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IN MEMORIAM: BEA LOEVY, A FORCE OF NATURE

Bea Loevy, of blessed memory

On January 17, 2022, we lost a very special member of our community. Bea Loevy — former president of the Jewish Council for Women, an active member of the Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts’ (JFWM) Women’s Philanthropy program as well as a Rachel’s Table board member and founder of the program’s gleaning initiative — died at the age of 90 at Baystate Medical Center.

Those who knew her can attest to the warm energy, enthusiasm, and passion that she brought wherever she went. Whether it was leading a non-denominational trip to Israel that included clergy, media, and even the then Mayor of Springfield, Richard E. Neal, or helping to provide scholarships to students via the Springfield Scholarship Fund, Bea proved to be a force of nature. She was celebrated by JFWM as one of the recipients of the Annual Rose Luncheon, which recognizes women over 60 who have demonstrated continual involvement in the Jewish Community. Now, we are honoring Bea by renaming our gleaning initiative, which she founded on our behalf. We are proud to announce that our gleaning initiative will now be known as Bea’s Harvest: The Gleaning Program of Rachel’s Table.

Sarah Maniaci, former RT associate director, spoke with Bea early last fall to talk about her experience founding the Rachel’s Table’s gleaning program. Bea said, “I’ve done a lot of administrative work, but really, I love a hands-on project. Gleaning was a passion for me.” 

Indeed, gleaning for Bea was a hands-on passion for doing good. The biblical times practice of collecting leftover crops from farmers’ fields after they have been harvested, gleaning created a safety net for the poor, orphans, and widows. And Bea took this concept to design a program for Rachel’s Table that would help to combat hunger in our community.

Bea worked hard getting the Rachel’s Table gleaning project off the ground and running. Her responsibilities included everything from locating the farms that were willing to donate, to identifying the youth organizations who wanted to participate, to finding the transportation to get the kids to and from the farms. Bea told Sarah, “during one of these gleaning trips, my husband and I even had to get out of the bus and direct traffic around a problem in the road. But we always got the kids there.”  

Since its inception, the gleaning project has grown into one that not only brings thousands of pounds of healthy produce to agencies in the Pioneer Valley, but also brings people together to learn about the ancient Jewish agricultural laws that ensure equitable distribution of food and land. Bea’s Harvest has evolved and now offers Community Gleaning Days consisting of more “pop-up” gleaning days, winter gleaning, and Growing Gardens, our newest extension, which supports partner agencies in their quest for self-determined sustainable access to healthy food.

For Rachel’s Table, Bea was a force of nature and a force for nature, and we are honored to name the gleaning project she started after her. Donations in her memory can be made out to Bea’s Harvest: The Gleaning Program of Rachel’s Table and will ensure fresh healthy produce gets to people all year round.

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