Note: this autobiography was written by Sarka as a class assignment to explain why she wanted to go into business school. This should be kept in mind
while reading it and explains why certain topics are not covered, or covered differently, than they would have been in an autobiography written for
more traditional reasons. ( Martin Friedrichs, April  2001)

                                                                    by Sarka Friedrichs
                                                                        January 2000

At fifty, I feel as if I missed my calling.  I didn't hold a job or run a business that I was really happy and content with.  But I am not going to give in to these
feelings.  So, I am starting over again in Business, Human Resource, most likely.  I am considered to be intelligent, energetic, hard working, creative and very
optimistic.  How did I get to this point?

Family and Childhood

I was born in Israel in 1949 the first child/daughter to a very young couple.  My father was 21 and my mother was 20, both deceased now. Up to age six I was an
only child, then a long awaited brother arrived.  My parents being raised in pre World War II Eastern Europe and becoming holocaust survivors, had very
different ideas, norms and life style than Israelis already living in Israel.  Adapting to the new life for my mother was extremely difficult.  In spite of being a young
woman, she never mastered reading and writing Hebrew.  All her life (up to age 49 when she died of heart attack) she hid the fact that she could not write or read
Hebrew.  Her reading and writing skills in her native language, Romanian, were on a very low level.   My father, on the other hand, already knew Hebrew from his
schooling in Romania, and his language skills in Romanian were very good.  He was the extrovert in the family, cheerful and very friendly.  He learned his
profession from a veteran mason and worked as one for about forty years.  Both of my parents were very hard-working people.  Their work ethics, specially,
those of my father’s were on a very high level.  My father’s family was legendary as very honest people.  A senior supervisor of orange groves in the area that
knew my great grandfather from Romania gave my father the newcomer, barely 20 years old at the time, a supervisory position (before he became a mason).  
Many times my father would work two jobs plus taking care of a small chicken coop, about 1,500 to 2,000 chickens, in the back yard for supplementary income.  
As I grew older, I had to help with the collection of eggs and shipment of the chickens for slaughtering.  I didn’t like it at all.  I actually resented the fact that I
could not do what I wanted, like reading or playing with friends.

In general, I had very little obligations as a member of the household, and was able to do what I wanted, which was reading or climbing trees and playing marbles
with the boys (usually winning).  My brother inherited a big bag of marbles when I lost interest.  I was a real tomboy.

I remember being lonely and asking for a brother.  On my sixth birthday, March 21st, my father came from the hospital with a beautiful doll for me announcing the
birth of my brother.  I was elated. My dreams came true!  When I first saw my baby brother I was very disappointed.  I thought that he looked very ugly, red and
had crinkled face.  But in no time he turned and became a very pretty baby.

We lived in a small village about 18 miles north of Tel Aviv and three miles east of the Mediterranean coast.  Our house was a small, meticulously clean (my
mother’s obses-sion), with two rooms and a tiny kitchen.  I shared my room with my brother till my adolescence years when my father expanded the house and
built two additional rooms.  All the houses in the neighborhood were the same till everyone added rooms and each house got a distinctive personality.

My family practiced a traditional religious lifestyle.  We celebrated the holidays, usu-ally with my paternal grandparents and my aunt, uncle and two girl cousins
who lived together in a little agriculture community about an hour’s drive from where we lived.  (My maternal grandparents died in Europe when my mother was
about 10 and 11 years old – yes, she had it very tough growing up).  My mother didn’t keep a kosher home and we didn’t observe the Sabbath.  I liked going
visiting my cousins and eating my grandmother and aunt’s food.

From my childhood I remember two distinct incidents, one of them quite traumatic.  When I was about three and a half years old, my father received with ration
coupons a piece of wool material to make a suit for himself.  But my parents decided that my father did not really need a suit (dress in Israel used to be at that time
very, very casual) and instead to make for me three pairs of pants with suspenders.  They were all the same; black with thin white strips.  The first day wearing one
of the new pairs of pants, on the way back from nursery school (it was located on the other side of the village) I stopped at my aunt (on my mother side) for a
drink.  The neighborhood little children were playing tag and I decided to join them.  Running a way, I bent under a wire fence and ripped the new pants all the
way from the hips to my foot.  I was scared to go home and stayed at my aunt’s house.  After a while my father came looking for me (no phones at all at that
time). When he saw the damage, he scolded me very mildly and warned me to be careful.  The next day the same exact incident occurred.  And again my father
scolded me but this time with a promise:  “you do it again, and I’ll beat you up”.  Believe it or not – it happened again!!  I was a very slow learner those days!  My
father kept his promise.  When I failed to show up after school, my father came, yet another time, equipped with a long thin branch and all the way home was
hitting, very lightly, me on the behind.  I don’t remember ripping another pair of pants as a child!

The other incident happened when I was about eight years old and my brother was about two.  He had a hernia and was needed an operation.   Those days it was
a very long procedure and my mother stayed with my brother at the hospital for three days, while my father at that time worked very far away, in Eilat, the most
southern town in Israel.  He would come home only every two or three weeks.  Apparently, my mother did not tell a soul and left me in charge of the chickens all
by myself!  At that time we only had few hundred.  Most of the chickens were easily accessible and I had no problem feeding and replenishing the water trays.  
But one section was different.  It had three levels and each level was divided into two cells -- all together six cells.  The first two levels had food and water trays
on the outside of the structure, but the third level had only a food tray on the outside.  I looked and looked and could not find how those chickens got their water!  
With every day I got more and more upset.  Then I realized that the chickens started dying!  It is very difficult to explain the despair, helplessness and horror that I
had experienced!  I don’t remember how many died.  Noth-ing consoled me, not even my mother’s soothing words that the chickens were not important.

The main entertainment in our little village was the movie theater.  It was a distin-guished, large building that catered to the surrounding villages as well as ours.  I
loved the movies and would not miss the afternoon weekly feature, which included a newsreel and a cartoon.  I would go as part of a group.  Each child was
armed with a quarter for the movie, sandwiches and drinks, usually lemonade, and a very high spirit.  We were a noisy bunch of kids.  In comparison to my
children’s childhood, I was very independent (and so were most of the kids).  We used to wander around the village by ourselves without fear of strangers or any
other danger.  There were barely any cars.  The most popular modes of transportation were the bicycles and walking.  Up to seven years old my father gave me
rides on the back of his bike, and after then he taught me how to ride and bought me refurbished wheels.

School was over by 1 PM, and long afternoons and mild weather most of the year (too hot in the summer) left me with a lot of free time. (If I did my homework, I
finished it very quickly).  So in my early teens I became interested it different kinds of crafts like embroidery, knitting, tapestry and sewing.  I tried all of them
producing knitted sweat-ers, embroidered tablecloths, pictures and later clothes.  For a while I was helping the local seamstress sewing the hems on the skirts and
dresses she sewed for her clients.  I made fifty grushim (cents) for each hem. For some reason, my mother was not supportive, and didn’t like me going there
which only intensified our strained relationships.  She was in the habit of opposing almost everything I did or wanted to do. Till today, my brother can testify about
the shouting matches between my mother and me.

Socially, I was very active.  I participated in different committees at school, joined the Scouts and participated in most of the activities the organization offered.


Ever since I can remember, I loved to read. Since there was no TV (well into the 60’s), I had a lot of free time and used most of it to read and read and read.  In
elementary school I was a very good student.  I was quick to understand and master the material and would be bored when the teacher had to repeat the same
material over and over.  For a while, I became disruptive in class.  That turned out to be a big mistake because it brought my mother into the picture.  So, I
learned to behave by reading under the table.  Only when we were taught a new topic I would raise my head from the book and participate.  I liked most of my
teachers in elementary school and had a good time.

After eight years in elementary school (middle school came in later), which represented a milestone, I was asked what I would like to do, meaning, what kind of
work I’d like to do.  My answer was always the same – I don’t know.  My mother hammered into me that to be a teacher is the best profession for a woman,
mother-to-be, because the children’s school schedule and the teachers’ coincide.  Even though not knowing what I would like to do, I knew very strongly what I
didn’t want to do -- be a teacher.  (Of course it is very ironic, because I became just that -- a teacher.)  My mother’s over-bearing attitude caused me to fantasize
of running away from home. (I believe that it is quite common at this age to fantasize about running away from home.  My fantasy was fueled by the adventure
books that I read, among many others).  Once, I confided the fantasy to my eighth grade teacher who turned on me and told my mother.  You can imagine the
havoc that this revelation created!

I strongly believe that what happened later had a direct bearing on this episode.  The same teacher recommended to my mother (thinking of this now, I find it very
bizarre that the teacher would not talk to me about it first) that I should be a journalist.  I loved to write and my compositions always got praised by her.   But
since I lost my trust in her, I rejected the idea completely.  Sometimes I think of this and fantasize “what if”.   I liked studying at my elementary school and
graduated with honors.

High school was a different story.  The high school I went to was located in a near-by bigger town, about 15 minutes away, and only the best students from the
surrounding villages were accepted.  I had high expectations and was very, very disappointed.  Most of the teachers were boring with very poor teaching skills.  
The biggest disappointment though, was the Bible class.  In elementary school the principal taught the class and I loved it!  I was so disgusted with the course in
high school.  I refused to study, since all it amounted to was memorizing passages.  I failed the first semester, did well on the test for the second semester so I’d
get a passing grade.  The only teacher that I really liked was the Hebrew Literature one.  Many times when I go back to visit, I think about her and that I should
look her up and visit.

The four high school years passed mostly in this fashion. Reading and playing basket-ball were the two top priorities on my list.  Being five feet ten inches tall and
athletic, I was recruited by my elementary gym teacher, who lived in the village, to play on the national league in the big city, Tel Aviv.  I didn’t invest too much
time training, and was not a particularly a good player, but I usually was included with the first five players.  Living in a small village, getting to practice and games,
I needed to use public buses that took forever.  There was very little time left for schoolwork.  I only did the absolutely minimum to pass and matriculate.  
Matriculation was quite intensive and difficult, but I managed to graduate with a B average.

Throughout high school I still didn’t have any strong idea of what I‘d like to do.  I knew that I didn’t want to be a “stay at home mom” like my mother.  I toyed
with the idea of becoming a physician or a lawyer.  My father supported my inclination of becoming a physician, but for me to do so, I needed to go abroad to
Europe to study.  I didn’t like this idea at all  (another irony since later I came to this country to study).

So, I joined the army (mandatory for women to serve for twenty months) without knowing what I’d like to study once I finished the service.  The army was such a
waste of time.  I was stationed in the headquarters of one of the lesser units in Tel Aviv.  It was not a productive time of my life and I hated it.  The one positive
aspect of the service was that I was given a room to share with four other women soldiers in Tel Aviv where I took a year-long very good evening sewing course.

                                                                Young Adulthood

At twenty years old, I was out of the service and the big decision: what am I going to study? I believe that part of the problem was that I was (and still am)
interested in va-riety of areas.  It was difficult for me to decide what avenue to take.  I applied to two universities to a psychology program and waited to hear
from them.  (I wish they had the same system we have here, where you can take a year or two before deciding on your major.) Meanwhile I got a job working in
a factory’s office.  It was a temporary job that I didn’t particularly like, but I didn’t care since I knew that I would be leaving shortly.

A classmate of mine applied to a physical education school in Beer Sheva, a city in the south of Israel.  Somehow, I was convinced that it is a good move and
decided to join.  One of my rationales was that it would guarantee a job, and the other one was that it’s only a two-year program and I could work.  The country
at that time was flooded with lawyers and I felt it would be impractical to become one.  Since I was involved in sports most of my teens, and my mother’s little
voice in the back of my head kept saying “teacher, teacher, teacher”, I figured that a gym teacher would be a good choice for me.  During the two years there I
made many new friends, and one in particular whom we stayed friends in spite me living in America and she in Israel.  The one thing that impressed me about her
was that she told me that she knew since the sixth grade that she wanted to be a gym teacher, and would spend many free hours watching other classes taking
gym.  After graduation I joined another physical education school (with my friend) for one extra year, the Winagate Institute, near my hometown.  I graduated with
a teaching certificate for high school on top the one from Beer Sheva for elementary school.  Most of the teachers at this school had their Doctorate from the
United States.  We were told that in America one could graduate from college as a gym teacher with an academic degree.

I am not sure what kind of image gym teachers have in this country, but in Israel, at least at that time, it was not a good one.  And there was a good reason for it.  
Most of the students at the two-year school didn’t have a high school diploma.  Many times I felt overqualified and a bit out of place, but I had a plan: I was not
sure how, but I knew that I wanted to be a gym teacher with an academic degree.  So, first, I got a job in a high school in an immigrant city south of Tel Aviv.  I
started as a part-time teacher supplementing the full-time position.  But very soon it turned around.  The full-time teacher was going for her degree and didn’t have
the time, so I became the full-time teacher and she got the part-time position.  I taught gymnastics and coached basketball in the afternoon, and had a women’s
group in the evening.  I made a lot of money, and it looked even better for next year.  The city was growing very rapidly and I was offered an additional part-time
position in a near by school.  But all those plans were not to be.  A former neighbor/friend of mine was the wife of an Air Force pilot.  She told me about friends of
theirs: the man, a pilot ready to retire, was going to Washington as the head of the Air Force delegation.  He and his wife had two young children and would like to
bring a young woman, who can speak English, to live with them and help with the children and household.  I saw that as my opportunity to come to America and
fulfill my dream: become a gym teacher with an academic degree.

The plan was working pretty well: I came to the states and inquired with the University of Maryland about their Physical Education program.  I found out that the
University had a big Physical Ed. Department.  The deal with my employer was that as long as one of them is home, I would be free to do what I wanted.  Their
plans were completely turned upside down when the 1973 Yom Kippur war broke out in the Middle East.  The husband, being the Air Force attaché had to work
around the clock for weeks.  The wife stayed home with children every evening and I could go out as I wished.  I even found a part-time job teaching gymnastics
to kids at the Jewish Community Center in Rockville.  I met a lot of new people, Americans as well as Israelis.  All went well till I realized that my employers had
no intention of allowing me to go to school part time while I was working for them.  They treated me with distrust, as if I was some kind of inferior species.  I felt
more and more uncomfortable in their home.  When the children picked up on their parents’ attitude and also mistreated me, I knew that it was time to move on.  
It was not an easy decision to make.   I was by myself in a foreign country with very, very little money (I was paid $25 per week plus room and board).  I had few
friends in Baltimore and a cousin in New York City.  I hate to be de-pendent on other people, specially, non-close family.  But I didn’t have much choice.  I had
to ask for help or go back home.  I was determined to accomplish my goal.

I moved to New York in the winter of 1974 and was sick most of it.  My so-called winter coat was not adequate for New York weather.  My cousin put me up
in his apartment and gave me a job in his hair salon, certainly not cutting hair!!  I was to be paid $90 per week but when payday came it was only $45.  Since my
cousin/employer felt he could not pay me more, he found me a job as a waitress in a kosher deli on 42nd street. (It is for a long time now out of business).  That is
how I started my career as a waitress that lasted for about four years.

When my aunt and uncle came to visit their son, I had to move out and found an apartment with a co-worker near the deli -- not a very desirable neighborhood in
those days!  But I survived.  I changed jobs and dwelling and tried to save as much as I could.  My uncle and cousin tried to persuade me to drop the idea of
going to university and go to hair-dressing school to learn a trade.  I understood where they were coming from and just shrugged my shoulders and let them talk.  
While searching for a job as a waitress, I met an employment agent, an Israeli woman who I befriended.   The spring and summer in New York passed with no
special events.  I applied for the University of Maryland, was accepted and moved back to the Washington area.

I was very lucky to meet some very nice people in Silver Springs, Maryland.  They kind of adopted me into their family.  I spent some time in their house till I
found a room with an elderly lady not too far away.  Mrs. Butler was like my guardian angel.  She was mystified by my origin, plans, courage, and was a great
source of support and encouragement.  I had just enough money to pay the $1,000 tuition and a month’s rent.  The University charged by the semester, not by
credit.  All my credits from Israel were accepted and I only needed 45 additional ones to graduate.  After I settled down, my next move was to get a job.  
Luckily, right in the beginning I applied for a social security card and could work.  I was lucky, so I was told, to get job in a fancy popular Italian restaurant
located between home and school.

My life at this point consisted of school and work.  I barely had any social life, which was good because I didn’t have money to spend.   Mrs. Butler, my landlady,
was aware of the situation and tried to help me with little things.  One time she gave me a special kind of coffee that she thought that I might like.  It was a very
touching gesture and I still remember it.  I used to take a break from my studies and have nice talks with her.  When she found out that I could sew, she made
arrangements for her old sewing machine to be brought up from the basement. The machine was overhauled and made ready for my usage in my room.

Towards the end of the semester I left/lost my job, but found another one rather quickly.  This one was an experience that showed some not very known parts of
the American students’ culture.  The idea was great: open a kosher restaurant!  At that time, there was no kosher establishment in greater Washington D.C. or the
city itself.  Three students had the idea of starting a commune where everybody lived together and worked together.  They rented a big old house for living, rented
a space in the basement of an apartment building for the restaurant, got some funding and were in business.  None had any experience in this business.  When I
was asked to join, it was on the condition that I keep my own place at Mrs. Butler’s.  It turned out that the “chef” was East Indian and married, and had his own
place too.  I worked for $100 per week before taxes.   The busiest time was Sunday.  We all worked very hard, but one Sunday most of them came in after all-
night partying and smoking marihuana and were not in any shape to work in a busy, crowded restaurant.  I remember being furi-ous with them because I was
ready to collapse trying to cover for them.  I never smoked even a regular cigarette, (at 14, I tried one puff and was so disgusted that cigarettes lost any glamour
that they held before trying them) and could not understand how they could have done something so irresponsible.  I was ready to leave but every time I got the
nerve to tell them that I was leaving, someone else quit.

Finally, the end of the semester came, the end of April, and I left for New York to make “real” money.  I got in touch with the Israeli employment agent in New
York for a job, but instead found a place to live.  She needed a roommate to share her one bedroom co-op apartment on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, and
I got a bargain of living in Manhattan for $82 per month.

It turned out to be a very critical summer.  I worked in various restaurants till I landed a job in a coffee shop on 14th Street and Avenue B in Manhattan.  It so
happened that the main waiter went on a prolonged vacation and I worked all morning from 7 AM by myself, making a lot of money in tips, and continuing with
one other waiter till 7 PM.  I was so enthusiastic about the money I was making that I considered staying and not returning to school for the fall semester.  But the
vacationing waiter came back, and the income dropped considerably, thus rendering my plans to go back to school applicable once more. The whole time since I
moved in with Debbie, she was telling me about an acquaintance of hers named Walter.   She felt that Walter and I were suitable for each other.  Meanwhile I was
seeing a young man that she could not stand.  So finally, on August 5th she called Walter and asked him to meet her in the coffee shop were I worked without
telling him the reason.  At 7 o’clock sharp Walter showed up.  I was finishing my shift and was ready to join them when I heard Walter asking Debbie why did she
ask him to meet her in this particular place.  She could have not given him a more direct answer: “to meet my friend”.  It was such an unexpected response that
Walter was left speechless and anguished, but not for long.  When I was introduced to him his face lit up and I can say that it was love at first sight, at least on his
part.  I don’t mind telling this story over and over again, to whoever asks me how I met my husband.

                                                                    Married Life

It looked like my life was taking a turn that was not anticipated in any of the scenarios I made up.   It was understood that if I agreed to marry Walter, we would
stay in the New York area where his family is from.  It was a very difficult decision to make, considering that my family was six thousand miles overseas.

I graduated from University of Maryland and moved to New York.  In August, we went to visit my family and got married.  Upon coming back, I started graduate
school and at the same time tried to become a certified teacher in New York.  Graduate school fizzled out and I could not get an answer from Albany.  At the
time, I wasn’t paying at-tention to it and didn’t pursue the issue.  I remember getting no help from my husband’s family in trying to get the New York State
teaching license, probably because I never asked for it.   Being on my own for a while, I learned to take care of myself without asking for help, a trait that became
an obstacle and not an advantage.  It was easier just continuing being a waitress and not be bothered with the bureaucracy.  In hindsight, I know that it was a very
big mistake that keeps haunting me till today.

It is difficult for me to understand how something that was so important to me just few months ago, became unworthy of pursuing.  After that, it seems, my career
took twists and turns all over the place.  Besides becoming a wife and two years later a mother, I kept doing things without plans, without much thought to the
future.  I kind of fell into a mold of “my husband will take care of me, I’ll take care of the house and children”.  There is nothing wrong with that if you plan it that
way.  But everything I did was like grasping at straws, refusing to drown in suburbia “housewifing”.

                                                                    My Career Path

The first change came while we were still living in the city.  My feet gave up from under me.  The pain was too much to bear.  I quit and enrolled in a secretarial
school for three months.  I found a miserable job working in the office of the cafeteria of Chemical Bank downtown.  At the time I didn’t know it, but I just
became pregnant.  This job lasted only few months.  I left, first on leave-of-absence, going back to Israel for my mother’s funeral.  She died suddenly of heart
attack.  She was 49 years old.  I stayed for the unveiling of the tombstone and my brother’s wedding.

I came back with my father directly to our new home in Cortlandt Manor near Peekskill.  At this point I quit my job in the city.  I was trying to cope with the new
envi-ronment, my new home, my mother’s death, and my father’s overwhelming grief.   A month later I became a mother to a baby boy, Daniel.   I had to get
used to staying home alone with the baby.  I did meet many new people and made friends, but there was some kind of emptiness, it felt like I was missing
something.  All the sacrificing, hard work amounted to nothing.  So, by doing some kind of work outside the house or in the house that didn’t include housework
or rearing children seemed fulfilling, or so I thought.  My father was working for my husband, so he was out of the house too.  I just could not accept my new role
as “that’s it” and no more.

If I recall correctly, my first job in my new environment was teaching Hebrew part time at a local synagogue, that we joined.  I later added another part-time job in
another Hebrew School in the area.  Teaching afternoons and Sundays to kids who didn’t want to be there was not exactly fun.  My husband was always trying to
make more money and would come up with new schemes: buying clothes wholesale and selling them up where we lived, import-export business and more.  The
one that I tried for a while was buying and selling jeans.  After that didn’t take off, I was recruited to sell vitamins, cosmetics and household-cleaning supplies for a
company called Shaklee.  I tried to do it on my own but gave it up after the supervisors quit themselves without letting people know.  In the middle of all that my
father went back to Israel and remarried and I had another baby, our daughter, Rachel.

Among my many hobbies, was cooking and entertaining.  I got many compliments on my dinner parties and people kept saying that I should open a business.  But
that was out of the question for me at this stage.  The children were too young and my heart was not really in it.  It is one thing to cook for eight, twelve or even
twenty people than cook for dozens and dozens.  But I did join a friend and took some catering courses at the WCC and other places.  

Living “up” there, mainly among non-Jews, I encountered some anti-Semitic incidents with my neighbors.  I could not discuss it with my husband since it was kind
of a taboo topic.  My husband believed that if you ignored it, it would go away.  I was too sensitive; I made molehills into mountains, etc. he would say.  Even
though, technically, my husband is Jewish (born to a Jewish mother), his father was German and he and his four siblings were raised as Christians.  As I mentioned
earlier, my family was not religious, but we were very traditional, and there was an agreement between my husband and me that we are going to be a Jewish
family.  He always stood up to this agreement till the Thanksgiving of 1984.

I was attending a seminar in Judaism in a nearby hotel.  I did not know anything about the seminar. I found out about the seminar through a friend from Brooklyn,
without any details and was curious to find out what it was about.  It was to a very big surprise: it was organized by a very religious group from Israel.  I was
almost appalled by the idea and was ready to turn around and go back home.  But something stopped me.  I picked up the program and saw that the first lecture
will be starting in fifteen minutes and it was about “Jewish Identity”.  It seemed like a benign topic and I figured I might as well stay.  To make a long story short, I
decided that I would try and become more observant.  It didn’t go too well with my husband, his family and our friends.  Everyone thought that “something”
happened to me.  “I went over the deep end”.  Well, I am still here live and kicking.

It took a lot of adjusting to the family to get used to the new lifestyle, but most of it fell on my shoulders.  My husband didn’t want to hear about it and we
managed to keep the family together in spite the difference in belief and lifestyle.  I made all the modifications and changes and my husband accepted it “as long as
it was reasonable”.  The main change was moving out of Cortlandt Manor to New Rochelle where there is a thriving Jewish modern orthodox community.  I was
toying with idea that I might be-come a religious instructor, but my education in this area was limited.  Since the chil-dren by now were full time in school, I
decided that it was time to look for job with a future – a real career.  At this point I lost interest in physical education and found out that with a three-month course
I could become a paralegal, a profession in high demand.  

At this point, I was doing some catering for friends and neighbors, but on a very low key.  After graduating with honors from the paralegal course, I found a job as
an out-side contractor with IBM legal department.  I worked there for about 18 months and again, I felt that I needed a change.  I could not find the right job in
this area and go-ing to the city was out of the question at this point.  It was June and I was looking for a job when the new principal of a small Jewish school
approached me to work for him as the nursery teacher.  Thus begun my three-year nursery school teaching career.   I managed to work in three different schools.  
I left the first school because of working conditions that I didn’t feel I wanted to subject myself to.  Also my sideline of catering was expanding.  I took a part-time
teaching job and tried to build up the business.  It didn’t work and I had to look for another full-time job.  At this point my husband’s business completely
collapsed.   He was building modular homes on speculation, and from 1983 to 1987 the business thrived till the mini recession of 1987.  By then we had moved to
New Rochelle, and my husband went back to work for his former boss.

Now the children were going to the Westchester Day School in Mamaroneck and we discovered that our son, Daniel had some kind of learning disabilities.  I got
very in-terested and involved with the subject and his schooling.  I decided to get a degree in special education.  The College of New Rochelle offered a master’s
in Special Education and I started my studies while working full time.  It was very difficult to juggle all the responsibilities.  Looking back I don’t understand how I
did it.  I was a mother and a wife, a teacher, a student and a part-time caterer.  After graduation, I found a job as a special education teacher in New York City.  
At this point I didn’t mind commuting, since the children had a very long day at school studying double curriculum.  At first glance the new job seemed like the
ideal situation: small school, dedicated principal/owner, nice staff, and good location for commuters.   But very soon I realized how unreasonable the
principal/owner was.  I was disillusioned with the teaching itself.  All the theories were just that: theories!  In one of the meetings (we had THREE every week) I
voiced my opinion, and the principal got insulted personally and ignored me through the end of the semester.   I tried to find a new job, but teaching is hard to
come by in the middle of the year.  At that point we really needed the money so I stuck to it.  Things improved after the break and I finished the year with the plan
of working there one more year and with two years under my belt, I would look for another job.  But on February 12th I suffered a heart attack.  It was a shock
to everybody but mostly for me.  Even the physicians were puzzled: non-smoker, normal cholesterol, normal blood pressure and average weight.  The conclusion
was that I suffered from a blood clot in the blood vessel of the heart.  I felt it was mainly the job’s pressure.

I saw it as a warning sign, and didn’t return to work.  In the fall, feeling much better, I started working part-time in a Hebrew Day school in Rockland County.  I
felt that it was the ideal situation for me.  To my horror, I was given 18 third graders with FOUR special education students without an assistant!  Sometimes it
seemed that the “normal” children were worse than the “special” children.  After two months I quit.  I felt horrible about leaving but I had an excuse: my health.  I
refused to put myself in a situation where I was miserable and was not able to sleep during the night.  Less then a month later I was offered a part-time Hebrew
teaching position at Stuyvesant High School on the West Side in the city.  It was a demanding job, but I enjoyed it and hoped that this, at last, will be my final job.  
The following fall the part-time position was eliminated and I was without a job, without prospects and without much energy to look for one.

At this point in our family life, my husband was making very good money and the pressure on me having to work disappeared.  It worked such that just a few
weeks into “retirement” my father got sick and I went to Israel and spent the last few weeks of his life with him.  My father always looked well, taking good care
of himself.  His death was a very big blow to me.  His mother, age 100 was still alive!   She passed away a few months later not knowing of her son’s premature
death from cancer.  In my mind, my father would live forever, or at least to a very old ripe age.

Coming back after my father’s funeral, I used the time to finally, remodel the house we had lived in for 10 years.  I spent a considerable amount of time, energy
and money and I love the results!

All through our married years, my husband was paying the bills and managing the money.  But for some reason I became unhappy with the situation. And now we
approach the current chapter.

A friend of mine asked me if I would be interested in joining a women’s-investing club.  I had absolutely no idea what it was all about, but I felt that maybe, it
would lead to managing the household finances.  For almost a year I attended the club’s meetings, but they were not moving along fast enough.  Most of the
women if not all, except me, were working.  It seemed that I was the only one doing the research.  I quit and decided to REALLY learn about investing and
business, so I joined the MBA program at Iona College.  I certainly learned a lot about business and finances.  I took over the IRA accounts at Merrill Lynch,
changed the whole portfolio around and opened two more accounts, one on-line.  I find it very exciting and I am looking forward to graduating and once more,
looking for a job.

Note: In August 2000, Sarka received her MBA from Iona College. In early December, she went to Israel to conduct some business regarding her
father's estate. She died there very suddenly and unexpectedly of a ruptured aorta on December 6. {Liska Snyder, May 2001).