Esther Spear

When my husband and I retired to Arizona 12 years ago, we realized that we had time to volunteer in the Jewish community. Volunteering is a way to give back to the community, but it’s also a wonderful way to get to know one’s

new neighbors.

Giving to others can also help protect your mental and physical health. It can reduce stress, combat depression, keep you mentally stimulated and provide a sense of purpose.

After we joined the Sun Lakes Jewish Congregation, we took the time to become active in several committees. I became a member of the Sisterhood Board of Directors and the Card Party committee, and my husband became president of the Men’s Club. Eventually, he would become vice president of the congregation. We easily made many friends and found the congregants to

be very welcoming.

Sisterhoods — often referred to as women’s groups — are groups of active and engaged women who belong to a congregation and work together toward a common cause. They provide an array of leadership opportunities for women in various congregations.

Each sisterhood across the country has different interests, but we are all dedicated to various religious, educational, social, philanthropic and advocacy efforts. Sisterhoods are an outlet for the vibrant energy, creativity and passion of Jewish women, a social hub and an integral part of any congregation.

The Sun Lakes’ Sisterhood has existed for more than 25 years. Our only fundraiser is the Annual Card Party, which will be held on Feb. 7, 2022. It is open to the public and draws about 200 women to the event.

Next year’s event will be held at a new venue, the Cottonwood's clubhouse ballroom in Sun Lakes.

Tell your friends to bring groups to play mah-jongg, bridge, canasta, Scrabble and other table games. We will have huge gift baskets, gift certificates from local restaurants, as well as cash-prize raffles, a delicious catered lunch, and our famous bake sale.

Proceeds from the event will be distributed to local charities such as, but not limited to, the Chandler Unified School District’s program for homeless students, the Sun Lakes Fire Department, Stand Down, an organization for homeless female veterans, and Chandler CARE Center.

Another charitable Sisterhood activity is called Toys from the Heart. Each year committee members purchase identical toys for every kindergartner in a local school and distributes them in December. For some of these children, these toys are the only gift they will receive for the holidays. How heart-warming it is to see the kids’ faces as they unwrap the gifts.

Their teachers also receive gift cards. Funds for Toys from the Heart come from donations and revenue raised at the Card Party.

We also like to bring interesting guest speakers to our meetings.

Our November guest speaker was Marcia Fine, an award-winning author who spoke about her wickedly funny book “Stressed in Scottsdale.” It is a comedy about a harried mother and wife trying to cope with everyday life. Fine skewers some of Scottsdale’s finest in the third book of her Jean Rubin series. She addresses the deeper issues of the environment and political corruption in laugh-out-loud lines. We encourage you to read the book and see if you recognize anyone.

Our next meeting is on Dec. 16 at 1 p.m., in the Chapel House. Our guest speaker will be Cindy Rice, the first-ever female Army ranger. We will also have a representative from the Maternity Outreach for Moms program, a collaborative effort between the Phoenix Veterans Administration and Veterans First Ltd. The Moms Program assists pregnant female veterans in providing items for mothers and their newborn babies. We will have a baby shower basket for donations.

While it’s true that the more you volunteer, the more benefits you’ll experience, volunteering doesn’t have to involve a long-term commitment or take a huge amount of time out of your busy day.

The public is invited to attend our various Sisterhood events. If you would like to meet new friends while helping the community, I encourage you to call Carol at 480-895-3168 or Janey at 480-895-4815. JN

Esther Spear is a board member of the Sun Lakes Jewish Congregation’s Sisterhood.