Dear Reuven and Dafna,
It is shocking to be writing about Noam's passing so soon after our last notes in November.
A month ago one could only imagine that he would be here for a while longer.
I am so sorry that you have lost him: there really are no words than can express it.
This past time thinking of him, I recall the first time meeting him, at the kibbutz, Hazorea. He had come with Smadar and the baby Matan, still in a basinette, to visit some mutual friends there. I remember them in motion, content with each other, and with the new baby in tow.
Later, at their home in Jerusalem in the early 80s. It was evening when I got there, coming down from the West Bank, and they were almost always in a study and action with friends, in the group that you had started. During evenings, and then later at meetings in San Francisco, then in Tel Aviv, and elsewhere, I recall Noam speaking in his practical and urgent voice about what needed to be done, with people gathered and organizing.
Around the time of his 40th birthday, in Palo Alto, he mentioned something about a new system of communication that we would all be using–the internet, though it wasn't called that at the time. He said we would have access to all kinds of information for research. To be able to communicate and act, with progressive people all over the world. I don't think that I believed him entirely at the time…And then, here we are.
I think of Noam walking, walking. In the Sierras, along the bay, in Mendocino, Peru, India. His feeling for the natural environment and it seemed to me the one place he indulged himself, in space and silence. Later, in Israel again, during the time Matan was in prison, I remember him up all night every night with phone calls. Then in the early morning, before anyone else was up, walking from Ramat Aviv to Herzeliya.
I remember his rare gift for thinking universally, of taking in, and then putting aside distracting details…that made it possible–though one might not have talked to him for a year or two or three–to quickly get down to the core of a political situation–Srebrenica, Sarajevo, Syria–that figured in a key way in our lives. These conversations left one feeling more grounded, clearer, and ready to go onward.
He was a person who, for me, did fully inhabit his time. One recalls foremost the unstinting belief in and work for coexistence, his steady determination, in his work with Ta'ayush. His refusal to work on his company's work systems contract in Ariel though doing so ostensibly could have cost him his job. There was no second thought.
In the midst even of the darker times, what shined through was Noam's love for his friends, but most of all for all of you. One recalls in those years his pleasure at taking a weekend–anywhere at all–with Smadar. His time at family gatherings. The affection in his voice during phone calls with Matan, with Carmel at home. And whenever he spoke about his parents.
It was his bravery, as I wrote in the last letter, that could startle a person. The honest way he spoke about illness. The he way he laughed, the last time we spoke, and said he was going to put up a very good fight.
I know that he did, with all of you close by.
I'm wishing you all peace and strength in this time.
Love from here.