After Anne Heyman's Death, Heartbroken Family Picks Up Torch in Rwanda

Grieving Children Vow To Follow in Philanthropist's Footsteps

courtesy of heyman family

By Nathan Jeffay

Published February 20, 2014, issue of February 28, 2014.
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“The first reaction from the kids when they heard about Anne’s passing was that they were sad, and then they thought that we were going to close the village and that they wouldn’t have a home,” he said.

Seth Merrin’s company, Liquidnet, a global institutional trading network, has invested heavily in terms of staff time and resources at the village, ensuring that it is technologically advanced. He vowed that it will continue to generously assist ASYV.

The oldest of Heyman and Merrin’s three children, Jason, intends to join the board of the youth village. In the United States he is planning to be an activist in the fight for greater gun control, another issue about which his mother felt strongly.

Jenna Merrin runs a chapter of Moral Voices, the Jewish student program that Heyman established to raise ethical issues in Hillel chapters around the country. A third-year psychology student, she is organizing a full year of lectures and presentations on genocide for her school’s Jewish students. And she is considering spending a year at the village after graduating.

The hands-on memorialization does not stop with Heyman’s children. Her nephew, 18-year-old Ben Bronstein, headed to Rwanda with Jonathan Merrin for the month-long volunteering stint — a decision he made long before her death.

“Now I see a different purpose to the trip — continuing what she was doing, not just going and helping,” Bronstein said. “I feel that she would have been really proud of our decision to continue with the trip as planned.”

Bronstein and Jonathan Merrin are doing a yearlong program with Young Judaea, based mostly in Israel. Since 2010, the movement has offered its Year Course students a chance to volunteer for a month at Agahozo-Shalom in Rwanda.

For Jonathan Merrin, signing up for a year with Young Judaea had special significance even before his mother died. His parents met on Young Judaea Year Course, and Heyman credited the program with turning her into the committed social activist she became.

“Back then it was a very idealistic program that bred social activists, and I really wanted to get the social activism from it which my parents got,” Jonathan Merrin said.

When Heyman died, Jonathan Merrin’s sense of walking in her footsteps, both by participating in Year Course and by heading to the village she built, intensified. Investing a month in the village will help him to express his “enormous sense of pride for her and pride for the kids.”


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