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Mother’s Day Tribute: Shirley Kayne

Roni Robbins shares why her mom, Shirley Kayne, should win.

Sitting across from my Mom this Passover and hearing her read the Hebrew and sing the melodies we grew up with, I realized what a treasure she is. Will I ever be able to duplicate the precision with which she chants? It brought back memories of the way her father previously led our seders, when the extended family gathered at a long table stretched from kitchen to living room in Rego Park, N.Y.

Generation to generation. She passed it to me, and I passed it to mine. And not just Jewish tradition. Her love of music and theater too.

She taught my sister and me violin when we were young and I made it all the way through freshman year of orchestra, when I quit. I started my kids playing piano when they were preschoolers, and then guitar, which I also played once upon a time. They play a few chords every once in a while. But more importantly, they developed an ear and appreciate for music.

Mom also exposed us to Broadway plays, and I, in turn exposed my kids, mostly through Fox Theatre and visits to New York. And from that base, my son became a theater major in college, heading to LA this summer to work with an agency for playwrights, actors and directors.

And my daughter is coming home soon from nine months in Israel, again, because of a love of Judaism passed down l’dor v’dor. Not to mention my AJT job, a return to my roots.

So thanks Mom! For expanding our minds, for being so generous with your talents, for passing on your love of life and Judaism.  We owe it to you what we’ve become, in more ways than one.

-Roni Robbins

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