A light unto others

After an accident cut her life short, philanthropist Anne Heyman’s legacy of ‘tikkun olam’ lives on in Rwanda and around the world, through her children and the multitudes she helped.

YOUNG JUDAEA volunteers on their week at the Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village with Yoni Merrin
A tragic horse-riding accident cut short the life of 52-year-old philanthropist Anne Heyman just over a month ago, but the weight of her life’s work will ensure that her legacy will live on forever. The South African- American former attorney founded the Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village (ASYV) in 2008 for children orphaned in the Rwandan genocide, modeling it on the Israeli youth village Yemin Orde.

In a summer interview – about half a year before she died – Heyman explained to me that she had established the village out of a sense of obligation to tikkun olam, social activism and the Zionist imperative to be a light unto other nations. These are values that she and her husband, Seth Merrin, firmly instilled in their three children, evidenced by the fact that just weeks after his mother’s sudden death, her son Jonathan “Yoni” Merrin, 19, decided to go ahead with a month-long visit to ASYV he had planned as part of the Young Judaea Year Course.

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