Mourning the Death of Devra Freelander, z”l

July 2, 2019Rabbi Rick Jacobs

For more than four decades, Rabbis Elyse Frishman and Dan Freelander’s lives and those of their family have been inextricably linked to the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ). It is with profound sadness that our entire URJ family mourns with the Frishmans and Freelanders on the tragic and untimely death of their daughter, Devra Freelander, on Monday, July 1.

Devra was an award-winning video and sculpture artist whose flourishing career took her to artists’ residencies and earned her fellowships around the world. Her exhibitions and public installations have appeared in galleries and venues throughout the country, and this past March, Eventual Artifact, a collaboration with Gracelee Lawrence, was on display in New York City’s Times Square. Devra’s passion, creativity, warmth, and insight were hallmarks of her art and her life – both of which ended far too soon.

Perhaps the most tragic, heart-rending episode in the entire Bible is found in II Samuel 19:1, depicting the moment King David is told of the death of his son, Absalom. David cries out in despair: "O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom!  Would that I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!"  This passage conveys King David's searing pain but no more. We are left instead to confront the excruciating mysteries of the universe.

We extend deepest condolences to the Frishman and Freelander families and to all those whose lives were touched by Devra. May her memory be an enduring blessing.

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