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Zahara Joan Heckscher  (Age 53)  
Lost her last battle with breast cancer on Saturday, February 24, 2018 Zahara is survived by her loving husband, Eric Thiel, and her devoted son, Max Heckscher. Her dear sister, Rachel Heckscher (Eric Olson) and loyal brother, David Spence (Kate Spence) gave her every support. Her many circles of friends, as well as her family, have been transformed by Zahara's charisma, intellect, passion, and perseverance. Her legacies are many. Known for her activism in many social justice circles, Zahara most recently protested the high prices of pharmaceuticals that are a necessity for cancer patients. She advocated for exercise as a cancer preventative; she was a member of the GoPinkDC dragonboat team. Her service learning work took her to Zambia and Nicaragua.  Zahara was a long-time teacher and writer. She taught for The Writers Center in Bethesda and at the University of Maryland. Her published or soon-to-be published works include How to Live Your Dream of Volunteering Overseas and a novel, Spice Lady, as well as books of poetry. As a creative entrepreneur, she published multiple versions of the Poetry Game, in Yiddish, Arabic, Spanish, and English, to promote cross-cultural understanding and the love of language. Funeral service will be held on Monday, February 26 at 10 a.m. at HINES-RINALDI FUNERAL HOME, 11800 New Hampshire Ave., Silver Spring, MD. Interment at Garden of Remembrance, Clarksburg, MD.  In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Zahara Heckscher's name to Washington Peace Center or GoPinkDC or The Poetry Game c/o Split This Rock. Arrangements by Hines-Rinaldi FH, LLC under Jewish Funeral Practices Committee of Greater Washington Contract.

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Published in The Washington Post on Feb. 25, 2018.
No memorial events are currently scheduled. To offer your sympathy during this difficult time, you can now have memorial trees planted in a National Forest in memory of your loved one.
Memories & Condolences
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26 entries
February 25, 2019
Darling Zahara I think of you all the time. I feel you and am inspired! Love never ends. Celia
Celia DuBose
March 22, 2018
I offer my condolences to Zahara's family. I had the great honor of meeting her and supporting her in the great work she did to stop the TPP. She will be missed by all. Her life made a huge difference to me and all who knew her.
Harriet Heywood
March 1, 2018
Zahara made a huge impact on the field of service learning that will live on forever. She was a wonderful person and I respected her greatly. She was the "real deal" when it came to working for issues that mattered. I am grateful to have had her as a colleague for over 20 years.
Steven Rosenthal
March 1, 2018
Please accept my sincere condolences. xox
Wendy Tancock
February 28, 2018
Zahara was an amazing human being... It was a privilege to care for her in her last days. She showed such courage and such unending love for her family and friends.. Eric and Max, you are in my thoughts and prayers.
Hannah Kamau, RN. Community Hospice.
February 27, 2018
Our Community of Fabrangen was blessed with Zahara's life, light, art and teaching. Being with a "PP" - a positive person - raises all spirits, and Zahara epitomized the PP, and lived fully until she died, Saturday early morning just before dawn, surrounded by so many she loved, singing her to Paradise.
February 27, 2018
The Poetry Game with Zahara at Iona's Active Wellness Center.
It will always be difficult to imagine this world without Zahara sharing it with us. She was a force who lived inside of her beliefs and loved with a fierce dedication. She was brilliant, funny, courageous and lovely. There is nothing I will not remember about my time with you. Eric and Max, you have my heart in these difficult days.
Courtney Tolbert
February 26, 2018
Juanita mi bella hermana con el corazón tan Grande y Noble, que el mun te recordara d muchas maneras ,tu inigualable personalidad y capacidad de ayudar a TODOS. Siento mucho tu partida y siento mucho el dolor que ahora está atravesando tu familia , mi madre te recuerda siempre feliz y llena de entusiasmo en todo momento así serás recordada .
Zahara para tu familia mexicana ,...Juanita quiero decirle a todos q nadie dice nada diferente todos los que te conocimos coincidimos en lo mismo Fuiste y así serás recordada como un ser extraordinario lleno de amor y compasión por el prójimo
Descansa en Paz tu dolor ha terminado hermana y esperemos que tu familia se recupere del dolor de tu partida
Humildemente con todo mi amor
Martha Teresa Arnold(Mendoza)
February 26, 2018
So very sorry to hear of Zahara's death. I was privileged to work with Zahara on the movement to stop the genocide in Darfur. Her good sense, immense knowledge, intense commitment and inventiveness were tremendous resources in that work. Also, Zahara made everything fun. I have been amazed by her Facebook posts which have chronicled her intense love for her family, her friends, for poetry and nature throughout her struggle with cancer. Her positive spirit has been extraordinary. My deepest condolences to Eric and Max. She was so fortunate to have you two. I hope that your memories of her deep love for you, of her at her most vital, and of the righteous work she has done in the world will be an ongoing comfort and blessing to you in the coming days. I am so sorry.
Sharon Silber
February 26, 2018
Zahara... I will miss you more than words can say. Larry and I are so thankful that we were able to come to DC to see you and Eric and Max 2 summers ago. I loved our time together when you came to visit us. The strength you showed durning your battle with breast Cancer was truly amazing, never giving up. I only wish I could talk with you just one more time. We will never forget you and you kind heart.
Arliss Lopina
February 26, 2018
Zahara was a lovely person. I had the honor to guest speak at one of her Writer's Center workshops. I was moved as I watched her work so diligently with the student writers, meeting with each of them one-on-one. She inspired me to shift the way I teach.
Pamela Gerhardt
February 26, 2018
Sending thoughts and prayers to the family. I am sad that we reconnected too late and I did not get to meet Zahara. She led an amazing life.
Lilian Robinson
February 26, 2018
I loved Zahara so much. I cannot believe she is gone. She was the most courageous woman I have known, always stood up for the rights of others with such integrity and kindness. She never complained, always thought of others above herself. She is one of the great ones, the ones that die young. I miss her.
Cathy Schneider
February 26, 2018
I never had the pleasure to meet Zahara in person, but I've heard so much about her from other members of Fabrangen over the past year that I feel as if I did. Having a read a few of her poems and her D'var Torah on considering our own inner Moses and Joshua she strikes me as someone who lived her life fully honoring the principles she believed in. To live a life equally devoted to art and to activism, to contemplation and to compassion, this is inspiring. I'm grateful to have experienced her spirit through what she sparked in others.
Sasha Olinick
February 26, 2018
Zahara has been a friend and inspiration for decades. We'll miss her greatly.
Andrew Wells-Dang
February 25, 2018
A light has been dimmed by her passing. May you find solace in the many lives she touched.
ceil goldberg
February 25, 2018
Zahara was a a shining light, one that I treasured. Her activism ran deeply through her and was an honor to witness. My deepest sympathies to Eric, Max and her family.
Valerie Graff
February 25, 2018
It is hard to express my sorrow and joy at the same time. It IS always a privilege to be part of Zahara's community.
Esther Merves
February 25, 2018
She will always continue to inspire me and so many of us! The light has been transmitted by Joan Alice Zahara Heckscher by her light our hearts with compassion and the will to beneficial action. Love, light and peace!!
Chrystopher Lev Nehaniv
February 25, 2018
Zahara leaves behind a wonderful legacy of commitment and caring. It was a privilege to have worked with her.
Pam Orel
February 25, 2018
My heart goes out to Eric and Max, Rachel, David, and all the family.

I am so thankful that my friendship with Zahara was renewed before she passed. Our families were, as the Germans say, "duzen" ... cousins in all but blood, as we grew up together.

Hers was a formidable spirit and we shall mall miss her. Go in peace, dear Zahara.
Rob Jenson née Guttmann
February 25, 2018
Zahara embodied kinship. Her home was always open to all. She'd drop everything to spend time with a friend. She was the best of us, a gift to the world. Even with her own health struggles, she took action to make life better for others, getting arrested several times for protesting for access to medicine on behalf of cancer patients.

Zahara's spirit, inspiration and example live on in all of us fortunate enough to have been blessed by her presence in our lives. For that, I'll be ever grateful.

Rest in peace, dear Zahara, as all you touched carry on to fulfill your vision, dreams, commitment, and humanity.
John Friedrich
February 25, 2018
May the light of Zahara's incandescent spirit live inside us and comfort us all, especially Eric and Max and those who had the privilege of being closest to her. We send you our most profound love and thanks for sharing her with us.

Celia DuBose and Eric Smith
San Francisco
February 25, 2018
GoPink!DC is the Washington area's dragon boat team for breast cancer survivors and supporters. We first knew Zahara as a fellow paddler. But she became so much more to us. We will always remember Zahara's fierce and loving spirit. She made the world a better place.
February 25, 2018
The FTD Lovely Tribute Bouquet
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Leslie Caplan
February 24, 2018
We remember with great affection Zahara's teachings and friendship from the National Havurah Committee Summer Institute. Her memory is a blessing.
Rabbis Linda Motzkin and Jonathan Rubenstein
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