Celebrating Moms

by | Apr 18, 2024 | Latest News

Nothing prepares a woman for motherhood, a role which requires on-the-job training. Parenting books and podcasts abound, if she has the time and energy to read and listen; after all, she has just spent the day…cooking, driving, bathing, feeding, hugging, entertaining, planning, scheduling, sympathizing, tutoring, praising, explaining, rushing, encouraging, spoiling, cheering, understanding, exploring, playing, disciplining, volunteering, cleaning, coordinating, worrying, celebrating, loving…

These six women are appreciated and celebrated by their children for myriad reasons. . . big and small.

Renee Strelitz, Marilyn Buxbaum, and Shari Friedman.

Shari Friedman and Renee Strelitz
Growing up, birthdays were always big in our family; the birthday girl would be showered with love and affection by those celebrating her. However, Mom always made the “unbirthday girl” feel equally special and included by giving her a gift, too. She still does it to this very day!

This story exemplifies how Marilyn Buxbaum is the most thoughtful and kind woman we know. Without fail, she sends meaningful notes and gifts to all of her family and friends on special occasions. She is known for making her chicken soup for those under the weather and preparing her mother’s honey cake recipe for Rosh Hashanah – even mailing it to her out-of-town grandchildren.

Our mother taught us the value of music from a young age. She is a talented pianist, having played the piano since the age of five. Her passion for the arts inspired her to start the Frailache Klezmer band and create the ODU “Opera for Everyone” course that she taught for more than 40 years.

Family always comes first to our mom. She proudly adds charms to her Gramie bracelet for each grandchild and great-grandchild who enters her rapidly expanding family. We are blessed to have the most loving, supporting, and caring mother in our lives!

Amy Murphy and Scott Flax
Our mother is the matriarch of our family. She is loving and kind and has always been there for us. The strength, devotion, and adoration she shows our family is pure gold.

Our mother never hesitates to help her children, grandchildren, husband, and community. She strives to make this world a better place. She looks for the best in others and her glass is always half full. She is a problem solver and always has the best advice. Her patience and understanding make her a pillar of strength in our family and community. Our mother is the most thoughtful, caring, loving person we know. She has taught us to be upstanders and work hard to help our families as well as those in need.

We are grateful she is ours.

Amy Murphy, Gail Flax, and Scott Flax.
Betsy Karotkin, Jen Adut, Jesse Karotkin, Hallie Segerman, and Ed Karotkin.

Jesse Karotkin, Hallie Segerman, and Jennifer Adut
Our Mother is the Golda Meir of Tidewater.

It is one thing to know from first-hand experience that your mother is special. But, if you are Betsy Karotkin’s child, people are constantly reminding you of this fact. “Ohhhhh, you’re Betsy’s daughter/son!”

Our mother is beloved by family, friends and members of her community.

Our mother is beloved by family, friends and members of her community. Exemplifying “Eishet Chayil,” a Woman of Valor, she is intelligent, artistic, strong, and righteous, and dedicates her life to Tikkun Olam. Our mother lives her Jewish values, looking at each day as an opportunity to bring more light and goodness into the world.

As long as we can remember, our mother has lovingly cared for everyone around her, including strangers, just as she has taken care of us. From shuttling people in need to synagogue to visiting with the elderly and infirm, she is an empathetic and unstoppable force. Even today, at nearly 80 years old, she is busy cooking and delivering meals to the sick and the elderly. Over the past 45 years, Betsy Karotin has probably shuttled enough platters of brisket and trays of her famous rugelach across Tidewater to fill a small stadium.

Following the example of Abraham, her table is always surrounded by an array of family, friends, and newcomers to the community. When we were children, you were as likely to find an elderly Holocaust survivor seated across our Shabbat table, as a non-Jewish friend, or as a person in need of a surrogate mother. With seemingly boundless energy, she never seems burdened by caring for so many, so often. Whenever we ask if she might be pushing herself a bit too much, she responds matter-of-factly, “I’m grateful that I am in a position to deliver assistance rather than being on the receiving end.”

In addition to her routine acts of gemilut chasadim, our mother has dedicated much of her time, energy, and professional skills to the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater, the Holocaust Commission, Congregation Beth El, and Be a Reader Program.

As children, we remember our mother spending hours each night after dinner, reading books on Jewish ethics or the Holocaust, in preparation for her weekly Sunday school or Confirmation classes. Like every “job” she took on, nothing could be done half-heartedly. With so much of her time invested in the Jewish community, our father would jokingly refer to her as Tidewater’s “Golda Meir.”

As a mother, she has constantly nurtured her family with love, outstanding food, and intellectual stimulation. Nothing for her family was too involved or too mundane. How many mothers hand sew miniature outfits for Barbie dolls for their daughters or create elaborate Halloween costumes?

When we had just moved to New Orleans in the 1970s, she agreed to be ‘room mother’ at our new school. Around Easter, she wowed our elementary school class with homemade cupcakes, topped with green-dyed coconut “grass” and mini jelly beans as Easter eggs. Who knew that our Jewish mother, master of the Passover Seder, could also create perfect Easter cupcakes?!

Rather than speak from a soapbox, our mother chooses to lead by example, always believing that there are many paths towards righteousness. Her refrigerator remains dotted with an array of quotes and life lessons from the likes of Elie Wiesel. In particular, she emphasized that we must never remain silent in the face of injustice and that tzedakah is an obligation, not a choice.

In addition to these many commitments, our mother is deeply engaged with her eight grandchildren, sharing her boundless love with each of them. She has a way of making each one of us feel safe and deeply loved. She has frequently said that she is fortunate to have such a wonderful husband, children, and grandchildren, but it is we who are so uniquely blessed.

Rochelle Aviv, Nicole Bowers, and David Laderberg
Our mom, now referred to as Mimi, has always been a strong presence in our lives. Not only does she continue to be an amazing and supportive mother to her three children, but she has become a source of love, comfort, and fun to her seven grandchildren.

Cathi Laderberg and family.

When we became parents and quickly learned how hard it can be to juggle the demands of life, we asked our mom, “How did you do it?!” Her answer, “I don’t know.” However, reflecting back on our childhood, tumultuous adolescence, and stumbles into adulthood with her by our sides, we can see how she did it. She did it all, because that’s who she is; it is in her nature to care and to take care of others.

She is a true example of Jewish values, through her work as a dedicated speech pathologist, the countless hours volunteering for local and international communities, and always showing up to the family events and milestones. Though every Jewish mother has her quirks, we can all say without a doubt that we would not be the successful people we are today if it was not for her.

Thank you, Mom, for showing us the how.

Linda and Stanley Samuels and family in 2016.

Marcia Samuels, Suzanne Samuels, and Karen Samuels
There are many lessons and values that our mother passed down to us over the years. One of the main ones is responsibility. She (and our father) instilled the importance of responsibility for ourselves, our families, our community, and the greater world.

Mom showed us in words and actions that we are responsible for participating in and building the community we want. If we would not be willing to do something, why should we expect anyone else to be willing to do it?

Time and again she has stepped into leadership positions in the Jewish community in order to build and maintain strong Jewish institutions. She has supported many community arts organizations in the area, not just with donations but by annual memberships and attendance at performances throughout Hampton Roads. She volunteers her time in support of community institutions.

Mom also stressed the importance of personal responsibility. We are responsible for our actions, and all three of us are in tune with how our actions and words may affect others. She helped us learn that taking responsibility for mistakes and apologizing is not that difficult and can make such a big difference in relationships with others. We cannot recall mom saying a negative word about others, although she may call out negative behavior, which is an important distinction
What the three of us have been unable to replicate is the energy level at which our mother operates. You would think that raising three daughters and working full-time would be a lot, but not for Mom!

She also volunteered in organizations throughout the area and decided it would be fun to pursue a master’s degree at the same time. In her “retirement,” she started another career, teaching students at ODU to become medical technologists like her. Add in more volunteer work, leadership positions in the community, book club, stock club, canasta, Lunch and Learn, and more – she has been busier than when she was working.

Mom also values her family and friends and makes time for the important people in her life. None of us would be the people we are today without her love and support – and a large dose of her stubbornness. We have aspired to instill her values in our own children.

Rashi Brashevitzky and Yossi, Mendy, Levi, Shmulie, Yisroel, Zalmy Margolin
If we had to describe our mom in three words, GIVING, CARING, and LAUGHTER come to mind. As young children, and still today as adults, we see our mom as a pillar of the local Jewish community and watch in awe as she helps people in a wide variety of ways. Sometimes lending someone a listening ear as they go through a tough time, sometimes ensuring a family in need has food for Shabbat.

Rychel and Aron Margolin and family.

As young children, our Shabbat table was always filled with a host of different types of guests, each one welcomed with a huge smile and a kind word.

Our mom cares about everyone; most of all, she cares about her family. Always ready to listen to our worries and applaud our accomplishments. Always at the ready with words of encouragement or gentile advice. Our mom truly embodies kindness and giving, and this is something we have each implemented in our own lives.

A super fun side of our mom is listening to – and watching – her laugh! When our mom finds something funny, her laugh is contagious; she laughs to the point of tears, encouraging all around her to join in! This reminds us all to laugh easily and laugh often in life.