Reflections (Finale). Why I am thanking Gd this Holiday Season.

My Grandparents (2008)


First I want to wish all my Christian brothers and sisters Happy Christmas and truly enjoy this holiday in whichever way you find fulfilling!

As I began to write this post last Saturday evening,  but didn’t get to finish, I just got off the phone with my childhood best friend, Stacy Launer (now Stacy Klemas). She was out to dinner with her husband Scott, and told me she will call back me later, and I told her no problem I am at home and just wanted to let you know I just got off the phone with your mother in law (Robin Klemas) and we need to do lunch next week because she is off from work and I haven’t seen her. “Okay great, sounds good” Stacy says. I hung up the phone smiling.

I also just spent last  Shabbat with my grandparents. Which basically means Amy goes to buy a kosher chicken, noodle kugel, and babka(traditional Eastern European Jewish Cuisine) from Lakewood Shoprite and has my grandfather relive his childhood youth of saying Kiddush, while my  Grandmother (not kosher of course) gives me a hard time about all this ‘shabbat business’…”What are you holier than holy these days!? Then of course on Shabbat my brother calls from Seattle seeing what was cooking  (he must know what was for dinner). Then my mom calls 5 minutes later…what was cooking? Is Grandma being nice to Grandpa…?

What I am trying to say is that I wish we all had these family moments of joy, laughter, fighting, personality clashes and holidays together.

But the truth is too many of us all over the world might not have the opportunity to be with family members they love this holiday, due to many factors out of our control and for reasons I have shared with you through my blog posts this past year.

And this also goes for family members and close friends we all lost this year.

Although everyone tries to  be strong from the loss of close family and friends, or just being apart for the holidays, there is still something missing and its a hard few days to get through.


So, why I am thanking gd this holiday season?

After I got off this call with Stacy I realized what a blessing gd has given me at this moment to be with, and feel loved by, my close friends and family. And this is nothing I can, or should, take lightly.

I have shared many photos and stories of friends I met along the way in Kenya and Uganda. However, today I want to share with you my family and a few very close friends who are also my family.

I  also want to quickly mention that I say holiday season through a Jewish Lens.

Although Hanukkah has passed, and I do not technically religiously celebrate Christmas, my birthday falls this time of year.

This year happens to be quite interesting as my birthday is on the 30th of December and my Jewish Birthday this year, the 24th of Tevet,  falls on December 31st so I have the pleasure of a two-day birthday!

Jewish Birthday? Let me explain briefly…

First, the Jewish Calendar  is actually based on the lunar months (with different names then our modern calendar), so you might notice that our holidays fluctuate each year (and as do birthdays).

But why is it significant?

Judaism happens to approache time like a spiral or circle..not in a straight line.

Annually, on the anniversary of any momentous event, we have the ability to tap into the same spiritual energy that originally caused that event (hence the concept of Jewish holidays). taken from

So each year on our  Jewish birthdays, we have the ability to tap into that special energy, and it is especially interesting to see what events in history happened on that specific day in the Jewish Calendar, or if very righteous people might have been born, or died, on that day-your birthday.  If you are interested and open, you can find some very deep connections here.

I urge all my Jewish Friends to sign on below to find out your Jewish Birthday.

And hey, who ever complained of two birthdays?


My Family

My mom, brother, and I last month @ a 15K run post-Thanksgiving. Nov 2010
My Dad and brother last May (2010) at a surprise party for my Dad's 55th Birthday
Me with Stacy and Kim (Nov 2010)--my two closest friends from my home town, Marlboro NJ. We have been through some wonderful times together, and of course more to come. Thank you both for being true, amazing friends over the years. Love you.
Stacy is my oldest friend. We have been partners in crime since 1996. She got married last April 2010 to Scott Klemas. Doesn't she look beautiful?
Rochelle was my college roommate for four years at Penn State University. It is too difficult describe (& sometimes want to remember) the times we went through together!:) She is now engaged and I am very excited to visit her next week in Philadelphia. (Photo Oct 2009)
Steve Schwartz (right) is like my second Dad. Him and my Dad (left) are soul brothers. We are not blood related to the Schwartz's, but I think we must have come from the same Jewish Tribe:).
Tracy Schwartz (left) is Steve's daughter and also like a sister to me. There are not many people in this world with such a true geniune kindness and warm heart. Susan Schwartz (right), Tracy's mom, passed away this past June and I think about her all time. I miss her very much, as does her family, and I know she is in a special place. I thank her for all the amazing energy, advice, and encouragement she gave to me throughout the years. Susan, we are missing you this holiday.
And just to touch on again…

My mom is very special. Each passing day I realize that she is a pure example of what is means to be a giving and compassionate person. And no one makes me laugh like my brother with his terrible, yet hyseterical jokes. He currently is doing wonderful at his job @ Boeing in Seattle and has many adventures lying ahead. Love you both very much.

Words cannot explain how blessed I am to have two grandparents I love dearly and always close to my side for the last 27 years. They are, and always will be, my best friends:) Thank you for everything.


Happy Holidays and Shabbat Shalom to all.

Through the difficult times,  we all have blessing and miracles occuring simultaneously and we should always be grateful for them.

With love,


9 Replies to “Reflections (Finale). Why I am thanking Gd this Holiday Season.”

    1. Happy you enjoyed. And I forgot to tell you I spoke to Mr. Baricelli yesterday. Will call you tomm to explain:) Ha find out Lloyd Vandersmoot’s bday too

  1. Amy, you are a very special young lady with wisdom beyond your years. You are like my third daughter and your parents should be very proud of you. I know Susan is looking down and smiling because she loved when you came over to talk and she treasured the book you gave her. I know you will accomplish great things in the future.

    1. Thank you Steve, you are a very special person in my life and I know Susan is happy that we are all close and trying to enjoy each day. Have a lovely Shabbat.

  2. That was so sweet Amy! Your are such a kind hearted person. So glad to have you in my life wherever you may be! Love you lots


  3. Nice getting to know your family.
    I am at Sandy’s recovering from hip surgery two weeks ago.

    Happy Birthday to you!!

    Best Regards,

    Ed Hand

    1. Hi Ed, so nice to hear from you and I wish you a very speedy recovery. Thanks again for your note, and will I be seeing you in the HIAS mission in DC?

      Have a lovely Xmas/New Years~

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