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Lightning Victim Has Strong Ties to Reform

A former legislative assistant at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism was struck by lightning Saturday during an outdoor concert here.

Lysa Selfon remained in intensive care Monday, but in considerably improved condition, after being slammed to the ground by a lightning bolt — the victim of a fast-moving storm that swept through the city.

Other spectators in the vicinity of the blast, including Selfon’s sister, suffered minor injuries.

Selfon, a 25-year-old law student at The George Washington University, was badly burned and went into cardiac arrest after the strike, which hit the Tibetan Freedom Concert at Washington’s RFK Memorial Stadium. Paramedics were able to revive her at the scene.

Her sister, Amanda, 21, was also hurled to the ground, but suffered only a bruised knee. Other spectators suffered minor injuries.

At Washington Hospital Center, a spokeswoman described Lysa’s condition as fair and said she was alert and talking and no longer needed a ventilator.

Selfon, a native of Lancaster, Pa., worked at the Religious Action Center from 1995 to 1996, specializing in church-state issues.

Her mother, Rosanne, serves on the board of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, the congregational arm of the Reform movement.

Two of her old bosses, Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the RAC, and Rabbi Lynne Landsberg, now director of the Middle Atlantic Council of the UAHC, heard about the incident while on a mission to Israel and called the Selfon family to express their concern.

“I know that not only the staff of the RAC but people throughout the Reform movement are praying for Lysa, thinking of her and her family,” said Mark Pelavin, the center’s associate director.

“We who know her know that she’s a very strong person and are hopeful and confident that that strength will be a great asset to her in her recovery.”

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