Saturday, February 29, 2020 -
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Celebrating Hazel

“Shalom, BMH-BJ. This is Hazel. How may I help you?”

This greeting comes from the seasoned, friendly voice of the one-and-only Hazel Gensberg, beloved receptionist at BMH-BJ for the past 20 years.

For 80 years before that, Hazel was delighting people in other venues. Yes, Hazel is 100 years old and still working.

When BMH and Beth Joseph merged in 1996, Hazel Gensberg was hired as the receptionist for the new BMH-BJ Congregation. She was 80 at the time, which was no big deal to Hazel. She had worked nearly all her life, was still sharp as a tack and had no intention of retiring anytime soon.

Hazel’s age was no big deal to her new employer, either. In fact, it was an asset. Her longevity as a synagogue volunteer (for both Beth Joseph and BMH at different times) and her professional experience in customer service, along with her impeccable grooming, pleasant demeanor and long institutional memory, made her the perfect person for the job.

Anybody who calls the synagogue or comes in for a weekday visit knows that. Beyond Hazel’s friendly on-phone or in-person greeting, she always exhibits efficiency in connecting the caller or visitor with right staff member.

All of this is not lost on BMH-BJ leadership. Hazel is the guest of honor at the congregation’s annual dinner this Sunday evening. The event will celebrate not only Hazel’s recent 100th birthday but her devotion to her job, her congregation, her family and friends. Truly we may say, Hazel is honoree of the century.

Some of those friends are 98 years younger than she is! From where Hazel sits at the reception desk at BMH-BJ, she can see all the adorable children in the synagogue’s preschool as they pass through the main hallway, and they can see her. Little students, teachers and parents never miss the opportunity to proclaim, “Hi, Hazel!” as they pass her smiling face.

That is truly mi-dor le-dor — “from generation to generation.”

Copyright © 2016 by the Intermountain Jewish News

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