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Marla Gilson was a tireless advocate for Israel and the U.S.-Israel relationship. She passed away Oct. 29 at the age of 60.

In Memoriam: Marla Gilson

AIPAC and the Jewish community lost a tireless fighter, a dedicated professional and an incredible human being with the death of Marla Gilson on October 29. Marla began her career in the Jewish organizational world at AIPAC in 1979, where she worked as a lobbyist and director of community relations. AIPAC was a much smaller organization then, and Marla brought to her work the endless energy, creativity and caring that she gave to all she did.

At AIPAC and subsequent positions in Democratic Party politics, Hadassah and the Association of Jewish Aging Services, Marla never stopped thinking of ways to help Israel and build bridges between Israel and the United States. She organized countless Hadassah missions to Washington to advocate on behalf of a strong U.S.-Israel relationship. She arranged for the visit of numerous Congressional delegations in Israel to Hadassah hospital, where they were able to learn from the innovations the hospital pioneered, whether in emergency response, treatment of post-traumatic stress disorders or special health services provided to Palestinians and to patients from throughout the Arab world.

Marla first conceived of a women’s congressional trip to Israel and then encouraged visits to Israel by prominent Democratic women. Those trips now take place annually and have helped educate an important cadre of Democratic political activists.

Marla Gilson devoted her all too short life to the causes she cared so deeply about and the family and friends to whom she was so deeply committed. Even as she was struggling with the leukemia that would ultimately overcome her, her thoughts were on how to use her experiences to help others. She will be sorely missed. BACK TO TOP