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SHJ Issue 16
Spring 2017

[This Incomparable Human]

by Sivan Rotholz Teitelman

I am absolutely devastated to learn that Okla Elliott has passed away. The co-founder and managing editor of As It Ought To Be, he was my editor for 10 years. I feel like that sentence is too small to contain all that it means, so I will just say it again: He was my editor for 10 years. He changed my life in so many ways, all of them for the better. I don’t envy the person charged with writing Okla’s eulogy; every time I start to write about who Okla was and all he accomplished I am humbled by the sheer weight of the task. Never have I known a man more prolific, more passionate, more capable. He was the smartest and most well-read person I knew, period. And he was the very definition of a mensch.

I am thinking in this moment of grief of all of the people I know because of Okla, of the many friends we had in common and the many people who are in my life because of this man, people whose lives, like mine, were touched beyond words by this incomparable human: Raul Clement, Yahya T. Ali, John Guzlowski, Chandra EA Dickson, Karen Craigo, Chase Dimock, Matt Gonzalez, and many others who I am forgetting in this moment in my grief. If you go to Okla’s memorial page here on Facebook, you’ll see post after post extolling his virtues and attempting to remember his innumerable accomplishments.

I want to add one thing here that I think important. For most of the 10 years I knew him, Okla was an ardent atheist. This past summer he nearly died twice, but survived, and in his surviving he found God. I am not a traditional believer myself, but I was moved by Okla’s newfound relationship with God, and with the countless ways Okla lived a life in the spirit of the core values of his religion: kindness to others, care for the downtrodden, generosity, social welfare, and an abundance of love. Looking back, I can’t help but wonder if there were not some divine purpose in sparing his life twice this past year and only taking him from this earth once he had reconnected with his god. At the very least, I know his transformation brought him comfort. But I hope it’s more than that. I hope he knew something that many of us don’t. I hope he was right, and that he is now in a place worthy of a man who lived his life in righteousness, as Okla did. My heart goes out to everyone who is grieving for this loss.

The world will never know another like you, Okla. You will be missed more than we can imagine, #happyrobotmonkeyman.


—Reprinted with author’s permission from Facebook (21 March 2017)


SHJ Issue 16
Spring 2017

Sivan Rotholz Teitelman

is the Contributing Editor of the Saturday Poetry Series on As It Ought To Be and holds an MFA from Brooklyn College. She is a professor, writer, editor, comic artist, and attorney emerita. As a scholar dedicated to reviving women’s history, Sivan draws upon the research and writings of historians, academics, archaeologists, and anthropologists as well as religious studies to inform her work. She is the founder of Reviving Herstory, and teaches research, writing, and feminist biblical studies at the City University of New York. She is currently working on a series of novels about a woman scribe in the court of King David who authored some of the earliest stories in the Bible.

Reviving Herstory

“...we have been born here to witness and celebrate. We wonder at our purpose for living. Our purpose
is to perceive the fantastic. Why have a universe if there is no audience?” — Ray Bradbury