Community Engagement

It's Springtime in my Backyard

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My young daughter Lauren, after years of speech therapy, was now ready to read aloud clearly and confidently. And I, as her proud mother, was eager to celebrate this accomplishment. Thus, in my determination to bring positive experiences to my daughter as she utilized these skills-reading aloud, expressing herself..finding her voice-Springtime In My Backyard was born.

Springtime In My Backyard, a children’s story about a Mallard Duck couple who nested in our backyard during the season of spring in 2002, was the culmination of efforts in which Lauren (who was at the time five-years old) and I studied, photographed and described, in a fun way, the two delightful birds who took up residency, for a time, in our backyard. Illustrated caricatures of my daughter enjoying playtime activities pepper the pages throughout the story. Also, included in our storybook-package is a CD on which Lauren is professionally recorded reading aloud Springtime In My Backyard.

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At the urging of speech pathologists, teachers, friends and family, Lauren and I published (self-published) our book, and we hit the road. We traveled to elementary schools throughout Wisconsin, and with Lauren reading aloud, shared our story.

 

We were teaching, as we encouraged other children to write their own stories by giving them, along with a copy of our book, hardcover books filled with blank pages on which each child could write and create. It was a community conversation.

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JSS: L'Dor v'Dor Program

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Jewish Social Services’ L’Dor v’Dor program was initiated to combat loneliness and isolation during the pandemic across the age spectrum. With inspiration from Kathy Mazur, JSS created a two-prong program in early 2021.

JSS connected a dozen people in a pen pal program. High School students were matched with seniors in hopes of creating a long-lasting relationship. The pairs who chose to communicate in the traditional pen and paper method were sent a beautiful card made from Kathy Mazur’s artwork with a list of suggested questions to jump start the relationship.

These art cards became the seed for relationships that continue to grow and blossom today. In a larger scale, intergenerational program JSS organized with UW Madison Hillel students to write Passover greetings to nearly 100 isolated Jewish seniors in the Madison area on Kathy’s beautiful cards. It gave both the young people and the older adults a way to feel connected during the second Passover of the pandemic.

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The TBE Haggadah Project

When I was asked to create Elijah for the new TBE Community Haggadah Project, I was elated and overwhelmed. I had just begun my chemotherapy in my efforts to heal from breast cancer. I had to deeply consider whether or not I could finish the project. I came to the conclusion that the benefit was greater than the risk, and I said yes to the project!

During this time, our country was afflicted with harsh immigration policies and images of families separated at borders, children abandoned in cages flooded world media news outlets. I knew it was critical that I create an image of Elijah confronting this world crisis.

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Elijah, I am

Mixed Media on Paper, 2018

22 x 30

In the Talmud Elijah appears as many different people. He is the defender of God, advisor to immigrants, one who will bring peace to the world. I imagined: where would Elijah be on this night? Draped in threads that weave the story and struggles of world refugees, Elijah is standing by their side as guardian, protector, and, perhaps, he himself a refugee.

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