Posted on January 1, 2011
Writer’s Note: While listening to speeches during Toby Ach’s going away party, I learned so much about her that I didn’t already know. Others around the table echoed the same sentiment. So this month’s column is dedicated to Toby Ach who recently moved out of state. Yet there’s another reason to spotlight her this month. It’s to inspire us all, as we start the New Year, to learn even more about our fellow congregants – even those you see weekly or monthly – by asking them about their likes/dislikes, their beliefs, their childhood, and more. Each member has many special life experiences that can make all of our lives more fulfilling.
Now about Toby Ach…Since 1998 she has been an active member of Temple Beth David. At times she served on the Sisterhood board, helped with the Chavurah program, and volunteered in the gift shop. She came to temple services often, even after relocated to Laguna Woods these past four years. She made lifetime friends with temple members such as Sue Wolff. Though Toby recently moved to Florida to live closer to her own two daughters and three granddaughters, she has left part of her heart here at Temple Beth David and plans to visit when she can. An April visit is already in the works. So is getting involved in the reform temple in Saint Petersburg, Florida.
Before leaving Orange County, nearly 70 people (congregants, professional colleagues, and local relatives) came to the Temple for a spirited going away party. Speeches and special tributes noting Toby’s tenacity and charitable spirit were applauded over and over again. Many agreed that you always knew where Toby stood on an issue because she always spoke her mind. (During Toby’s tearful farewell speech she thanked many people and also shared that her “tell it like it is” honesty may not have always won her friends, yet explained that her opinions always came from a very caring place.)
Toby, who was born in Patterson, New Jersey, in a traditional Jewish household, says she credits her parents with teaching her about helping others. She recalls that before the war started, her parents became the head of the German Jewish Group so that those arriving from Germany on the last couple of boats came to her family’s home for loving hospitality. It was also her mom who would sew 100 aprons or knit numerous sweaters and hats to be sold in order to help the Temple’s fundraising efforts. Both of Toby’s daughters are equally charitable even choosing professions that focus on helping people – one as a childhood specialist now pursuing her doctorate and the other as an operating room nurse who recently received a prestigious award from the Jewish Family Service of Florida. (Toby moved to Florida in time to see the impressive presentation.)
Professionally Toby pursued several career paths – the first as a dental technician after receiving a college degree in the field. She went on to open a janitorial supply service company with her first husband, and most recently retired after 15 years with Royal Paper Company where she was a salesperson and at one time their sales manager. Among her cherished customers was a child development center she grew fond of after touring their facility. As a result, she inspired her employer to support them generously. During Toby’s going away party employees from the child development center and the janitorial company were in attendance – and statements like, “It will be hard to fill her shoes” were spoken as a testament to Toby’s big heart.
Toby loves to knit, sew, read nonfiction, travel the world – her next trip is to Japan, and spend time with those she loves. However, the greatest time in her life, she says, was the few precious years she was married to her second husband Harold. Sadly he passed too soon. Time with her two beloved sisters will also live on in her special memories.
Now with April only a few months away, maybe for many of us it will be a time to get to know Toby even better when she comes to visit and pray with us at Temple Beth David.