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ROADS TAKEN & NOT TAKEN: Meredith Levin Jacobs ’89

Recently, an ad came on the radio for Dr. Preetika Sidhu.  Preetika! My freshman roommate, who, when I met her, announced that she would never wash again because she had just come from the WHAM! concert and George Michael had sweat on her.  (Thankfully, she didn’t hold true to that pledge.) She now has her own medical practice? It feels like yesterday my parents pulled away from Barclay, leaving me with my new Customs group.

I remember my Haverford application so clearly.  I wrote about wanting to join the “Model UN” (does Haverford even have a model UN?).  And I wrote about my experience working as a Hebrew school tutor and how fulfilling it was to watch my students succeed.  But I didn’t want to be a diplomat and I didn’t want to be a teacher.  I don’t know if I really knew what I wanted to be.  But I knew I wanted to go to Haverford.  I wanted to live in the community Haverford gathers through its selection process and the community Haverford nurtures through its Honor Code.  I knew I wanted to be an English major.  And, although my first tour of Haverford was on a picture book-perfect day with cherry blossoms floating down as we watched students playing hacky-sack on Founder’s Green, it was the library that sold me on the school.  I couldn’t wait to study on “the boat” and thumb through the card catalog (wow, did I just date myself with that card catalog reference!).

I never guessed I would be an author.  Never dreamed I’d become the go-to Jewish mom for my local CBS station, making matzo balls and potato latkes (whatever the upcoming holiday demands) or that I’d have “people” in L.A. exploring television opportunities. And, for a kid who brought a typewriter to school, I never imagined a future on the Internet.

By junior year I decided to pursue advertising (probably due to the many nights watching “thirtysomething”) and spent time interning to gain the “real-world” experience my liberal arts education didn’t afford. But it is what I learned at Haverford that I use.  And, while my experience in freshman English receiving papers the professor bled on with red ink prepared me for receiving pages back from my editor, there are other experiences I draw upon.  I was a student when Skeeters was founded and Chip Rosenfeld put an espresso machine in one of the North Dorm basements. If a student had an idea, the college helped make it happen.  I didn’t realize then that my entrepreneurial spirit was being nurtured.  Years spent analyzing literature taught me how to read Torah and use it to create discussion questions for parents.  Classes in anthropology and mythology that had nothing to do with a career but everything to do with what I found fun to learn allow me to see religion not simply as a system of beliefs, but as the foundation of a society.  My four years spent living in an environment of trust and respect and open-mindedness shaped me as a parent.  My time at Haverford made me appreciate the value of community.

My future? I will continue to see where “Modern Jewish Mom” takes me.  I love that I’ve reconnected with ‘Fords, who have learned about the book and Web site.  And I dream of the day I will be the one driving away from Barclay, having entrusted my children to the care of their Customs people.

Meredith Levin Jacobs is the author of The Modern Jewish Mom’s Guide to Shabbat (HarperCollins) and founder and editor of the Web site www.modernjewishmom.com.  Her monthly parenting column appears in the Baltimore Jewish Times (and is reprinted in other Jewish newspapers nationwide).  She just finished taping Beliefnet.com’s on-line video series “Faith in the Family” set to launch summer ‘07.

The Strawbridge Observatory at Haverford College houses 12-inch and 16-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain telescopes which are actively used by students in Haverford astronomy classes.

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