Benefit events are not a huge part of my life. I’m more of an online donation kind of person, and to say I’m not a very good dresser (or a member of high society) is to put it mildly.
Nonetheless, last night I had a great time as a guest at the Jewish Outreach Institute tribute dinner.
For starters, this was actually a venue where a critical mass of people had read my column and knew who I was! Two people even introduced themselves as fans! So I was among my peeps.
But vanity aside, it was a really nice event, in which the women of the Mothers Circle were collectively honored and a “Visionary Award” was bestowed on Meryl Frank, the United States ambassador to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women and a former mayor of Highland Park, N.J.
The Mothers Circle, for those of you who don’t already know, is one of the JOI’s signature programs, offering a class/support group/community for the over 100,000 non-Jewish women in the United States who are married to Jews and raising Jewish children.
In a speech on behalf of all Mothers Circle women, Liddy Doyle, a graduate of a group in Hartford, Conn., talked about how, with the support of the program, she went from thinking “I was the only non-Jewish mom trying to raise Jewish children” to becoming “the most Jewish person in my family — at least that’s what my husband calls me!”
No offense to Liddy or Meryl, but the highlight of the evening was a musical performance by Rebecca Naomi Jones, a young Broadway actress (“Passing Strange,” “American Idiot”) who was raised in New York by a Jewish mom and African American dad.
Her dad, who recently died, was Eddie Jones, the musical director of the doo-wop group, The Cadillacs, which Rebecca said “played at my bat mitzvah.”
She recalled how he used to harmonize when Rebecca and her mother, Susan Jones, were singing the Chanukah blessings.
In addition to impressively belting out tunes from “Passing Strange,” Rebecca did the best covers I have ever heard of “Forever Young” and “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” two songs I thought had been so overplayed that they had absolutely no life left in them.
OK, I have officially turned into Tim Boxer, The Jewish Week's society columnist.
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