Thursday, December 18, 2014

Been kinda busy!

Well, November was a whirlwind, prepping for (and then recovering from) Micah's Bar Mitzvah on November 15. He totally rocked it. My cheeks hurt from smiling so much. It was a really lovely wonderful weekend.

We started with Friday night services, and then a Community Shabbat Dinner - we had 4 tables reserved for our guests. What's really nice is that Micah is very "into" doing Birkat Hamazon, the grace after meals, and so am I. So we had a group for that. For me, one of the special parts of the weekend was having Brenda and her son Eitan up from Florida. Brenda and I met at our first Kadima (junior USY) event in 7th grade, and have been friends ever since. And now our sons are best buds. It was also lovely to have my parents' dear friends, the Skopovs, who are like family to me. And relatives and friends from all over.

Adam and Jenny slept over our house, so after we all went home, it was nice to visit a bit with them.

Saturday morning service was packed and perfect. Micah did great, Sam read Torah well, I did fine on my reading, everyone behaved... it was just lovely. And lunch for 325+ was awesome.

We rested a little bit in the afternoon, but I had to be back at shul to set up for the evening party. The night was fabulous. The social hall looked lovely with the decorations and the lighting from the DJ. The kids had a blast. The grownups had fun.

Then Sunday morning we hosted brunch - our friends Hope and Clay kindly offered their house (since they had just done the same for their daughter's bat mitzvah a few weeks earlier). It was great to be able to talk to people in a quieter setting.
Formal portrait on Thursday evening

Exhaustion after that, and clean-up. Now Micah is still working on Thank You notes - it'll take a while...

Thanksgiving was good. My sister's house on Thursday, out to a restaurant with my inlaws and Laura on Friday, and then we came home for a nice weekend here - shul, friends, relaxing.

Then gear up because this past weekend was the MWJDS Winter Lights Gala, and I was one of the Honorees! I worked triple my usual hours last week prepping things (ha - they thought they wouldn't let me work on it! Can't keep a control-freak away...). The event was Lovely. Really the best Gala we've ever had, and not just because I was an Honoree ;)  There was dancing and a fabulous community-wide Horah. Really fun. And we raised over $40k just that night in the Silent and Live Auctions! Still doing the tallying (it takes a while, because people send in money after the event, too), but definitely a successful event.

Gala photo with David's family (taken by my dad)

Here is the text of my speech:

Francine’s Remarks for 2014 Gala

Thank you, my friend, my mentor. The very beginning of Pirke Avot begins with teachers and Mentors:
Moses received the Torah from Sinai and transmitted it to Joshua; Joshua to the elders; the elders to the prophets; and the prophets handed it down to the men of the Great Assembly.
Beginning with Moses, who learned directly from God, each of these great leaders was first a student, and then a teacher. We are all both: student and teacher.
When our first child was born, David and I read a story about a renowned Rabbi in Russia. For a long time, when he prayed, he did so in a whisper. But once his own child was born, his voice resounded through the house as he proclaimed his prayers. When his wife asked him why the change, he replied, “Today, things are different. Before I became a father, the blessings I pronounced were a matter between myself and God, but today, there are little eyes watching, little ears listening. Today, I am transmitting something to the future.”
I think that Rabbi was only partially correct. Once his own child arrived, he understood that what he did, what he said, might actually be important to someone other than himself. His actions, his words, might serve as a lesson for his child.
I think that we all have this responsibility, all the time. It is not just our own children who are guided by our actions. It is not only other children. It is everyone. It is our friends, our neighbors, our coworkers.
Every one of us has been a student, at least at some point in our lives. If we are lucky, we are always a student, always learning, always growing.
But we all should also remember that we are mentors and we are teachers. We can help someone else grow and learn. We have something valuable to share, to contribute to the community.
I am so grateful for all my mentors and teachers, especially Carolyn Keller and Renée Finn, who showed me how important it was to build a school dedicated to excellence and Jewish leadership. I am grateful to my co-workers – I am so grateful to be able to call them my co-workers! – for teaching me how to work with all the amazing young beings entrusted to our care. I am so grateful for our students, who really do seem like sponges sometimes, soaking up what they are learning, but who also teach me so much each day.
I am so grateful for MetroWest Jewish Day School’s existence, so David and I could provide our own sons with the nurturing, thoughtful, guidance they needed to grow into the menches they have become. I am grateful for the flexibility which let our daughter Sofia attend MWJDS as a part-time student, so that she could get exactly what she needed from our community – a love of Judaism, a social community, and a sense of belonging.
I am grateful to all of you for supporting MJWDS. I am so proud of our accomplishments over these past 13 years, and I can’t wait to see what the future will bring for us!
Hazak Hazak v’Nit’hazek – Be strong and let us strengthen one another. Chazak u’va’ruch – Be strong and blessed.