When I started hosting weekly zoominars for Moment at the start of the pandemic, I never could have imagined that it would bring my husband, Joe, closer to his birth mother. When he was just four years old, he lost his mom to brain cancer. In the years that followed, he remained close with her side of the family and was blessed with two more moms, but he never knew a lot about Marcia other than she was a wonderful woman—a loving mother, wife, daughter and sister.
Fast forward 47 years to June 2, 2020. I finished broadcasting a zoominar with Aimee Ginsburg Bikel talking about her late husband Theo. I turned to my email and read a very nice note from someone who had just watched the program:
“I just finished listening to Aimee’s zoominar. It was totally delightful. This is very objective, even though I am her Aunt Janet in Cincinnati.”
While I was glad to hear from a happy viewer, the fact that she was from Cincinnati is what jumped out at me because that’s where most of my husband’s family is from.
And being the queen of Jewish geography, I couldn’t resist. I responded and thanked her for the kind note and asked, “By chance do you know the Claybon or Felson families in Cincinnati?”
Later that night, Aunt Janet sent me an email that floored me: “I know both the Claybons and Felsons [though not the same Felsons that we know]. In fact, my husband is related to the Claybons, and Marcia Claybon Rubin and I were best friends in high school. She fixed me up with her cousin who is now my husband of almost 53 years. How do you know them?”
Did she just say her best friend in high school was Marcia Claybon? I think I read her email three times before it sank in—Janet’s best friend was my husband’s mother!
I immediately wrote her back: “Oh, my goodness! I have goosebumps! I’m Marcia Claybon’s daughter-in-law! Her son Joe Rubin is my husband.”
The next day Aunt Janet, Joe and I had a long telephone conversation. We learned that she and Marcia went to different high schools but would meet up at the soda shop after school. We heard how Marcia insisted that Aunt Janet attend Marcia’s wedding to Joe’s dad with her cousin as her date and how Marcia was then a bridesmaid at their wedding.
We couldn’t wait to meet Aunt Janet and her family during our annual visit to Cincinnati. But with the pandemic raging on, Facebook would have to do. Finally, this past November we traveled to Cincinnati. One of our first stops was to see Aunt Janet and have Shabbat dinner with her family. She found a picture of Joe and one of her daughters when they were toddlers playing on the floor at Joe’s grandparents’ house. And we also learned that her son, like our son, was named after Joe’s mom, Marcia.
If Aunt Janet had not added “in Cincinnati” when she signed her email to me, we never would have made this meaningful connection. Now that’s Beshert.
Suzanne Borden, Moment’s Special Projects Director and Zoominar producer, has worked at Moment since 2013. Prior to Moment, Suzanne worked at Hillel International and Panim el Panim. Suzanne and her husband Joe Rubin have been married for almost 25 years and have a son and a daughter. No matter where they visit, they always seem to be playing Jewish geography with someone.
Top photo: Joe Rubin, holding a picture of his birth mother Marcia, with Marcia’s best friend Janet and her husband Marvin, who was also Marcia’s cousin. November 2021.