I chatted recently with Ellen Hellman while she was visiting her daughter in New Jersey. The former Seattleite, who made aliyah with her husband John in 1999, was recently named chair of the Israel executive committee of AMIT.
AMIT is a religious Zionist women's organization supporting 60 schools and child havens serving 16,000 Israeli youth, mostly Ethiopian and Russian immigrant children.
AMIT in the U.S. is a fundraising organization, but in Israel it is also a hands-on volunteer association, explained Ellen. There is a paid director, but members of the executive committee ' mostly American women who have made aliyah ' are active volunteers in the schools.
Ellen represents three generations of AMIT in her family. Both her late grandmother, Rose Russak, and her late mother, Adina Russak, were involved.
'When I made aliyah I promised myself'I would concentrate on AMIT,' says Hellman. 'This year, as chair, I will be interacting much more with the kids.'
In addition to volunteering, Hellman runs a small catering business out of her home in Jerusalem. 'I do it in memory of my mother, who was the quintessential cook, to keep her recipes alive.
Back in the States, Ellen's daughter and son-in-law are expecting their third child and her son, who is in his last year at Fordham University, just became engaged.
'I love Seattle,' declares Hellman, 'that is my family home. I tell people it is beautiful, and the best place to live. I am thrilled that I raised my children there.' Hellman's dad, Joe Russak, still lives here and, in his mid-80s, still goes to work every day.
Yet making aliyah 'was a dream come true for my husband and me,' Ellen adds. 'It was our 25th anniversary present to ourselves.
'A lot of AMIT members are in their 90s and they are sharp, wry, unbelieveable women,' she observes.
'Jerusalem is the fountain of youth and so is doing something you love.'
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Rose Singer exemplifies the adage that asserts if you want to get something done, give it to the busiest person.
Singer is a management trainer with her own company. Most of her clients are out of town, many of them overseas, so she is on the road a lot. She also founded and teaches workshops for women called 'The Power of You.'
And in June, she became president of the Seattle Section of the National Council of Jewish Women.
Her NCJW involvement began in childhood. Her mother, Sylvia Saperstein (also a volunteer of note in the Seattle Jewish community), was always busy with the organization when Rose was young.
'One project was called Ship-a-Box,' Singer recalls. 'The ladies would make toys and afghans, collect it in a box and ship it to Israel.'
When Rose was at Franklin High School, her mom 'was involved with a Russian relocation project. I didn't completely understand what it was about, but I knew it was about doing good things.'
After college at Brandeis and the University of Washington, Rose came home for a time and helped start an NCJW professional women's group. Then graduate school called, and a subsequent career, and Rose spent most of the last two decades living and working in California, most recently in the Bay Area where she was involved with Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Santa Clara County.
'I liked that feeling of belonging to something,' she says of that volunteer work, so when she re-settled in the Seattle area in 2001 with husband Michael and their two dogs, Singer gave herself a goal to get involved.
The phone rang sooner than she expected. It was the NCJW nominating committee and they were looking for a vice-president of membership. 'So I said, 'why not?''
'NCJW is inspired by Jewish values and takes a progressive stand on social issues,' explains Singer. Locally they operate Shalom Bayit (peaceful home), which collects used furniture and household goods for victims of domestic violence who moving to new homes. They also helped found Council House, a retirement residence on Capitol Hill.
The Seattle Section, which is one of only nine U.S. sections with an executive director, encourages political activity in its members.
'We speak out, educate, inform,' she says. 'Advocacy is a very important part of NCJW.'
Rose, who grew up in the Mt. Baker neighborhood, recently went to her 30th high school reunion. She enjoys the travel she does for business, but to unwind she mostly likes to spend time at home.
For more information call Lauren Simonds at 425-558-1894 or surf over to www.ncjwseattle.org.
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Periodontist Lloyd M. Tucker, who opened his West Seattle office six years ago this month, recently became a diplomate of the American Board of Periodontology. This voluntary board certification process involves a comprehensive written exam, followed by an all-day oral exam ' spoken, that is, not dental! (For those not in the know, a periodontist treats gums and implants.)
Tucker took the exam partly for professional satisfaction, and partly to take 'that extra step to achieve something you don't have to.'
As a prerequisite, Tucker had to complete postdoctoral training, which he did at the UW, finishing his M.S.D. in 1993. The Pittsburgh native received his dental degree in 1990 from the University of Pennsylvania.
In addition to being a board member of Mercer Island's Congregation Shevet Achim, Lloyd founded and directs a dental study club, a group of local dentists who meet monthly to discuss interesting cases and current research and practices.