A Time for Recollection

In the weeks leading up to the end of this semester, my thoughts have often turned to the awful events of a year ago when a vicious attack took the life of Johanna Justin-Jinich ’10. Our community was profoundly shaken by this murderous hate crime, and the sorrow we felt then will continue to ripple in our lives.

I recently received a message from Johanna’s uncle, Eric Justin, who was sending me news of the family members I’d been in contact with last spring. He related how pleased he and the family are to have grown closer to Johanna’s friends from Wesleyan. He described them as a “Godsend,” and was so proud to learn that a group of Wes students are naming a women’s health clinic in Kenya in his niece’s honor.

I was particularly moved by a letter I received earlier this year from Johanna’s grandmother, Renate, a holocaust survivor who now is writing her own life story in book form.  Renate also sent me a book that Johanna had written and illustrated when she was about the age of my own daughter. The subject was anti-Semitism and how to acknowledge and overcome it.

Tomorrow, the anniversary of Johanna’s death, we will gather for a brief moment together on the steps of Memorial Chapel. The bells of South College will ring at 1:00 pm. A few words will be offered, we will say Kaddish, the ancient Jewish prayer of mourning and praise, and then we will be silent together. I hope that wherever members of the extended Wesleyan family may find themselves tomorrow at a few minutes after 1 o’clock, they will join with us in this community of silence and remembrance.

[tags]Johanna Justin-Jinich ’10, Eric Justin, Renate,  mourning, remembrance[/tags]