Schmooze’s Ellen returns from Israel

Bobby Ingram (center) is flanked by co-workers who volunteered over the weekend painting the Youth in Need headquarters in St. Charles.

Ellen Futterman, Editor

United we run

In a groundbreaking collaboration, pre-teen girls in the local Orthodox, Conservative and Reform Jewish communities joined together this spring to participate in Girls on the Run, the nonprofit after-school program that seeks to inspire girls “to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running.”

In past years, Epstein Academy offered the program to its girls in grades 3 through 6. “But this year we thought, why not extend the offer to girls at Torah Prep and Saul Mirowitz to participate alongside us,” explained Adi Feen, a parent facilitator of the program whose daughter attends Epstein and is a Girls on the Run participant.

Beth Shalom Cemetery ad

Feen said 16 girls in grades 3 through 6 from the local Jewish day schools, representing all walks of Judaism, participated in the 10-week program, along with four parent coaches. They met twice a week at Epstein to undertake various activities aimed at building confidence, working together as a team and giving back to the community. And they also practiced running at nearby Stacy Park in Olivette. 

“The main goal is to make the girls feel good about being a girl,” said Feen. “It empowers them and helps to show them they can do anything they set their minds to.”

This spring, 127 St. Louis area schools, representing 2,600 local girls from grades 3 through 8, participated in the program. Last Saturday, it concluded with its 5K Girls on the Run downtown run. But because it was Shabbat and some of the girls on the Jewish day school team are observant, the entire team decided not to run then. Instead, the team will take part in the Zoo’s Making Tracks 5k run Sunday, which benefits St. Louis Children’s Hospital.

“We’re going to be there with our (Girls on the Run) staff and have Happy Hair Stations for them, where they can get their hair decorated, and we will also give out medals, just like we did at the run last Saturday,” said Katie Helbig, program director for Girls on the Run locally. “We’re going to make sure it’s special for these girls.”

For those interested in cheering on the Jewish day school team, festivities get underway at 7:30 a.m. Sunday near the Kiener Memorial gates of the Zoo, at the corner of Washington and Government drives.


Painting for a cause

Indiana University sophomore Bobby Ingram is wasting no time putting his business major to good use. This summer, he is serving as branch manager of Textbook Painting, which offers outstanding college students studying business an opportunity to run their own painting businesses in their hometown and earn money for school. Students are taught everything they need to know about running a business from estimating to customer service to actual production.

Ingram, who graduated from Parkway Central High and attends Congregation Shaare Emeth where he worked previous summers as a counselor at Camp Emeth, now has other area Jewish college students who were looking for a job this summer to help pay for tuition and college expenses. But because Ingram feels strongly about giving back to the community, his company’s first project last Saturday was to donate time to repaint the building headquarters of Youth in Need, a nonprofit child and family services agency based in St. Charles. 

“My mother ran some businesses (where I grew up in Michigan) and every winter she made a big deal about doing community service work at a women’s shelters at holiday time. I grew up with that ethic and wanted to draw on that experience,” said Ingram. “So I called a bunch of shelters to see what they needed. Youth in Need needed its entire building painted, which seemed like a perfect fit. Plus, some of the 

kids they serve are just a few years younger than some of my painters, so it was really impactful for them.”

Ingram says he plans to look for other volunteer projects throughout the summer to complement his painting business. To learn more about Textbook Painting, go to


Five things to know

before going to Israel

As those of you who have been predicted, amazing doesn’t begin to describe the time I had during my trip earlier this month to Israel. Soon, you will be seeing more stories in the Light about Israeli life and culture as a result of the contacts I made during the trip, but in the meantime, here are a few tips I want to share with those of you going there this summer:

• Rent a cell phone. Several companies offer low rates for short-term trips (a week or two) to Israel that make it much cheaper than using your American cell phone. I recommend Amigo cell phones but there’s also Israel Phones, ATS cell phones and other companies that offer similar plans.

• Carry a shawl. Many religious sites require men and women to have their knees and shoulders covered when visiting. Wearing long pants or a long skirt in the hot Israeli summer is uncomfortable, which is why I suggest bringing along a shawl (or two packed into a backpack) so that you can tie it around you waist and allow it to drape over your knees (guys, this can work for you, too). If you opt for sleeveless, bring along another shawl for your shoulders.

• On the subject of summer heat, be sure to carry a water bottle with you while touring and wear a hat (if I can do it with my curly mop, so can you!), along with making sure to apply sunscreen liberally and lip balm.

• Do not, I repeat, do not shave for at least three days before stepping foot into the Dead Sea. 

• Among the best places to buy unique, reasonably priced jewelry are the shops in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem and the Arts and Crafts market held on Tuesdays and Fridays (near the Carmel Market) in Tel Aviv. Oh, and be sure to bargain!