Realizing My Mother's Legacy

Reflecting on Judith Chapman's impact on the Jewish community

I recently had the opportunity to attend a luncheon honoring Varda Rabin, the recipient of the 2018 Judith Chapman Memorial Women’s Leadership Award. Learning about Varda's accomplishments and commitment to the Jewish community was very moving, in part because it became clear that she embodied everything for which my mom, Judith Chapman, stood.

Judith Chapman, z'l

Growing up, I knew my mom was heavily involved in all sorts of organizations and spent a good deal of time driving the 45-60 minutes each way to "The City." I never really understood why. I would ask and she would say that she was doing things that she really enjoyed. She said that since she didn’t have a job, this provided a way for her to spend her time doing something that benefited others, and that made her feel good.

So, it was just assumed that most days during the week, she wouldn’t be home when we got back from school. No big deal. That’s just the way it was. She got home in time for dinner most nights and that was fine. But again, I didn’t have much perspective on what she was doing. I was just living my life as a teenager and then I was off to college and beyond once I graduated so I was completely removed from it.

My first inkling came when she died. The number of people that attended her funeral was simply staggering to me. It was at that moment that I realized how many people she touched. And then when my stepdad told me that an award had been created in her honor, it opened my eyes a bit more. However, it wasn’t until I reached out to the Federation a few months ago and attended this event that I understood it completely.

Varda Rabin

In interacting with people at the luncheon, when asked what my connection to the event was and I explained, the response was universal admiration for my mom. It was clear what my mom meant to them. Varda Rabin underscores all of the hard work that my mom did for all those years. And, it made clear how significantly my mom touched the community with whom she worked and the impact she had. It made me proud and honored.

Ken Fogel is the son of Judith Chapmanz’l.

Every year, the Federation honors a female role model in our community with the prestigious Judith Chapman Memorial Women’s Leadership Award. Given in memory of Judith Chapman, an esteemed volunteer leader, friend, and member of our Jewish community, this award honors a woman from the Federation’s service area who exemplifies significant and sustained volunteer leadership, and who values her Jewish identity and the importance of tzedakah in her life.

Categories: Awards


December 26, 2018


Ken Fogel