Bayla Burnham, a beautiful and dynamic Rebbetzin and role model to students at the University of Maryland and beyond, passed away suddenly last Thursday, aged 30. There are no real words to describe the loss of Bayla’s passing to the Jewish people, for Bayla was simply one of the most dedicated women I have ever met, someone who gave all she had – her heart, time, mind, energy and resources – to guiding hundreds of Jewish women to building their potential and inspiring them to greatness via the wisdom of the Torah.
I was only privileged to meet Bayla in person once, and one of my first thoughts upon hearing her speak was, “Thank G-d, this is someone who gets it.” This is someone who understands the real and urgent needs facing the Jewish people today, and is dedicated to filling those needs. As I kept listening to what she was saying and how she was saying it, however, I realized that Bayla was actually in a class of her own. With her entire being, and on so many levels, Bayla really raised the bar for women like me ‘working’ in the same ‘field’ and for this I will remain forever inspired and grateful.
With her family close by in Indianapolis, Bayla mentioned to me the possibility of making a trip out to Bloomington at some point to speak to my students at Indiana University. I’m so sorry we weren’t able to make that happen, for it was clear that Bayla made such a tremendously positive impact wherever she went, and enriched the lives of all with whom she came into contact.
Bayla, you will no doubt be remembered as one of the great Jewish women of this generation. Like Rachel Imeinu, you cried for your children – all of klall Yisroel. You took them under your wing, and loved them, and brought comfort to them. You were a mother to many, Bayla, and you will be so, so missed by so, so many. As your strongest admirer, I take comfort in knowing that you accomplished more kindness and good in your short lifetime than most people would accomplish in 5 lifetimes, and for this you will surely be rewarded with unlimited pleasure in the World of Truth.
Thank you for inspiring me to be so much more, and may your powerful legacy continue to grow.
To Bayla’s husband and family, may you be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Yerushalayim.