Hannah's Bat Mitzvah
Jessica's Bat Mitzvah
January 2, 2005
Happy New Year!
2004 represented a year of real highs and lows for the Singer family. For our immediate family, it was a year of many highs.
Jessica spent last February on a life altering trip to Israel with her Bi Cultural class just prior to graduating from the 8th grade. She has since started public high school (yikes!) and has made a remarkable transition to a school where she literally didn't know a soul. She continues to be an enthusiastic gymnast. She placed first in the State as the all-around Level 7 Champion for the 14 & over age group with an overall score of 36.1 in April. Jessica is about to turn 15 in January and will compete in Level 8 during the next meet season which also begins in January. Between school (and homework), gym and Kulanu (Hebrew High School), Jessica is pretty darn busy.
Hannah is half-way through the seventh grade at Bi Cultural. She's begun (and seems to be enjoying) training for her Bat Mitzvah which will take place next October. In the meantime, she is in the heart of the Bar and Bat Mitzvah season and has, by far, the most active social calendar of anyone in our family. She continues to thrive at gymnastics. Hannah won the all around Level 6 state championship last December and moved up to compete in level 7 this past spring. She placed 5th overall in the state in the Level 7 7-11 age group with an overall score of 36.525.
We took three extended family vacations this year. We spent a week in London this summer where we visited with good friends, enjoyed London Theatre (Chitty, Chitty Bang Bang and Fame), and did our fair share of touring the sites (The Tower, Oxford, etc.). It was the kids' first time visiting England and we all had a fabulous time. More recently, we spent a week in New York City seeing a bunch of Broadway shows (Bombay Dreams, Twelve Angry Men, Little Women, Modern Orthodox and Bklyn, the Musical), eating out, and just enjoying NYC at the holidays. We even took a backstage tour of Radio City Music Hall (photo) which included a conversation with a Rockette. In between, we spent a week in the Berkshires with Bernie and Rena where we exposed our children to a little bit more culture (music, dance, theatre, art) than they could tolerate. We're hoping that they will thank us for this someday.
Susan is busier than ever. Her primary activity remains driving our children to and from their various activities. The fact that they are now in two different schools in two different towns seems to have further complicated transportation logistics. Gary is able to drive Jessica to the High School on his way to the train most mornings but Susan takes it from there. That means driving Hannah to school, picking Jessica and then Hannah up from school and driving them to and from Gymnastics and Hebrew High School. You get the idea. The net impact is that Susan can't wait for Jessica to start driving in a year (while Gary, with less self-interest, is terrified). Beyond her responsibilities as chauffer, Susan continues (three days a week) to be one of the most effective sales people at Banana Republic in Greenwich and has become increasingly involved with our synagogue where she is a board member, co-leads the membership committee and most recently the search committee for our first (and much needed) Executive Director. Between all that, she continues to work out at least four times a week - sometimes at home but usually at the local Equinox Gym.
Gary is enjoying his new position at Interbrand where he has had the good fortune to work on some pretty interesting client assignments and is helping transform Interbrand into the most influential brand consultancy. The 1 ½ hour (each way) commute is grinding but the destination (Union Square) is invigorating. Beyond New York, his job has taken him to such places at Amsterdam, Zurich, Berlin, Kansas City, Milwaukee, Northern Virginia, Phoenix and both Northern and Southern California (to name just a few). He even had the chance to actually see a bit of Berlin (for a day) which really captivated him.
As for the lows, all of our parents have had more than their fair share of health issues. Unfortunately Gary's dad, Paul, passed away last March after a gallant ten-year battle with Leukemia. His mother and sister were devotedly by his dad's side from early February when things took a turn for the worse until his passing. We traveled to Boston as often as we could and fortunately Gary was there at the end. Gary, Susan, Jessica and Hannah were all able to attend the funeral, the unveiling in September and a wonderful memorial service we held in his honor at our synagogue in Norwalk, CT in October. Paul lives on in all of our memories and in the legacy he left through his wife, children and grandchildren.
The reason Gary was in Boston the week-end of his dad's passing was to be there for his mother 's surgery to repair her lungs from a very serious infection that occurred during an earlier emergency appendectomy. Gary's mom was in recovery at the time of her husband's demise and was unable to attend the funeral (which is one of the reasons we had the memorial service). She was making very good progress and coping with Paul's passing remarkably well when she learned that she has breast cancer. It is contained but she will still need to undergo radiation therapy during the beginning months of 2005.
Susan's dad underwent multiple operations to repair the injuries he sustained when run over by a bicyclist at the end of 2003. In the midst of all this, he needed to have a heart bypass and a valve replaced and is currently being treated for intestinal complications. Through all this he has maintained his tremendous zest for his family and for life and maybe because of that (and a little luck) he has made an unbelievable recovery. His wife, Rena, has been the bedrock by his side and has personally managed every aspect of his care with her determined enthusiasm. She too has had her health challenges, most recently with her eyes, but, like Bernie, has conquered all with sheer will power, positive energy and distinctive determination.
Through all these trials and tribulations we have grown even closer as a family and even more appreciative of our good fortune through our extended family and friends. We wish you all a very happy and healthy 2005, a year that we hope only brings you highs and spares you from life's inevitable lows.
Susan, Gary, Jessica and Hannah Singer