Happy Birthday, Lil Sis!

Today is my sister Karen’s birthday. My earliest childhood memory is watching Dad build her crib while I was eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I’m sure I didn’t know who the crib was for or that my life was about to change forever. But that memory and driving home from the hospital in the pouring rain are still with me.

Karen didn’t impress me much when my parents first brought her home. I was 3 1/2 years old and, up until then, had the whole place all to myself. When the new kid on the block showed up, she got a lot of attention. Apparently, we had to share things. What was that about? I found it, and her, annoying.

One day, my mom had Karen on the floor and marveled at her wriggling around, ready to explore the world around her. Mom exclaimed: “Look at Karen! She is really going places!”

And I replied: “Is she going to go back to the hospital?!”

Out of the mouths of babes, right?

Several decades later, I’m so glad that my parents didn’t take her back. There are very few people in my life who know me better than Karen. We are like one of those couples who can finish each other’s sentences. Except we aren’t a couple, and the sentences are text messages because we live in different states now. But, every day, I will text her something – like a joke or a phrase or a memory – and she will text back, “GET OUT OF MY HEAD” because she was about to text me the same thing. I’m just faster on the iPhone than she is. 🙂

We celebrate accomplishments and cry on each other’s shoulders. She may not solve my problems, and I may not be able to help her as much as I’d like to, but we are damn sure that we don’t face them alone. Right now, the theme song from Friends is going through my head, and I’m realizing that the words apply to sisters too.

So no one told you life was going to be this way.
Your job’s a joke, you’re broke, your love life’s DOA.
It’s like you’re always stuck in second gear,
When it hasn’t been your day, your week, your month, or even your year.

But, I’ll be there for you, when the rain starts to pour.
I’ll be there for you, like I’ve been there before.
I’ll be there for you, cause you’re there for me too.

Love you, Karen. Happy Birthday! Thanks, Mom and Dad, for giving me a sister and not taking her back to the hospital.



The Jew in the Pew

Photo by Chorus Photography 🙂

So far in my career, I have worked for two Jewish organizations, including 13 years at my synagogue as their program and communications director. I love working and volunteering in these communities. It is our home away from home for our family. And whether I’m attending a staff meeting, a board meeting, or a committee meeting, there is one question that is on all of our minds.

How do we reach the Jew in the Pew? Meaning how can we engage the people who come into our building? Whether they are sitting in services or dropping their kids off at Sunday school, what can we, as a congregation or an organization, do to get them to stick around and become more active members?

Here are some of the things we ask ourselves:

Who are they? Are they single or married? Young? Older? Do they have kids? How old are their kids? Do they need babysitting offered at events? What youth or family-friendly programs can we offer? Are they empty nesters or retirees? What adults-only events can we offer? What do these people do for a living? What skills do they have that could help make our community stronger?

What do they like? Are they avid readers or runners? Do they enjoy cooking? Do they play mah jongg? Can they speak Yiddish? Would they want to start a business networking group or a Sunday poker game? How about a pickleball tournament?! Maybe they want to see a show in NYC, visit the Deep South and learn about the Civil Rights Movement, or go to the Holy Land. What kinds of events put tushies in the seats? By the way – this is another way to say “Jew in the Pew.”

What are they searching for? Spiritual enlightenment? Answers to life’s biggest questions? A religious education for their kids or having the bat mitzvah they were denied when they were of age? A place to worship on Friday nights or just attend High Holy Days services in a place where everybody knows their name? The possibilities are endless.

What are they passionate about? Women’s rights? Abortion access? Racial justice? Their grandchildren? Their retirement? Do they love art, music, or culture? How can we incorporate their passions into our community?

These are the conversations that happen behind the bima (pulpit) all the time. So, if you belong to a synagogue, know that the clergy, professionals, educators, board members, and volunteers are thinking about you and hoping you will get more involved. Because we know what makes our communities so special is not the size of the building but the people who light it up inside.

How active are you in your place of worship? Let me know in the comments.



Mojitos, Music, and Mohawks

This weekend was supposed to be relaxing. To a certain extent, it was. I went out to dinner with my husband on Friday night, where I enjoyed a delicious mojito after a long week. We hung out with friends at the swim club for a few hours on Saturday. Today was a rainout, so I decided to be super productive by catching up on work, laundry, cooking, dishes, etc. And now, I’m sitting here on Sunday night, and the writing tank is almost on empty.

What can I possibly tell you that you might find interesting? I watched the Wham! documentary on Netflix this weekend and rediscovered my youth. The pop songs washed over me, and I forgot how much fun music used to be. I immediately pictured myself back in my teenage bedroom, listening to “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” on my boom box. I also learned a lot about Andrew Ridgeley and how he supported George Michael throughout his solo career. Turns out, the guy was a real mench! The film is so well done, and I highly recommend it, especially if you are in the mood for an escape from reality and a dose of 80s nostalgia.

Hmm, what else can I tell you? Andrew is doing a no-shave July along with the rest of the coaches on the swim team. Swimming is a funny sport when it comes to hairstyles. When Andrew was little, he rocked a mohawk with the other kids on the team – for three summers in a row. In high school, the boys on the swim team bleached their hair blond for several weeks. Now, he is giving up the razor for the month of July. I don’t dislike the facial hair as much as I thought I would. It definitely covers up his baby face, but not enough that he wouldn’t get carded at a bar. He says he will shave it in August but might leave a goatee behind.

No matter whether he has the mohawk, the blond beach bum look, or the goatee, he is still a cutie – then and now.

That’s about all I’ve got for today. See you tomorrow.


1 3 4 5 6 7 137

%d bloggers like this: