Monday, October 29, 2007

Bronya Gorney: swirl of softness and strength

Bronya's address during "Ester's Walks of Life" on 9 September 2007

I first met Ester when she applied to volunteer abroad in Africa and, from the start, Ester stood out from the crowd.

Ester had this wonderfully open sincerity and genuine concern for the world around her that, even from afar, one could see underpinned her choices in life. Ester was authentic.

During the preparation for her first trip to Ghana, Ester really got to grips with the complex issues involved. She had an acute sensitivity within her. Like an old fashioned radio that can pick up cries from far distant lands so too could Ester perceive need in places she’d never been. Ester was finely tuned into the world around her.

As a fellow volunteer, I always appreciated how utterly reliable Ester was and how keen she was to help out. She was always able to hone in on what needed to be done and then quietly just get on and do it brilliantly!

Her warm heart and sense of fun made working with her a good laugh, too. It was wonderful to have a friend who you could have a blast with one minute and a serious discussion with the next. I think that the groups that went to Ghana with her were very lucky indeed.

There are two things that really struck me about Ester more than anything else and I’d like to share them with you.

The first was her unique mix of gentle kindness with a strength of character and self-assurance, that somehow never detracted from her sympathetic touch. An amazing swirl of softness and strength.

The second thing that really struck me about Ester I first noticed on her return from her trip to Ghana, where Ester had acted as the group coordinator. Ester sat in a meeting, hair braided, eyes shining, with this fresh beauty, determinedly arguing her cause. And I saw her as a real leader, fighting for those causes she believed in. I saw her as that rare precious being, a strong female leader, a tribal princess, a princess of Judah.

How lucky were we to have such a beautiful, compassionate young woman representing us as Jews to the rest of the world. For me, Ester will always be a radiant soldier, a Purple Princess.