Posted on May 9, 2013
This is a story of overcoming obstacles, of hope and determination, and finding one’s self…and even more importantly, learning to like one’s self. I’m honored to spotlight Judy (Tobias) Turner this month. May is the perfect
time to feature her story as spring brings new blossoms and once dormant plants now burst with color. Judy will be the first to tell you how much she has blossomed over the years. Though the product of a challenging childhood and young adulthood, she can honestly now say she is very happy and that both G-d and Temple Beth David have played instrumental roles.
Judy was born in 1938 in Indianapolis, Indiana and by age 5 had moved to St. Louis, Missouri with her parents and sister. They grew up as Reform Jews and celebrated the holidays. Gratefully, she was in a close knit family. Her mom stayed at home to raise the children, her dad enjoyed selling beauty supplies, and they shared 67 years of matrimony. Yet, she struggled in school due to having undiagnosed Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) but nevertheless she graduated high school and also was confirmed at her neighborhood synagogue.
When Judy was 20 she married her first husband and they had two children. Both of her sons ultimately moved to California as young adults and she eventually followed and has lived here ever since. She married again over the next couple of decades and early on turned to alcohol as a way to cope. On March 21, 1982, Judy decided to take charge of her life and became sober. She has not touched another alcoholic drink since. If that date sounds familiar to you, it’s the very same date inscribed on a plaque right outside our synagogue’s front door. She will never forget seeing the dedication plaque…and how it sent shivers down her spine. It made her feel like G-d brought her to this particular temple for a greater purpose. In her efforts to love herself more than she ever had in the past, she also gave up cigarette smoking and lost 45 pounds.
Judy likes to ballroom dance (which she learned during childhood) and challenges her mind by doing picture puzzles and word searches. For the past eight years she has enjoyed singing in the temple choir. Actually “enjoyed” isn’t a strong enough word – she has LOVED singing at Temple Beth David. She especially likes the friendly, accepting, and helpful atmosphere at Shabbat services and throughout the year and is so grateful for the guidance from Rabbi Myers and Cantor Linder. Also giving her joy are her two sons (one is a TV Producer and the other a Financial Advisor for Seniors) and especially her three grandchildren who she proudly declares will always see her sober. She is also grateful to now have a caring gentleman as a companion.
With such challenges behind her, Judy definitely has some words of wisdom to share. She says, “Drinking doesn’t solve anything.” And, “Don’t hang around negative people. They will leave you spiritually bankrupt.”
Mazel Tov to Judy for her 31 years of sobriety, 27 years of being a non-smoker, and to how she takes one day at a time to sincerely love herself and others.