SGORR Co-Founder and Shaker Heights Schools Teacher Marcia Jaffe Dies at 85

January 10, 2020—It is with great sadness that Shaker Heights Schools announces that Marcia Joan Jaffe (nee Weissman), a longtime Shaker Heights Schools teacher and co-founder of the Shaker Heights High School Student Group on Race Relations (SGORR), passed away Friday, January 10. She was 85. 

Mrs. Jaffe was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY to the late Adolph Weissman and Goldie Weissman Benjamin. She attended Erasmus Hall High School, then Brooklyn College for her Bachelor’s in Education, then John Carroll University for her Master’s in Learning Disabilities and Special Education. She married Stanley Jaffe in 1957.

Mrs. Jaffe was a gifted and beloved educator of elementary and high school students. She co-founded SGORR, the Student Group on Race Relations, and was a seminal influence on the lives of countless generations of students. When Mrs. Jaffe and cofounder Zachary Green met with a small cohort of students in 1983, their goal was to create a space in which interracial friendships would be celebrated and maintained.

These SGORR pioneers noted with disappointment the disintegration of diverse friendships as students entered their middle school years and sought to change this trend by educating elementary school students about race and human relations. Over the years, SGORR has grown from a group of fewer than fifteen students to a membership of over 250 students. SGORR’s mission has remained constant: to celebrate and teach about diversity and human connections across all boundaries of difference.

Mrs. Jaffe was the recipient of numerous awards and honors for her commitment to diversity through SGORR, including the Ohio Governors Award and, in 2002, the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Award for Human Relations presented by the Human Rights Commission of the City of Shaker Heights.

Even on her own personal time, Marcia devoted herself to the Sunday evening SGORR leadership meetings, where student leaders would gather at her and Stan's home to develop the curriculum for the programs they would bring to 4th- and 6th-grade students.

Mrs. Jaffe will be remembered for her commitment to diversity and tolerance, and for her passionate ability to form and foster personal relationships. With her family or with her students, she had an uncanny ability to give total focused one-on-one attention to whomever she might be speaking with, and through this skill she changed lives.

Mrs. Jaffe will be missed greatly by her loving family, coworkers, students, and friends. She is survived by her husband of 62 years, Stanley Jaffe, children, David Franklin (Brenda) Jaffe, Andrew Paul Jaffe, and Steven Richard Jaffe, siblings, Alan (Fani) Weissman, grandchildren, Micah Benjamin Jaffe, Eli Aaron Jaffe, Neal Thomas Aultman, and Rachel Marilyn Aultman (fiancé, James Hutzler), sister-in-law, Irma Becker, and nieces, Ellen Diamond, Carol Sherman, Andrea Bergman and Michelle Feig. Mrs. Jaffe was predeceased by her parents, Adolph Weissman and Goldie Weissman Benjamin (nee Bush).

A celebration of life will be held on February 22 at 6:30 p.m., Springwell Retirement Community, 2211 W. Rogers Avenue, Baltimore MD 21209. Refreshments and social gathering to follow. RSVP to David Jaffe if you plan to attend. Please omit flowers. Friends and family may leave condolences online here.

Contributions in her memory may be sent to Parkinson's Disease Foundation, 1359 Broadway Suite 1509, New York, NY 10018 or Michael J. Fox Foundation, c/o Donation Processing, P.O. Box 5014, Hagerstown, MD 21741-5014.

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