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In Memoriam: Jennie I. Litvack, 1963-2019


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Beloved Wife of Washington Institute Executive Director Robert Satloff

With great sadness, The Washington Institute mourns the passing of Jennie Ilene Litvack, wife of the organization’s longtime director and a cherished member of the Institute family for more than thirty years. She was 55.

A native of Montreal, Jennie received her undergraduate degree at Duke University, where she met fellow student Rob Satloff, and then went on to earn her master’s and doctoral degrees from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University. Rob and Jennie were together from the mid-1980s, married in 1990 and lived joyfully over the years in Oxford, England; Yaounde, Cameroon; Zichron Yaakov, Israel; Rabat, Morocco as well as Washington, DC and Chevy Chase, MD.

An economist by training, Jennie traveled the globe for twenty years for the World Bank, helping to fight poverty and improve living standards as lead economist of human development for Latin America, lead economist for Morocco, and country economist for Vietnam, among other positions. Her doctoral research on pharmaceutical pricing in rural health centers in northern Cameroon played a key role in implementing a major push to ensure access to medications for millions of people throughout Africa.

After her retirement from the Bank in 2010, Jennie shifted focus from the highly technical to the deeply spiritual. At Adas Israel Congregation, the largest Conservative synagogue in the nation’s capital, she led the lay effort to establish the Jewish Mindfulness Center of Washington, a pathbreaking project that won two national awards for innovative Jewish programming. And she helped bring mindfulness and religious pluralism to Israel through her work as a board member of Or Halev, the Center for Jewish Spirituality and Meditation.

In addition, a decade ago, Jennie found her calling as Adas Israel’s beloved ba’alat tekiya (shofar blower). She created such powerful, evocative, melodic sounds that services overflowed on the Jewish High Holidays to hear her. The “goddaughter” of famed jazz trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie, who she met when she was 14 and with whom she stayed close friends for the rest of his life, Jennie was featured on National Public Radio for her magical ability to make music out of the sounds of her special shofar, a four-foot long African kudu horn.

But of all her accomplishments, Jennie was proudest of her three wonderful sons—Benji, who graduated from Duke in May; William, a rising sophomore at Washington University in St. Louis; and David, who just completed fifth grade at the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School.

In addition to her husband and sons, Jennie is survived by her mother, Naomi Litvack of Montreal; her older sister Karen Dagenais of Woodbury, Minnesota, and her children Dylan and Katrina; her younger sister Dina Lubin of Toronto, Ontario, and her son Scott; her extended family and a multitude of dear friends, both close to home and around the world.

The Trustees, Fellows, and Staff of The Washington Institute extend their deepest condolences to Rob and his family on Jennie’s passing.

Donations should be made to the Jennie Litvack Memorial Fund at Adas Israel Congregation, which will support the redesign of the gallery adjacent to the synagogue’s entry foyer as a special contemplative space to be dedicated in her memory and will, in Israel, promote greater religious pluralism and the spread of mindful Judaism through the important work of Or Halev.