Shatzi Weisberger Obituary, Death – We regret to inform you that Shatzi Weisberger, The Peoples Bubbie, a 92-year-old antisemite, lesbian, abolitionist, nurse, and devoted activist, passed away early this morning. Thanks in large part to the wonderful outpouring of support this community showed her by contributing to and sharing her GoFundMe, Shatzi passed away in her own home, exactly as she had wished. We appreciate you everyone giving her this priceless gift. She repeatedly remarked that she felt completely encircled by affection. “I am dying, and yet this is the happiest period of my life,” she said this past week.
Shatzi had a strong desire for a happy internet tribute that would celebrate her life. We’ll carry it out. For a future time and other ways we can all pay tribute to her, stay tuned. Without Shatzi, New York City’s streets won’t be the same, but what a legacy she leaves behind. Shatzi, you are extremely adored by us. May a revolution live on in your memories. Shatzi asked her friend Jay Saper to write her a beautiful obituary, which he did. The People’s Babe is Shatzi Weisberger. Shatzi Weisberger, 92, confronted her death in the same way she lived her life—with an open heart, a kind soul, and a willingness to welcome the unpopular.
The activist and lifetime nurse transitioned into a death educator in her latter years, conducting seminars on the art of dying, opposing a culture that fears death, and encouraging open discussions about the unsettling moment that we will all experience eventually. In 2018, Shatzi organized her own FUN-eral, which was covered by the New York Times. Friends adorned a biodegradable casket while serenading them with socially relevant music performed by the Brooklyn Women’s Chorus, where she sang, during what she regarded to be her death party. Shatzi had methodically arranged this celebration and the care she would get in her last moments.
The people close to Shatzi made sure that her last desires would be carried out. Shatzi was as out of the ordinary in life as she was in death. Being the great-granddaughter of Samuel Gompers, the father of the American Federation of Labor, she credited her rebellious nature to this. Shatzi, who was born Joyce Shatzberg on June 17, 1930, was raised in a Jewish home by a lesbian mother. She started organizing against discriminatory redlining tactics on Long Island at an early age. Shatzi ended a bad marriage after reading Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique. She was drawn to the political and social milieu of lesbians.
She got active with organizations like Radical Jewish Lebians Organizing and Dykes Opposed to Nuclear Technology (DONT) in the 1970s, and she was arrested for her organizing work prior to the Three Mile Island nuclear accident. Shatzi remembered a specific action, “We all lay on the ground as if there had been a nuclear assault.” “And I remember crying because I felt like I was doing the right thing with the right people at the right time and place,” she continued. Weisberger joined the AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power (ACT UP) in the 1980s. She has been a nurse her entire life, caring for AIDS patients in their homes.
Weisberger tirelessly lugged a clipboard to community colleges across New York State, urging students to become independents because she was fed up with traditional political parties that seemed to disregard the areas closest to her heart. Shatzi amplified the voices of those incarcerated who denounced the racist practices separating loved ones from their communities as the prison population increased, leading to mass imprisonment. She distributed No More Cages, one of the earliest publications of what grew to be known as the jail abolition movement, from the sidewalks of New York City. Shatzi was a staunch supporter of Palestinian human rights and a proud lesbian Jew.
She collaborated with Rabab Abdulhadi as a member of the Palestinian Defense Committee and presented workshops on support for Palestine at the Michigan Women’s Music Festival. Shatzi enjoyed Rosa, her beloved cat, until the last several years of her life. Shatzi’s political base was Jewish Voice for Peace. She had a significant role in the organization’s Bubbie Brigade, a team of senior Jewish women who performed political street theater. She distributed challah while holding a sign that read, “Jewish dyke standing with Palestinian queers,” at one protest. Following the killings of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd in 2020, protests against police brutality erupted. Weisberger attached a Black Lives Matter banner to her walker and rolled out into the streets to take part in the demonstrations.
The People’s Bubbie, a play on the endearing Yiddish name for grandmother, quickly became Shatzi’s Twitter moniker as she persisted in attending protests and fighting for justice day after day. Weisberger, who wrote for the Huffington Post, “All I Want For My 90th Birthday Is To Abolish The Police And Build Our Dream World,” was keen to use the publicity she gained to further the movement. Shatzi and Jean Weisberger were wed for 18 years. Jack, who was 5 years old, was adopted from Greece, and Sabina, a newborn from California, was adopted a year later. Dave, Melissa, Amanda, and Jennifer Hamilton, as well as Jake, Devon, and Slater Weisberger, are Shatzi’s grandchildren and great-grandchildren, respectively.
The streets of New York City will never be the same without her, but those of us who hope to create a better world will always value the opportunity to have known Shatzi Weisberger.