High Holidays | Local

Miriam Meyers

Miriam Meyers with her husband, Rabbi Ron-Ami Meyers (Courtesy Miriam Meyers)

In 1977, Miriam Geffen Meyers was among the first students to graduate from Tucson Hebrew Academy. As THA did not yet have its River Road campus, the school leased classrooms and office space from Congregation Anshei Israel. Meyers, 53, says that because the number of students in each grade level was so small, the children were often grouped together in multi-aged classes and that for the parents, carpooling was essential.

Miriam (Mimi) Geffen Meyers in the eighth grade (Courtesy Shari Geffen)
Miriam (Mimi) Geffen Meyers in the eighth grade (Courtesy Shari Geffen)

Meyers’ parents brought their family of four children from Iowa to Tucson when she was in sixth grade. “When we arrived in Tucson my parents offered me the choice of attending Fruchthendler Elementary School, which was nearly across the street from our house, or THA. I realized that going to Fruchthendler would mean going to religious school a few days a week as well as Sunday school and I didn’t want to have to do all that. So because I’m lazy, I ended up at THA — making one of the most important decisions of my life,” she says, laughing.

Meyers describes her experience at THA as a gift of heritage, Hebrew and ethics, delivered with sweetness: “Our teachers, who were all observant Jews, taught us to never criticize our non-Orthodox families for acting differently and to always be grateful to our parents for giving us the opportunity to study in a Jewish environment.”

After graduating from Sabino High School, Meyers left Tucson to study in Tel Aviv for two years and then went on to a women’s seminary in Jerusalem in 1983. There was a male seminary at the school as well, which is where she met her future husband, Ron-Ami Meyers, who is originally from Winnipeg, Manitoba. They married in 1985 in Canada and moved in 1987 to Israel, where Ron-Ami became a rabbi. They remained in Israel for 20 years raising their 10 children.

The Meyers moved back to the United States in 2007 with their six youngest children, eventually settling in Seattle where Ron-Ami is the spiritual leader of Congregation Ezra Bessaroth, a Sephardic synagogue that maintains the liturgy and traditions from the Mediterranean island of Rhodes.

Meyers describes herself as a matchmaker who spends much of her time in welcoming mode. She enjoys working with converts to Judaism, teaches Hebrew school and home schools her two youngest children, who are 9 and 13. She travels as often as possible back to Israel to visit her children and her 10 grandchildren — and recently to attend the wedding of a couple whose match she had arranged.

Meyers keeps a Friday night dinner tradition alive in her home where guests are always in attendance and says, “It’s like having Thanksgiving every week, where all is served up with joy.”

Renee Claire is a freelance writer in Tucson.