Hebrew name: Ora
Currently living in: Beverly
Alma mater: Marblehead High School ’08
Job: Former preschool teacher, current stay-at-home mom
Favorite food: Corn, sushi, chocolate chips, lots of tea
Favorite music: Streetlight Manifesto, Celine Dion
Favorite books: “No Second Chance” by Harlan Coben, “Sarah’s Key” by Tatiana Derosnay, “What Alice Forgot” by Lianne Moriarty
Favorite TV show: “Friends”
Favorite travel destination: The Maldives
Somewhere you’d like to go next: Amsterdam and New Zealand
Favorite spot on the North Shore: Marblehead Harbor
Favorite Jewish person not in your family: Rabbi Alison Adler [of Temple B’nai Abraham in Beverly] – she’s super warm, welcoming, and she just has a beautiful soul
Favorite Jewish holiday: Passover
What was your Jewish background growing up?
I grew up in Marblehead with my parents and my sister. I attended Hebrew school at a young age at Temple Israel in Swampscott – remember that? It doesn’t exist anymore. Then I moved to Temple Emanu-El later. I was bat mitzvahed there, and continued my Jewish education through high school until I got confirmed. I actually went to Hebrew school and on the Y2I trip with my best friend and now husband, Rob Campbell, and we also went to each other’s bar and bat mitzvahs. I think it’s pretty special that we were able to experience such important moments together in our Jewish journeys. My Jewish identity has always been pretty important to me – as I grew up, I searched for my own way to stay involved in Jewish traditions.
What role does it currently play in your life?
I was previously a preschool teacher at the JCC in Marblehead. Working with my children is undoubtedly my passion, which I obviously get from my mother, who’s a kindergarten teacher at Bell School [in Marblehead.] I love teaching, especially at a Jewish school. Jewish education is key so that our heritage will be reinforced in the present, and transmitted to the future in the hearts and minds of our children. Since teaching is currently on hold, and I’ve lost the classroom atmosphere, I make sure to bring that with me into our home. We light the candles for Shabbat, and in the first Friday of every month, we actually host a family Shabbat at our home, which is a really nice tradition that Rob and I have started. Shabbat’s such a wonderful time for us to reflect on our week and remember how blessed we are to be healthy, happy, and have one another.
How did you teach JCC preschoolers about Jewish tradition?
I planned my own curriculum for every theme we did, but since it’s the JCC and it’s a Jewish school, they did want us to teach Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, but it was up to me how I wanted to bring that into the classroom. So I taught my kids through play, since they’re so young, so a lot of the activities – like for Tu BeShevat, which is all about the trees, I created pipe cleaner trees, and then gave them buttons, because buttons have holes in them, and it helped their fine motor skills to put the buttons on the pipe cleaners as if they were putting leaves on the trees. So that small activity – it teaches them about the trees, helps with their fine motor skills, and just opens the conversation about trees. Also we read a lot of PJ Library books in my class.
How are millennial parents raising their kids Jewish?
That’s hard to say. I think often, we do what we see. Millennials are growing up and trying to use what they learned and transform it into what makes them happy. So everybody practices Judaism in their own way, and I don’t think it matters how they do it, as long as they’re doing it in a way that makes them feel good, and in a way that works for their family. [My daughter] Thea isn’t even one yet, so she definitely doesn’t have any of that knowledge, but I do look forward to when Thea can join us in building these memories and creating Jewish roots of her own. My mom and I love the stories and the traditions of Passover, and I’ve found that the memories of putting together my mother’s gorgeous Seder plate is just such a wonderful feeling when I think about it, and we continue to do that to this day, and I look forward to when Thea will do that with us. I also have all of my books and curricula and curriculum boxes – a box for birds, and a box for Rosh Hashanah, and a box for Hanukkah – and they’re all in my attic, so when Thea gets old enough I’m going to turn the playroom into a small preschool room where it’ll have the days of the week, and it’ll have a little book nook, so we can start learning together.