Memorial for Activist Heiwa Salovitz

We hope you can come to this memorial for our dear friend Heiwa Salovitz, who died so suddenly at the beginning of this year, at his home in Austin, Texas.

If you know of others who were his friends for the many years he lived in CT,  please feel free to pass this along to them as well.

June 11, 1 p.m., Community Room at John Prete Savin Rock Housing, 1187 Campbell Ave., West Haven.

Bring your memories and stories to share!

Info: email Joan at [email protected] or Elaine at [email protected].

Heiwa Salovitz in His Own Words

Why Oral History Matters, an Interview

by Erica Suprenant and Shannon Elizondo, ADAPT of Texas

“What brings me to oral history? Well as a person with a disability — I’ve had my disability all my life — people with disabilities tend to be seen as the invisible people. We tend not to document their stories; we tend not to listen to them; we tend not to think their lives are interesting. So that’s what brings me to oral history, ’cause I want people to learn about my story. I want to learn about theirs, and so we can see the commonality in the struggle, because we all have struggled. We all have things we can learn from each other, things we can contribute to society, and hopefully change society for the better. And it’s just interesting to hear different people’s perspectives on their life and their world experiences.” ~ Heiwa Salovitz, October 11, 2011, a member of ADAPT of Texas,

Speaking Out Against Voting Restrictions 

Heiwa’s testimony at the Texas Legislature against SB 1 (which unfortunately passed, imposing severe and racist voting restrictions)

Rembrances of Heiwa Salovitz

From email sent by Elaine Kolb, Jan. 11, 2022

First met Heiwa Salovitz when he was in his late teens and I was almost 40. Back then, my partner, Patti Deak, was President of the Greater New Haven Disability Rights Activists (GNHDRA). Heiwa occasionally attended some of our events, sometimes held at SCSU. Patti & I agreed that Heiwa had great leadership potential.

Sometime after Patti died in 1999, Heiwa and I bonded more directly, both involved with social justice struggles. Over these years, our connection & trust deepened profoundly. Just visited him for a week in September. His personal care assistant (PCA) found him dead, sitting in his power wheelchair on January 3, 2022.

Heiwa, Japanese word meaning “peace”or “harmony.” The only “Heiwa” I’ve ever known was surely one of a kind. Yes, that’s partly why we became so close. Takes one to know one…

~ From email sent by Joan Cavanagh on Jan. 4, 2022

Heiwa Salovitz, Presente!

Dear Friends and Fellow Travelers,

This isn’t the sort of New Year’s email I’d choose to write. In sorrow and shock I have to report the passing of a dear friend, Heiwa Salovitz, over the weekend in Austin, Texas. Heiwa was a stalwart and principled fighter for disability justice, peace (the meaning of his name), and human rights whom many of you knew. A member of the Muslim community, he was part of the work of the New Haven Sunday Vigil for Peace and Justice, the Greater New Haven Coalition for People, the New Haven initiatives of Amman Imman (Water is Life) and many other local groups and organizations before moving to Austin to work with Texas ADAPT.

We will have a local memorial gathering at some time in the future.

Heiwa’s life was unique, courageous and important. May his memory be for a blessing.

~ Joan Cavanagh

My Friend Heiwa Salovitz

By Paula Panzarella

Needing a wheelchair didn’t keep Heiwa from being involved with community actions or peace rallies. He was on the May Day Celebration Committee, helping plan the yearly International Workers Day festival on the New Haven Green. He joined Fight the Hike and traveled to Hartford to give public testimony at the State Legislature about the hardships CT’s electric rates caused the disabled community and lower-income residents. Every Sunday he would come to the peace and justice vigils in the rain, snow or freezing weather. He was intent on making a difference in this world.

In all the groups we were in together, he helped broaden our perspective on how we needed to improve our outreach and accessibility to include more people in the various struggles for justice.

Heiwa was courageous, smart, patient, modest, and had a great sense of humor. In 2010, he left New Haven to join the Austin chapter of ADAPT. He was intent on working with others in the disability rights community who, like him, were not afraid of pushing the envelope, risking arrest and fighting for recognition of their human rights and dignity. Unfortunately, New Haven wasn’t radical enough for him.
His mother was Italian and French and raised Catholic, his father was Jewish, and Heiwa was a converted Muslim. His name means “Peace” in Japanese – in all ways he embodied his multi-cultural appreciation of the world.

I’m glad we met, grateful for his friendship, and heartbroken about his passing.

Heiwa Salovitz, June 10, 1969 – January 3, 2022

Heiwa was a New Haven activist until 2010 when he moved to Austin to work with its chapter of the disability rights organization ADAPT. His involvement in many New Haven organizations for peace, justice, disability rights, human rights, equity and respect for all impacted everyone who knew him. Heiwa was Muslim, had cerebral palsy, and used a wheelchair. He was active, outspoken and effective in making change. The PAR Planning Committee extends our deepest condolences to all his family and to his many friends.

From The Record-Journal, Jan. 7, 2022

Heiwa Salovitz, of Austin, Texas, formerly of Wallingford and New Haven, passed away January 3, 2022.
He is survived by his mother Elaine Harris (late Richard Harris), his siblings Charlie, Robin, Amy (Gary), Larry (Debra). He was the beloved uncle to Autumn (Marvin), Heather, Noah, Ava, and Sophie, great-uncle to Harmony, Jadyn, Shaelynn, Brooklyn, and Sirene. He was predceased by his bio parents Simon Salovitz and Dee LeDoux.

He will be missed by his many friends and extended ADAPT family, where he was a fierce advocate of change and reform for people with disabilities.