RIP Joel Silberman #TeamJoel

Joel Silberman died this morning. On the first day of Netroots Nation, where thousands of progressive writers, activists, and candidates are. There’s symmetry in that. In any other year, he’d be right in the middle of it, like he was at PCCC candidate training, being his bubbly, menschy, show-businessy self.

For the last year, he’s gathered his people in to walk the cancer road with him, for better or worse. We were – no, we ARE #TeamJoel.

What I will always remember about him: His trainings, his counsel and advice, was all about helping progressive people step up, take leadership, look out for each other, and be the strongest, bravest and most effective we can be.

Tonight at Netroots Nation in New Orleans, there will be a memorial for him in the event’s first plenary session. Of the several thousand people there, hundreds knew him and loved him. Tomorrow, if somebody can find a piano (I have every faith they will), there will be a singalong. It’ll be like Joel is still there, and maybe Bea Arthur too (he adored her). Just a few months ago, as he was also dealing with chemotherapy and hospital trials for his pancreatic cancer, Joel taught several hundred candidates at the PCCC training in Washington, including several from New Jersey. He was already weak – had been weak, but squeezing every bit of productivity and joy from the things he loved to do. His husband Michael, he told us, watched him like a hawk, making sure he got through his sessions, but didn’t touch anything or anybody he didn’t need to, being as always his protector.

We all carry him forward. #TeamJoel ❤

This was Joel. And this. And this. At Netroots Nation 2014 in Detroit – I was at this session. And being the “Piano Man.” And what it is to conduct an orchestra. And his birthday party years ago (video from Matt Stoller, who helped Blue Jersey get our start). And this; Joel really loved great broads who could sing, and who were funny – like Madelaine Kahn. And below, back at Netroots Nation (2013) talking big hair and being gay:

Comments (3)

  1. deciminyan

    I heard him speak at Netroots in St. Louis two years ago. He will be missed.


    I went to high school with Joel, so I recognize that first FHS 1966 yearbook picture of him! We were voted most musical together that year (male & female). If I can figure out how to upload THAT photo, I will do that to accompany this. I was so happy to read about his achievements and about his ultimately fulfilling and authentic life. So saddened to hear of his death from cancer. I’m also currently fighting stage 4 appendiceal cancer, and it’s no picnic. That Joel was able to speak publicly about issues that mattered so much to him, even when feeling ravaged as this barbaric concoction was circulating in his body is a testament to his commitment and his huge heart. RIP, Joel!
    Joanne (deRoza) Paciello
    P. S. Couldn’t find a way to post picture—too bad, it’s good!

    1. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

      Joanne – First, here is all of us hoping that you kick cancer ass. And second, no matter what I wish you the best days ahead of you, that they feel productive and happy, and that you let your people gather around you as you face the challenges.

      Great story about going to school with Joel. If you send me the photo – – I’ll post it with your comment.


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