Celebrating Women and Mother’s Day

by | Apr 19, 2019 | Uncategorized

On Sunday, May 12 we celebrate Mother’s Day—honoring moms, grandmothers, and, in fact, all important women in our lives…including, in my case, daughters!

Our first article is an interview with Bill Hearst about his inspiring and always gracious mom, Helen Gifford, of blessed memory. Helen’s lessons to Bill are good for us all.

Among our other women-focused articles is a particularly fun one about Suzi Weiss-Fischmann. Who is she? you might ask. Weiss-Fischmann and her brother-in-law started OPI, the popular nail lacquer. Who knew?

This section also offers wonderful options for gifts and places to take all of those special women on Mother’s Day. (That’s not such a subtle hint, I know.)

We hope everyone enjoys the day!

Terri Denison


Five generations of philanthropy

Helen G. Gifford

Helen G. Gifford

The Helen G. Gifford Foundation was established in 1997 with a mission to support local Jewish organizations, the arts, and art education.

A lifelong area resident, Helen was born in Portsmouth to Belle and Issac Goodman, owners of The Famous, a women’s fashion store. She had two sisters, Elsie and Zelma.

Helen’s interest in music and the arts began at an early age, according to an article in the UJF News (now Jewish News) in 1995. At the ripe old age of 12, Helen and her sister would take the 5-cent ferry to Norfolk for piano lessons. At Northwestern University, she studied music, and it was there that she met her husband, Joseph Hearst. As a young married woman living in West Virginia, Helen was active in temple and community service and at 23 years old, was appointed to serve on the National Board of the Federation of Temple Sisterhoods.

When the family moved to Norfolk, she became an active member of Ohef Sholom Temple, where she remained an Honorary Director until her death. In 1952, Hearst passed away, and in 1960, she married Lee Gifford.

Throughout her life, Helen worked quietly and often behind the scenes, serving myriad Jewish and art organizations in the community. In the Jewish community, she was a Lion of Judah, contributed to Jewish programing through the Jewish Community Center, Beth Sholom Home’s Gifford Pavilion, outreach to senior adults through Jewish Family Service, established Ohef Sholom Temple’s Music Director’s chair, and so much more.

Prior to the death of her beloved husband, Lee, the couple established the Lee and Helen Gifford Charitable Remainder Trust. The Trust terminated with Lee’s death and Helen marshaled the charitable remainder interests according to a plan of her own design. While her secular interests comprised a large portion of her philanthropy, her devotion to Jewish causes was significant.

Helen passed away in 2001, but her legacy of generosity lives on through her children and grandchildren. Her son, William “Bill” Hearst, now serves as president of the Helen G. Gifford Foundation. He met with Tidewater Jewish Foundation and shared his thoughts about his mother’s enduring legacy.

Tidewater Jewish Foundation:

What is the greatest lesson you learned

from your mother?

Bill Hearst: It may sound simple, but my mother taught me how to share. She believed in philanthropy and community service, so she not only shared her money, she also shared her time. My mother showed me how to give back to our community and it’s a lesson that I have carried with me throughout my life.

TJF: Where did your mother get her passion for philanthropy?

BH: It started with my grandmother, Belle Goodman. Belle was a liberated woman before women were liberated! She made sure that she and her three daughters had their own lines of credit and could make their own financial decisions. She also opened up sales positions for African American women at our family’s business at a time when that was not done. Those may seem like obvious decisions now, but it was practically unheard of. She had financial independence and a strong sense of right versus wrong. As a result, she was very philanthropic.

All three of Belle’s daughters went on to be leaders in their communities. My aunt, Elsie Goodman (of blessed memory) was honored as the Centennial Ambassador of the town of Palm Beach for her many years as a philanthropist and activist. My other aunt, Zelma Goodman Rivin (of blessed memory) was honored as the 57th First Citizen of Portsmouth in honor of her philanthropy and commitment to community service. My mother, Helen (of blessed memory), established her own Foundation and worked tirelessly to support the arts and Jewish organizations in eastern Virginia.

TJF: Was that sense of service and generosity passed on to future generations?

BH: My grandmother, aunts, and mother passed down those values to my sister, cousins, and I. We did our best to follow in their footsteps and in turn, we have instilled those values in the next generations.

I’m very proud to say that my children and grandchildren are actively involved in the Helen G. Gifford Foundation and are well on their way to becoming community leaders in their own right. I’m sure that when my great grandchildren come of age, they will be involved with the Foundation too!

TJF: What did your mother hope to achieve with the Helen G. Gifford Foundation?

BH: My mother rarely turned away an organization that needed support. Her goal was to provide some structure for that generosity and ensure that the programs she loved would be supported in perpetuity.

It was also very important for the family to be as involved as possible so that we would have an opportunity to continue her legacy of giving. The Board is made up of family and close family advisors and includes Patricia M. Rowland (my sister), Joseph B. Hearst (my son), Debbie Hearst (my daughter), Jennifer M. Rosenberg (my niece), Richard A. Rivin (my cousin), Megan Hearst (my granddaughter), and Michael Barney (family advisor). I lead the Board now, but I hope that my children and grandchildren will continue the work after I step aside. It has been a wonderful way to honor my mother and give back to our community.

Since its partnership with the Tidewater Jewish Foundation in 2011, The Helen G. Gifford Foundation has distributed nearly $1.5 million in grants.

Kaitlyn Oelsner

For information about how to create a legacy, contact Kaitlyn Oelsner, koelsner@ujft.org at 757-965-6103 or Scott Kaplan, skaplan@ujft.org at 757-965-6109.


Meet the Korean-American woman who leads the Jewish Renewal movement

SooJi Min-Maranda rarely sees other Jewish people who look like her.

“I often feel very isolated as a Jew of color living in the Midwest,” she says.

Min-Maranda, who lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan, with her husband and two children, was born in Korea but moved with her family to the United States at the age of three.

In her role as executive director of ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal, she may be the most visible person of color leading a Jewish religious organization. Though 11 percent of American Jews do not identify as white, according to the Steinhardt Social Research Institute’s American Jewish Population Project, there are few people of color in visible leadership roles in the community.

“At my positional level, I don’t have peers,” Min-Maranda, 49, says.

Min-Maranda, who has been leading ALEPH for a little over a year, wants to both increase the number of Jews of color that lead Jewish organizations and raise awareness in the wider community about Jews of different backgrounds.

She recently participated in the #ShareHerStory campaign, an initiative by the Jewish Multiracial Network, Jewish Women’s Archive and Repair the World to amplify the voices of Jewish women of color. Min-Maranda was one of 10 Jewish women whose stories were highlighted as part of the Purim campaign.

“I am a very strong believer in the power of telling stories,” says Min-Maranda, noting that as part of her conversion she adopted the name Seeprah, the feminine singular form of the Hebrew verb meaning “to tell.”

“The power of the story to humanize and bring people together at a very intimate level is extraordinarily powerful,” she says. “So, I think the idea of sharing stories reduces barriers and increases connectedness.”

At ALEPH, Min-Maranda is working on a range of projects, including engaging people who may not know about Jewish Renewal, developing the next generation of Jewish leaders, creating a dual narrative training about Israel and the Palestinians for its rabbinical students, and finding ways to welcome Jews of color.

Jewish Renewal emerged in the late 1960s and ’70s as the counterculture movement was at its peak. It draws on Hasidic and Kabbalistic teachings and music, centering those philosophies and practices within a progressive framework. ALEPH lists 52 organizations, individuals, and synagogues in its directory of Jewish Renewal communities.

The movement describes itself as combining “the socially progressive values of egalitarianism, the joy of Hasidism, the informed do-it-yourself spirit of the havurah movement, and the accumulated wisdom of centuries of tradition.” Jewish Renewal emerged from the havurah movement, independent prayer and study groups that were lay-led and provided an intimate alternative to the more hierarchical synagogue structure.

Prior to working at ALEPH, Min-Maranda served as the director of Temple Beth Emeth, a Reform congregation in Ann Arbor. Previously she served as executive director of the Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health, a nonprofit that focuses on adolescent sexual health and parenting, and the Korean American Community Service in Chicago, which provides social services to the local Korean and Latino immigrant communities.

Growing up, Min-Maranda’s family was not religious. She learned about Judaism in her late 20s when she started attending lectures about Judaism with someone she was dating at the time.

The lessons she learned resonated deeply and a few years later she went through a formal conversation at a Reform synagogue in Chicago.

Since then, Min-Maranda has found new ways of making Judaism her own by incorporating different philosophies that complement her practice, including meditation and yoga.

“I became interested in mindfulness meditation and realized that it seemed empty without being anchored by my faith, so I was trained and studied Jewish mindfulness meditation,” she says. “From that I realized I needed to get more into my body so I did training in yoga to try to connect my mind and body.”

Making Jewish Renewal an inclusive movement is crucial to Min-Miranda.

She remembers the challenges of applying for her first executive-level jobs in the Jewish community about a decade ago before starting as the director of Temple Beth Emeth. She says she faced resistance both due to her race and the fact that her husband is not Jewish, as well as not having grown up in and working in the Jewish community.

“I had a lot of management experience obviously, but I didn’t grow up in a JCC, I didn’t run summer camps, I didn’t do youth groups,” Min-Maranda says. “I didn’t have all the normal resume for a traditional Jewish professional. I wasn’t welcomed with open arms. I faced a lot of resistance.”

Though she initially became Jewish through the Reform movement, she believes the Jewish Renewal is the only place she can fully embrace all her identities openly.

“I am in and part of multiple identities simultaneously, and that’s what ALEPH has room for,” she says. “It’s the first place that I feel has the possibility of allowing me to be fully myself. We’re not there yet, but the possibility is there.”

Josefin Dolsten


Noah’s wife has a story. Sarah Blake wants you to know it.

In the Hebrew Bible, we get the stories of few women: There’s Eve, obviously. There are the matriarchs Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah. There’s Queen Esther, our Purim heroine, and Judith, a Hanukkah heroine. There’s Miriam the Prophetess, Moses’ sister who danced the whole night long; Hannah, the first woman who prays; Ruth, the first convert.

But notable are the women who aren’t named. (Only around 10 percent of the 1,400 or so individuals given names in the Hebrew Bible are women.) Take Noah’s Ark, for example. We learn all about Noah, of course, but have you ever wondered about his wife, the woman who became the matriarch of all future generations of people? Me neither, before reading Sarah Blake’s new book, Naamah.

In Naamah, Blake reclaims the tale of Noah’s wife, who goes nameless in the Bible. In the novel, Blake has named her Naamah (she chose the name from the Book of Jubilees, an ancient text that tells the same stories that are in Genesis, but with greater detail; Noah’s wife, in this telling, is named Na’amah. But Judaism—outside of Beta Israel, the Ethiopian Jewish community—doesn’t recognize the Book of Jubilees as canonical).

We had the opportunity to chat with Sarah Blake about Naamah, matriarchs, feminist retellings, and how she never wants to break a reader’s heart.

What led you to want to tell Naamah’s story?

I was re-reading Genesis for a poetry project I was working on. I couldn’t believe in re-reading it how much of the story of the ark I hadn’t understood; it hadn’t really made it through to me that it was over a year that they were stuck on that ark. Looking at what that would’ve meant to the adults involved, given the task of being with every animal on earth, on an ark, for over a year. . .it just sounded hopeless and terrifying and noisy and sickening. I got really attached to the idea of the woman that would’ve been the wife and the mother and the person who had to survive all of that. I wanted to get to know her, and how she would’ve survived, and I wanted to offer her ways of escape and see what she would do with them. There were endless things that kept drawing me towards her story, and all the different parts of it.

Did you learn the story of Noah’s Ark growing up?

I had heard it in—this is so bizarre—Quaker meetings, a few times when I was seven. But, I already knew the story at that point [because] I remember when they told me, I wasn’t surprised. I don’t know when I actually first heard it.

Do you wish it was taught differently to kids? Or told differently?

I do find it very surprising that the retelling of the story of the ark is quick. The 40 days and 40 nights is what you think is the long part; the rain is what’s quite impressive, or it always was to me. In my mind I was like, oh man, 40 days and 40 nights, and then there’s enough water on earth to cover trees and mountains! And then I just thought, the rains went away and then they got off.

So that was a big part that struck me, when [Genesis says], ‘oh yeah, God didn’t think about it for a while, and then he did, and he’s like, okay, I’ll start this drying process. And here will come a wind, and here will come a place where it drains out.’ There are a few little details about it, but even then, it takes months. And then there’s the birds—in the story I was taught, I don’t even think I got the birds. So, I’m not sure I necessarily need to see that…but I would like if more retellings got into how large and long and weird the 14 months is.

There are implications that the building of the ark takes years. So, the whole [story] is kind of flattened, and doesn’t seem as terrifying because their lives are so long. If you were told now you’re gonna make a boat for three to five years of your life, and then live on it for a year, and then start from scratch, I would be like, ‘I’m gonna be older by then! I don’t know what I’ll be like, or capable of, or what hormonal situation I’ll be in!’

But I do like how that adds to the magical nature of it—of everyone just being like, yeah, sure, we will do all of this, and we’ll do it in the time it takes, and we won’t stress about how long it takes, and we’ll just keep walking away from our life to build this giant ark, and return to people that we know are going to die. The whole time, did they not tell them they were going to die? There are still questions that I feel like I really didn’t get to answer that I want answered myself.

What was your research process like?

I did re-read Genesis more times than I can count. And I researched animals a lot, and I researched things as they came up. So, a lot of it would be extrapolations on better documented periods of history, like Sumerian culture and Egyptian culture. But mostly: I didn’t research too much, because I really wanted to have the freedom to give her what she needed and focus more on her emotional life. I tried to be just more faithful to Naamah herself, and what I thought she might do.

You write, “The longer she is on the boat, the less she trusts Him, and His feelings toward her, and His choice of her for matriarch.”

I never really thought too deeply about the story of Noah’s Ark, that his wife would be the matriarch for everyone in the future. Can you talk a little about this, and how the idea of ‘matriarch’ weaves through the story?

It was hard to imagine being the woman that would be told all of the rest of the world, for the rest of time, would be able to trace back to you.

I mean, that is insane!

It seems when it happens to other people—in stories, in mythical tellings—it’s less pronounced than it was here. Here, they were pulled away from everyone else, watched everyone die, got stuck on water, and didn’t know how long that would last. And then they knew that from there, it would be their job, and if they didn’t create all of life, that would be it. So, it’s this incredible drive to want to create people, but also know that as you did, you were going to create a world that had begun with you.

I was really taken by Naamah’s relationship with Bethel, her lover before the flood. Why did you choose to include that story and create that character?

I was really taken by the idea of everyone being hundreds of years old. They’re not as specific about [age] with Naamah, but they are with Noah, [who is] around 500 or 600 years old [Genesis 5:32]. So, I assumed that she was, too. And I assumed their marriage was probably centuries old. Because the other little detail you get [is] that after the boat, you find out that [their son] Shem, when he has his first son, is 100 [Genesis 11:10]. Which meant that in their terms of thinking, that is young-ish. So, that implies to me that Naamah and Noah had probably been married since around 100 years old.

Now you’ve got a marriage that’s centuries old. And, to me, it seems quite natural that marriage was going to mean something different, and that other serious relationships would probably come in and out during that time period, and that wouldn’t be a horrible thing, but just an inevitable thing.

Bethel I saw as one of Naamah’s most recent loves. And I didn’t talk about whether [Naamah and Noah] had more over the years, and who those would’ve been, but in my head, they had existed. Bethel arose really naturally to me in understanding just the length of time [before the flood]. I fell in love with Bethel. I thought she was a really necessary character to put a little bit of release on the tragedy that was the flood; it was something that Bethel wasn’t terrified about. If you only had it from Naamah’s perspective the whole time, I think the flood would’ve been this one-faceted tragedy that I’d always imagined it as, and I wanted the flood to have a little more depth. It still confuses me, the ways in which some people thought it was a good thing. God obviously thought it was the right thing…I was really drawn to all of that.

How do you see your story fitting into other feminist retellings of the bible? Anita Diamant’s The Red Tent immediately came to mind for me.

I know, and I have to read The Red Tent, I can’t believe I haven’t read it! I know it’s about Dinah, and I’ve written a few poems about Dinah—and I think that story is remarkable as well.

In talking about retellings recently, I realized I haven’t read too many retellings outside poems because I’ve been a poet for so long. I do know a lot of [poetry] retellings, like Marie Howe’s work, a series of poems in The Kingdom of Ordinary Time about Jesus’s mother Mary. A. E. Stallings does these great poems about the Greek myths, and so does Louise Glück and Rita Dove, and there’s all these amazing persona poems that are often giving voice to characters you’re somewhat familiar with. Like Carmen Jiménez Smith takes on some of the fairy tales. So, the poetry world I feel like is what got me poised to really think about retellings.

The novel feels a lot like prose poetry, it flowed so beautifully. I noticed your previous books are all poetry; what was this transition like for you, from the world of poems and shorter works to a novel-length story?

It was shocking to me, actually. In college, as part of the creative writing minor, I had to write short stories and I was dreadful at it. I just avoided fiction. I took a lot of classes in grad school studying short stories as a form; I loved to read them and write essays about them and how they work and all their craft choices and putting them in the context of their time—I love all of that. But I just avoided writing them forever, because I just didn’t understand prose.

My mother would always say, “Just wait ’til you’re older.” I didn’t know why she had such confidence, but she did!

And then, in 2016 with the election, I was feeling kind of lost. I was working on these persona poems, and I had already written a few poems about Naamah. And a friend had asked me to write a short screenplay, just to see what that would be like, and I sent it to her, and that was about Naamah. I just couldn’t get her out of my head. And I [thought], I’m just gonna have to sit down and let whatever comes out, come out. I poured out a few thousand words of writing pretty quickly. I just kept making time for it as my son was in school.

I fell in love. I wanted to spend time with Naamah every day, and that meant writing this novel. She took me through a time of feeling really hopeless and unsure of how to move forward, unsure of what to look at and tell my son about what was happening. Naamah helped save me, it felt like.

Besides Naamah, what’s your favorite biblical story or heroine?

As a high schooler, I became quite obsessed with Jesus Christ Superstar. My mother always was playing soundtracks. We had cassettes, and I think I wore out my Jesus Christ Superstar cassette until it didn’t play anymore …

One side of my family is very Jewish, and one side is very Catholic, but neither of my parents were interested in having religion inside the house. We celebrated the holidays. And we had a lot of Jewish dinners. Because it was through the dinners, my experience of Judaism was the ritual. I saw more of the prayers, the Seders—I didn’t get the stories until later.

Obviously, Eve is amazing. And I really enjoy Dinah’s story. I really enjoyed rewriting Lot’s wife in poems. [In my poem Lot’s Wife ] I have it that she turned into salt, but that was like just for a minute, and then she turned back again, and she just runs away from everyone.

As an adult, I’m realizing that some of the reasons I was less interested in [biblical stories] was me making assumptions that I think were kind of passed down through the patriarchy. If I actually look at those stories with my own contemporary feminist understanding, they are women I can identify with. It kind of made the Bible open up to me in a whole new way, to realize those stories can look very different.

But I would say in my childhood growing up, I just loved Judas. I’m sure that’s Jesus Christ Superstar talking, but who doesn’t want to sing all of Judas’ parts really badly?!

Last question: What do you hope readers take away from Naamah?

I hope it’s a really empowering and joyful experience. I’ve been thinking about that a lot, especially as I start new projects: If I’m gonna write novels, which is totally new to me, and have this totally different relationship to a reader than I’ve had before, what interests me the most? For me, I think it is joy and empowerment. I don’t ever want to break a reader’s heart. Not that there can’t be heartbreaking things, but I don’t ever want to do that.

Emily Burack
This article originally appeared on Alma.

This interview has been lightly edited and condensed.


Monica Lewinsky started wearing a beret at her brother’s bar mitzvah

NEW YORK (JTA)—Monica Lewinsky’s beret became famous during the Bill Clinton scandal in the late 1990s. But she says she started wearing it before she gained all the attention.

“The birth of my wearing berets didn’t actually begin in Washington, D.C.,” Lewinsky told a largely Jewish audience Tuesday, April 16 in Manhattan. “It was at my brother’s bar mitzvah, where I sang ‘Sim Shalom’ on the bimah.”

Lewinsky was speaking at the 30th anniversary dinner of Project Kesher, a group based in New York City that works with Jewish women in the former Soviet Union to promote Jewish identity and women’s empowerment and health. Lewinsky accepted the group’s inaugural Kol Isha award, Hebrew for “a woman’s voice.”

Lewinsky, who has become an anti-bullying activist in the decades since the scandal, treated the crowd to what she called “Monica Lewinsky Jewish trivia.” Another tidbit: She can “bake a mean challah.”

“My relationship to my heritage and religion, my strong sense of family, is rooted in the cultural tradition of Judaism,” she said. “But there were times in my life when my faith has been challenged, especially in 1998 and the aftermath” of the exposure of Clinton’s affair with her when she was a White House intern.

Lewinsky described the pain of being hounded and having her life torn apart during the investigation and impeachment of Clinton. She compared the ordeal to an age-old Jewish story about a man who gossips maliciously about someone in a village. When the man seeks to repent, the local rabbi tells him to cut open a feather pillow and strew the feathers in the wind.

The lesson is that taking back gossip is as impossible as collecting all of the feathers.

“It’s really important for me, for you to know you can survive it and you can insist on a different end for your story,” she said. “We can all lead one another to a more compassionate, more empathetic place.”

Ben Sales


This Jewish mom is the mastermind behind OPI nail polish

Suzi Weiss-Fischmann, 62, used to aggressively bite her nails. It was a chronic, nervous tick, and it had to stop. After all, she was the co-founder and creative director of a global nail polish company, and chewed-up cuticles wasn’t a good look for the woman shaping the beauty industry.

This is just one fascinating tidbit from I’m Not Really a Waitress, Weiss-Fischmann’s new book about how she went from a childhood in communist Hungary—where she secretly studied Hebrew with a rabbi—to becoming globally recognized as the First Lady of Nails.

A second-generation Holocaust survivor, Weiss-Fischmann is the fiery Jewish mom behind OPI, the nail lacquer brand known for its witty color names. When she started the company with her brother-in-law, George Schaeffer, in the mid-1980s, the pair knew nothing about nails. Nu? Just why did they plunge into the manicure business?

Well, the duo was running a dental-supply company, and Schaeffer noticed that nail technicians were buying dental acrylics to make nail extensions. Unimpressed by the scarce and boring polish options available for women at the time, Weiss-Fischmann and Schaeffer realized there was a hole in the beauty market that they could fill.

The nail industry needed a splash of glamour, and with Weiss-Fischmann’s eye for color, the duo confidently pounced on the opportunity ripe for the taking. And thus OPI—it stands for Odontorium Products Inc.—was born.

Weiss-Fischmann’s career is the envy of many, but creating tongue-in-cheek names for bold nail polish colors like “A Grape Affair” and “A Butterfly Moment” is just a fraction of what the beauty mogul did for OPI. (In fact, Weiss-Fischmann sold OPI to Coty in 2010, but she remains a brand ambassador and is still in charge of naming colors.)

In I’m Not Really a Waitress—the title is also an iconic nail polish color—Weiss-Fischmann chronicles her road to changing the beauty game. Kveller caught up with the soon-to-be grandmother to talk about the Jewish values that influenced OPI’s success, and how she earned her title as the First Lady of Nails.

Kveller: In the beginning of the book, you talk about—in contrast to the United States—growing up in an environment where women had careers and didn’t rely on their husbands for an income. How did that affect your character, and your career?

Weiss-Fischmann: There’s no limitation to women. The only limitations are what you put on yourself. I grew up where women were doctors, engineers, lawyers, and they were all university educated. The men usually seemed like losers, or, you know, maybe less accomplished. I never felt that I couldn’t do anything and when somebody made a stupid remark, I shrugged it off.

K: OPI’s humorous polish names are legendary. Tell me about the meetings held to create names for the OPI collections.

Weiss-Fischmann: The names were such a huge part of the brand’s DNA. It was always based on a geographic location, and of course, we love to eat, so we always had food from the respective city or country that the collection was named after, and then we kind of just had fun. I mean, we came up with literally crazy names—of course, some unmentionables, for obvious reasons. But, it was a democratic process. So the names went up on the board and the majority vote won.

It was the highlight of every collection and every season. I think as the years went on we just got better, and better. The names aged like wine—they got more humorous. I would go into salons sometimes and watch people anticipating the new colors of a collection. But, just as much as they anticipated the colors, they always flipped the bottle to see the names. That’s what gave them that personal connection with OPI. It was so important to us to gain the loyalty of the consumer.

K: Tell me more about the DNA of OPI, the importance of tzedakah, and how your Jewish values influenced your leadership.

Weiss-Fischmann: My father said it very simply: You give, and you get. And that always happened in my life. We were very charitable. Especially being immigrants, we know what this country gave to my family, and George’s family. People always ask, “what can you do to make your life better?” I always say that if you’re able to, give financially, or mentor somebody and make a difference in their life. If you can make a difference in one person’s life, you did good.

K: Who are your role models?

Weiss-Fischmann: My parents. My mom is an amazing little lady, she’s so strong. I mean, she was my hero. My dad was a very loving father, he was very family-oriented. At work, it was George Schaeffer, my brother-in-law. He was a great business leader and teacher. As for fashion, I love Chanel. I think as far as leaders, I’d say Golda Meir. I’m not just naming her because she’s a woman. I think she was an amazing leader, and role model to all women, not just Jewish.

K: You wrote a lot about the Shabbat dinners you hosted every week. Tell me about them.

Weiss-Fischmann: Shabbat dinner was a very important part of our life. Friday night dinner kind of put the whole week together. My son didn’t go to a Jewish high school, and the football games were usually on Friday night. He could go, but only after the kiddush, the motzi, and dinner. I think it’s very important to raise children with something constant in their lives, some sort of discipline that ties the week together. Traditions like having a sukkah, Passover seders and Rosh Hashanah were always part of my kids’ lives, and I hope when they have children they will continue to have the same traditions.

K: As a working mom, you wrote about barely having time to eat or pick your kids up from school. Why is it so important for you to take time out of your week to do your nails?

Weiss-Fischmann: You have to prioritize. Certain things you have to do for yourself because you know, us women are multi-taskers. We can do so many things: We’re organizers, we take care of the budget, we plan the meals. I mean, there has to be a new adjective to describe what women do. So it’s time to take a few minutes, or an hour, just for yourself. Getting a manicure and pedicure is always kind of that main getaway because, you know, you get a little massage and it gives you that instant gratification.

I loved everything that I did with OPI, but my greatest passion are my two kids and my husband. I mean, you know, the family is always No. 1. That’s how I grew up, and you know, in this crazy world as I say, it’s your family that’s always there.

K: At the end of the book, you said that your new passion is to pass on everything you learned on your OPI journey to the next generation, l’dor v’ador. Why is it important to you that you share your story?

Weiss-Fischmann: I think storytelling is very important. I feel that it’s my duty to help raise new leaders that are in business, and philanthropy. It’s so important to be able to share with other people and inspire other people to achieve great things. And I feel like it’s what I can do best now. The importance of storytelling cannot be undermined. And what do us women do best when we get together? Tell our stories.

Arielle Kaplan

This article originally appeared on Kveller.