My Personal Cantor

Another great-full year, welcome 5776!

I haven’t even begun to process the last 10 days, but I simply must express my heartfelt joy and appreciation for those who helped make it the most successful HiHo ever. Although I am completely exhausted, today, my heart is soaring.

First and foremost – thanks go out to my Dad, Rabbi Stephen Spiegel, who gave the most wonderful “not-sermon”, but rather, tidbits of the gifts of the Law of Attraction, teaching us always that instead of focusing on that we did wrong, that repentance is found through moving towards light, or what is right. At first, when he started speaking, I thought – oh good, now I can zone out for a second and get the rest of my thoughts in order for what is next, and when I realized I truly loved what he was saying, I was captivated. Dad, I don’t know where you got those words from. I can only hope that over these last 7 years you’ve actually listened to things I’ve been saying, but if those are your beliefs, and I do know they are – because look at the amazing things you have done with your life – I couldn’t be more proud of you. I love you.

Every spiritual leader needs a great team behind her. This year, I’ve worked completely alone. NO assistant, no volunteers, just me – and it has been extremely demanding. But this year’s team behind me has been my own children, who have stepped up to support their mom in the most incredible ways.  Lauren Ashley Ballard – your enthusiasm, support, and never ending ear to listen and the way you and Jay Yarnold just move right in to take care of things I leave in my path have made this process so much easier.  Trevor Ballard, your sense of independence and self responsibility has made it so much easier for me to focus on the job at hand, and we all can see what an incredible job you have done at taking life by the reins and making it happen for yourself. You have also been an incredible ear to listen and offered so much support and guidance, always having my best interest at heart. Who could ask for more?

At yesterday’s service I honored 3 groups of people, who in my world make my life what it is today.

First, I honored my Mitzvah Makers, highlighting the leaders who have emerged, who I adore with all my heart.  Justin LiebmanJoey FerberAlex Kazdan, Eli Andy FuhrmanKayleigh PowersEmma ShapiroNoah Brenner, Ryder (Ashley Howell Kaplan Howell Kaplan, and Trevor Price and Brent Bogart – cannot wait to see the amazing things you do this year. I’m so proud of you!

Second, I honored all of the families who have attended all five years of services. You have been the ones who I can count on, who have helped shape this community to become what it is, and whose lives I have become such an integral part of.  Brooke CohenMelissa Wisan EdrichAlexa ZuckermanElizabeth Stuppler StabinskiKelly Kleinman RothschildKim Zaidman LeffMara SelingerRonnie SelingerMartha Shiffman FeinbergBob FeinbergMelissa Cravitz FerberStephen FerberAndy FuhrmanStacey Bressman KeanStacy Kleinman AppelblattValerie Dixon RamoShari Helfman Liebman – thank you from the bottom of my heart!

And third – I honored the Non-Jewish parents who help support and raise Jewish families, because these parents rarely get the appreciation they deserve. It is not easy to be a non Jewish parent of Jewish children, but I love, respect, and admire those who do. Yesterday, I had the most special guest of honor stand on my stage. My ex-husband, Wayne Ballard, the most important non Jewish partner in raising Jewish children in my life, stood on stage with my parents, Lauren and Trevor, and Lauren’s finance, Jay Yarnold, who will also be a non Jewish father in a Jewish child’s life. Our family, standing together, was so moving – even for me – and the notes and emails I have received telling me how life changing and memorable that was for them was so inspiring.

I’m sorry to write a novel here – there are so many words I can write about the experience of these past holidays. Thank you to every family who joined us for the 1st time, and all those in between 4 and 5 years. No matter how challenging this life gets in between the holidays, it is weeks like the last 2 that remind me why, exactly, I do what I do. Thank you to everyone who inspires me to be who I am. I am filled with much love and gratitude.

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