The women of Chabad of the South Hills celebrated their 10th annual spring gathering last Wednesday night with food, song and the inspirational words of Dr. Deborah Gilboa, whose topic of strengthening connections with loved ones through better communication seemed to resonant with many.
About 60 women from the South Hills and Squirrel Hill joined together for the festivities that were held in the home of Judi Kline in Mt. Lebanon.
After the women dined on a buffet of various salads, small bites and desserts, they were treated to the concert stylings of Kol Shira, an all-female Jewish a cappella group featuring Lynn Berman, Chantal Bernicky-Belman, Leah Herman, Jeanne McHale, Gilah Moritz, Jessica Neiss and Tamara Reese. Through its gentle harmonies, the singing group set the tone for the rest of the evening. Amy Schwartz, who is also a member of Kol Shira, was not available to perform.
The annual gala is the brainchild of Batya Rosenblum, co-director of Chabad of the South Hills. She recalled the different events held throughout the years, beginning in 2006 with a fashion show at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Bethel Park and various speakers, including “Kosher by Design” cookbook author Susie Fishbein, a laughter therapist, and local psychologist Sharon Saul.
“I’m so pleased with how the evening turned out,” Rosenblum said of the May 11 event. “The speaker was fantastic — everyone was able to relate to her — and having Kol Shira here was a beautiful way to entertain.”
Rosenblum addressed the crowd prior to her introduction of Gilboa, noting that “this is the year of Hakel, a Jewish year of gathering on the calendar” and drew a parallel to the event itself, which gathered together a group of Jewish women.
The goal of the event, she said, “is that we leave here more inspired as a group of Jewish women.”
Gilboa, a Pittsburgh-based family physician, international speaker, author and Jewish mother of four, established an immediate rapport with her audience through her wit and instant relatability.
Gilboa, who is also known for her frequent television appearances on “The Today Show” and “Good Morning America,” has earned a reputation for helping parents teach their children ‘”the three Rs”: respect, responsibility and resilience.
With a focus on how to better communicate with children and teens, Gilboa also offered suggestions on how to improve communication with a spouse, a friend or a sibling.
Using lots of humor, and peppering her talk with anecdotes arising from her personal experiences in raising four boys, Gilboa kept her audience of 20-somethings through 70-somethings engaged.
Gilboa suggested fighting the urge to make children happy and instead working on building integrity.
“We don’t want a generation of kids who have been placated and made happy all the time,” she said.
She also encouraged the mothers present to be true to their word when communicating with their children.
“We are the foundation,” Gilboa said. “If we say something, we have to mean it, and we have to follow through to the best of our ability.”
Above all, she said, communication must be clear.
“We have to be clear in our communication with our children and clear in our communication with adults,” she said. “And saying ‘none of your business,’ is OK. It’s better to say that than to lie.”
While not all of Gilboa’s advice was new to everyone in her audience, several women remarked that they nonetheless appreciated the opportunity to hear it again.
“Dr. Gilboa reminded me of important aspects of communication, all things I have heard in the past but are worth hearing again as a reminder,” said Sharon Ackerman of Mt. Lebanon.
“It was a lovely evening,” added Nonna Neft of Upper St. Clair. “Everything about it was beautiful and elegant. The speaker was engaging and relatable. But most of all I was happy to see so many South Hills women there interacting and enjoying each other’s company.”
The evening also included a raffle and a silent auction.
Toby Tabachnick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.