Education doesn’t have to take place in the classroom, and it doesn’t have to stop after a certain age or milestone. Rivka Klein, 36, believes in continued learning for herself and those she cares about.
After graduating from Shalhevet High School, a local school that shut down years ago, Klein went to Israel for a year. When she came back to Pikesville, she went to Towson University to receive her bachelor’s degree. Now, Klein is the proud owner of Pompomz Personalized Gifts.
Klein is also a third-generation Baltimorean. She and her husband, Shimy, live in Pikesville with their five children. The Klein family belongs to Kehillas Ohr Yisrael, Congregation Tiferes Yisroel and Congregation Shomrei Emunah.
How did you decide to start Pompomz?
I actually worked for a marriage counselor for about 15 years. During COVID-19, I was phasing out of that. I’m very creative naturally, and I like to crochet, so I actually bought my business from Kori Pomerantz. She was selling her gift business. I bought it about two years ago, and now I run it. My first job as mom is to be with my kids and to do whatever they need. So I needed that flexibility, but I also wanted a way to be creative. I have my family schedule and do my own thing, which is really great. When you have five kids, you need that flexibility.
Outside of work, are there any hobbies that you’re passionate about?
I like to continue to learn, so I’m actually part of a group called Elevate. It’s basically women from ages 20 to 40 who are learning different Jewish topics. So I do a bunch of classes with them, and I really enjoy that.
How did you hear about Elevate?
I think a friend had said she was starting the Elevate program. It’s basically a program for married women to get together and learn because there’s a lot of programs for unmarried women or for older women who are retired age. But there wasn’t for the 20- to 40-year-old range people. A friend had told me she’s trying to get people together, so I went.
How would you describe your personal relationship with Judaism?
It’s pretty strong. I’m always trying to grow and learn and become a better Jewish person. Whether it’s listening to my kids and what they learn in school or whether it’s going to classes, I’m always trying to grow and learn.
What is something someone would be surprised to learn about you?
I met my husband when I was 14, and we’ve been together ever since. I was 20 when I got married, and he was 21.
As someone who lived in Israel for a bit, how are you feeling during these times?
It’s very unsettling. It’s pretty crazy. It’s hard to put into words how I feel about it. It’s just insane. It’s something you never imagined could possibly happen, but it’s happening. It only makes me feel like mashiach is coming soon. I’ve got a feeling, like this is terrible and this is impossible, and how could this ever happen? But the only explanation to me is that obviously mashiach is coming soon. Why else would this terrible, crazy tragedy be happening?
Do you have family in Israel?
Yes. We’re in touch pretty much every day. I know what’s going on, on the ground level. But they truly believe that they’re in the place they want to be in. That’s where they want to raise their kids and where they want to live. They stand with Israel. Even though there is a war going on, there’s nowhere else they’d rather be.
How do you try and instill a passion for continued learning in your children?
Let’s say they want some downtime, I don’t put them in front of a screen. If for whatever reason we need to sit down, they are watching educational things like how-to videos and medical videos. I’m always trying to further their knowledge. I encourage them to share what they learn in school. My husband is always learning and growing. Hopefully we’re going to impart our kids just by doing it. They’ll see it, and they’ll follow our lead.