The Stars I Met in Hollywood by Hudy Abrams
This winter break, my family spent a week in Los Angeles at the home of my siblings-in-law, giving us a chance to experience some much needed quality time together, while sightseeing in a new city. It had been an unusually busy past few months for us, and we reveled in the kids' excitement as they took in the palm trees, fruit trees and live chickens in Tante Dini and Uncle Hillel's backyard, and the candy store that was all kosher.
Taking the approach of Rabbi Akiva to look for both the big and small lessons in everything, my eyes were open for some interesting insights. Besides, you never know who you might bump into in LA, which is practically the star capital of the world!
What I wasn't prepared for, though, was the caliber of stars G-d had in store for me to meet.
On the first night of our trip, we were out sightseeing, and my niece and 13-year-old daughter, who has a passion for fashion and makeup artistry, came into the store we were in, breathless and pink with excitement. They had just bumped into the famous makeup artist and YouTube star, Kandee Johnson! The two of them exchanged a few words with Kandee and even got a picture with her.
My friend had recently described her dad as someone who took great interest in whatever his kids and grandkids enjoyed so that he could get into their world. Right then, I was inspired to put this lesson into practice.
I shared in the thrill of the moment, as I learned that Kandee is famous for being able to literally transform herself and others through makeup artistry into almost any look under the sun.
On Saturday night, I experienced another encounter with a star. It was the first night of Chanukah, and after we lit the menorah and fulfilled our custom of singing and dancing, we ventured out to City Walk at Universal Studios, where we could be a part of the menorah lighting and concert hosted by the local Chabad. As we secured a good spot for the eight of us, I spotted Dina Hurwitz, clapping to the music and clearly enjoying the moment. I was starstruck.
Dina Hurwitz, the wife of Rabbi Yitzi Hurwitz, sings the awesome song that went viral, "Shine a little light!" (Rabbi Yitzi, a Chabad Rabbi with a beautiful wife and large family, suffers from advanced stages of ALS.) I have personally watched that music video countless times and shared that song with many others, as his joy for life blows me away.
Unfortunately, I lost sight of Dina just then, but on our last day in LA, I was at a cafe with a friend when I spotted Dina again. Struck by the utter "HP moment" (Higher Power/Hashgacha Pratit, divine intervention), I went up to her, thanked her for being an inspiration, and had a 10-minute schmooze with this star of greatness. The joy and love for life that this woman exudes was a lesson for me in having gratitude for the abundant blessings that G-d has given me. Yes, a shadow crossed her face when she spoke about her husband, but listening to the strength and acceptance in her voice, I knew I was facing yet another queen of endurance and grace.
When we left the coffee shop, I related to my friend how I had hoped to have the opportunity to thank Dina, and then she appeared at just right moment!
My friend responded, "I guess that was G-d, wasn't it?"
Yep, the stars I met in Hollywood.
You see, I have a confession to make. Ever since my gap year in Israel, I have had a yearning to connect with wonderful people. Who can I meet, read about, and talk to that can teach me about life? Thankfully, G-d has blessed me with some incredible encounters, as well as ongoing connections, with some truly incredible stars.
Wishing you all a beautiful 2017 filled with encounters with the greatest stars, the recognition of your own brilliant light and the clarity of how to shine it on our world!
Hudy Abrams is a JWRP City Leader. She is an adult educator and co-director of The Jewish Learning Center, an outreach center in Dallas,Texas, where she lives with her husband and six children. Hudy loves a good workout, painting and dance parties, and is passionate about empowering Jewish women to step into their greatest selves.