Naomi Friedman Rabkin, a Passionate Force for Good, Dies at 43
Naomi Friedman Rabkin, 43, a vivacious, indomitable force for good in the world, died on March 5, 2018, with her husband Michael by her side. Committed to making the world a better place, Naomi was a creative visionary with an unforgettable flair. She lit up a room with her magnetic presence and made a strong and lasting impact.
As Director of Programs at Leichtag Foundationin Encinitas, CA, she was the creative architect of Leichtag’s programs, played a critical role in grantmaking and philanthropic strategy, was integral to the design and development of Leichtag Commons, and provided important counsel and direction as a senior leader of the Foundation.
Death is absurd by definition. Always hard to comprehend; always too early, always too painful. But some deaths are more absurd than others.
Naomi’s untimely departure was one of those that losses that challenge our sense of order in the world. They leave us with a feeling that things are not the way they should be, that there’s something badly askew in the universe.
Naomi and I knew each other through JFN events and through her wonderful work with Leichtag. We had friends in common and we were always in each other’s orbit. I didn’t know her in the profound way that her close friends and colleagues knew her; but I could feel that transformational impact she had in everything and everybody she touched. Anybody who knew her can remember how she lit up every space in which she entered; how her very presence provide a positive charge to those around her. She wasn’t only a consummate professional but a force for good in the broadest possible sense; she was one of the rare people that had a halo that imbued her surroundings with her passion and her commitment. Even as she fought a nasty and inexplicable illness, she never lost her sense of humor, her compassion and her drive. Her courageous attitude wasn’t a surprise: Naomi always tried to learn as if she’d live forever; and she always tried to give as if she’d die tomorrow.
Naomi was an archetype for the communal profession. She was the person we all wanted to hire; the person we all wished we had more of. She was an example of all the good that our community and our field can produce.
When somebody leaves us, we think we feel their absence; but in fact; absence and presence are conjoined twins; like brick and mold. We only feel their absence because we feel their presence.
The entire JFN community mourns with Naomi’s family and friends; but we are comforted – as we hope they are – by feeling her powerful and positive presence for good in our lives and in the world.