J Street mourns the passing of our long-time friend, activist, and former board member, the incredible, indefatigable, irreplaceable Marilyn Katz, z’’l.
A legendary figure in Chicago politics, the progressive movement and pro-peace advocacy, Marilyn was a tireless fighter for the oppressed, a warrior against injustice, and a crusader for a better, fairer and more peaceful world – for Chicagoans, for Americans, for Israelis and Palestinians.
Beginning her legendary organizing career in the 1960s, Marilyn helped lead protests against the Vietnam War and the MLK assassination, and fought for fair wages and housing. In 1983 she helped elect Harold Washington as the first-ever black mayor of Chicago. Later she founded and led her own consulting firm, remaining deeply connected to local and national politics and serving as an advisor, confidante, and voice of conscience for innumerable elected leaders.
Marilyn served for many years as a member of the J Street Board of Directors and of the J Street Chicago Executive Committee, and traveled to Israel and the Palestinian Territory many times on Congressional and Leadership Delegations led by the J Street Education Fund. No one who crossed paths with her could ever forget her; no one who ever heard her share an opinion or make an argument could ever fail to be impressed by her passion, persuasiveness and moral clarity.
Marilyn was a genuine, one-of-a-kind original, a force of nature and a force for good. She was a pillar of the J Street community and family. She will be deeply missed, warmly remembered, and always treasured.
May her memory be for a blessing.