Mimi Maizlech has been gracing our reception desk for the past year, piloting at the helm of our ship on the hill, floating through the sea of newcomers in to the building, tactfully tacking against those who were reluctant to be screened on entering, and firmly steering us into the future of warm welcome and tightened security. (Receptionist as coxswain?)
Mimi and Mitch, her husband of 31 years, are leaving Pittsburgh to fulfill a dream. After ten or fifteen years imagining, their “some day” has finally arrived and they are moving to Maale Adumim, which is outside Jerusalem. Their “#2 son” Sammy has been living in Israel for six years, initially at Yeshivah, and he made aliyah two years ago. He lives in Har Nof. Their elder son Shui is still here in Pittsburgh, for the moment.
Mimi was brought here by hashgahah pratit, Divine intervention. Her former employer was downsizing, and the opportunity to work close to home presented itself. She has been an administrative assistant for many years, and may also continue that work in Israel. Mimi will definitely be taking her electrolysis equipment to Israel, intending to set up a new business; Mitch will continue as an accountant working remotely. Work is just work, though: they will be soaking up the atmosphere full time.
I asked Mimi what she has learned here as part of the Beth Shalom community. One thing she was sad to learn, she said, is that there is intolerance everywhere. She points out that some of us in the Conservative world seem to feel we are the ugly stepchild to the Orthodox, while we also can take the reverse attitude with the Reform movement. Seeing this among Jews was eye-opening, and Mimi now tries not to judge someone by their own practices of Judaism. Whether perception or reality, it is perhaps a lesson we all should take to heart.
She also notes the data that say the Conservative Movement is fading. She is not certain she believes that: she has seen so many joyful and generous congregants come through the door. Yet to some she would like to suggest leaving their self-righteousness and egotism at the door and just come in as congregants and enjoy the shul. There is so much beauty here, don’t take it for granted. Come and enjoy it, roll up your sleeves, pay your dues, so the shul will be here for your children and grandchildren. That is how we do it, she states: how we survive and thrive. Enjoy what you have, and share it.
We are very glad that hashgahah pratit brought Mimi literally to our door. We have learned quite a bit from her. We wish her a life of joy, a life of carrying forward the light of the knowledge with which we have been blessed. We wish her many days filled with wonder, delight, and sheer happiness. Thank you, Mimi. And don’t forget to read this column online.