6/27/11 A Tribute to Laura Wetzler "Laura Wetzler for your time, your energy, your talent and your love of our people you can truly be called an Aishet Hayil, a woman of valor. I have been one of the fortunate ones whose work with the Abayudaya has been forged by your efforts. May you continue to go from strength to strength.” --Hazzan Mike Stein
We are in awe of your ability to juggle your demanding schedule of concerts with constant attention to projects in the Abayudaya community. The Delicious Peace coffee coop, the women’s microfinance program, the tourism program, the new grain mill, and a host of other community improvements could not have been created and developed without your loving support coupled with firm expectations. It is impossible to thank you in a way that you deserve. But we hope this journal will show a bit of the admiration and appreciation that so many extend to you. L’Chaim. -- Kulanu’s Board of Directors Laura, you represent the heart and soul of Kulanu – the very best that we accomplish in pursuit of our mission. Your devotion to making lives better, your creativity, your sensitivity to the emotional and physical needs of others are without match and an inspiration to all of us.
Laura, It has been a joy and an adventure working as your Kulanu partner in Uganda! I rely on your wisdom, your judgment, and your love. Like so many others in this journal, I have been inspired by you. Love, Harriet
Laura- You give physical, emotional, economic, spiritual, and educational sustenance to so many -- the Abayudaya community, their neighbors, the tourists you organize, your delighted audiences and, not least, Kulanu. You are an awe-inspiring example of how much one person can do to make a difference in the lives of thousands of people, the embodiment of tikkun olam. With Love and Admiration, Barbara Vinick
With love, Aron and Karen Primack (photo: Karen with Seth in 2002)
“ This gift is in honor of all the phenomenal work Laura Wetzler does for the Abayudaya and for the fabulous Mitzvah Tour I just returned from. -- Betsey W. Roberts Beit Din in Uganda, 2002 “ In honor of Laura Wetzler with best wishes from Rabbi Scott Glass” -- Temple Beth El
All our best wishes to Laura for her extraordinary dedication and contribution to the Abayudaya Community. -- Jane, David and Zak Cohen
We are pleased to honor Laura Wetzler for her outstanding work for the Abayudaya on behalf of Kulanu. -- Jeanne and Murray Bodin Electricity arrives!
Dear Laura, It was through the force of your personality and your passionate dedication to the work of helping the Abayudaya to develop their community and bring opportunity to their people that I have become devoted to your projects. Thank you for bringing this energy and knowledge to me. -- Laura Alter Klapman In honor of Laura Wetzler, with fond memories of our trip to Uganda. -- Dr. Sherry Israel, Rachel Davenport, Alisa Goldberg, and Anna Goldberg How I admire Laura for doing what all believe in. Thank you, Laura! From an old-time doer, Harriet Levy Howard and Judith Mayer In honor of Laura for her dedication and commitment to the Abayudaya, her uplifting music and her generous soul. -- Abe and Shulamit Gittelson
Unlike Laura with her remarkable stick-to-itive-ness, as an American Jewish World Service volunteer I moved on to other countries, other continents. But I shall never forget the wonderful people I met that weekend, both the Abayudaya and volunteers alike, all of us committed to a greater Jewish presence in Uganda. Best, Ann Haendel Dear John and Harriet, In 2002, I had the pleasure of attending some of the same Abayudaya conversion activities as Laura. My small contribution turned out to be introducing the local women of NACWOLA, the National Community of Women Living with AIDS, to the Abayudaya leadership. This subsequently resulted in an initial HIV/AIDS education and prevention strategy for the Abayuda. Beit Din, 2002
“ A model for all of us” -- Jack and Diane Zeller “ Yasher koach and many thanks for your devotion to the Abayudaya and all the good work you do on their behalf.” -- Myra Schiff and Lina Zatzman “ Congratulations to Laura Wetzler for her kindness and generosity.” -- Nola and Harry Steinberg
“ Our Mitzvah tour to the Abayudaya with Laura was a life changing experience for us. We have given many slide presentations--all promoting the many virtues of Laura. She has worked tirelessly and passionately to improve the lives of the Jews of Uganda. Kol Hakavod to Laura and keep going for many years to come.” -- Gilbert and Lillian Zinn
Sometime in 2008, I saw a documentary, Yearning to Belong, about the Abayudaya community in Uganda. At that time the concept was TOTALLY new to me - Ugandan Jews?! Who knew? I was enchanted. As a family doctor, I'd always wanted to do international work, and was thrilled to learn about the Jewish community in Uganda. I 'cold-called' Laura Wetzler, whose contact info was at the end of the doc, to see how I might become involved. This phone call changed my life. Laura's deep understanding of development in Africa, and of the Abayudaya community's workings, coupled with her commitment to their own self-empowerment, informed and profoundly impacted my own understanding. She is a world-changer, a true "mitzvah hero". In the book of Micah, it says that what God asks of us is to "do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God". Laura Wetzler is a fantastic example of doing just that. May she go from strength to strength!! With great love and admiration, Liz Feldman
On behalf of Wellesley College Hillel and the Wellesley College community at large, we would like to express our appreciation to Laura Wetzler for bringing the Abayudaya community and the Interfaith Coffee Cooperative into our lives, hearts, and coffee cups. -- Patti Sheinman
Congratulations to Laura! We love you and cherish our very own songs --Quinn, Andie, Misty, Alexa, Huckleberry and Bryce And all the Milners and Kreins We love your CD “Again, Again: Songs for Kids”!
Laura, Thanks for all you do and all you are. You enrich our lives through your work, your dedication, your actions, and your song. You are an inspiration to us all. Keep "praying with your feet," and take us along for the ride… -- Your friends and admirers at Hakafa
Yasher Koach, Laura! Love, Faith Avner and Brian Avner “ Thanks, Laura, for helping me feel exhilaration after 70!” Fondly, Be Yeamans
More of Our Generous Contributors Judith Featherman and Lionel M. Lieberman Joyce L. Alpiner Emily Chaya Weinstein Hope and Matthew Feldman Steven and Jennifer Teper Bunny and Stan Krein “ In honor of Laura, of course!” -- Hedy Cohen Jacob and Norma Steinberg Joanne and Stanley Kay
Dear Laura, Although this is a wonderful acknowledgement of your accomplishments working with the Abayudaya, the real recognition is evident in the work itself and the respect and love you receive from that community. You have developed such close ties with Jews, Muslims, and Christians who live halfway around the world and consider you an integral part of their lives. They have enriched your life greatly, but you have sustained and enhanced their lives and community immeasurably. You are a great example of what one dedicated and committed individual can do! Best, Barbara Gervis Lubran, Estelle Friedman Gervis Family Foundation
Joyce Alpiner, Harriet Bograd, The Kay Family, Dolores Goldfinger, Evelyn Kalisch, Ken Klein, Betsey Roberts, Myra Schiff, Barbara Vinick, Be Yeamans, Lina Zatzman With Love from the 2011 Mitzvah Trip and Safari Group
“ In honor of Laura Wetzler for her exceptional contribution to the growth and well being of the Abayudaya Jewish community of Uganda.” -- Judith Ann Manelis "You are the best. Your heart is always open to all you meet. It is a privilege to count you as a friend.“ -- Dolores Goldfinger
Special Memories in Uganda In February of 2002, I traveled with Laura and the rest of our party to participate in the first Beit Din or conversion ceremony at the Abayudaya Community in Uganda. We arrived after a long plane trip and an uncomfortable jeep ride to Mbale and the village of Nabugoye. We were greeted by a group of about one hundred fifty persons who were singing, laughing and making every effort to show how delighted they were to be receiving us. It was overwhelming. I felt as awkward and useful as the proverbial third leg. In a very few minutes Laura, with guitar in hand, was singing along with the Abayudaya and rapidly making friends. It was a matter of moments before she was a central figure of the entire process. Everyone adored her! At first, I thought that Laura is a professional performer and had developed this stage personality to enhance her performing skills. However, as I watched Laura over the following week, I recognized that here was a woman who almost at once fell in love with the people, the environment and the entire process of the Jewish rites. She radiated warmth and displayed a happy disposition that was reflected in the faces of the adults and the children of the community. When she was around everyone had a smile on their face. She had become one with event. It was indeed my pleasure to be part of the occasion, to get to know her, however briefly, and to bear witness to her talent, personality and charm. Mazel Tov! Ed Samiljan
Mazal tovo Laura. May you live healthy and successful lifestyle, so you can continue to help repair this world . Yours, Israel First shower installed in the community!
Photo Credits Members of the Abayudaya Community Holly Moskowitz Hedy Cohen Ed Samiljan Roberta Roos Aron and Karen Primack Laura Alter Klapman The Cohen Family Laura Wetzler The Milner Family