Karen A. Siegel

A little lost breeze
comes whipstering through tin cracks
in the dry dusty rock
and slips sleepily under our noses
as we stand at the foot of the mountain

Inch by inch
the thirsty sun begins to climb upwards,
drinking up the earth’s cool air
as it rises.

Our feet react to the call
and we are moving:
right, left,
push, pull,
onward, upward
until the blazing blue sky
bursts out from where it has been hiding
in the shadows of the mountain
and the aches and pains
of my body slip away
as I reach out
to touch a finger
to Heaven.

About Keren Or

Keren Or (Ray of Light), is a creative arts contest for teens in grades 7-12.

This organization was founded in 2004 by Gerald (z”l) and Eileen Siegel (z”l) to honor the memory of their daughter, Karen Siegel-Jacobs. Karen wrote wonderful poetry and stories as a teenager, and her family has chosen to honor her memory by encouraging and supporting the creative efforts of other Jewish teenagers.

Meet Karen Siegel-Jacobs (1961-2001)

Karen_Siegel_AdultKaren Siegel-Jacobs (1961-2001) grew up at Adath Jeshurun Synagogue in Minneapolis. Active in Adath USY, she attended the Minneapolis Talmud Torah and celebrated milestones of her life, from Bat Mitzvah to marriage, in the Adath Jeshurun Congregation. She wrote wonderful poetry and stories as a teenager. Usually when a child goes to camp, the parents provide a stack of self-addressed envelopes. When the child returns, the stationary emerges from the duffel bag untouched, and the child insists she couldn’t find the envelopes, she didn’t have time, it was too noisy during rest time, and other excuses. When Karen went off to camp, she wrote home every day, and her letters often included a request, “Please send more stationery.”

In her adult years, she received her B.A. from the University of Minnesota and her Ph.D. in experimental psychology from the University of Michigan and worked in the field of communications. She had an infectious joy of living, a contagious smile, a quick wit, and a ready laugh. On a Valentines Day she determined to change the atmosphere of her office, where one of her co-workers was roundly disliked for being petulant and critical. Karen placed a Valentine card in all of the mail boxes, having signed the name of the outcast. The next day there was an outpouring of appreciation to the befuddled but grateful employee.

Karen died following knee surgery at age 40, leaving behind her husband, Matt, and two children, Allison and Zachary. To honor her memory, we established a permanent endowment at Adath Jeshurun, the Karen Siegel-Jacobs Fund, and launched Keren Or.

Keren Or (Ray of Light) is an annual, refereed, creative arts forum to showcase the artistic talents of Jewish youth throughout Minnesota. Cash prizes, certificates, and publication in The American Jewish World are awarded in the categories of prose, poetry, and photography. At the conclusion of the contest, winners are recognized at an awards reception. Teens in grades 7-12 are encouraged to submit their entries for consideration each fall.

Through projects such as Keren Or, the Karen Siegel-Jacobs Fund preserves Karen’s memory for a blessing and brightens the lives of others who follow in her creative path.