It is with tremendous sadness that we share the passing of Jerry Weinstein. In addition to being the first divorce mediator in New England, Jerry was a founding member of MCFM, our first president, the 2006 recipient of the John Fiske Award for Excellence in Mediation, and an MCFM Director Emeritus.
A tribute to Jerry by John Fiske:
Jerry Weinstein was the father or grandfather of family mediation in Massachusetts, and the Massachusetts Council on Family Mediation was his brainchild and home. I joined the mediation family in September of 1979 after taking a year long absence from Massachusetts with my wife and 3 children with no idea what I would do upon returning. During our trek in Nepal in February my wife suggested I try to help people get divorced peacefully and when I met with Weston friends in Crete in April they had an article in the Boston Globe by Cristina Robb about family mediation and Jerry Weinstein.
Jerry had been running the Divorce Resource and Mediation Center in Newton with Harry Keshet a therapist ,and Larry Madfis a lawyer since about 1975, using a model he had been trained in by O.J. Coogler. It was a time of great foment in family law, with no fault divorce suddenly available in Massachusetts, eliminating the need to argue about the past and changing the focus to planning for the future and cooperative parenting.
At a meeting in the Mediation Center in 1982 about 30 mediators voted to form the Massachusetts Council on Family Mediation. Howard Goldstein sat on the floor with his 6 month old daughter and about 28 years later I was training mediators when one of the trainees introduced himself as Howard Goldstein's son in law. When it dawned on me who he was I asked him if he knew how connected his wife was to the history of mediation in Massachusetts, even at an early age. We are all part of Jerry Weinstein's family and share in his legacy, whether we know it or not.
Jerry was the first President of MCFM. He was central to all our activities, always open and supportive even when he might have disagreed. He hosted monthly peer support meetings in his Newton home, invariably full of energy and collegial respect .He helped many people get divorced peacefully and then taught us to fish so we could feed the world of Massachusetts couples wanting to end their marriage as friends or at least on speaking terms. In our first five years we got the legislature to make mediation confidential and to create a joint petition for divorce, building much stronger frameworks for our privileged conversations.
Christine Robb loved writing about mediators: "You are all such nice people. You always give me the names of two others to talk to." That was one of Jerry's legacies. He instigated the creation of an annual award for excellence in mediation and, in true Jerry fashion, insisted it be named after someone else. He was the second winner of this award, now in its 17th year.
Kindness, humor, caring and courage: that is what kept him going, with the rest of us expressing in our own ways this touchstone of deep respect for others.
We extend our hearfelt condolences to Jerry's family, along with our profound gratitude for Jerry's immense contributions to MCFM and the mediation profession and community.
From Jerry's family:
Please join us to honor the life of
Sunday, January 17, 11:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m., online
Sunday, January 17 from 1:30 - 2:30 p.m., online
Monday, January 18 from 7 p.m. - 8 p.m., online
Come share your memories with us.
Use this link to join the service and/or shiva
Julie, David and Ari Weinstein
and Ruth Baden
Meetings will open 15 minutes early for those
who want to check their connection.
Donations may be made to the City College of New York.
To read an interview with Jerry and 2 other MCFM Founders visit this article from the FMQ Archives:
Massachusetts Council on Family Mediation History: Interviews with Three Founders by Debra L. Smith in the FALL 2002 FMQ
Jerry was a humble and gracious colleague and mediator.
Jerry passed along O.J. Coogler's initial design of divorce mediation giving separating and divorcing couples the gift of restructuring their families without rancor, amiably and with fairness. Clients and mediators owe him a great debt of gratitude.
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