Shai Holsaert


As remembered by Faith Holsaert
June 23, 2020

My sister Shai Holsaert passed on April 29, 2020. in the midst of the covid-19 pandemic. She lived in Bari, Italy, in the heel of "the boot," in a town which once had ferry service to Yugoslavia.

As a high school student, Shai worked in the first NYC SNCC office with Miss Baker and Bill Mahoney. The office was space in the War Resisters League at 5 Beekman Place in lower Manhattan. Until she left the US in 1966, she participated in fund-raising and support activities, including performing as a dancer at a SNCC benefit at Columbia University in (I think) winter 1963. She attended at least two SNCC conferences, one in the spring of 1962 where, among others, C. Wright Mills spoke, and one the autumn of 1962 at Fisk.

In 1966, Shai moved to India, to study dance. She had a painful congenital hip disorder and in India began to study yoga to deal with the pain, under a then- unknown, Iyengar. In the early 70s, she lived in France for several years where she continued a modeling career begun in India. In the mid 1970s, she moved to Bari, where she both performed as a dancer and opened a yoga studio (Barib's first), which is still in operation. In 2018, she was diagnosed with bone cancer, which in the last months of her life, moved into her brain. She is survived by her only child, a son, Davide, who is a commercial airline pilot, and her husband, Nicola Urbano, a retired teacher.

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