About a year ago, my husband and I joined a new synagogue in Netanya. In the women’s section a strikingly elegant lady caught my attention. Only later, did I come to know that Irene Burg’s looks were only the tip of the iceberg.
Irene Burg is a lady of many talents and virtues. For one, she excels in the kindness of hospitality. Of all the members of the synagogue, Irene Burg was the first to invite us for a Shabbat meal and when we mentioned that we had guests, they too were included in the invitation!
The Shabbat lunch at the Burgs’ was unforgettable. The superb, elegantly presented dishes testified to Irene’s skills as hostess and cook, the amusing, intelligent company – to the high quality of the Burgs’ social life. Discussion of the weekly Torah portion brilliantly conducted by Irene’s husband Howard, combined to transform the meal into an extraordinary event.
What does Irene Burg, the exceptional chef and hostess do in addition to conducting an open house for fortunate guests? First of all, she is a busy mother of four and grandmother of eighteen. Although each of her children was born in a different part of the Diaspora, they are now all raising their children in the Jewish State.
Her oldest, Dena, now in charge of publications at the Open University, was born in New York in 1968, three years after Irene Goren graduated from Queens College and married Howard Burg, an advertising executive. Their son David, now a RAM (Rabbi/educator) was born two years later in Virginia, while Behira, also an educator, was born in Michigan. Ultimately, the youngest, Don, “a non-formal education specialist,” was born in Israel.
Professionally, Irene Burg is a teacher – a multifaceted educator. “I have taught various things in my life from elementary school to high school English, from pre-natal exercise, to advising nursing mothers, to Reiki,” Irene explains.
After settling in Netanya, Israel, she started teaching English at a local religious high school. Later, “Via an intensive course at Wingate (Sport) Institute I became an official, diplomat, exercise teacher,” Irene reveals with a brilliant smile. She delights in conducting a variety of physical education classes, mostly Reike, “for the Golden Ages (50 plus). I even have some 80 and 90 years olds in my groups,” she goes on. “I was able to use my varied background to help older people increase their range of motion. As a person gets older they use less and less of their bodies, but if they exercise they will gain independence, be able to reach for a cup on a higher shelf or even get dressed more easily.
“My main method is stretching – starting with small movements and moving up to larger and more difficult ones. Sometimes I feel that the best ‘equipment’ is one’s own body. At the beginning of a class the body is almost like a closed petal and by the end, after working on the whole body the joints have been ‘oiled’ and everyone is so much more open,” Irene’s delight at helping others is palpable. “I love hearing ‘I came in with X pain and by the end of the lesson my pain is gone. I feel great.’”
Irene Goren Burg, the multifaceted elegant lady, is happiest when helping others.