I was so very, very sad to hear of the passing of Mrs Smith. I first met this wonderful lady when I came to work at Beth Shalom six years ago, as I embarked upon on my first museum sector job. From the moment I set foot in the beautiful gardens I felt that the place was alive with a kind of vibrance and aura around it, and I quickly learned that its beating heart was Bethany. I was soon invited for tea with Marina, and I was humbled and delighted that she would take the time to welcome me, as a young new member of staff, in such a personal way. Over the years that followed I saw Mrs Smith regularly at events, or collecting survivor speakers from their famous teas with her to bring back to the Centre for their talks, and I witnessed over and over again the genuine kindness, warmth and love with which she treated everyone she met. It was truly heart warming to see the way the survivor family felt so at home and peaceful when they were at Beth Shalom and above all, with Mrs Smith. It inspired me and gave me a whole new level of understanding of my role and how I could help the Centre’s cause. The job became more than just a job, but a real personal mission, and I have been beyond honoured to work for Mrs Smith.
On a personal level, every big event in my life was acknowledged by Mrs Smith, be it marriage or birth of children, always by a sweet card and message or gift. Even up to a fortnight before her passing, she sent me several beautiful messages of support and prayers to help me through the most difficult challenge of my life, and I cannot express how much this meant to know she was thinking of me and my family. Her capacity to remember things about people and the genuine interest she took in everyone’s lives astounded me and I don’t believe I will ever meet anyone who could even come close to Mrs Smith on this.
Although it is the end of an era, I for one will always think of Mrs Smith with a smile and in gratitude that I had the great fortune to have known her, and her memory will truly, genuinely be a lasting source of inspiration for me in all that I do.
Rest in peace Marina xxx