Ruthy Slann Tribute

Here are a few things we've collected as part of our tribute to Ruthy Slann (z''l), our beloved director, hostess, and dear friend, who passed away on June 5th, 2021.

To see a wonderful and touching memorial video created by Meliss, go to www.lirkodforever.org.  You can also go there to donate to The Ruthy Slann Scholarship Fund, see a list of Ruthy's favorite dances, and watch a much longer video recording of the Zoom Memorial gathering where many people shared loving stories about Ruthy.

If you have something you would like to add to this page, please contact the website administrator at info@karmielusa.com.

Tribute to Ruthy

by Livia Burghardt, June 9, 2021


It’s hard to even imagine a world, a dance circle or my life without Ruthy in it. Ruthy is and always will be very much alive in my heart. Shortly before Ruthy died, I felt a sudden need to see pictures of BlueStar…the cabins, the lake, the peaceful surroundings. It is almost 26 years to the day when I first met Ruthy there in 1995, during the first week of June and, by the second day of camp, she had become my best friend, confidante and surrogate mother. She is the one person in my life who has always been there for me, even in my darkest moments, and who has never let me down.  

 

The amazing thing is that I’m far from the only one to feel this way. Ruthy could come into a room with 50 people in it and, by the end of the evening, she would know everyone’s life story and would have formed a lasting connection with each of them - all while tearing up the dance floor! I don’t know anyone who has given so much to so many…with that boundless energy of hers and love for every living being…her fearlessness, exuberance and infectious love of life that draws everyone to her. She’s like the candle that lights everyone else’s candles. She fills up the room with her smile, her laugher, the sound of her voice, her amazing spirit and energy. When you talk, she really listens, really understands. And her hugs are the best. There has never been anything more valuable to me than any little bit of time I got to spend with her…in person, or remotely. I have never been able to say goodbye to her after a camp or a visit without breaking down and sobbing uncontrollably, and this is no exception. Ruthy would always tell me not to say ‘good-bye’ but ‘l’hitraot’!

 

Ruthy opened the door to the dance-world wide for me. Although I couldn’t afford it, I wanted nothing more than to follow her from dance camp to dance camp, and I often drove instead of flying to save money. Wherever I went, she would arrange for me to stay with friends of hers enroute. Today, I could probably travel the world by visiting just a handful of her friends. Her friends - are such a comfort to me right now. People reached out to me – people I don’t even know – who got my contact information from a friend of a friend, because Ruthy hadn’t been answering their messages and they were concerned. Ruthy’s death is by far the biggest loss that I’ve ever had to face, but people who met her only a few times are telling me that they are devastated – that’s how great Ruthy’s ability was to reach people and bond with them quickly.  

 

The first time I went on Ruthy’s dance tour to Israel, her sister, Ronit, gave me a beautiful book of poetry by Khalil Gibran. I remembered that he wrote about friendship, about sorrow and about death. Searching for any scrap of comfort, I found the words I vaguely remembered: ‘When you are sorrowful, look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight’.  Ruthy was a sheer delight, and I am beyond grateful for all the years and the countless memories I treasure. Having her as my friend has been the greatest gift I’ve ever been given.  I don’t know how to begin to live in a world without her in it, except by trying my very best to live the way she did– unabashedly, unrestrainedly, whole-heartedly, fearlessly… (even though I’m really not good at it). Ruthy is such an incredible role model, and I want her to be proud of me.

 

Gibran also said: “Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing. And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb.  And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.” Ruthy sang until she got so hoarse she lost her voice, climbed Mount Kilimanjaro even after the cancer reached her lungs, and was frustrated when, after days and nights of non-stop dancing, her feet were swollen hard as rock and too painful to stand on! Wherever Ruthy went, she was always looking for the dancing, and you could be sure she would find it.  She danced till practically her last breath,  and went to an out-of-town dance camp barely a month before she died. Heaven, for Ruthy, would be one big non-stop dance camp where she could reunite with loved ones and old friends, while making new ones every step of the way.  Heaven wouldn’t be heaven without dancing and, for sure, Ruthy would be leading it! I’d like to think that now she can sing without ever losing her voice, climb to her heart’s content, and dance all day and night without ever getting sore, because if every anyone deserved every happiness for all eternity, it’s Ruthy. I love you, Ruthy!

 

Livia

Poem

by Livia Burghardt, May 15, 2021


Ruthy, my incredible friend,

You are brave
and better at living
than anyone I have known
You pack each suitcase and each day past bursting
always on the go - Karmiel Carnival Kilimanjaro
I long since gave up trying to track which plane you were on
I soon learned pity was anathema to you
Never fear, I admire you only
To see you face fire and water is to watch and wonder
I love everything about you
imperfect as you say you are
You are imperfectly perfect
You have never fallen from that supposed pedestal I put you on despite your warnings
When you asked me to bring you salt I complied
mystified because you never wanted anyone serve you
I love your fearless embrace of life and love and new experiences
your decisions that brook no argument
your compassion for the delicate spider saved from heedless feet and cradled in your hands
You have given me that same protection
Your heart is large enough to hold the world
and your anger righteous
You can find a contact lens like a drop of water in the ocean
You cook to feed not just the body but the soul
No wonder so many call you friend
and seek your company
I value every moment we have spent together
beyond diamonds beyond dance
My world is bigger because of you and more beautiful
We have danced our way through so many seasons
so much joy late nights laughter
You have never stopped teaching me
calling steps calling life
I have learned from you the voice of self-compassion and adventure
to always go where I’ve never been
to believe in people’s goodness despite everything
even my own
to fight for what I believe in
to stand up for myself and take chances
You have given me faith and safety
I felt no fear when I climbed as you held the rope
or spun the car like a partner in a crazy Hambo on the highway
because I trust you with my life, you are my security
the one person I can always count on
who knows me better than I know myself
sending me out into the world’s enticing frightening arms
on yet another wild adventure
I knew from the first moment you were something special as I spilled my life story like milk
You must have thought me a crazy Canadian but you let me ramble anyways
I have your honey bear still
every memory and memento
You are the best friend anyone could ask for
To have you as an ally is to have the staunchest defender
You are the fearless mother with the answers, the mother I didn’t have to parent, the only unconditional in my life
You might get mad but you would never leave me
You’ve changed my world with your fierce friendship incredible warmth depth of caring that I’ve clung to on my darkest days
To say I love you feels too feeble
firefly to the moon or ember to the earth’s molten core
To tell you how I feel would take longer than doing every dance created and all those yet to be born
You deserve mango mornings and all-day all-night dancing – without your feet ever getting sore
You make of everything a grand adventure undiscovered country and I would follow you everywhere if I could
guard you with my life if I could, meet you anywhere you are
No matter how distant the ends, they’re never too far to join in a circle like the hug I’m sending
like this love, never-ending, like the circle on the dance floor.

Ohevet otach kol kach, Livia