Posted on January 9, 2019 by Biography given by Sisterhood Co-Presidents Fern Jurgenrau and Karen Kaplan at dinner
Laura was born to a very loving family in New York City, a long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. At least it seemed that way when, in 1968, she moved from New York City to Raritan, New Jersey and attended Raritan High School. On her first day of high school, she wore knee-high go-go boots, a mini skirt and metallic stripe top, while her new classmates wore long, pleated, plaid skirts.
In her sophomore year in high school Laura met the love of her life, Sig. She then attended Montclair University, and he went on to Rutgers University and chiropractic school in Kansas City, Missouri. They married in 1978 and were happily married for 37 years. They moved to Florida, and Sig opened a chiropractic office; she was his office manager for several years. They then moved on to Kansas City, Missouri where she worked for Intertec Publishing Company selling advertising space and he worked as a chiropractor.
After Kansas City they moved back to New Jersey briefly. Then Sig was offered a college teaching job and it was on to Sunnyvale, California and a new practice. In 1986, the triplets were born 12 weeks early. Welcome to the world, Felicia, Jessica and Wesley….a life-altering event. They weren’t expected to survive, but they had the best doctors and nurses at Stanford University taking care of them. Of course, they also had a mother and father who were devoted to loving them and getting them the best care.
Laura then became a stay-at-home mother to triplets. At this point Laura became a 24-hour mom and her life was turned upside down, with three children who still needed medical care. They had 50 mini bottles of formula on hand in the fridge at all times, heart monitors and oxygen for all, daily visits to the doctor for each one of them, and round-the-clock nurses for a year. Then there was physical and occupational therapy, with evaluations every six months until age three. On the triplets’ second birthday, all of the doctors and nurses from Stanford University attended and were singing “Itsy Bitsy Spider” on the living room floor. It doesn’t get much better than that.
In 1991 the family joined Temple Isaiah in Walnut Creek, California, where they were members for 10 years. They belonged to a chavurah and participated in many social and fundraising events. Laura volunteered on many committees including the Thanksgiving Drive, fundraising auctions and progressive dinners. Then there were the Hebrew school days of chauffeuring back and forth.
When the triplets made their b’nai mitzvah, it was one of the best days of Laura’s life. Watching them on the bimah together, chanting from the Torah, was such a proud moment.
Over the years Laura became a basketball, baseball, soccer, dance, gymnastics, chorus, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts mom who was always on the go.
The family moved back to New Jersey in 2001, when the triplets were entering high school. Laura’s house became the “go-to” place, and there always had to be snacks when the girls watched Oprah. The family joined Temple Beth-El in 2002 and the triplets were confirmed that year.
“My greatest accomplishment is my children,” Laura said. “In raising triplets you always have to be aware of fairness. I would always count out their M&M’s and put 17 grapes in each lunch bag. To this day they will comment if they think one is getting more than the other. And when writing their names, I always have to do it in birth order. Sometimes we have our own special language. They are my world.”
Today, Felicia is the lead school counselor at Wayne Valley High School in Wayne, New Jersey. Jessica works in the clothing department at TJMaxx in Bridgewater. Wesley works in research and development for Celgene Pharmaceuticals in Summit. He married Amanda Conklin in June 2017. There is another Mrs. Miller and another “daughter”! Amanda works in internal communications for Wyndham Hotels in Parsippany.
Shortly after joining TBE, Laura became involved in Sisterhood and served on the board for several years. She co-chaired the rummage sale for many years and has helped in the gift shop and Chanukah shop.
In 2011 Laura became involved in the Sisterhood Purim bag program. The coordinator at Temple Sholom in Bridgewater showed Sisterhood their Purim bag system, which has been adapted for TBE.
Since the beginning, Sisterhood’s goal has been to improve the Purim bag program to include the entire community. The increase in revenue each year has allowed Sisterhood to fund many projects. It takes an incredible number of volunteers to execute this huge undertaking. It gives Laura great pleasure to know that Sisterhood has been able to play such an important role in TBE life and that she and Cindy Scott have been instrumental in that effort.
“I am grateful to have met so many caring people here at TBE,” Laura said. “Now it’s time to get moving on to Purim 2019.”
Laura has also volunteered at the Somerset County 4-H Fair the past two years, helping TBE in its lemonade/food booth, which, like the Purim bag program, is a major fundraiser.
We are so happy to have Laura back on the Sisterhood board. This is a very well-deserved honor. We are so very proud to call Laura Sisterhood’s 2018-19 Woman Of Valor.
Originally published in the January-February 2019 issue of the Shofar. For more issues of the Shofar, visit the Shofar archives.