Whenever we sing, in the morning service preparation, Mi Haish, “who is the one passionate about life”, a few people, I have had the privilege of knowing over the years, come to mind. At the top of the list is Fahni Pierce.
The words, loosely translated into English, are: “Who is the one passionate about life, who loves every day in seeing what is good in every day? It is one who is careful to say or do nothing hurtful in any way to any one, and does what they can to help others to live that way, as well. Their passion and pursuit is for peace, in the world, and in everyday life”.
That quotation from the middle of Psalm 34 is what I think of as a hologram of Judaism. All the rest is detail.
Fahni lives that teaching in every way, and that is why all of us who know her are inspired by her, invigorated by her, and love her beyond description.
Who among us, who have childhood memories of learning Hebrew, had a teacher who engendered the kind of love for Hebrew and Judaism that emanates through Fahni?
Who, among us, have encountered someone who is so genuinely passionate about life and so focused on the need for peace for Israel and for us all?
Who, among us, knows someone as gentle, trusting and sincere about the quest for goodness and kindness that translates from heart into action?
Who, among us, has seen someone confront and overcome illness by throwing herself into every party and celebration with the joy that embodies all of Fahni’s being? She changes the energy of the room when she enters.
Fahni brings blessing, joy and love into the lives of all who know her.
Who, among us, knows someone battling serious illness yet remains happy, cheerful, upbeat, and positive about life and all its blessings?
Fahni comes closest, of all the people I know, to living the principle of how Reb Zusia thanked God for the bad as well as the good. When asked how he did so, Reb Zusia responded, “You must have the wrong person in asking me for that answer. As for me, nothing bad has ever happened. I only thank God for the good, and that covers everything.”
With all of Fahni’s challenges, I get the same message from her, and that is why there are no ways to fully praise or thank her for being the light of God that she is, and for showing the way to Shalom, as she does.
Thank you Fahni, for all the blessings you bring into so many lives, and thank you, God, for bringing her into our lives.
May we all grow, from strength to strength, and blessing to blessing, as we wish Fahni many more years of teaching the words of Psalm 34, that we learn from her to make its vision our own, and to contribute, as she does, to a better world, at home, in our community and beyond.