Posted on September 1, 2010
In the spirit of September – a time when so many students around the world return to the classroom – who better to feature in our monthly spotlight than one of the many Temple members who has “teacher” as a profession.
Christine Taxier is a longtime educator who became a member of Temple Beth David two decades ago. It’s no surprise she’s a Nationally Board Certified French teacher (at Millikan High School in Long Beach) and former Chair of the school’s Foreign Language Department, since at the young age of 7 Christine was already taking classes in the beloved language and at 21 went on a six-month solo backpacking trip throughout Europe spending much time in France.
Actually, it’s the California native’s adventurous spirit and thirst for knowledge that also brought her to Judaism, a religion she converted to when pregnant with her first of three children. The spiritual journey, however, began much earlier at the age of 15, when enrolled in a Word Religion class at the private Catholic all-girls high school she attended. For a class assignment, she chose to interview her French teacher (a Jew by birth) and accepted an invitation to attend the Bar Mitzvah of her teacher’s son – which gave her the opportunity to interview the Rabbi as part of her research, as well. (Ironically, it was the same Rabbi that many years later officiated her wedding.) While writing the paper, Christine remembers a real sense of peace and connectedness to Judaism. She especially felt a kinship with the moral values. Being one of seven children in her family – the oldest daughter – she liked that Jews were encouraged to have inquiring minds and were challenged to figure things out in life. To her this was very important.
Equally important was finding a synagogue that warmly welcomed converts and lovingly welcomed children to Friday night services. She was so happy to find Temple Beth David after not experiencing these things at another synagogue. She also found a wonderful circle of friends who helped her get through some tremendously difficult life experiences. Since joining Temple Beth David, all three of Christine’s now grown children – whom she raised as a single parent following a divorce – have been Bar/Bat Mitzvahed. This fall, Christine will join the ranks…being Bat Mitzvahed with six other Temple members in the B’nai Mitzvah class that meets weekly. She has grown very close to the other members in the group and says the experience has provided her a home within a home. Among the highlights of her upcoming Bat Mitzvah will be having her youngest son present her with a tallit.
Christine’s interests and hobbies are numerous. It’s not uncommon for her to complete 20 books in a summer – preferably historic fiction and those of philosophical nature. Writing also brings her a great source of joy.
Her poetry garnered several prestigious awards in her earlier years and she has a trunk full of journals. Music, cinema, art history, tending to her vast garden of exquisite flowers, and travel (a 3-week trip in 2006 with her children to France and Italy will always be a highlight) are also some of her favorite pastimes. And among her favorites is a special extension of her home, Temple Beth David, where she enjoys the people, the opportunity to discuss spirituality, the music – which she says is like hearing angels sing, and a place where she can continue to evolve.