Women’s Connection kick-off hits the mark

BY JILL KASSANDER, SPECIAL TO THE JEWISH LIGHT

The weather was perfect this time for the kick off program of Women’s Connection — the new organization created by the merger between the St. Louis Jewish Federation Women’s Division and the Business & Professional Women.

More than 450 women attended the event held at the Coronado Ballroom where they enjoyed hors d’oeuvres, visiting with friends and hearing best-selling author Jennifer Weiner. Weiner is the author of In Her Shoes, a best-selling humorous novel whichwas made into a film starring Cameron Diaz and Shirley Booth.

“The idea that more than 450 women want to be at a Federation event is very impressive,” Kristi Meyers-Gallup said. “Especially considering they had to set aside a second night for this program since the first one was cancelled.”

The event was originally scheduled for November when a major ice storm hit the area. Organizers tried to hold out but were finally forced to cancel the sold-out event.

Weiner graciously offered to return to St. Louis at no cost if the program was rescheduled. Kathy and Steve Becker of the Coronado offered to cover the cost of the program which already had to be paid in full in November for cancelling so late.

“This is such an impressive turnout,” Myrna Meyer said. “There is such an amazing diversity in the room: women from all walks of Judaism and all ages.”

Many participants like Anne Brafa-Mazur attended the program because they are fans of Weiner’s and were looking forward to hearing her. KSDK’s Leisa Zigman emceed the program and event co-chairs Faith Berger, Sheri Sherman and Jane Roodman Weiss welcomed everyone.

They acknowledged the past presidents of the Women’s Division and B &P who helped build and lead both organizations. Roodman Weiss said “their vision and leadership gave St. Louis Jewish women a voice.”

“It is quite awe-inspiring to stand here and see almost 500 faces stepping out to kick off the Women’s Connection,” Roodman Weiss said.

Women’s Connection co-chair Lynne Palan spoke about the beginnings and history of the St. Louis Jewish Federation and its importance to the community. Co-chair Pearl Serota spoke about the importance of the Women’s Connection which gives women in the community an opportunity demonstrate their philanthropy and leadership.

“When the Federation calls, you have stepped up to the plate to help Jews in St. Louis and around the country,” Palan said.

Weiner engaged the audience with her first story about being stranded in St. Louis during the ice storm.

Everyone was so apologetic about the storm and having to cancel the program, said Weiner. However, Weiner said she did manage to make the best of the situation.

“My hotel was across the street from Plaza Frontenac,” Weiner said. “I got to enjoy a meal from start to finish and I could eat with both hands since my three-year-old daughter Lucy wasn’t with me.”

The laughter continued as Weiner shared stories about her journeys in journalism, members of her family and her inspirations for her books. She also addressed the importance of women’s philanthropy and giving in your own name and the importance of demonstrating this value for “our daughter and our communities.”

The audience clearly enjoyed her and she received a standing ovation. One person said, “Jennifer came across as a woman who would be one of your best friends if she lived in town.”

“The program was even better than I imagined,” Palan said.

“We are looking forward to providing more programming to appeal to all women from all walks of life in our Jewish community, whether they are mothers of young children or teenagers, empty nesters or seniors.”

The next Women’s Connection program is the organization’s first Isha l’Isha — Woman to Woman event called “Think a Little, Talk a Little.”

That event, on May 9, is being facilitated by Nishmah: The St. Louis Jewish Women’s Project. For more information on Women’s Connection or upcoming programs call April Levison at 314-442-3806.

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