In Memory of Adam Solomon

April 3rd, 2008



It is with deep sadness that we today remember Adam Solomon, who passed away last night.

In Judaism, the highest calling is “tikkun olam” – the healing of the world. Adam’s entire being, his very soul, strove to meet that calling, to fulfill that injunction as if it were, in fact, the greater sum of all the commandments. And I saw his unshakable commitment to that calling as both a close personal friend and as a leader of Third Way.

As a friend he was rare, and not just among the men of his generation who were, let’s say, not encouraged to show their emotions. Not so with Adam. He knew how to listen, and to listen deeply. No matter the time of day, no matter how pressed he was, he stopped and put his whole self into being there as a friend. Nothing was too trivial, nor too overwhelming. No truth too hard to face squarely. And not just his time and tone but his words conveyed how much he cared, how he saw through the illusion of the very limitations you imposed on yourself, how your concern and worry was his, how much he understood your hopes, how your healing mattered as much as his.

And when the tables were turned, and it was my time to listen, he shared deeply and generously of his life, his feelings, his insights, his joys and his struggles. He disclosed his doubts, his pain, his dreams, because he believed that to know oneself, and to be known, was the path of true integrity, of meaning, of connection. He distrusted certainty. Disdained self-importance. And always, always, displayed a unique combination of humility and conviction in exploring his own life, nurturing his family, creating his business ventures, designing his philanthropy.

If that were the only way I knew Adam, it would be one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever had in my life. But beyond his friendship – or perhaps inextricably woven into our friendship – was his commitment to Third Way. He was present at the founding, in fact he was our very first founding supporter and Trustee. Amidst a full and busy life, he devoted a huge portion of it in the past four years to conceptualizing and creating Third Way – and saw it as an absolutely vital part of the American political landscape. He owned it as much as anyone who works here and was intent upon making it a permanent part of progressive politics, not out of a sense of pride – though he was proud of what he helped build – but out of a sense of purpose. His father, who passed away only recently, had made a major mark in public service, and Adam was now carving out – through Third Way, the Progressive Book Club, and other political passions – a public service path of his own.

He knew that at times the work at Third Way could be controversial, but he believed that we were entering a period where progressives truly had to re-think, re-imagine, re-create an entirely new set of ideas (what he liked to call our “intellectual capital”) for a new era. This was not just high-sounding rhetoric to Adam, but a purpose worth devoting decades of his life – a mission big enough that it could change the very trajectory of the country. And through it all he shared – along with our Board Chairman Bernard Schwartz – an unwavering belief in America and a bottomless optimism about our nation’s destiny.

It feels impossible now to imagine the future without him – his friendship, his sage advice, his mentoring, his creative and brilliant mind, his faith in what was and is possible, his vision for what we could all do to change our country.

If our world is to be healed, it will be because our God – in this and future generations – sees fit to give us more Adam Solomons. For that, for our own grief and loss, and for Adam’s wife, children and family, we offer our prayers.

(visit our Adam Solomon tribute page)