Who the Folk?! Re’ema Absey

Welcome to “Who the Folk?!” Every week on Monday we feature a new member of the community as our “Person of the Week.” Last week week we got to know Ryan Rutzick. This week meet Re’ema Absey! Know someone we should feature? Nominate them by sending an email to [email protected]

TC Jewfolk: Are you from the Twin Cities? 

Re’ema: Yes! I grew up on the East Side of Saint Paul, but moved around a lot within the Twin Cities.

TCJ: You’re a personal caregiver. What exactly does that entail?

Re’ema: I have been taking care of my good friend’s mother Evelyne, who is 93 years of age with dementia, for almost two years. One thing that’s hard about this question is that simply explaining what a personal caregiver does, does not express how important Evelyne is to me in my life. She is like my grandmother, and is also a dear friend, and I love her so much!

Being a personal caregiver can include tasks like assisting with picking out clothes and preparing food. But it’s more than just taking care of someone – it’s a relationship. I offer her friendship, companionship, comfort, love, and independence. She shares with me stories about her life, teaching me Yiddish words, how to knit, her sense of humor-the woman’s got a sense of humor and most of all her love! We simply enjoy spending time with together.

No matter what my mood is – She always brings joy to my life!

TCJ: You seem to be rocking the Beth Jacob 20s & 30s group! Sell us on Beth Jacob. What do you like so much about it?

Re’ema: Beth Jacob is community, place of prayer, home, and family for me.

One of the first things I noticed about Beth Jacob is that there was a big social justice piece at the shul – this is very important to me. Seeing women in important roles and seeing same sex families welcomed are also two things that I really value in a community.

There are also things I really like about the services. One is that our services are very traditional – we don’t leave anything out! I also like that members of the congregation – both men and women, and even youth who are post-bar or bat mitzvah age – have important roles in leading the services.

Finally, Beth Jacob as a community is very inclusive, and I think that shows through the Beth Jacob 20s and 30s community. I think that people who come, come because they don’t feel left out – there’s a place for them to be who they are.

TCJ: Are you involved in any other TC organizations?

Re’ema: I just began serving on both the Beth Jacob Committee board and Saint Paul Federation Young Leadership committee.

TCJ: What’s your favorite way to celebrate Shabbat?

Re’ema: When I light candles for Shabbat, actually doing the action of it, I feel this huge sense of calmness upon me. I think lighting the candles is the most precious part of Shabbat for me. And when I do it with a community of people, and have my eyes closed, it’s so powerful, I feel the embrace of everyone. It’s a spiritual connection with the surrounding people, your own silent prayer, and with G-d.

TCJ: What’s your favorite Jewish food?

Re’ema: It’s hard to pick just one, but I would have to say bourekas with Yemenite zhug (a spicy spread). In Tel Aviv next to the intersection of Even Gvirol and Hanevim, there’s this cool bourekas joint that I went to frequently, and it probably has the best bourekas ever.


Re'ema jumping off the high tree over the Yelden River.

Re’ema jumping off the high tree over the Yelden River.

TCJ: Who is the coolest Jew?

Re’ema: If you really want to get to know me, you should know that my first instinct is to answer this sarcastically and say Kyle from South Park. Honestly, I don’t think there’s one coolest Jew!

TCJ: Have you been to Israel? What is your favorite memory?

Re’ema: I have been there a total of three times. I have many favorite memories from each one of my trips to Israel. To list a few; living on Kibbutz Kinneret, jumping off the high tree over the Yelden River, even though I am slightly, or majorly scared of heights! I really enjoyed roaming the streets of Tel Aviv for hours, meeting new people and spending endless hours at the sea. My fondest memories are spending time with close friends, that I consider family!

TCJ: What’s your favorite thing to do in the Cities?

Re’ema: Doing just about anything that is outside!

TCJ: What else do you do for fun?

Re’ema: A few of the many things I like to do are read, dance, do yoga, meditate, learn, experience other cultures, meet new people and hang with family and friends.

Click here to nominate your favorite TC Jew to be featured on our weekly Who the Folk?! series!