Falling in love, the pyramidal brownie, and the beginning of a good journey…
I was talking with Jeff Kole the other day and mentioned that my deep love of downtown Savannah comes from my childhood. More specifically it comes from years of “escaping” through the front door of Mickve Israel Temple on Gordon and Bull Streets and into the freedom and beauty of Monterey Square. Throughout my childhood this happened fifty, sixty, and seventy times a year after Friday night, Saturday, or Sunday service. I am confident of these large numbers because my brother and I had “perfect attendance” at Sunday School several years in a row and were rewarded with a prayer book, hymn book, and eventually and miraculously, a 3 wood and a putter at the end of each school year.
Jeff and I also talked of the pyramidal brownie. This was the single coveted brownie that sat at the very top of the circular pyramid of Gotlieb’s brownies that was placed on the right corner of the sweets table in the social hall on the 3rd Friday Family Night of each month. A bunch of us would race like wild men from the temple to the social hall every family night in hopes of being first to the sweets table. There would be our reward – to reach up to the top of the pyramid of brownies and pluck the brownie, sitting in its singular splendor, on the very top of the pyramid and gobble it down. What a brownie!
Mickve Israel was also the place where a long and good journey began for me. It’s where, as a teenager in the Temple Youth Group, I met a young man who needed some help with learning how to walk. Several TYG’ers were invited to volunteer to help. I was one of them and this experience shifted my interest away from advertising (Uncle Harold, my aunt Jane’s husband had been in the business in NYC and I always thought that’s where I would go), and toward people with disabilities.
As the years have gone by, over 40 of them now since my TYG volunteer days, my interest has shifted a bit toward the question, “What can people come to mean to one another?” This question can challenge people to become better people, it can challenge the business-as-usual segregation of people with disabilities that is pervasive today, and it can encourage people and organizations to actively welcome people who would most likely be overlooked.
This question “What can people come to mean to one another?” has been the foundation for inviting thousands of people into the lives of other people over the past 30 plus years. From these invitations have come stories of people standing in solidarity with one another, stories of people questioning the status quo, and stories of people realizing that powerful and unexpected teachers are hidden in our midst.
This question, “What can people come to mean to one another?” carries me through the streets of Savannah every day. This question and stories about Savannahians who are answering it through personal relationship and action carry me across the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom as a storyteller. I hope that you enjoy the stories about what can people come to mean to one another on our website and in our newsletters.