Sarah Rachel Nazimova-Baum, Class of 2011, died on March 2, 2016, after an eight-month struggle with ovarian cancer, bringing to an untimely close 52 years of a life that fused creativity, spiritual discernment, intelligence, and caring service to others. Her love extended to a constellation of family and friends, and focused on the centers of her life: her husband, Mark, and her son, Raphael. Nazimova-Baum's creative impulse was manifest in every facet of her life, from her accoutrements—homemade jewelry, a bag with her knitting—to the inviting posters she crafted for family occasions. Her affect was just as welcoming: warm, direct, with a wry sense of humor and a complete lack of pretention, like the home that she shared in Brooklyn Heights with Mark and Raphael.
A native Brooklynite, Nazimova-Baum attended Stuyvesant High School and Wesleyan University, where she majored in Art History and graduated Phi Beta Kappa. Combining her interests in psychology and art, she earned a master’s degree in art therapy at NYU, and practiced at Bellevue Hospital and other programs in New York, often focusing on geriatric populations.
Nazimova-Baum began to add an explicitly spiritual thread to her braid of creative arts and psychology, studying chaplaincy and interning as an interfaith hospital chaplain, before running the New York Intern Program, an AmeriCorps service program at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Harlem. There she supervised and mentored recent college graduates in a program combining social services, spiritual growth, and intentional community. One of her interns noted that she “touched so many others. She encouraged, nurtured, challenged, and loved me at such a vulnerable and important time in my own life—and shaped me in ways that I'm sure I’ve yet to become aware of.” Later, at the time Nazimova-Baum was diagnosed with cancer, she was counseling people experiencing life crises for LifeNet, at the Mental Health Association of NYC.
She continued deepening her spiritual life, earning a second master’s degree—this time in Spiritual Sirection—at The General Theological Seminary; becoming a spiritual director; and beginning the aptly named Spiritual Arts Practice with Lindsay Boyer, Class of 2003, an enterprise cut short by her illness. Drawing upon many of her interests, the practice invited people to make art with prayer and to pray through making art.
Nazimova-Baum considered creativity as a window onto the world and into God. Writing and drawing, like the silence she practiced at Quaker worship, when done with the right intention, could “open us to God broadly, deeply, and transformationally.”
Nazimova-Baum is deeply mourned by her son, Raphael, her husband, Mark, her brother, Mark, and his partner, Ghada, her mother, Barbara, her in-laws, Robert and Marian, Meg and Sandy, and Irwin, by the extended Baum, Nazimova, Goldberg, Wygod, Lessig, Scherer, Capich, and Nazimowitz families, by her Quaker community at the Brooklyn Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends, and by the Jewish community she and her family belonged to at Brooklyn Heights Synagogue.
On March 5, Nazimova-Baum was remembered with a silent Quaker Meeting for Worship at the Brooklyn Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends in downtown Brooklyn. Her family sat shivah at the home of Mark Nazimova and Ghada Captan March 3-8.
You can send condolences to Mark and Raphael Baum at 111 Hicks St., Apt. 24D, Brooklyn, NY 11201.
In lieu of flowers, the family welcomes donations in memory to the Mental Health Association of New York City, where Nazimova-Baum had been a counselor at their LifeNet crisis center before her illness.