Last Thursday night, I had the opportunity to go see our very own Mayim Bialik speak at a charitable event in Boston hosted by the Combined Jewish Philanthropies. To be sure, it wasn’t the Emmys, but it’s about as close as I have come to the red carpet. In honor of my big night out, here’s my Mayim-style recap:
1. Clogs–not cool. Huh. Apparently most women don’t show up at high-end fundraisers in Boston wearing Dansko clogs. In all fairness, I literally raced from a presentation at a social work conference (where clogs are part of the dress code) to the event, but a more fashion conscious (and organized) Mama would have had a spare pair of heels in her bag. Whoops. (Note to self: buy a pair of heels.)
2. Same planet, two different worlds. I appreciate those rare times when I am reminded of life beyond my little suburban existence, which generally includes daycare, Whole Foods, the local coffee shop, and my couch. Perhaps not surprisingly, the closest I usually get to fancy involves the shenanigans of a little girl named Nancy. These ladies were seriously sparkly, and I was both intimidated and inspired. (But mostly intimidated.) Also, the tiny desserts included miniature bulb syringes of fruity syrup–very fancy.
3. Connections are, well, handy. I was thrilled to get into the event at all, and completely flabbergasted to find myself front and center, at a table with Mayim and the heavy hitters of the Boston Jewish women’s philanthropic society. Everyone there was incredibly gracious and welcoming, even as they must have been wondering who let the crazy lady in the clogs sit at the main table. Oh, and there were swag bags at each of our seats.
4. Swag bags are cool. (Even when most of the stuff in them is useless for me.) The reality is that I don’t have enough gold and platinum jewelry to require the large container of jewelry cleaner that was included, and I haven’t worn purple nail polish since 1990. Also, I imagine the personal shopper offering an hour of time doesn’t usually peruse the aisles of TJ Maxx or Target with her clients. Nonetheless, I was thrilled. There were little candies and a tiny flashlight and a fancy pink container of hand sanitizer, and I was quite taken with all of it.
5. Even celebs snag the free pens. Mayim made sure to grab the free pen that was in front of each of our plates. For some reason, I totally loved that moment.
6. Even seasoned speakers get teary at times. Mayim was speaking about the values she learned from her grandmother, and at one point she got just a little bit choked up. It was a touching moment, and a reminder that while she may be a celebrity actress and author, she’s also just a Mama trying to raise her children and honor her family’s legacy.
7. Shout-out to Kveller. In one of my more inspired moments, I took advantage of the Q&A session to ask Mayim if she could speak a bit more about that parenting website she had briefly mentioned in her talk. She took the bait, and Kveller got its well deserved moment in the spotlight.
8. Women inspire me. This event was hosted by a women’s philanthropic group, which includes a number of successful, powerful Jewish women. When these women needed a keynote speaker, they didn’t have to turn to a man. They chose one of the many accomplished, inspirational women of our generation. There was only one man in the room, as far as I could tell. I can’t imagine this happening 50 years ago, and I’m grateful to be raising daughters of my own in a time and place when women can come together to effect change.
9. Federation is incredible. The whole point of the swag and sparkles was to raise money for the work of CJP, which is a branch of the Jewish Federations of North America. Yes, it was a fun night, but it will also make a difference to people who need it. This particular philanthropic group supports parents and families in Haifa and elderly Jews in Boston, as well as providing scholarships for children to attend overnight Jewish summer camp.
10. We all have a responsibility to help. Jewish tradition tells us that even the poorest among us have a responsibility to give tzedakah. Like so many of us, my husband and I are neither the poorest nor the richest, but we are fortunate to have enough. We donate to various causes each year, but this event reminded me that even if we can’t give more money, we can give more of our time. Now that I’ve finished my degree (and once Pesach is over), I’m hoping to find ways to get more involved.
If you’re looking for new ways to share your time, skills, or money with the Jewish community, check out your local federation, or this list of national and international resources–you might just be inspired!