The Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle’s annual Connections Brunch, set for Jan. 27, represents the largest gathering of Jewish women in the entire Northwest each year. It is no small task. Yet Mercer Islander Iantha Sidell and her daughter, Brooke Pariser, who are chairing the event, are well-suited for their roles.
Pariser comes by her “volunteering” genes honestly. Her mother, Sidell, has won numerous awards from the local and national Jewish Federations as well as other organizations, based on a staggering list of volunteer and philanthropic activities.
Pariser is building her own reputation as a young leader in the Jewish community, but this year’s Connections 2013 Brunch, sponsored by the Federation, represents the first time that she and her mother are chairing such a major event together.
Connections is historically the largest gathering of Jewish women in the Northwest, and this year looks to be no different. Managing the event is a huge effort and, as co-chairs, Sidell and Pariser have become deeply involved in many of the hands-on tasks.
They have helped plan the program — a dazzling presentation by classical pianist and actress Mona Golabek — and event details such as location and theme (‘Women Making Choices’), and spent countless hours calling, emailing and Facebooking friends and acquaintances to spread the word.
Helping others is an essential part of their connection to Judaism, which Sidell adopted as a matter of choice and whose tradition Pariser is continuing in her own family.
“In Judaism we have the idea of ‘Tikun Olam,’ or ‘repairing the world,’” explains Sidell. “When I got married, I was privileged to become part of a healthy Jewish community, so I want to make sure that others also have a healthy Jewish community, whether they’re here, in Israel or anywhere in the world.”
For Pariser, who started volunteering in middle school, going to high school in Israel shifted her focus to working exclusively for Jewish causes.
“The exposure to Israel helped me see the importance of my Jewishness to my life, and my mom has been most active in the Federation, so after college, I joined the Federation’s young leadership board,” she said.
Since then, Pariser has taken on other Federation activities, including chairing the Federation’s annual meeting and taking part in the Federation’s Advanced Leadership Development Program.
Pariser said her mother’s example has been an inspiration and a guide for her own activities.
“She never pushed me,” Pariser says of Sidell, “but led by example. I won’t fill the same shoes, but because of her, volunteering will be a big part of my life and my daughter’s.”
Connections 2013: Women Making Choices takes place on Jan. 27 at the Hyatt Regency Bellevue.
The program features a musical-theatrical presentation by acclaimed concert pianist Mona Golabek, based on her book, “The Children of Willesden Lane.” The book chronicles the story of Lisa Jura, Mona’s mother, who made her way on the Kindertransport from Vienna to London and later to a career as a concert pianist.
For details, go to www.jewishinseattle.org/news-events/events/welcome-connections-2013.