A Solemn Day for Puget Sound

By Nancy B. Greer
Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle
All of us remember where we were 14 years ago today. On that sunny afternoon, the lights went out in our community when a hate crime stole the life of our beloved community leader Pamela Waechter, of blessed memory, and grievously wounded her Federation colleagues Layla Bush, Carol Goldman, Dayna Klein, Christina Rexroad, and Cheryl Stumbo.

The shock and fear of that day is one that Jewish Puget Sound must never forget. From our grief arose a determination to act to repair our world, through our outspoken advocacy for preventing gun violence. Whenever innocent lives are lost, we mourn with their families and communities, and we redouble our dedication to gun violence prevention, as we remember always the Talmud precept that saving one life saves the whole world.

Pam’s memory keeps us focused in this critical advocacy work. Yet her memory also inspires our work to create and support engaging experiences of Jewish life. Pam was passionately committed to community and to creating the relationships that are the soul of community. The people who knew her vividly and fondly remember how she lit up a room with her gracious warmth and how she inspired everyone in her orbit to join her in making our community a warm and welcoming center for Jewish life.

Pam cared deeply about making an impact. For every project she undertook at every Jewish communal organization she served, she dove in, hands-on, to see the project through to completion. A key to her impact was that she was a leader who listened. Every person who came to her with ideas for strengthening our community received her caring attention. Her empathy for others knew no bounds.

Since Pam’s tragic death 14 years ago, Jewish Puget Sound has grown in diversity and size. Many people with thoughtful, innovative ideas for enlivening and expanding Jewish life have joined our community. Pam would have encouraged them all. She knew, by temperament, experience, and practice, that a strong community is a beautifully diverse tapestry where everyone is welcome.

On this day, we mourn the loss of a precious friend and we cherish the memory of how deeply she touched our lives.