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“You Had Me At Lori.”

Ellie, Lori & Mimi at JWRP dessert reception at the home of Marilyn & Sam Fox.

Ellie, Lori & Mimi at JWRP dessert reception at the home of Marilyn & Sam Fox.

When Mimi Pultman called me on the phone back in August to ask me to co-chair the Lori Palatnik event with her, I was on my way to meet my “St Louis Soul Sisters” for dinner at Mediterranean Grill. We like to pretend we’re eating falafel in the Old City.

Anyway, Mimi rattled off a list of reasons why I should consider taking on this important role, even though I was already feeling overwhelmed with several projects that consumed my time. Her rationale:

1. Lori’s coming in town, it’ll be fun!

2. We are both experienced event planners. We can do this.

3. We have connections in the St. Louis Jewish community.

4. We will appoint committees and sub-committees and delegate responsibiities.

5. We have templates for advertisements and invitations, so we don’t have to reinvent the wheel.

6. We’ll put together a killer action plan and timeline.

7. Then something about minimal amount of  time  and meetings (yeah, right).

Finally, I interrupted her and said, “You had me at Lori.”

That’s how much I believe in the woman who is the founding director of the JWRP. That’s how much I believe in her mission to bring thousands of moms (and now dads) from around the world to Israel to discover the Jew in themselves so that when they come home, they are inspired to make a difference.

She had me at Lori.

I shared this story in my welcome speech in front of more than 300 people who filled the glittery ballroom at Crowne Plaza Hotel in Clayton last Monday night to hear her popular presentation on,“The Kabbalah of You–Understanding Yourself and Appreciating Others.” I knew the audience felt the same way about Lori, otherwise they wouldn’t be there. Instead they would be home ready to watch Jimmy Fallon debut on the Tonight Show. It was President’s Day, and the morning started out miserable with freezing rain, actually a thunder ice storm! I know it’s supposed to be good luck when it rains on a simcha, but this was ridiculous. Some people say if you don’t like the weather in St. Louis, stick around and it will change. And by the grace of the Almighty, it did. By afternoon, the sun came out and record temps reached almost 70, from winter to spring, just like that.

Lori was in town for only two days, and we packed her schedule with so many important meetings and major events that even her head was spinning. And it takes a lot to wear out this Rebbetzin, who is an internationally acclaimed author, speaker, and teacher, and someone who never stops. The Fox family opened their beautiful home to us and hosted a lovely donor luncheon and an exclusive JWRP dessert reception that featured a spread of scrumptious Jewish delicacies, music, dancing, and, most importantly, the unveiling of an exciting new initiative called the Jewish Women’s Society (JWS). See our mission statement below.

Group on couch with Lori and Pamela

Lori and Pamela Fox Clayman join the St. Louis Soul Sisters from the 2013 JWRP mission.

Another highlight was to spend quality time with our very own St. Louis hometown girl, Pamela Fox Clayman, known in Jerusalem as the Shabbos Queen and founder of Thank Israeli Soldiers, who welcomed us into the stunningly gorgeous home of her parents, Marilyn and Sam Fox.

In her unique, effervescent way, Pamela rallied everyone to support the JWS, a follow-up program for JWRP participants, past, present, and future, so that they have an opportunity to stay connected to their community and continue to learn and practice Jewish values.

The JWS mission statement is to:

Embrace the values of our Jewish heritage, emphasizing living harmoniously with self, family and community.  The Society provides programs and support for Jewish Women of all backgrounds to strengthen their Jewish identity and their commitment to Jewish life in St Louis and Israel.

ellie, lori, lenore, mimi, pamela, marilyn

Movers and shakers: Ellie & Mimi with Lori, Lenore Pepper, Pamela Fox Clayman, and Marilyn Fox.

In future blogs, I will share news about the evolving JWS and how you can get involved in this special group that is setting a precedent for JWRP cities around the world.

Lori peace sign

Lori enlightens us about the power of Jewish women.

A lot happened in the 48 hours that St. Louis had Lori to ourselves, so stay tuned on upcoming blogs about what I learned and how YOU can be part of it all.

Next week, I will tell how a 12-minute drive to the airport changed my life.

JWRP sign

Inspire a woman. Inspire a family. Inspire a community.

And last but not least, a big HUG to all the committee chairpeople who worked tirelessly on these events. They are Peggy Umansky, Ellen Levy, Rebecca Brown, Stephanie Ruter, Kalanit Chappell, and, of course, Claire Wolf, from Aish St. Louis, for her administrative support.

Committe at Fox home

Kudos to our committee!

And, finally, thank  you again to my co-chair Mimi, for being you, a Tov. Remember, you had me at Lori.


mimi and ellie

Co-Chairs Ellie & Mimi