Susan Litt, who will be honored at Menorah’s Magical Morning on October 18, remembers the moment she was smitten with love for the arts. She was 9 and her mother took her to “The King and I” on Broadway.
“I was hooked on live theater from that moment on,” Litt recalls. In middle school, she sang “Shall we Dance?” in a talent show. She took ballet and voice lessons, and sang at every opportunity in high school.
That love of the arts is still a guiding force in her life. To this day, she never misses an opportunity to dance. Her passion for the arts, as well as education, led her to Menorah when she and her husband Bruce Kahn moved to Boulder eight years ago. Her service on the Menorah board included three years as President, and she now is the Program Chair.
Raised in an Orthodox home, Litt married young and started her family while still in college. She studied to become a speech pathologist, but also took education classes so she could work in schools.
She started working with mentally disabled pre-school children, and in 1978 got a job with the State of New Jersey in a non-traditional program that involved creating a classroom in a bus – which she had to learn to drive.
After being hired to teach English as a Second Language and speech therapy in Union, NJ, she also taught graduate school, and led workshops around the country. Her specialty was pronunciation.
When she moved to Boulder to be close to her son David and her grandsons, Susan put her talent to work by volunteering to train teachers at Intercambio, which offers cultural integration and English classes to immigrants in Boulder County and Denver.
She also volunteered for Women Work Together, a Guatemala-focused educational organization that allowed her to use her Spanish skills – and to visit Guatemala. If that weren’t enough, Susan joined the board of Boulder Newcomers, where she quickly made friends.
Susan makes friends wherever she goes. What is her secret? An outgoing personality helps. A genuine concern for people doesn’t hurt. She is the kind of person who remembers birthdays and what your kids are up to – and she always asks. Most of all, Susan makes an effort. She is willing to roll up her sleeves and work. Anything she says she’ll do, she does, and does extremely well. She is the life of the party, striking up interesting conversations with ease.
Not bad for someone whose early years were fraught with crippling insecurity. She doesn’t mind sharing that therapy helped her overcome her low self-worth. Her professional accomplishments also had a positive impact on her self-image. Today, she is the very picture of competence and confidence.
When they first moved to Boulder Susan and Bruce did not find the right fit in any Boulder synagogue, but Susan quickly recognized that the Boulder JCC was the perfect place for her. She attended one Menorah fundraiser, which focused on Argentinian tango, which she loves. After that she stepped up to the Menorah plate.
“I am a cultural Jew and Menorah is where I feel comfortable. It’s just the right fit for me. In addition to being an arts lover, I am also very interested in education. I’m a life-long learner, with a lot of curiosity and a desire to learn. That is who Menorah serves, people like me.”
But there’s more to Susan’s commitment to Menorah – and all her other volunteer work – than a passion for arts, culture and education, or a desire to make friends.
“I feel that I am setting a good example for my grandkids, Aidan and Kenyon,” Susan explains. “My daughter-in-law Fernanda tells me she admires me. I can’t tell you how much that means to me.”
The most active person around, Susan does not look or act her 71 years. She is an avid traveler. She is in a writing group. She plays mahjong every Thursday. She trained to become a story teller. She attends theater in Denver and Boulder regularly, supports the Boulder Philharmonic, and is part of a movie discussion group and a book club.
Still, Menorah holds a special place in her heart, she says. “I love being part of Menorah, and I am especially happy with the success of the film festival.”
If she had any thoughts of stepping down after seven years on the board, they have been erased by the excitement over the new building.
“How can I not be part of the wonderful programs Menorah will be able to do there?” Clearly, Susan’s work is not done, not as long as she can make a difference in the community she loves.