Empty Nester Sara Rollman

Sara Rollman Finds Opportunities to Grow

Spokes on a Wheel

“Retirement has been a time of exploration. I’ve focused on how I’m going to fill all the aspects of my life – what spokes I want to put in my wheel. One spoke is for being active, one for community service, one for spiritual activities, one for healthier cooking, one for travel.”

Sara, a retired industrial product designer, has also saved a spoke for creativity which brings her back to her roots at U.C.’s design school. “Sometimes I just get out a canvas and paint or go to creative events around the city.” Thankfully, Wise Temple as a whole, and the Empty Nest group specifically, share one of Sara’s spokes too. “Once my kids left, I started coming to services once a month. I like seeing everyone and schmoozing, but it’s just showing up, which is good, but it’s not the same as being involved in planning  something at Temple. Now that I have more time, I thought, ‘why not help plan something?’” So, Sara dove in, using her positive, I’ll-try-anything attitude to co-lead the first Empty Nest Yappy Hour and co-lead an Empty Nest chavurah. “By being involved, now I go into a room, look around, and I know even more people. It’s easier to be Jewish when you have a community to be a part of.”

Teaching Breeds Confidence

When asked the best thing that’s happened to her in the last year, Sara doesn’t hesitate. “Substitute teaching at Wise Temple’s Religious School, and  then in public schools. It has helped me grow, become stronger and more confident.” Sara had an especially powerful experience teaching Wise Temple’s middle schoolers. “ These 7th and 8th graders were engaged in some really incredible conversations and were so mature. I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, you are so impressive!’” As someone who simply loves kids, she was moved to tears of joy when some younger students eagerly asked if she would be coming back the next week.

Out From Behind the Camera

Sara’s husband, Jef, is a physician with a passion for photography. He has generously volunteered his skills to capture the beauty of Plum Street Temple and the excitement of Empty Nest events like Purim and the 70s Dance Party. Sara, who’s more the  social butterfly of the two, is happy about Jef ’s involvement. “I’ve really enjoyed watching Jef make his way into the space in a comfortable way.  He can be behind the camera a little,  and then in front of the camera. It’s been really exciting for me to see him ease into things here.”

Comedy and Positivity Help Manage Life’s Challenges

Sara has found a special way of coping with life’s hiccups. “I try to take a positive look on life, but there was a time when things weren’t too good, so I decided to take a comedy class. It was a way of looking at life – a perspective that sometimes things can be crappy, but I can put a positive or funny spin on it and it’s a way to manage it.” So, in true Mrs. Maisel fashion, Sara finished her class and performed a standup comedy routine. “If they had cast me as Mrs. Maisel, the show would have been a flop. She’s funny!”

Not All Fun and Games

Knowing humor isn’t the cure all, Sara talks about her more serious experiences. “The most meaningful experience I’ve had with Wise Temple was when my mom passed away. It was the first time I had a significant personal loss. I was really struggling, but Rabbi Thomashow was so great. I’m going to cry talking about it because she was so great to me. It was the same weekend as I did the Adult B’nai Mitzvah, which was the other most meaningful experience I’ve had here. It was an emotional weekend and I’m glad I had my community to help me through.”

Read more Community Cafe stories