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Oct. 1, 2003

A Hard Act to Follow

First Annual Houston Conference for Jewish Women will be a Hard Act to Follow

Copyright 2003 Jewish Herald Voice

“It was a great Jewish moment in our lives….,” wrote one of the attendees of the first annual Houston Conference for Jewish Women, sponsored by ASCENT (Arlene Waldman Stock Center for Torah) and cosponsored by AMIT, Consulate General of Israel to the Southwest, Hadassah, Houston Hillel, Houston Kashruth Association, JCC, Jewish Family Service, and the Women’s Division of the Jewish Federation. The program became a reality in part due to the sponsorship of the Houston Jewish Community Foundation, and the generosity of Howard and Linda Waldman

On September 7, 2003, over three hundred women, from all different geographical parts of Houston, from diverse affiliations with Judaism, of various ages, and from all walks of life united to learn, discuss, reflect, and schmooze. The women laughed, cried, and connected through Lori Palatnik’s keynote presentation on “Great Jewish Women – Who We Are and Where We Are Going.” Lori, an author and educator has appeared on television and radio and has lectured in North America and abroad. Her lectures and books are popular for their unique combinations of wisdom, Jewish knowledge, insight and humor. Lori empowered the group of women by illuminating the tremendous strengths and talents Jewish Women have as mothers, wives, sisters, daughters, professionals etc. Women appreciated that this realization can be utilized in our daily lives. Lori’s dynamic and inspirational style made the attendees wish that her speech would never end. Lori’s speech truly energized and moved the entire audience, setting the tone for a powerful and unique experience.

Once Lori’s speech came to an end, attendees of the conference were treated to a delectable selection of workshops presented and moderated by local speakers as well as speakers flown in specifically for the event. The local lecturers included Dina Fried (Judaic Studies Teacher at RMBA), Faige Grossman (Director of ASCENT), Dana Kursh (Vice Consul of Israel), Lindy Kahn (Certified Educational Planner), Sandy Ratinoff (teacher in Klein school district), and Ann Baker Ronn (of the AFP group).Connie Kreps, of Virginia, an RN, Becky Udman, of Dallas, a licensed Love and Logic educator, and Faye Zakheim, of New York, a social worker and Coordinator of Domestic Violence Outreach, were among the popular speakers. Women attended the lectures that they were pre-registered for and to their delight enjoyed them, despite the challenge to the speakers of following Palatnik, who is a hard act to follow. Women especially enjoyed the variety of topics and choices. There was something for everyone.

Attendees were then treated to a fabulous lunch menu at the Intercontinental hotel, during which old friends were reunited and new friends were made. The beautiful centerpieces, by the Houston Flowery, served to enhance the wonderful experience. Sara Speer Selber delighted the crowd with her personal tale of Jewish growth and her challenge to women to begin to explore their own Jewish identities and Jewish roots.

Once again, attendees attended pre-selected workshops, given by Hope Lipnick (MD Anderson Chaplain), Annette Sondock (National Board of Hadassah), Bethany Strulowitz (ASCENT lecturer and RMBA teacher), Devora Urkowitz (Judaic Studies Administrator for Beth Yeshurun Day School), and Rachel Yaghobian (ASCENT lecturer and RMBA teacher). Attendees were pleased with the many choices. The only complaint was that there were too many good options to choose from.

During the wrap up, attendees were treated to delicious refreshments, donated by Camelot Desserts. Gifts were presented to each of the speakers, for giving of their time and expertise, in order to make the Houston Conference for Jewish Women as moving an experience as it was. Lori Palatnik closed the program with a short closing talk.

The conference was in memory of Arlene Waldman Stock. Mindeleah Pollak presented a tribute to Arlene, helping friends to remember and introducing those women that didn’t know her, of her kindness, vitality, and wisdom. Both Mindeleah and Lori expressed how proud Arlene would have been to see Jewish women gathering together for the experience of appreciating and reflecting about their Judaism. Faye Zakheim, Becky Udman, and Lori Palatnik all expressed their awe and delight in the enthusiasm and passion of the Houston group of Jewish women, who exhibited pleasure in their similarities and appreciation for their individual uniqueness. “It was truly a great Jewish moment in our lives…., ”Immediately following Lori’s presentation, women began to encourage organizers of the event to bring Lori back to Houston. Jewish Women of Houston- Get ready for the Second Annual Houston Conference for Jewish Women!!

Corporate Sponsors for the Houston Conference for Jewish Women are The AFP Group, Houston Flowery, Houston Jewish Funerals, Intercontinental Hotel, Camelot Desserts, and the Jewish Herald-Voice. This program has been made possible through a grant from the Jewish Community Foundation and a gift from Linda and Howard Waldman.

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