Naomi Friedman Rabkin, 43, a vivacious, indomitable force for good in the world, died on March 5, 2018, with her husband Michael by her side. Committed to making the world a better place, Naomi was a creative visionary with an unforgettable flair. She lit up a room with her magnetic presence and made a strong and lasting impact.
As Director of Programs at Leichtag Foundation in Encinitas, CA, she was the creative architect of Leichtag’s programs, played a critical role in grantmaking and philanthropic strategy, was integral to the design and development of Leichtag Commons, and provided important counsel and direction as a senior leader of the Foundation. Naomi was a key liaison with the community and supported grantees and other community organizations working to build innovative programs and vibrant Jewish life. She directed the Hive, a collaborative workspace for nonprofits, and led the implementation of large scale events at Leichtag Commons, a nexus of social enterprise, innovative agriculture, educational programs, and vibrant community life. Naomi was an educator, organizer and activist with a passion for experiential learning, community building and empowering volunteers.
Earlier, Naomi worked to build Jewish community at Spark: Partnership for Service, Jewish Funds for Justice and Project Otzma. She was the first Executive Director of Limmud Atlanta + Southeast, a Jewish cultural organization, and she founded the Jewish Food Alliance, a coalition of Jewish and secular organizations committed to building awareness, skills, knowledge and community around food access, sustainability and culture. In all her endeavors, Naomi championed the rights of women and in particular women in the workplace.
In 2001, Naomi earned a Master’s in Education from Stanford University where she focused on the intersections between Jewish values of social action and service learning education. She earned her BA in human services at George Washington University in 1996. Naomi grew up in Montrose, NY, and was born in Mt. Kisco on March 24, 1974.
In addition to her husband, Naomi is survived by daughters Jolene and Talia, her mother Marcia Friedman of Montrose, N.Y., brother Rabbi Daniel Braune Friedman and his wife Hannah of West Hartford, CT. Her father was the late Joseph Louis Friedman of Montrose.
A year and a half ago, Naomi was diagnosed with triple negative and inflammatory breast cancer, both poorly understood and devastating types of breast cancer. Naomi requested that donations be made in her honor to charities that represent her values including foundations that support research into triple negative and/or inflammatory breast cancer such as tnbcfoundation.org and theibcnetwork.org.
The funeral and interment were at El Camino Memorial Park Chapel in San Diego on March 8, which coincided with International Women’s Day.