Adinah Dorfman was one of ACRI’s longest serving volunteers. For twenty years, Adinah had developed ACRI’s human rights library. Adinah was much loved for her extraordinary dedication to human rights.
We are honored that Adinah’s daughters, Naomi, Avivah and Elana, have chosen to remember her by supporting ACRI’s work in Freedom of Speech and donating to ACRI.
This year, we honored 20 years of Adinah Dorfman’s service in building ACRI’s human rights library. The program included greetings from the Dorfman family and a blessing from Rabbi Levi Weiman-Kelman. The highlight of the evening was a beautiful performance by ‘Beloved One’ – a poetry, and dance group who shared stories of freedom of expression through the artistic elements of voice, movement and words.
All donations will be directed to ACRI’s Freedom of Expression work. Thank you for your support!
Please join us in honoring Adinah by supporting ACRI
To read more:
It was not always easy between the two of us. I know it caused you pain for many years that I kept my distance from you. I was your first daughter and you were ecstatic when I was born. Unfortunately my early experiences did not allow me to know that and I blamed you for things that were beyond your control. I am deeply sorry about that and am glad I got a chance to tell you that I forgive you.
When I was growing up, my friends wished you were their mother and I couldn’t understand why. I am grateful that over the last decade or so, I have come to understand what they were talking about and now can see you and your life for what you really were and realize how fortunate I have been to be your daughter and grow up alongside you.
You have inspired me with your strength, endurance, courage and integrity. All the things that are really important in life I learned from you:
1. That all people are worthy of love, respect and dignity. That a world of justice and equality is possible and we must strive and work to make it so.
2. Ilearned to see beauty all around us – in the plants and trees and flowers, the sea and the deep deep blue sky we first really saw over 45 years ago in Ein Dor.
3. Thank you for introducing us to the world of music, dance, theater and art when we were growing up and you did so for your grandchildren as well. I learned that riches are not counted in money or possessions.
4. These past 2 years as you were struggling to be healthy and to relearn to walk, you always said that of all you had done in your life your most important accomplishment was raising your 3 daughters. I learned that people and our connections are our most precious “possessions” in life.
4. We grew up hearing that sounds “reverberate” off the walls in the tiny kitchen, and objects sit “precariously” on the edge of the table. Words have meaning and it is important to say what you mean and call things by their real name. There is much to be learned in books and we can and should use our intelligence to think and partake in the world of ideas.
I am moved to have lived through these past 2 years and see you struggle and persevere, not give up and hold on tenaciously to life. You always said you never believed you would live so long to see your grandchildren grow up and see what kind of people they would turn out to be. Well you did and we were so fortunate to have been part of this incredible, inspiring journey. I hope you are now in peace, reunited with Yaak and watching us from above. You are forever in my heart.
Adinah was born in 1921. Her mother died when she was a young child. She spent her childhood in an orphanage and later living with an uncle, until her father remarried when she was ten and she went to live with him and with her stepmother.
Adina found refuge at “HaShomer HaTzair” in Milwaukee, which she joined as a teenager due to Zionist and Socialist ideals. Adinah devoted herself fully to the movement: She opted to forego college, and took leadership roles upon herself. Through “HaShomer HaTzair” she met Yaacov Dorfman, whom she married. Adinah and Yaacov did not make aliyah with their peer group which founded Kibbutz Ein Dor, but rather remained in New York and started a family. After fifteen years together, Yaacov passed away and Adinah was left on her own with three daughters, aged 9, 6 and 3. Adinah then felt it was the time to realizing her old dream and join her peers at Ein Dor, and made aliyah with her three daughters. But fitting into a Kibbutz in the early Sixties proved to be more difficult than she had anticipated, and eventually she returned with her daughters to the United States.
Upon returning to Brooklyn without two cents to her name, and knowing that she had no higher education, skills or experience, she decided to acquire a trade as a librarian, which in the U.S. is a graduate-level degree. At age 43, she began her undergraduate studies in anthropology at Brooklyn College. She found everything she studied exciting. We particularly recall conversations about the social structure on the island of Bali, and descriptions of ways of life different from ours. While she studied full-time, we lived off social security and student loans, which certainly wasn’t easy, but we recall a childhood filled with ballet and violin lessons, visits to museums, concerts and Shakespeare in the Park performances. Although Adinah often began studying as late as 11 pm, having first cooked dinner, helped the girls with their homework and listened to the concerns of three adolescent girls before bedtime, she finished her undergraduate studies with honors and was admitted to Columbia University with a full scholarship for graduate studies.
Upon receiving a degree in library sciences, Adinah once again turned her sights to the homeland and made aliyah, settling this time in Jerusalem, where she found work as a librarian at the law school library at Hebrew University on Mt. Scopus. Adina worked there for 12 years, until reaching retirement age. After she retired, she traveled to China and Japan, and then met Joe in whom she found a traveling partner. Together they journeyed around the globe – Thailand, Bali, Spain, Moscow, the Arctic, Morocco, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, Kenya, France, Greece, Egypt, and Jordan. The world was their oyster.
Between trips, Adina volunteered for 18 years, twice a week, at The Association for Civil Rights in Israel, building an exemplary civil rights library for the organization.
She also spent time with her grandchildren. When her daughter Ilana gave birth to twins, and she herself was 66, she went to Boston for four months to lend a hand. She helped care for the twins, Kobi and Noam, she cooked, folded laundry and put the house in order. When she was in her seventies, she played soccer and baseball with her grandchildren in the park. Years later, when her youngest grandchildren Erez and Oren were born, she still sat on the floor and played with them.
But over the past two years, Adinah battled with illnesses and was hospitalized thirteen times. Each time, she lost the ability to walk, but as soon as she got home, she resumed physical therapy so that she could walk again, first with a walker and then on her own. Even two days before she passed away, as she lay weak and exhausted, she asked her grandchildren to help her get up so that she could walk around.
Mother, you never quit, you never gave up and never took a break. We hope that you now find rest.
Aviva’s speech from the 2015 event on Education against Racism, held in Adinah’s memory: עדינה
Some Comments Left by Supporters in Memory of Adinah Dorfman at last year’s event
“It is an honor to make this donation in memory of your mother and her dedication to free speech. She had much to be proud of in the daughters she raised. And I am proud to call one of them my friend.”
“We were so very fond of Adinah and feel privileged to recognize her work with ACRI.”
“Can’t think of a better way to honor Adinah.”
“In honor of Adina Dorfman, one of the finest human beings I ever had the privilege to know.”
“A sweet sweet Memory. A very lovable and loving woman.”
“It is an honor to donate to such a noble cause in Adina’s name. I have so many wonderful memories of her.”