Yaffa Maritz, a Mercer Island resident, was honored in New York at the Israeli Policy Forum’s tenth anniversary dinner on December 5th. The Seattle Jewish Transcript acknowledged the award in this week’s edition, Local activist gains international honors.
Maritz is an Israel-born psychotherapist, who is a passionate voice for peace in the Middle East. A founding member of Find Common Ground, a local interfaith group that promotes Middle East peace, Maritz is also the founder and clinical director of Listening Mothers, a program within Family Services in Seattle that encourages emotional bonding between new mothers and babies. She was instrumental in developing the Stroum Jewish Community Center’s Parenting Center and sits on the board of The Foundation for Early Learning. Though she has lived in the United States for 22 years, her connections to Israel are strong. She served in the Intelligence Unit of the Israeli Defense Forces and graduated from Hebrew University of Jerusalem with a degree in social work.
The Transcript expands upon Maritz’ views of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict:
Maritz believes many Jews view the Middle East in black-and-white, emotional terms.
“Having this kind of view about Israel isn’t helping the situation — it’s too simplistic,” she says. Through the organizations she’s involved with and by encouraging open dialogues, she hopes people will understand the complexities of conditions in the Middle East. .
“I am trying to help the Jewish community see that it is okay to have diverse opinions and still support Israel,” Maritz says. “I hope people will start realizing that we need to have a healthy debate in our community, in the Jewish tradition, of asking questions and pondering over issues.”
The Transcript article omits one salient point in Maritz’ background, she is the wife of Paul Maritz who retired from Microsoft in 2000 after directing many of its most significant technical ventures including Windows, Office and .NET. Unlike many other computer executives who retire blessed with wealth at a relatively young age, the Maritzes are widely engaged in communal affairs. Especially gratifying to those of us involved in Mideast peace work is Ms. Marritz’ participation in groups like the Israel Policy Forum and the Center for Jewish Arab Education in Israel among others.