After Jackie and Michael Waterman had their first child, Matt, in 1982, there was one thing they both agreed was a pivotal factor in their decision about which synagogue they would join–– education.
“We knew that getting a good Jewish education, along with Jewish youth experiences, would offer our children a strong Jewish foundation that they could rely on for the rest of their lives.” Michael said.
The Waterman’s have three children: Matt, 36, Rebecca, 34 and Abby 32, and five grandchildren.
“And that foundation begins in nursery school,” Jackie said. “All of our children attended the day school and partook in all of the activities available to them. As a matter of fact, our youngest, Abby, is now a teacher in the early childhood center.”
They proudly noted that Matt currently serves on the VBS board and that Amanda is on the day school board. In addition, all their children were board members of USY, and attended Camp Ramah, with Matt also serving on the camp’s staff.
Jackie and Michael’s active involvement at VBS began when board member, Nancy Sher Cohen, asked Jackie to be the nursery school’s liaison to the synagogue’s education committee.
“That also got me active as well,” Michael remembered. “Jackie would drag me along to those committee meetings and I have to admit, I got hooked.”
He put his “addiction” to good use. Over the years, Michael’s volunteer work for the synagogue has included serving as vice president of administration, finance, youth education, family outreach and enhancement, and community outreach.
“It was definitely a challenge to have enough time for family, work and synagogue activities,” he said. (Michael is founder and CEO of Pegasus Investments, a real estate and investment firm in Encino.) “It helps tremendously that our office is in the next building, just west of the parking lot, making it easy to hop over when needed,” he said. “But it helps even more to have a loving and very well organized partner like Jackie who kept our home running the way it should be.”
Jackie and Michael agreed that a synagogue needs active and committed volunteers to remain strong. “We both love this place and want to see it remain strong and vital. And volunteers are a synagogue’s lifeblood,” Jackie said.
Both said they are most proud of the “Live a Jewish Life” program started under Jackie and Michael’s leadership.
“It was Nancy Sher Cohen’s idea and she asked me to organize it,” Jackie said. “Dozens of families met in each others’ homes to talk about Jewish living, holidays, customs, philosophy and traditions. We both take great satisfaction in what it accomplished. Virtually every lay leader, board member or active volunteer at the temple went through the program. And they will all tell you how much it inspired them to get involved, as part of living a committed Jewish life. I loved the opportunity to bring a new group of families together each year, because it gave me great satisfaction to see how the program helped them evolve Jewishly.”
Both Jackie and Michael agree that joining VBS was one of the best decisions they could have made for themselves and their family.
“This synagogue has great members, great rabbis, great staff and educators, and even a great custodial staff,” they concluded. “They all work hard to keep the place running the way it should be each day. We are so happy to be a part of this community and look forward to being active for many more years to come.”
Interview conducted by Jay Schuster