JULY 27, 2017 – You don’t have to be a Jewish mother to write a special mitzvah speech, but it helps.
After delivering her own “parent speech” at her son Griffin’s bar mitzvah, award-winning speechwriter Sheri Lair Saginor launched a specialty service for parents who want to sound their best and deliver a “deeply moving, personal speech that captures the pride, hope, and love they feel for their child as they stand on the bimah.”
Saginor acknowledges it is an advantage to have grown up in Jewish culture, to be active in a community, and to be a parent who has been through the bar mitzvah. Saginor is all of that and more.
Growing up in Tulsa, Okla., her family belonged to a Reform congregation.
Saginor’s life journey took her to college in Indiana, where she majored in English Language Literature and minored in Jewish Studies. While studying in Jerusalem during her junior year, she made friends with Jewish students from Boston.
“At 22, I graduated, packed everything I owned into a yellow Ryder van, and moved to Boston,” she recalls. “I had always been a good singer and loved music. I ended up at Berklee College of Music getting a degree in orchestration. After graduation, I worked as a professional singer, mostly with wedding bands.”
The need to have a reliable income led Saginor to a sales career for a computer company, where she stayed until her second son was born.
“I wanted to spend more time with my boys and knew I needed a change,” she says. “A soul search showed me that all the things that I had done so far were about communication and voice.”
This revelation led to her current career as a speechwriter and public speaking teacher.
These days, the busy Boxford mother of two boys, 14 and 10, is immersed in her community at Temple Tiferet Shalom in Peabody. Surrounded by families in the religious education program, she witnessed firsthand the stress that parents experience preparing for a bar or bat mitzvah. It seemed “a natural sideline” for her to provide professional services to make their speeches poignant at this important celebration.
Clients come from all over. She recently worked with a New Jersey dad who enlisted her help in writing a speech he delivered at the bar mitzvah celebration for his twins.
“Originally from Israel, his wife was a journalist. He felt the pressure to deliver a special speech to not one child, but two,” says Saginor. “I interviewed him on the phone to find out the nuts and bolts details and then got to the core of his message. I had him tell me stories about his kids and things that are unique about each of them. The speech had to uniquely honor each child, but also be about their bond.”
After the bar mitzvah, the proud father called to report that the speech he delivered to the congregation brought tears to his wife’s eyes.