For those of us who didn’t have the honor and pleasure of knowing Sarah Horowitz, her father has collected her work, insights into her spiritual journey, and his thoughts on his late daughter’s life into a new book. David Horowitz’s A Cracking of the Heart refers both to the pain of the death of a loved one and to the opening of the heart to transcendence.
One of the greatest blessings of A Cracking of the Heart is that it also is a dialogue between two insightful souls: an ex-leftist, conservative father and an idealistic, progressive daughter, each wrestling with the questions of how to be good and how to do good from the point of view of their respective philosophies. Both recognized that neither side could hold a monopoly on goodness because, as the author quotes Solzhenitsyn, “the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either — but right through the human heart, and through all human hearts.”
Sarah was born with Turner Syndrome, a genetic condition in which a female is born with one X chromosome instead of two. It is usually associated with short stature and multiple disabilities, including progressive deafness. In addition, Sarah developed arthritis in one hip as an adult, limiting her mobility.
Nevertheless, as someone possessed of great intelligence, great strength of character, towering determination, and unbounded compassion, Sarah lived her life, as Horowitz quotes Yeats, as someone who “was blessed, and could bless.”
Horowitz relates that at the age of 18, Sarah moved out of her mother’s home — her parents divorced when she was a teen — to rent an apartment with friends in a neighborhood that frightened her parents (she didn’t move to a neighborhood her father thought was safe until her early 30s) and to attend San Francisco State University. Her adventures in bohemian San Francisco are a delight to read.
When Sarah was in her late 20s, she became her autistic niece’s caregiver using the Lovaas method, and Horowitz includes a description Sarah wrote of her experiences of working with the child.
Sarah also was active in the Turner Syndrome Society, wrote an influential article on intersexuality (aka hermaphroditism), demonstrated against the death penalty, traveled to Israel and climbed Masada twice, and traveled to El Salvador and Mumbai to work with the poor on behalf of the American Jewish World Service. She also lived for two months in Uganda with the Abayudaya, Africans who converted to Judaism during World War I.