Rebekah Elanna Resnick

Rebekah Resnick 7/29/70-9/05/11

Parents, Jacki and Mike Resnick; brother and sister-in-law, Jared and Jennifer Resnick; nephews, Ezra and Kol

Rebekah was born in London, England, and moved to several places both abroad and in the U.S. prior to the family settling Chapel Hill in 1979. She was Bat Mitzvah’ed at Beth El under the loving guidance of Rabbi Steve Sager and was very active in Young Judea, including Year-Course in Israel after high school. Bekah was an excellent student at Chapel Hill High School and went on to receive her Bachelor’s degree at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, where she graduated Summa cum Laude and was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa.

As described in the News and Observer obituary, Bekah’s "…focus/desire/love postgrad was working with the earth through landscaping and sustainable gardening. Bekah was a talented, highly creative artist (see pictures below) and gardener who had spent the last four years as the Garden Manager of SEEDS. SEEDS is described as a “…garden oasis in the center of Durham that works with young, old, at-risk, healthy, rich or poor people with a goal…to teach people to care for the earth themselves and each other through a variety of garden-based programs.” In the SEEDS memorial on its website, she was described as shaping and nurturing "our gardens while planting seeds of joy in every person who met her."

Rebekah had a close, warm relationship with her immediate family in Chapel Hill that included parents, a loving brother and sister-in-law and, of course, her delightful nephews Ezra and Kol, and her cousin Rachel. But Bekah’s family extended to many, many people as she never delineated between a blood relative and a friend. She simply loved people, young and old, providing support and hope, always concerned about social justice and just plain fairness, as described in the poem below. She has been described as seeing only one color—rainbow. A spiritual person, Rebekah was extremely connected with her Jewish faith and Beth El Synagogue. Her lovely ethereal voice was often heard, leading parts of Shabbat service.

The obituary concluded, "Rebekah's expansive and infectious smile lit up every room she entered and illuminated everyone's life that she touched. Although she is physically gone we can all rest well knowing that she returns to the earth that she loved and was ultimately connected to…" Her brother’s eulogy brought peace, solace, hope and understanding to the many hundreds of family and friends that attended the memorial service and is also included below.

Fittingly, Rebekah was buried in the Durham Hebrew Cemetery, one more place which she had helped to landscape approximately 15 years earlier. At the graveside, Rabbi Sager described Bekah as being that unique person who saw things in her own “Bekah way.” In times past, she chose not to use a shovel to pick up and scatter dirt on a lowered coffin. Instead she would use her hands to feel and spread the earth that was a part of her and all of us. And this is what happened for everyone that day, learning from her, at a Cemetery that was actually part of Bekah’s life and now ours.

I envision a world
where compassionate creativity flows
where righteous anger knows no bounds
where boundaries sound a bell of safety
and ease
not captivity
and harmful march.

where an arm is stretched by muscular love
and difference is a dance of ritual celebration
in a round
in circles
in circles
that overlap
and uncover each other
and re-cover a child

where listening
is communication
and silence spills into
a carried space
of peace.
Poem by Rebekah Resnick May 2009 Written at a conference on Dismantling of Racism Included in a book on Race and Racism by Tema Okun

Eulogy delivered by Bekah’s brother Jared, September 8, 2011

The Path Now Travelled

An old friend of Bekah’s wrote to me the other day and her words resonated with me ….. “You and your family have supported Rebekah emotionally, physically, spiritually and in just about every other way possible. I firmly believe that your love and support is what kept her afloat for as long as she was with us on this Earth.”

I must amend this statement to include all of you here as it is important for all of you to know that all of you were a part of keeping her alive.

I believe that Bekah has always danced on the tightrope of life with my parents on one side Jennifer and me on the other and all you, her friends and family, below, all of us there to catch her if she fell.

American Indian culture states that when you walk the path of life with someone that dies from natural causes you continue on your same path and that when a person chooses to end their life the road is never the same….

My sister was stricken by a disease [PTSD], it was a cancer and we, family and friends, for all these years have been the medicine that has kept her alive. And just like cancer there comes a time when no amount of chemo or medicine will help and the disease takes over…..

We are now all left on this path to walk together…..

The sadness for me and for all of you here should not be about what is now passed, because I know, I truly know that we all gave all that we could.

But rather the sadness is about what should have been, moving forward….

So I must ask myself and share with all of you

Is life meant to end at 41 or at 91?

For me the fullness of the life we live is the most important thing!

Bekah lived as long as she could live but finally the emptiness that she felt within surrounded and the fullness of life was gone.

(Everyone is asked to join hands)

So let us not focus on what could have been, but rather gain strength in what we all did, what has been created as a result and stare intently at what surrounds us,

And what surrounds us is…all of you. All of us…

Ultimately we are all here together because of her……

My son asked me yesterday now that Tanta is gone who will I protect? I told him that we will all protect one another…..

We cannot, however, protect one another from this type of pain or loss.

What we can do is give love to the world around us unending.

On the day my sister chose to leave this earth it rained, it rained and stormed well into the next day, it rained so hard that the earth could not take all that the sky produced.

Yesterday the sun came out and the drying process of what had not been “soaked in” began.

We have all been left soaking wet, drenched from the storm of the last two days and there is way too much pain left lying in puddles all around us.

But I know that the sun will shine through and the warmth of love from all of you that carry my sister within you will dry the pain in the days to come.

My sister always gave all that she could to all of you and we all gave all we could in return

And we all should gain solace in knowing that she will no longer be in pain and will rest eternally in peace, in the place that she loved the most, in earth’s garden.