Written by Jim Rattray, Marc’s brother-in-law
The past few weeks have been particularly difficult for us as a family.
Lisa’s older brother, Marc Steven Blumenthal, passed away yesterday (12/8) after a brief illness at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. He was only 65. Yes, only 65.
Marc was a rabbi and spiritual counselor to thousands. He lived for many years in LA. He was very special to us — and very special to so very many!
Marc was insatiably curious and never shy with a well-informed opinion. He was a daily cover-to-cover reader of The New York Times. He was witty, sometimes acerbic, but always insightful and full of wisdom well beyond his years. He was a truly brilliant thinker.
Marc had many challenges, but many more triumphs.
As with any human, Marc’s life wasn’t perfect and he had his struggles. He came out as a gay man at a time when that was harder than it is today (still not easy). He was HIV-positive and saw hundreds of his friends die of AIDS (and he officiated at more AIDS funerals that anyone should ever have to). He battled with addiction, hit some deep lows, but came out the other end a much stronger and better Marc.
He was incredibly resilient and worked extremely hard to gain his sobriety (3 years!!!), allowing him to continue to play a meaningful role in so many lives through his friendship, fellowship and work with his community of sponsors and sponsees.
Beit T’Shuvah, an LA-based inpatient recovery center, played a central role in Marc’s life over the last several years. He first came to BTS as a patient, but after working through his challenges, he later became a cherished member of their staff. In fact, he was called “the compassionate one” among a community of uber-compassionate people, working diligently to help others in their own healing process. The stories of his compassion are both moving and endless.
During Marc’s hospitalization, the BTS community embraced Marc with love, prayers and support. If you’d ever wondered what the power of community feels like, we witnessed it in all its might with how BTS mobilized in support of Marc. It was truly a tour de force of love and strength.
It was beyond-words difficult for us that we could not be with Marc during his most critical time of need, as we had been so many times before, because of our own medical issues. But our son, Joshua, was the family proxy — representing himself, Marc’s 94 1/2-year-old mother, Edna, and us by flying to LA and being with Marc for several days. Joshua’s own compassion, knowledge and insight were invaluable to all of us.
In the end, in his final hours, Marc was able to bring both of his worlds together — the family he loved so much and the community that opened its arms to him, loved him and gave him the strength to always give back to others.
His sponsee, Michael, told us: “Marc saved my life. I wouldn’t be here without him. He introduced me to a spiritual life that saved me.”
During that final hour, Marc’s family (Edna, Lisa & Jim and Joshua) was on the phone with him in his room that was overflowing with people at his bedside, all “surrounding Marc with love” as Dale, his sponsor described it. Dale stroked his head while Devin played the violin. We all held hands, even if it was virtually, as we shared stories about Marc. In between all the tears, there were even a few laughs — just what Marc would have wanted. We are forever grateful for sharing those deeply indelible, meaningful moments.
Marc was a giver his whole life. He gave of himself to everyone he met. Often times more than he had to give. He always gave. And never thought twice about it.
Marc will be forever loved. Marc will be forever missed. Marc has changed so many lives forever. What gifts he has given!
Finally, a heartfelt thank you to the countless caregivers at Cedars for their tireless and valiant efforts to help Marc.
With our continued deepest love and gratitude for our wonderful family and friends,
– Lisa & Jim
PS: For those who have asked about making a gift in Marc’s honor, a tribute gift can be made to Beit T’Shuvah at https://beittshuvah.org/support/tribute-gifts/