Photo: Julie Diamond
Upon hearing the news of Julie Diamond’s death on the morning of August 12, like many people, I literally lost my breath. I knew she was in the struggle of her life, as we had discussed it often. But, we had plans to get together in a couple of weeks. We had plans, Julie. Somehow, although not rational, I thought making plans would ensure her living – at least a little longer.
In many ways, Julie was a symbolic unicorn within the Jewish community, and not because she was mythical; in fact, Julie was very, very real. She was so real, and a part of so many people’s lives, that it is difficult to fathom that she is no longer with us. Julie was beautiful, unique and had an elegant strength about her, even in the worst of times. In addition, she was one of the most thoughtful and sincere people I have ever known.
As a Jewish communal leader, I was always in awe of how she navigated people and issues so professionally and graciously. Julie kept her head above the fray in the sometimes political and “territorial” side of Jewish communal life. She laughed it off when I teased her that I never heard anyone in the community say anything negative about her. There was no hubris about Julie, and the professional success she achieved, she always attributed it to her great board and staff. It wasn’t false modesty; she truly believed it. When Julie was awarded the Allan Price Award for Distinguished Service to the Fundraising Profession by the Association of Fundraising Professionals of Oregon and Southwest Washington this past June, she told me that she was in shock, “the good kind,” she clarified. So Julie.
As I reread several years of text conversations and emails between us, three things stood out: Julie’s overwhelming love for her family (as they were the impetus for her everything), her passion for her work, and making a positive difference in the world, and in the face of very difficult odds, she was determined to stay positive and caring.
We lost a Gadol – a great one in our community – as Rabbi Eve Posen described her. We did. But somehow, I know that Julie lives on through her loved ones and her incredible contributions to the community at large.
As Josh Frankel, the Board Chair of OJCF and a close friend of Julie’s, perfectly described her, Julie was “a builder.” As he said, she was a builder with “love, passion, generosity and with joy.” She still is. Julie left an incredible legacy, and we can all honor her by continuing to build each other and our community with her love, passion, generosity and joy. May her name forever be a blessing.
When Julie retired from the OJCF earlier this year, the Julie Diamond Scholarship Fund was created by her friends and colleagues in recognition of all her passion and work. If you would like to honor Julie through a contribution to the scholarship fund, you can do so here: https://tinyurl.com/JulieDiamond