Helen Zegerman Schwimmer
JOURNALIST | AUTHOR | FILMMAKER
Helen weaves together personal vignettes about her her family with inspiring stories about luminaries in the arts and sciences in her new collection, The Wedding Gown That Made History & Other Stories. This is a sequel to her first book, Like The Stars of The Heavens, an anthology of her popular columns originally published in The Jewish Press.
During her extensive media career, Helen has written about everything from Buicks to baba ganoush. She began as a copywriter creating newspaper, radio and television commercials for a variety of clients. She then went on to write and produce several documentaries including the autobiographical Miracle on Seabreeze Avenue for which she received the Women’s History Month Video Award.
Inspired by the Shabbos Meal she first experienced in the home of her husband’s patients, Rabbi Zushe and Rebbetzin Esther Winner, Helen teamed up with Esther to create A Taste Of Shabbos, a sixty-minute video that demonstrates how to prepare and serve a Shabbos dinner. But along with the fifteen recipes which include a six-braided challah, baked salmon a la Seabreeze and a chocolate cornucopia filled with rugelach, Esther, also explains the traditions that are so meaningful to the entire Shabbos experience. Garnering rave reviews from Scotland to Singapore and from Alaska to Australia, Esther and Helen appeared on several television and radio shows.
The popularity of Helen and Esther’s video gave birth to a motivational seminar, Life Is Like A Block Of Chocolate, which took the dynamic duo on the road and brought them into the homes and synagogues of women who represented the diversity of contemporary Jewish life. As they traveled from Maine to Florida and from New Jersey to California they heard from a new generation of women who were eager to reconnect with their roots.
When word of Esther's expertise reached England, British Television, in collaboration with PBS, asked her to host a program on Jewish cuisine as part of their multicultural series, The United Tastes of America. Helen joined the project as the story editor and food stylist.
"As I watched Esther prepare the meal and then light the Shabbos candles, I imagined her taking tiny sparks of Yiddishkeit and fanning them into raging bonfires in millions of homes across America and Europe just as she did one Shabbos night when she reached out to me," Helen marvels.
Professionally, Helen found herself in the kitchen once again when she collaborated with master chef, Levana Kirschenbaum, to establish the first gourmet Jewish cooking school in New York, Levana’s Place at Lincoln Square Synagogue.
Helen’s life took a turn in a new direction when she returned from a solidarity mission to Israel and received a call from Molly Resnick, a veteran journalist with NBC, who is the founder and director of MATCKH, Mothers Against Teaching Children to Kill and Hate.
MATCKH has developed educational programs to inform the public and lobby officials to oppose groups teaching bigotry, hatred and murder to children. To counter the destructive effects of this type of curriculum, MATCKH mobilized children across the country to get involved with the “Kids For Peace” quilt project.
Helen joined MATCKH and she and Molly Resnick wrote and produced Creating Peace One Quilt At A Time. The documentary was endorsed by the Greater New York Board of Jewish Education who mailed copies of the video to all of its member schools with instructions for each school to create its own peace quilt.
Helen received her B.A. in English from Brooklyn College and has attended the New School and Parsons School of Design.
She and her husband have been blessed with three children and four grandchildren.
Women’s History Month Video Award (1997) “Miracle on Seabreeze Avenue”
Woman of the Year Award (2001) Project Neshama
Community Service Award (2002) Yeshiva of Manhattan Beach
Breaking The Silence Award (2002) Rachel’s Children Reclamation Foundation