I was lucky to have wonderful loving parents, Rosie and Allen Swaye, who were role models for me and my three brothers. From an early age, our parents taught us the importance of values such as kindness and being charitable. We learned to respect people as individuals, regardless of their background or religion.
My father Allen emigrated from Moscow as a young man. He fell in love with my mother Rosie almost right away. The budding romance hit a few snags, with communication being the biggest problem. Allen spoke only a little English and, when after several dates he wanted to propose, he had to turn to his future mother-in-law to help translate!
My father worked very hard and, being in the produce business meant long tiring hours at the warehouse. My mother Rosie became a stay-at-home Mom while we were growing up but, while we were at school, she volunteered her time in the community. She was a dedicated volunteer at a local hospital and for Hadassah-WIZO, and was elected President of our Synagogue Sisterhood.
Mother even made sure that the kitty from her weekly card games with her girlfriends was put aside, and over time, the money went towards buying the candelabra for our shul.
Our home was open to everyone, and she followed my grandmother's advice:
"If you want company, have a cake on the table. Friends will come and you'll never be alone!"
Both my parents were strong believers in education, and whenever they could, they provided us with the opportunities to broaden our horizons. When I was 16, my parents sent me on my first trip to Israel. The visit made a huge impression on me.
I met my husband Tom in high school. We have been married for 39 years and are blessed with 2 children and 3 grandchildren. Growing up, our children saw us both very involved in a variety of community projects and I'm proud to say that now they too give their time and energy to their communities.
Jewish traditions mean a lot to me. With my professional training as a registered nurse, I like to apply the central teaching of tikkun olam - healing and restoring — in as many ways as possible, because I believe every little kindness makes a difference.
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