Esteemed educator leads discussion about everyday women who change lives

by | Feb 8, 2013 | What’s Happening

Sunday, Feb. 17, 10–11:30 am

Ask a woman about a great female role model, and she might answer Golda Meir, Eleanor Roosevelt, or Hillary Clinton. Ask her again, but this time make it more personal, as it pertains to how she thinks and feels, and the answer may be somewhat expected, such as, “my mother,” or someone unknown to all: “Mrs. Brokenborough, my 10th grade drama teacher.”

The Jewish Women’s Salon of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater welcomes all women in the Jewish community to attend Who’s Your Esther? a facilitated discussion about the women who’ve inspired, moved, and helped make them who they are today.

The enigmatically named event uses the biblical heroine Queen Esther as the starting point for a discussion about the women who figure prominently in local Jewish women’s lives—those who have mentored and helped shape the participants into the people they are today.

Free and open to women in the community, the discussion will be facilitated by Farideh Goldin, director of the Institute for Jewish Studies and Interfaith Understanding at Old Dominion University in Norfolk.

“Esther was a woman who had to sacrifice herself in order to save others,” says Goldin. “I don’t think the Esthers of today have to do that, but I do think that as women we can help others and become mentors.

“For me, personally, I don’t think I would be here if it weren’t for a lot of women who helped me along the way,” she says. “These were women who opened the doors for me, and, sometimes, I didn’t even want to go through, and they had to push me a little bit. I’ve done that for others and I will continue to try to do that for others, just as many did it for me.”

Goldin, who came to America as a Jewish immigrant from Iran, struggled with acceptance in her new country while trying to come to terms with the distaste she felt for the one she left. She was fortunate to have her mother, a woman she counts among her “Esthers,” as well as female teachers who provided strength, inspiration and guidance, and let her evolve into the respected author and teacher she is today.

The ODU English, Women’s and Jewish studies professor is the author of Wedding Song: Memoirs of an Iranian Jewish Women, as well as numerous articles and book chapters. The mother of three—all daughters—is a well-respected teacher, and has facilitated similar programs to Who’s Your Esther? in the past.

Annie Sandler, a friend of Goldin’s (and one of Goldin’s own “Esthers”), is excited to have local women gain insights about themselves and others in the community.

“Wouldn’t it be amazing if women became passionate and wrapped their arms around their history and what they’re creating for others?” asks Sandler. “Each woman at this event impacts several other people, people they may ever even know, and I think its great that we can talk about the women who helped us become who we are today.”

Participants are asked to bring photos of their personal “Esthers” to the event. The pictures will be returned at the end of the discussion. A light brunch will be served.

To read a guest blog from Farideh Goldin and for more information, visit To RSVP, call Patty Malone, 757‑965-6115, or email

by Laine M. Rutherford