If my death can contribute an understanding of who I was, then I want it to do so.
In many ways I’ve had a lucky life. I’ve had a lot of joy. I’ve had enough sadness and sorrow to know that I’m a member in good standing of the human race.
I’ve tried to make myself useful.
Hedy Epstein’s social activism was informed by her early life’s experiences, mostly painful experiences, but also by the love from and the examples set by her parents and extended Kippenheim family, and, later, through the poignant experiences of meeting and advocating with others enduring challenging hardships. She was drawn to causes that paralleled her own traumas, she advocated for refugees, for the dispossessed, for Americans living with daily prejudices as they fought for their civil rights, for children living with violence and the innocent victims of government-sponsored terror.
Hedy’s activism, her well-reasoned arguments for social justice, for peace, for women’s rights, civil rights and human rights came directly from her lived experiences – the hatred she endured from the Kippenheim community where she once felt welcomed and safe, the abuse from the teachers and administrators she looked up to, the rejection of her classmates, the painful, frightening separation from her parents, the hunger in an English foster home, the terror of the London Blitz during World War II. It’s impossible to separate Hedy’s peace work from her housing work, her advocacy for Palestinians’ rights from her advocacy for women’s reproductive rights.
In November 1988 Hedy was recognized by the St. Louis Ethical Society with the 1988 J. F. Hornback Ethical Humanist of the Year Award for “outstanding service as a peace and justice advocate with a lifelong commitment to Tikkun olam, the just reordering of the world.” Hedy’s speech that evening spoke to the inner forces that drove her to act.