The very special (80th!) birthday of a very special person, Bryna Franklin, was celebrated at AACI on January 11, 2012.

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A Master’s level college graduate from back in the 50s – when it wasn’t so common for a woman even to go to college – she became the lady of a manor and continued to demonstrate her creative flair in politics. However, much of her wisdom also comes from the School of Hard Knocks. What she likes to do more than anything else is to reach out and touch others.

Bryna chose AACI as the venue for her celebration because of her many friends in the AACI community: her fellow seniors and bridge club buddies.

One hundred and fifteen guests attended the party. Many more had to be turned away.

Bryna was toasted by Rabbi Moe from Ascent in Safed and Rebbetzin Gila Rosen, on behalf of herself and her husband, the late Rabbi Mickey Rosen z’l, Rosh Hayeshiva of Yakar inJerusalem.

Sara Peters led all the guests in singing “You Are My Sunshine” to Bryna and then read her a wonderful poem about turning 80, reminding us that Sara herself was 80 once, 14 years ago.

Entertainment was provided by a husband-wife dance team, Jill and Amnon Damti, whose outstanding credentials including performing at the White House. They involved the audience, who loved it. Amnon’s work as a dancer choreographer is all the more remarkable because he has been deaf since birth.

A notable attendee was Rabbi Robert Weiner, author of 9 1/2 Mystics: the Kabbala Today and a personal friend of Bryna’s.

Bryna asked that donations be made to the Anne Scully Williams Scholarship Fund, which she has just established through ESRA (English-Speaking Residents’ Association) in memory of a dear friend.

As a highlight of the event, Bryna’s close friend, Yehudit Chava, read her updated and personalized version of “Aishes Chayil,” the description of a valorous woman traditionally sung on Friday night.

Aishes Chayil – Bryna

January 11, 2012

A woman of valor who can find?

Her price is far above rubies; she shares her wealth like fairy dust.

Hashem’s heart trusts in her; she starts every day with her morning prayers.

She works willingly with her hands; she blesses those with hand massages!

She visits the sick and walks the elderly home. Her community calls her happy.

She is like the merchant-ships; she brings food when it’s needed; either from her own kitchen or by spending her last agarot. She has traveled the world and delights in sharing with other cultures.

She stretches out her hand out to the poor, and puts forth her hand out to the needy (that’s all of us folks, you and me). She truly believes that through tzedaka and mitzvot everyone gets a little tug on the heart and then that tug continues to get passed down to the next generations. She even established a Scholarship Fund for young adults through ESRA, in memory of her dearest friend and inspiration, Anne Scully Williams.

Her lamp does not go out by night; she contemplates the next 10 things she can do for others, and also remembers those who will never know of her kindness.

She took her place in theHoly Landby making aliyah some 30 years ago. She shuns no responsibility; she is still paying off her college loan!

She plants vineyards everywhere she goes, and then speaks to the plants so they grow well and don’t get lonely.

She girds her loins with strength and makes strong her arms at the gym, pool or tai chi class. Her diet is healthy. She walks all over town after a hip replacement, still always balancing packages and bags with no hand left to use her cane.

She is fearless, not afraid of hard times for her household, for all of her household are clothed with scarlet. Strength and majesty are her clothing. She hosts many gatherings, always with elegance, style, and perfect social grace. This includes sending out the old fashioned “bread and butter invitations and thank you notes” — she hand makes her own cards, each stuffed with personalized love. Then she addresses them all by hand to people all over the world, especially on their birthdays. Want to be added to her mailing list?!

She also has kept up with modern technology. She emails from her laptop, SMS’s messages from her cell phone, attends many classes and events, AND she still plays bridge like a wiz.

Favor is false and beauty is vain but a woman that fears the Lord, she shall be praised. She does only good and not evil all the days of her life.

She doesn’t fear the time to come and opens her mouth with wisdom and the law of loving-kindness is on her tongue. No lashon hara there!

She does not eat the bread of idleness … at any given time, even while standing in line or on a bus, you will see her meditating, and nurturing her energy, while maybe squeezing a ball or standing on one leg to reinforce her strength and stability for one more day.

She is true to her word. She cherishes life and shows deep affection to her friends. She shows a high level of respect to all. She qualifies her words with “I don’t mean to be unkind.” She thanks taxi drivers for their kindness and tells waiters that they made her day.

She walks the talk. She is the friend who comes in when all others have gone out. Hashem rewards her. Her sweet partner, of blessed memory, Elchanon, was known at the gate when he sat among the elders of the land. He praised her, saying: Many women have done worthily but thou excellest them all.

May this modern-day aishes chayil continue to be an inspiration to all of us until 120 plus!


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