by Martha Chorney
Fadel Erian was a founding member of the Netherlands Unitarian Universalist Fellowship (NUUF) in the late 1980s. Our group consisted of about 20–25 members from around the country and used to meet on Sundays in Leiden, at the 17th-century International House (part of the University) on Leiden’s lovely Rapenburg canal. This group now meets monthly on the Keizersgracht in Amsterdam.
Fadel was an energetic and passionate organizer within NUUF. He was the opposite of reticent. He made many contacts between our NUUF and the larger UU community internationally. He was very generous, quietly helping others, just at the right time, in just the right way. Fadel really enjoyed company, charmed new acquaintances easily, and was a great networker. The EUU Retreats were important to him, and he attended as often as he could.
His interests were many and wide-ranging. I recall that he gave several talks at our meetings on Baruch Spinoza, the great 17th century humanist. An engineer of fluid mechanics, he submitted a proposal to the Egyptian government for improving the flow of the rich Nile river silt for agricultural development, which the recent dams had disturbed. He enjoyed cooking; on a visit to my home, I got him to make his famous baklava. He sent me back twice to the Turkish market to get just the right kind of filo pastry for it. And he refused to give me his recipe.
It always struck me how important the UU was to him. I wonder if it was perhaps the result of belonging to a persecuted minority, Christian Copts, in his own country that made him appreciate the UU’s religious freedom and spirit of inquiry that I, having grown up an UU, take for granted.
Fadel Erian led a good life and is a great example. We are glad to have known him.