Sisterhood: Mahjong and Old Ladies or Something Else?

Mahjong. Bridge. Gray hair. Lots of gray hair.

Say Temple Sisterhood, and those images crowd my mind. In my 30s, when I first joined a temple, I avoided sisterhood events. I was sure I was not one of them.

But now I am 45. A mother of a 2-year-old, I’m juggling part-time work, child care, and home life with my need to become a bigger part of a Jewish community. Try the all-at-once approach, I decided, and signed up for the annual sisterhood retreat in early February. I feared not fitting in. I fretted about leaving my son Simon. But the desire to connect to other Jewish women was strong.

My second day at the retreat, the co-president of the Temple Isaiah Sisterhood, Pam Awrach, stopped me in the hall of the Portsmouth, NH, Sheraton hotel and asked me, tongue-in-cheek, how I was doing with all of these “old fogies.” I said just fine.

The ages of the 35 participants ranged from one person in her early 30s – the rabbi – to the mid-80s. Most were at least a decade older than I. Few looked or acted old. The women included psychologists, a neurologist, a nurse, a social worker, a lawyer, a potter, and retired teachers and a former radio news broadcaster.

We spoke the same language. We wanted the same things. Balance in our lives, a sense of belonging, and a warm, loving, community.

Mahjong was on the program. But so was this rabbi-led talk: “Sex is Good! … Modesty and Pleasure Both.” This sister was definitely welcomed into the ‘hood. Read future blogs for more reflections on the retreat.

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