Posted on December 31, 2013
We kick off the New Year with spotlighting Lee and Elaine Netzer, who were drawn to Temple Beth David in 2005 due to the warmth of its mid-size congregation.
Though born Jewish, Elaine was not exposed to any religious practices as a child. Now, she is making up for lost time by embracing the faith. She even set a goal to read the entire Hebrew Bible (a study Bible with Talmudic commentary) by year 2014 and she’s well on her way to accomplish this!
Lee, an identical twin who tragically lost his twin brother in an auto accident 35 years ago, was raised in a very Jewish neighborhood in the Bronx. He went to Yeshiva for a year and had a Bar Mitzvah, but his parents also weren’t religious. Like Elaine, Lee became increasingly interested during his adulthood of living a more Jewish life. Thus it was serendipitous the two met and since then have grown a deeper understanding of, and appreciation and enjoyment for, being Jewish.
The two first met at a Parents Without Partners dance. During the mixer, two circles were formed – an inner one of men and outer one of women. When the music stopped, whoever was across from you would be your dance partner for the next dance. Three times they did this and each time Lee and Elaine were never face to face. Yet the last time, they instinctively simultaneously reached out towards one another when the music ended. Thus was the start of a beautiful union. That evening Lee wrote a poem for Elaine and gave it to her on their first official date. They courted for a year and married. This March will be their 30th wedding anniversary. It is interesting to note, when the couple recently did DNA testing provided to the Jewish community, they found they both are distant relatives of Meryl Streep (who isn’t Jewish but must have Ashkenazi Jewish in her) so who knows, maybe Lee and Elaine are distant relatives of one another! What they do know, however, is how fond they are of one another. Lee loves how intuitive Elaine is, how she laughs easily, and that they communicate on a deep level. Elaine, who admits she is too serious, is grateful Lee makes her laugh. She especially appreciates how supportive he has always been with her endeavors. One example she shared was his patience, after they married, as she completed her college degree at night.
Professionally, Elaine had a career as a Bank Teller. While she says on the job she didn’t use the Psychology degree earned from Cal State Hayward, she definitely used it in her volunteer work to mentor incarcerated teenage girls, counsel battered women, and through Jewish Family Services of Long Beach, visited and helped shut-ins.
After earning a degree in elementary education and English, Lee realized teaching was not for him. So he went into public service working 31 years in all for the federal government for which he earned several distinctions/awards. Lee and Elaine moved to southern California in 2004 to live closer to their moms. Lee secured a job as an advocacy operations manager working with public hospital patients and retired a year ago.
Elaine has two children from a previous marriage (one of which Lee has since adopted) and Lee has one son from a previous married. Aside from family and synagogue life (which includes going to Shabbat services twice a month, enjoying a Chavurah, and being active in Brotherhood/Sisterhood), the Netzers have numerous hobbies. Lee is currently editing a childhood friend’s book, and likes to bike, read, go to the gym, and listen to music. However, he spends most of his free time as an avid bowler – in three leagues and bowls five times a week. His highest score so far is 268 – with a goal of hitting 300. Elaine loves to play (and teach friends) Mah Jongg and she bowls weekly, as well. Together they enjoy taking walks by the beach and cooking/baking (I hear Lee makes a mean mandelbread and Elaine’s zucchini bread is well known among congregants). They also bowl together, cuddle with their two cats, and have done some traveling.
The Netzers are a beautiful part of Temple Beth David’s family tree. Their inviting warm smiles, caring hugs, genuine interest in people, and joy for Judaism are embraced by our intimate congregation!