Goodbye to Leila Abu-Saba

on 15 Comments

We understand that Leila Abu-Saba, a wonderful writer and great friend of this site, died last week after a long battle with cancer. "Goodbye radiant friend," Sarah Pollock writes on Facebook, and I feel the same way. From early on in the life of this site, Leila saw my struggle with American and Jewish identity and offered her support. She welcomed me into a conversation that she had been having for all her life. Her father was Lebanese and she married a Jew, she had experienced all kinds of prejudice in life, but she did not know boundaries. She knew what was important, and called that forth from other writers. She was interested in what was kind, penetrating, true and essential. She didn’t like catcalling or criticism or vanity or masks. Here is one of the most important pieces we published here that Leila wrote about the Lebanese refugee camp that she lived in. And here is Leila’s website, "Dove’s Eye View," where you will find other writings by her. I gather there will be a memorial service on Friday in the Bay Area.

15 Responses

  1. Cliff
    October 12, 2009, 3:00 pm

    Man…, I don’t know what to say. I liked her blog and her. She will be missed. ><

  2. MRW
    October 12, 2009, 3:00 pm

    I didn’t know she had cancer, and I wondered where she’d been. If her family is reading this, my deepest sympathies to you. She was a lively and clear voice on this site for so long. Her posts here and on Pat Lang’s site had intellectual rigor, and she peppered them with poignant examples from her own life. May she go in peace.

  3. Donald
    October 12, 2009, 3:04 pm

    That is sad. I knew she had cancer, but for some reason I thought she was doing well.

  4. Craig
    October 12, 2009, 3:25 pm

    Thanks for passing the news along, sad though it is.

  5. LeaNder
    October 12, 2009, 3:31 pm

    Far thee well, Leila. I hoped you would make it.

  6. Richard Witty
    October 12, 2009, 3:35 pm

    I thought she was getting better.

    A great soul.

  7. Danaa
    October 12, 2009, 4:00 pm

    I am very sad to hear she’s gone. I know she had a couple of young children and a doting husband. had a few e-mail exchanges with her and was hoping to someday meet her in person when my travels take me to that part of the woods. I guess that’s what happens when we put things off, especially as i suspected from her descriptions of the treatments she was undergoing that her cancer was terminal. Was always amazed at what a life force she had and how easily she could cut through all kinds of bull (even mine). She seemed like a kind as well as a passionate person, with many talents (check the recipes on her web site!) and certainly no push-over. Most hasbara types would fizzle in no time, when subjected to her ire.

    Here’s a comforting thought to all who miss her : according to my new religion (The Matrix, as in we are all simulations…), certain programs are brought back periodically – like a variation on a theme*. Since there are indications (flimsy ones!) that the matrix occasionally borrows ideas from some of its own semi-autonomous sub-routines, I’ll see what I can do about the most commendable Leila program.

    * ps: just think witty and you’ll become a convert too.

  8. Saleema
    October 12, 2009, 4:33 pm

    May she go in peace. I will miss her writing too. I didn’t know her but I’m truly sad.

  9. James North
    October 12, 2009, 6:50 pm

    A terrible loss. Condolences to her family and friends.

  10. americangoy
    October 12, 2009, 7:40 pm

    I am so sorry.

    She came across as a genuine good person, one of those people who come in and light up the room with their inner light.

    She has a good soul.

    She will be missed on this world.

    One of the true “good guys”.

  11. AnaSanchez
    October 12, 2009, 9:02 pm

    Billy Joel was right. Only the good die young.

  12. Citizen
    October 13, 2009, 11:17 am

    I agree, she was a true and always aspiring full human being. And she did it while afflicted with a terrible medical condition. I am too low to even fully imagine that.

  13. Julie
    October 14, 2009, 8:12 pm

    Her memorial will be this Saturday, if you are available to join us:

    Please Join Us for a Memorial Service for Leila Abu-Saba (07/26/62 – 10/08/09)
    on Saturday October 17, 2009, 2:00 p.m.
    at St. Lawrence O’Toole, 3725 High Street, Oakland, CA 94619

    Reception following the service


    The family is creating an award to be given annually to a Mills MFA student whose work embodies the spirit of exuberance, vitality, and social engagement that runs through Leila’s writing. Contributions to the award in lieu of flowers are welcome. Checks may be made payable to “The Leila Abu-Saba Memorial Fund.” Thank you.

    SHARE STORIES ABOUT LEILA IN OUR ONLINE MEMORIAL: is an online memory book for family, friends, and colleagues of Leila Abu-Saba. All are welcome to offer remembrances.

    PLEASE EMAIL YOUR STORY TO: [email protected].

    IF YOU WISH TO SEND A MESSAGE OF CONDOLENCE TO THE FAMILY: Click on the “Condolences” link on the memory book website and leave a comment.

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