All of us at JFN join the world in mourning the untimely loss of Anne Heyman, the founder and chair of Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village and a driving force behind so many Jewish philanthropic efforts that were made all the better through her generosity and vision.
Anne died Friday after falling from a horse during a riding competition in Florida. Our thoughts are with her husband Seth Merrin, and their children, Jenna, Jonathan, and Jason during this difficult time.
Anne had been inspired by kibbutzim in Israel taking in orphans after the Holocaust and she used them as a model for developing a youth village that would help hundreds of thousands of children orphaned by the Rwandan genocide
She and Seth raised $12 million, and with the help of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, built Agahozo-Shalom (ASYV). Nine years later, ASYV assists more than 500 students a year in Rwanda to acquire the education and skills needed to rebuild their country. ASYV, which saw Anne at its graduation ceremony just two weeks ago, hailed her as a “tremendous woman” who made a “remarkable impact on this world.”
That sentiment will no doubt be shared by other organizations where she and Seth were active, including Dorot, Young Judaea, the Abraham Joshua Heschel School in New York, and Tufts University Hillel.
For many people, Anne defined tikkun olam. Indeed, she left us with many tools to repair the world. It is a legacy we should all strive to uphold. May her memory be a blessing.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to ASYV, at http://www.asyv.org/donateShare