Our Mothers' Voices

Friends, our Women's Philanthropy Chair, Dana Keller, has a special personal message to share. I hope you will find it as moving and inspiring as I did. Shabbat Shalom. - Howard

Today I have the honor of delivering the Shabbat message and I would like to get personal. This weekend will mark the first yahrzeit for my mom, Gerry Rudman. I can't believe it's been almost a year since I have seen her, talked to her or given her a hug.

I learned so much from my mom and I know she set me up to be successful as the Women's Philanthropy Chair for Federation. My mom always taught me that giving back, Tikkun Olam, should be part of our everyday life. She lived her life that way and she left a beautiful legacy for me. I try every day to emulate her and do what I can to make our Jewish community a better place.

I attended the International Lion of Judah Conference last week in Miami along with 19 other women from Greater Hartford. I heard my mom's voice in my head while I listened to all the wonderful female leaders tell their stories. We all have stories to tell about our philanthropic journeys and we should share them and listen to each other.

The highlight for me was when four women from the Zachs family of West Hartford opened the entire conference. Judy, Jessica, Zoë and Paige - three generations of philanthropists - stood on the grand stage and spoke to 1,400 women about why they give and how it makes them feel. It was both inspiring and humbling. It could have been me on that stage - or you with your grandmother, mother or daughter. Telling our story to the next generation is how we pass on our Jewish values. I have been doing that with my daughters, Lilly and Sasha, since they were young. Now Lilly is a sophomore in college and Sasha is a senior in high school, and they get it. They see their mom being part of a vibrant Jewish community doing great things. They saw their Bubbie doing those same great things in her hometown of Philadelphia. They hear her voice as I do and it pushes us to continue her legacy. This is what it is all about.

Just one day after attending our Voices event in the fall of 2017 (see the photo above), after watching me on stage and listening to Alexa Forsyth Jenkins empower the women of our community, my mom had a stroke. Ironically, after her stroke, when she could no longer use her voice, my sister and I used our voices for her, as did her four granddaughters. Mom taught us that using our voices for the greater good is our job as strong Jewish women.

So, in her memory I will continue to use my voice and further my philanthropic journey. I know she would be proud of me, as I am so proud of her. Giving back to our Jewish community makes me feel good, and passing it onto my daughters feels even better. She taught me well and I am so thankful for that.

My mom, Gerry Rudman, was a true Woman of Impact. I miss my mom so much, but her voice is always with me. I hope that we'll all leave the same kind of legacy for those who come after us.

Shabbat Shalom.


Dana Keller
2019 Women's Philanthropy Chair

Photo caption: Dana Keller and her mother, Gerry Rudman z"l, at Voices