Time for Women
Supplement to Jewish News, May 4, 2015
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Time for Women Published 22 times a year by United Jewish Federation of Tidewater.
ince Mother’s Day is celebrated in May, this month always feels like an appropriate time to focus on women.
While being a mom is without a doubt one of the most rewarding, loving, exhilarating and important roles a woman can undertake, it’s not the only one. Just ask Lisa Bertini, a mother of two wonderful daughters, who also is a respected and very
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busy attorney. She writes about balancing the two roles on page 15. Women’s health and wellbeing often takes a back seat to caring for everyone else. That’s why the article explaining how a fitness and wellness regimen can actually empower women, is critical for all to read. And, according to the piece on Joan Lunden’s visit to Tidewater, Lunden agrees.
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Lunden spoke at Norfolk Academy as part of Jewish Family Service’s Spring into Healthy Living program last month. Check out the article and photographs on page 19.
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Israel, as always, was one of the first to arrive to aid victims of the disaster in Nepal. But did you know that Israeli couples regularly have surrogate pregnancies
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in Nepal? This timely article is interesting on so many levels. For Mother’s Day, check out the options our advertisers offer for gifts and dining, as well as for health and wellbeing. Jewish News wishes all women—moms, aunts, grandmothers and special friends—
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(because we know it takes a village to raise
most children) a Very Happy Mother’s Day!
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Time for Women First Person
A Mother’s Day reflection on choices by Lisa Bertini
hen I was a little girl until well into college, I didn’t dream of weddings, having children or a house with a white picket fence. I wanted to be a criminal defense lawyer and live in Chicago and defend big time scoundrels. That was my fairytale. It was a bit film noir, romantic in its own right and naturally included stilettos and well-tailored suits, but no baby strollers. Ever. I distinctly remember pajama parties where I lovingly cuddled with posters of Sylvester Stallone from Rocky and listened to my friends go on about what they would name their babies, while inwardly thinking this is not at all interesting. Let’s talk about the best law school I can get into because I need that for my fantasy. Now, at 54, with my younger daughter about to fly the coop and the older one somewhere in Madrid, I look back and wonder at my choices. Were being a lawyer first and a mother tied for that same spot the way I would do this again if I got one free redo? Or might I just have taken some years off to be a proper mother to those I adore? I have had so many joys. I have had so many passions. While some of those
have involved my wonderful family, the others belong to my career. I chose a path that at once called me and intellectually challenged me. I will never forget having Zoe; nor will I ever forget winning my first federal discrimination case. The elation was superb both times. I will put my girls second to my work if my client needs me more. Period. Often, if there were a parents’ meeting either Jack or I went. Both attending was too difficult. Soccer? Home games only. Tennis matches? Will she play? Awards day? Will she win? Though my goal was to be everywhere all the time, I couldn’t be. But they would learn that moms can’t time travel. They would get that moms have really good reasons for missing things like a client who suddenly and illegally lost a job after 27 years. They would understand that moms sometimes just end up at the wrong venue because it was calendared incorrectly. When Zoe was around three, she was playing with another little girl and the girl mused as she carried her shimmery cape, “I am off to the ball to meet my Prince” to which Zoe responded, picking up my beat-up briefcase, “I am off to a deposition.” Of course, she had no idea what that meant and neither did her friend, as both were
home has made me realize who I am inside the
home. Knowing who I am has helped me
realize what I am not.
Lucy and Zoe Sigel.
play acting. It made me so happy inside. Why? I didn’t want my daughter’s dreams to be about someone else. I wanted her happiness to be about what she would do with her own life and in her own damn palace. I lived and breathed my job. I would do my closing for the girls or make them predict who deserved to win based on different fact scenarios. The girls picked up on my restlessness quickly. They never dragged me back in the house as I left for work nor cried about going to school. They knew we all had jobs. They had to go to school, learn a ton and then come home. Likewise, I had to go to work, learn a ton and then come home. At night, we would do our homework all together. Literally. It is kind of hard for kids to complain about how much homework they have when mom is sitting next to them toiling on a brief. Being a mom who works outside the home has made me realize who I am inside the home. Knowing who I am has helped me realize what I am not. So there is little play acting. I am not too warm and fuzzy. We choose to be real. It is more efficient
that way. I let Lucy know when I caught her in a lie as a child that she was on a slippery slope straight to prison someday. It may have been a bit heavy handed but I figured it would make my point. Now she just lies really cleverly or not at all. I am not sure. I explained to Zoe that you always have your own money and drive yourself to your first date just in case. Again, a bit unromantic, but honest. When you spend every day trying to successfully run your own business you are bound to come up short. You get disappointed and frustrated and pissed off. You share that when you come home and you end up teaching your kids something quite fabulous: That in the end, you do it all again tomorrow until you get it right. There is no fairy princess, and Prince Charming is probably more interested in the head huntsman than you. So study hard, have your own personal dream where you save the world, and get up and do it, every day. At night I treasure mentally tucking in the two most precious byproducts of being a woman, Zoe and Lucy, and realize that while I can’t have it all, there is no fun in a free redo. I’d muck it all up again anyway.
jewishnewsva.org | Women | May 4, 2015 | Jewish News | 15
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Time for Women
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rom an early age, women have foisted on them images of the “ideal” female body. Self-esteem can plummet when they fail to measure up. But celebrity trainer Holly Perkins says it is time that women stop buying into those societal pressures. “There’s this perception that all women need to look like perfect runway models,” says Perkins, a leading national weight-loss expert. “They can feel the anxiety building when they are trying to meet someone else’s expectations. That’s when the effort to lose weight or get fit can add to the stresses of life instead of relieving them.” Certainly, women should want to improve their health, get fit and look gorgeous all at the same time, says Perkins, who recently released a home-exercise system designed specifically for women called baladea (www. baladea.com), with regimens she developed to fuse fitness and wellness exercises. But getting in shape needs to be something women want for themselves, and not an effort to mimic some airbrushed image on a magazine cover, she says. Perkins realized several years ago that her clients met their weight-loss goals faster when she created programs that addressed both their fitness and wellness needs at the same time. They also felt happier about themselves. So she incorporated yoga and other stress-relieving and relaxation techniques into the baladea program. Perkins offers three reasons why the
right fitness and wellness regimen can empower women and emancipate them from society’s image pressures: • Because looking good makes one feel good. That’s especially true when women are trying to look good to please themself and not others, Perkins says. “There’s this sense of empowerment when you exercise, eat a healthier diet and lose weight because it’s what you want and not because of peer pressure or societal pressures,” she says. “Self-esteem rises when you improve your image on your terms,” she says, and as a result “looking gorgeous never felt better.” • Because science says so. Research shows that stress can keep people from losing weight and might even cause added pounds. Even with eating well and exercising, an excessive amount of stress can counteract the efforts. That’s why meshing fitness and wellness works so well, Perkins says. “Stress reduction and relaxation can significantly improve weight loss,” she says. “That allows you to look and feel your absolute best.” • Because while improving your look, you also become healthier. People feel amazing not just because of elevated self-esteem, but because their body really is functioning better because of the diet and exercise, Perkins says. Energy levels will rise and “you will feel ready for anything,” she says. “You can look awesome and you can feel happy at the same time,” Perkins says. “It’s all about letting your true self shine.”
There’s this sense of empowerment when you exercise, eat a healthier diet and lose weight because it’s what you want and not because of peer pressure or societal pressures.
Time for Women
Why last month’s Women of the Wall drama was a big deal — and why it wasn’t by Ben Sales
TEL AVIV (JTA)—A man was trampled. A raucous protest broke out, restrained only by police. The Western Wall’s mechitza—a partition between men and women considered sacrosanct—was breached by those who ostensibly care about it most. The brouhaha that erupted last month at Women of the Wall’s monthly service brought back memories of the violence the group suffered in 2013. Month after month, crowds of haredi Orthodox Jews packed the plaza to block out the women’s section, with a small minority hurling stones, eggs, coffee, water and Nazi-themed epithets at the women’s prayer group. A second women’s group formed to galvanize opposition to Women of the Wall. Now the brawls are back. This time,
violence broke out after male supporters of Women of the Wall passed a full-size Torah scroll into the women’s section of the Kotel, allowing the group to read from it for the first time ever. Haredi Orthodox men knocked down and trampled the man who passed the scroll, and broke through the mechitza in a failed attempt to stop the women from reading Torah. For Women of the Wall, this is a double victory: Not only did they read from a proper Torah, they also drew renewed attention to Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz’s 2010 ban on Torah scrolls in the women’s section. While the Wall boasts more than 100 Torah scrolls, they’re all on the men’s side, preventing women from using them and making a full women’s holiday service next to impossible. If this incident creates
enough pressure to remove Rabinowitz’s ban, it will be a win for Women of the Wall. But really, Women of the Wall won its war two years ago. For decades, the group’s prayer was prohibited, its activists were detained and arrested, and their cause became a rallying cry for liberal Judaism— especially in the United States. But that ended in April 2013 when a Jerusalem district court judge ruled that their services were, in fact, legal. Overnight, the police switched from the praying women’s arresters to their protectors, surrounding them with a cordon. The mass protests that followed the court ruling—while dangerous and disturbing— were just trying to forestall the inevitable. And as those protests faded away, Women of the Wall’s issue faded from the public agenda. The group’s challenge,
as Chairwoman Anat Hoffman told JTA after the ruling, became “taking yes for an answer.” Since then, the group’s calls to remove the Torah ban haven’t gotten as much attention—even as the women succeeded in reading from a miniature, but still kosher, Torah scroll they smuggled in. Last month’s incident shows that women still don’t have equal rights at the Wall and that Women of the Wall’s supporters face physical harm. It also put the group back in the public eye. But no matter what happens next, Women of the Wall will still be able to conduct a worship service each month at the Western Wall— the goal the group pursued for decades and achieved two years ago.
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Time for Women
Why Israeli couples have surrogate pregnancies in Nepal by Ben Sales
TEL AVIV (JTA)—While Israel mobilizes to aid victims of Nepal’s earthquake and locate missing citizens, the Jewish state is paying special attention to the safety of 26 Israeli babies born of surrogate mothers in Nepal. Hundreds of Israeli couples choose surrogate pregnancy—where a couple’s embryo is implanted in another woman, who carries the pregnancy to term. Here’s why Israelis opt for surrogate pregnancies, and why so many choose surrogate mothers in places like Nepal. Why do Israelis choose surrogacy? Doesn’t Israel have pro-natal policies? Israel encourages couples to have children in a variety of ways. Aside from maternity leave policies that are far more generous than in the United States, the state heavily
subsidizes in-vitro fertilization for women who experience difficulty conceiving naturally and preimplantation genetic diagnosis for those who qualify. Since 1996, surrogacy also has been legal in Israel. Israelis typically choose surrogacy because they cannot carry a baby themselves—either because pregnancy would pose a significant health risk to the mother or if the couple cannot carry a fetus (for example, in the case of male same-sex couples). “People don’t choose this saying ‘How fun, I won’t have to be pregnant,’” says Mina Ulzary, co-founder of the Center for Surrogacy-Israel. “They choose it after difficult vacillations, both emotional and medical.” How does surrogacy work in Israel? Heterosexual Israeli parents who choose surrogate pregnancy either can find an
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Israeli woman to act as a surrogate or a the more popular countries. Surrogacy in woman from overseas. Although a bill to Israel costs approximately $64,000; surallow same-sex couples to have surrogate rogacy abroad can cost as low as $33,000. Most surrogacy pregnancies in i mpl a nt at ion s Israel passed succeed in an initial vote bringing the in the Knesset babies to term. last year, it has When they yet to become is the approximate cost of surrogacy don’t, couples law. For now, in Israel do not pay the same-sex Israeli full fee. couples must go Merav Levy, abroad for surdirector of rogacy and are Israeli Surrogate allowed to bring Motherhood, the child back to which encourIsrael. About 270 Israelis choose to have sur- ages surrogacy within Israel, says the Israeli rogate pregnancies every year, according to process is safer and more convenient for a Ulzary. Approximately two-thirds of them couple than traveling to a place like India choose foreign surrogates because the pro- to retrieve their baby. To bring a baby to cess is cheaper and surrogate mothers are Israel from abroad, a mother and father easier to find. Georgia and India are among must prove their DNA matches the baby’s and endure a bureaucratic process that can keep them from returning home for up to three weeks after the birth. From
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Why do some Israelis choose surrogacy in Nepal? Though the quality of health care in Nepal is seen as second rate, at best, Nepali surrogacy has become a popular choice for Israeli same-sex couples who are barred by local laws from surrogacy in countries with better medical care like India, Georgia and Thailand, Ulzary says. Israeli couples began having surrogate pregnancies in Nepal in 2012, according to Ulzary, who estimates that some 100 couples find surrogate mothers there every year. What does Jewish law say about surrogacy? Halachah, or Jewish law, allows surrogacy, and a rabbi is part of the Israeli Health Ministry committee that approves women for surrogate pregnancies. Babies born of surrogacy abroad must undergo a brief conversion process upon arriving in Israel, including immersion in a mikvah, according to Ulzary.
Time for Women
Joan Lunden shares her journey by Amy Cobb, JFS marketing and fundraising assistant
e enthusiastic. Always give the best you’ve got. Self-advocate. Those are just a few of the pieces of advice that Joan Lunden gave the audience of the packed Johnson Theater at Norfolk Academy on Sunday, April 26. Lunden, the former host of ABC’s Good Morning America, shared her journey during Jewish Family Service of Tidewater’s Spring Into Healthy Living program. Lunden was diagnosed with an aggressive breast cancer in June 2014 and has been a passionate advocate for breast cancer screening and awareness ever since. She urged the audience of mostly women to take charge of their health and to not feel guilty for taking care of themselves. The hour-long presentation was filled with stories of Lunden’s humble beginnings in television, with anecdotes of the people she’s met along the way, and with tips for everyone on how to live their best life. Her inspirational presentation received a standing ovation. During the event at Norfolk Academy, the audience also heard from Dr. Judith Salerno, president and chief executive officer of Susan G. Komen, who presented local, state and national statistics on breast cancer. Look for more about Jewish Family Services’ Spring into Healthy Living in the next issue of Jewish News. Jewish Family Service is a constituent agency of United Jewish Federation of Tidewater.
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Time for Women
Seven ways to celebrate a meaningful Shavuot by Maayan Jaffe/JNS.org
t sundown on Saturday, May 23, Jews around the world will start the two-day holiday (which lasts only one day in Israel) of Shavuot. Also known as the Festival of Weeks because it marks the completion of the counting of the Omer period—which is 49 days long, or seven weeks of seven days—Shavuot is one of the Jewish calendar’s shalosh regalim pilgrimage holidays. Unlike the other two pilgrimage festivals—Passover, which is marked through the retelling of the Exodus story at the seder, and Sukkot, which is celebrated by building a hut or sukkah outside one’s home—there is no definitive ritual associated with Shavuot in the text of the Torah. As such, many Jews struggle to connect with the holiday, which has another name: “Chag HaKatsir,” meaning the Harvest Festival. But despite its undefined nature, Shavuot “is a gift of a holiday,” says Roberta Miller, a teacher at Chicago Land Jewish Day School in Chicago. “It’s when we got the Ten Commandments, God’s greatest present to the Jewish people.” In that spirit, here are seven ways to infuse some meaning and minhag (tradition) into your Shavuot this year: 1. Food It is traditional on Shavuot to eat dairy foods. Rabbi Robyn Frisch, director of InterfaithFamily/Philadelphia, says some believe this is because the scripture compares Torah to “honey and milk… under your tongue” (Song of Songs 4:11). Another explanation is that when the Israelites received the Torah for the first time, they learned the kosher dietary laws and didn’t immediately have time to prepare kosher meat, so they ate dairy instead. Baking and consuming dairy foods can differentiate Shavuot from other holidays, says Miller. “We all have very strong memories associated with scent. If I smell a honey
cake, I think of my grandmother and Rosh Hashanah. The smell of cheesecake generates a connection to Shavuot for my kids,” she says. Miller also suggests ice cream cake. In her family, Shavuot marks the first ice cream cake of the season, building anticipation for the holiday. Just as no one in her house is allowed to eat matzah until the seder, she says, no one gets ice cream cake until the first night of Shavuot. 2. Games For families with young children, games are a great way to educate about the messages of Shavuot. Miller suggests counting games. “You can count up to 49 of anything: 49 ways Mommy loves you, 49 things you are grateful for,” she says. For slightly older children, Miller offers a Jewish commandments version of Pictionary®, in which before the holiday children draw their favorite commandment or commandments on a notecard. The cards are mixed up and put into a box or bag. Then members draw picture cards, and someone acts out each commandment while participants guess which commandment it is and why it is important. 3. Guests On the second day of Shavuot, we read the Book of Ruth, the story of the first Jew by choice. Frisch explains that it is also a story of welcoming the stranger and inclusivity. Shavuot is the perfect holiday for inviting new friends over for a meal, or for opening one’s home to people who are interested in learning more about Jewish traditions. 4. Jewish learning Taking part in a tikkun leil Shavuot—a night of Jewish learning—is another Shavuot custom. Many traditional Jews stay up all night on the first night of the holiday to study Torah. Today, many non-observant Jews aren’t affiliated with a particular synagogue, so Frisch suggests hosting a communal night of
20 | Jewish News | May 4, 2015 | Women | jewishnewsva.org
An illustration of the Shavuot holiday. Moritz Daniel Oppenheim, Google Art Project via Wikimedia Commons.
learning (not affiliated with any particular religious sect or institution) to draw a diverse mix of Jewish learners. “Jewish learning is being reclaimed,” Frisch says. For people who live in smaller communities without a formal Shavuot learning event, Frisch says there are multiple online sources that can be used to organize a grassroots evening of learning at an individual’s home. “Jewish learning doesn’t have to be Biblical texts. … Torah is more than the Five Books of Moses. It could be liberal values or social justice or just a discussion about Jewish identity or Jewish laws,” Frisch says. 5. King David birthday party Tradition has it that King David, Ruth’s (as in the Book of Ruth) great-grandson, was born and died on Shavuot. Miller suggests holding a King David birthday party with decorations, cake, ice cream and gifts. “Use it as a learning tool,” she says, noting how the party can springboard into a historical discussion. “What would you write on a card to [King David]? What do you want to ask him? What would he want for a present? What would he put in the goody bag that he gives to each of us?”
6. Nature On Shavuot, it is customary to decorate homes and synagogues with flowers and plants. Ruthie Kaplan, who lives in the Nachlaot neighborhood of Jerusalem and is a former Hebrew school teacher, says that this tradition of being surrounded with the lushness of the natural world could “add a lot of beauty to the day.” Shavuot comes in the late spring or early summer, when the weather is perfect and the flowers are blossoming. Kaplan says that is “the perfect time” to connect with nature and appreciate the “beauty of the world that God created for us.” 7. Setting goals/reflections Kaplan says that a deeper reading of the Book of Ruth can transform Shavuot from another Jewish holiday into an opportunity to set goals and resolutions. Ruth, she says, believed in something (Judaism) and followed through on her belief. “That story of Ruth excites me and really comes to life on Shavuot,” says Kaplan. “Ruth is open to the truth and therefore she sees it and she is willing to be honest with herself. For anyone searching and struggling, Ruth is a good role model for life.”
Book Review Don’t pass on this one Passing in Review 30 Years of Literary Criticism and Articles from Jewish News of Southeastern Virginia Hal Sacks Edited by Terri Denison Parke Press, 2015 248 pages, ISBN 978-0-9883969-6-8
al Sacks knows a lot—about a lot of things. This local treasure of a community member is whipsmart, well traveled, multi-talented and as experienced in a boardroom as he is in a kitchen. When you meet Sacks in person, however, you don’t get the impression of a high-falutin’ know-it-all. You get a dose of folksy charm, a splash of wit, a sprinkle of news or something he thinks you may find interesting—and, if you’re lucky, a story. Or two, or three. Fortunately for readers of Sacks’ new book, and for those who have read his articles, essays and reviews—of all kinds— over the past 30 years in the Jewish News, Sacks the writer is virtually the same as Sacks the man. In Passing in Review: 30 Years of Literary Criticism and Articles from Jewish News of Southeastern Virginia, editor Terri Denison has pulled together an array of Sacks gems culled from the Jewish News archives, Renewal magazine, and more current News issues. Sacks is the Book Review editor for the 22-issue-a-year Jewish community newspaper. In addition to book reviews, he has written on a range of topics, from his trips overseas to restaurant reviews, from baseball to bok choy. More than 125 diverse discourses are separated into nine categories that run a gamut of genres, such as Biographies, For Cooks, History Matters and This and That. Dates of publication in the Jewish News are provided at the end of each entry, where updates—when relevant—are also added. Without sounding academic or professorial, Sacks describes people or places he’s visited, inserts quotes and synopses of books, and has the ability to matter-of-fact-
ly slip in facts to make a reader think, “I didn’t know that. Hmm, sounds interesting. Think I may want to read this book-go visit this place-find out more.” You may have to have a dictionary nearby for some of the vocabulary—anegyric, impecunious, eponymous—Sacks does have a master’s degree in American Literature from Columbia University, or you can just move on to the next paragraph where you’re likely to find words like hanky panky, scrumptious, or mind-numbing. Written mostly for a Jewish audience, many of the pieces include Hebrew or Yiddish words. You don’t have to know about Israeli politics, or history, or cooking, or bestsellers or the Tidewater Jewish community’s foundations to relish the writing in this book. Some of the reviews in this book of reviews include mentions of other reviews—(a touch of wordplay that this reviewer thinks would make Sacks chuckle with delight). Almost all of the pieces contain some personal insight or aside, which boost Sacks’ credibility and add to the readability of his writing. This is Sacks’ second book. His first, Hal’s Navy (2013, Parke Press) was an equally well-written, humorous and memorable recounting of Sacks’ 22-year Naval career that spanned the Korean War, the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Vietnam War. In one of his book reviews, Sacks writes: Our reviewer has had this first novel by Eliezer Sobel on the desk for a couple of months and when the author emailed Jewish News recently with a gentle nudge, like, “Nu? When are you going to read it already?” we duly noted that it had taken him 20 years to write it, so what was the rush? Our suggestion? Rush out and buy this digestible and informative collection. Don’t pass on Passing in Review. Join the community for a book launch party and reception, featuring Hal Sacks, the man! See page 25. —Laine Mednick Rutherford is marketing and communications manager for United Jewish Federation of Tidewater.
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Take off on the vacation of your dreams with our low Home Equity Line of Credit rate. OldPoint.com | 757.728.1200 ©2015 Old Point National Bank Only applies to new interest-only lines. Minimum loan amount of $10,000. Minimum initial credit advance of $10,000 must be taken when the account is opened. The minimum ongoing credit advance for this account is $300. 1.99% Introductory Annual Percentage Rate (APR) is available with a 85% loan-to-value (LTV) or less. The interest rate will be fixed at 1.99% APR during the 12-month introductory period. The HELOC has a draw period of 10 years and a balloon payment will result if only the minimum monthly payment is made. If you made only the minimum monthly payments and took no other credit advances, it would take 10 years to pay off a credit advance of $10,000 at an APR of 3.25%. During the Draw Period, you would make 119 monthly payments of $27.08. This would be followed by one final payment of $10,027.09. After the 12-month introductory period, the APR will vary. The index is the base rate on corporate loans posted by at least 70% of the 10 largest US banks known as the Wall Street Journal US Prime Rate and is published in the Wall Street Journal. As of December 2014, the variable rate for home equity lines of credit ranges from Prime (3.25% APR) to Prime plus 2 (5.25% APR). Higher rates apply for higher LTV, and rates are dependent on other factors. The rate will not vary above 24% APR nor below 1.99% APR. Offer is subject to normal credit qualifications. There is a processing fee of $100. Third party fees range from $150 - $1,500. Rates are subject to change. Property insurance is required. Only owner-occupied property. Consult your tax advisor regarding the deductibility of interest. Some restrictions may apply. Offer subject to change. Member FDIC.
jewishnewsva.org | May 4, 2015 | Jewish News | 21