreds of people have come to us with offers of support and aid. So many we cannot keep track of all these gifts and cannot possibly thank each person individually and appropriately. We wish to thank everyone for their kindness and compassion at this time, but we wish to remind everyone of all the others who suffering because of her untimely death. Please share the support you are giving us with her friends, her fellow students, her teachers and coaches, and all those in pain.
When Shoshana was born 13 years ago we gave a small speech at her baby naming. In it we said we wished she had the typical blessings parents wanted for their children - intelligence, happiness, etc. At the end of it we said the blessing we most wished her was contentment and compassion, for we believed those were the keys to a truly successful life.
In her 13 years Shoshana exemplified all these blessings.
Shoshana’s most extraordinary attribute was her zeal for joy and life. She had the blessing of not just finding joy, but savoring every moment to its fullest. This was not a selfish zeal. She worked hard at making all others see life with the same dynamic power she did. And it was a positive zeal that didn’t seek joy at the cost of ethics or harm to others. Her boisterous sense of humor and keen wit were her main tools she used to bring joy to everyone.
It was this zeal which probably created one of her other great attributes, her great compassion. The number of people, classmates and others, who told us how Shoshana would sit, listen and heal them through their troubles, has overwhelmed us. We never knew. Shoshana never told us about this. When she lived we would from time to time hear about her helping a classmate and ask her about it and she would simply say “Oh – so and so needed help – so I listened and talked to him.” This compassion was as intrinsic to her as breathing and she never thought more than it was to be done.
This compassion stretched beyond those Shoshana knew to the whole world. Shoshana had a tremendous love of animals (particularly horses) and dreamed of becoming a Veterinarian. She was already shadowing our family Vet and planning to work in his office to learn more. Her love of animals led her to want to volunteer at Town Lake Animal Center, and they started the youth volunteering program because of her. Beyond animals she was concerned about global issues stretching from the Environment to the genocide in Darfur.
On top of this Shoshana had a deep and keen mind. We would hold fairly sophisticated discussions over politics and philosophy. Shoshana showed an intellectual and moral honesty unique in a girl of her age. She did not allow people (especially her parents) to use habit or rationalization to act in a way that varied from the proper rules of conduct. She freely spoke out against this and defended people against rude conduct and insults of third parties. Shoshana was an excellent student at the Kealing magnet program, worked hard to have good grades, showed great talent in art, sculpture and writing. But if there was one area of intellectual pursuit she loved more than anything else it was reading. She often had five or six books going at a time and would check books out of the library by the armload.
Shoshana was also very athletic. She loved soccer and played on school and recreation teams. She would ride her bike daily to build up endurance and health.
But we can go on and on about Shoshana’s positive attributes, but She was no saint. She was a 13-year-old girl with the faults that entails. There were times she could be quite selfish, but she would often understand she behaved badly and make extra efforts to improve and care more to make up for it. She was quite competitive and this would sometimes affect her behavior to people, particularly her younger brother who she hated to compete with. In this last year, as they grew in different directions and competed less, they had a remarkably good relationship. Also she had a biting and sardonic tongue she would lash out with at those she didn’t care for (usually people she thought were mean, backbiting and selfish).
One place Shoshana would often discuss things was in the car while her father was driving her to her carpool to Kealing. In February, just after her Bat Mitzvah on such a ride, she asked about afterlife and soul. Shoshana and her father discussed it for the next week while driving. They came to the conclusion there was no soul as we conventionally think of it. No white shaped cloud in Heaven in shape of a person. After all, so much of what we act like depends on our body (is it the hungry and grumpy Grandpa Russell which will go to Heaven or the well fed and kind one). They concluded that what one believed, thought and felt mattered little. What mattered was how you acted. If you acted in true effort to repair the world (Tikkun Olam) then those repairs would echo in the metaphysical and the Lord would remember you. When this world was long gone and the sun had burnt out, it was the remembrance of you in the infinite memory of God that was the true afterlife and gave life meaning.
We have learned very bitterly and painfully in the last week how much this was true. When the divine spark that was Shoshana’s life left her body, what she felt, believed, and dreamed departed with her. But her acts in this world live on.
We are touched by the memorial projects that have sprung up organically at the schools she attended, in the Jewish community and at Town Lake Animal Shelter. These projects show her zeal for action lives beyond her. We approve of those projects, and appreciate the desire to continue her deeds and memory. If you wish to contribute in her name to the Town Lake Animal Shelter (1156 W. Cesar Chavez, Austin Texas 78703), Kealing (1607 Pennsylvania Ave, Austin, Texas 78702) or Congregation Kol Halev (3415 Greystone Drive #307, Austin Texas 78731) or any other project or charity in her memory – please do so. [or now to the various funds set up in her name at Austin Community Foundation]
Unfortunately she can no longer act for herself and we must act for her.
But we ask two additional things of those who remember her.
First we simply ask you record your memories of her and send them to us either by posting them at the guestbook at http://www.chelm.org/shoshana or if you prefer to send them to us privately email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Second, we ask you continue to let her inspire you and act to heal the world.
If you are inspired to live life with positive joy and zeal because of Shoshana, live your life with that zeal, and dedicate a bit of that zeal to Shoshana.
If you learned to listen and be compassionate to your fellow humans from Shoshana, act on it and credit Shoshana for the lesson.
If you want to help animals, or care for the world and issues in it because Shoshana did, do so and remember Shoshana as you do it.
If you fight against a rudeness or are more intellectually honest because of Shoshana’s stands, take those stands and be proud in Shoshana’s name.
If in anyway Shoshana’s life touched you positively we ask you use that and live life positively remembering the remarkable girl of 13 who helped you do that.
In this way Shoshana will continue in the world and live in the memory of the Lord.
Her parents Tina Huckabee and Steven Weintraub and her brother Aaron.