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Monthly Memoirs Tuesday, 08/01/2023

"The Times They Are a-Changin"

August 2023 Monthly Memoir

For better or worse, times keep changing no matter what. As many of you can relate, seeing your loved ones at a distance or through a glass door or window felt almost apocalyptic through most of 2020 and into 2021 due to the pandemic lockdowns. My own personal experience was no different in downtown Ridgewood. Although my parents’ house was only a mile away, it felt like 1000.  We waited almost 2 years to see each other “up close and personal.”  Thankfully they were savvy enough years ago to install a big sliding glass door from their kitchen to the deck little knowing it would be our savior years later.

My dear friend and former President of the JHSNJ, Dorothy Douma Greene, encouraged me to write about the last few years of my life and where things stand today. A series of life circumstances combined with this ‘once in a lifetime pandemic’ created change in everyone’s life, and mine was no different. What we did with this opportunity, or lack thereof was up to us.
2020 began in a one bedroom apartment in Ridgewood, the town where I was born and raised. It was the typical “bachelor lifestyle” with my only responsibilities being my job and to enjoy myself within reason. That quickly changed. Rather than isolating in either my or my long-time girlfriend’s apartment, we decided to rent a house together along with her young son. As fate would have it, the parents of my childhood friend had a home for rent on the east side of town near the Valley Hospital and we jumped at the opportunity. Our expenses came out to about the same, only now we had our very own yard, basement, and even a grill to pass the time. The yard beckoned for more action, so we filled it with two horribly behaved psychotic puppies by the fall. To this day, they are both the loves of my life as well as my nagging mortal enemies. The months of forced isolation consisted of work, taking the dogs on walks, and trying to make the pups socially presentable to the outside world.  Occasional Netflix series were thrown into the mix. Although there has been improvement, we certainly are not totally there yet as far as the dogs being presentable.

This new life of mine required a level of maturity that I hadn’t previously been accustomed to or asked of, and despite all my resisting it turns out we didn’t really have a choice. My new family, dogs and house provided a proverbial line of demarcation in my life as I once knew it, and things only kept accumulating from there. After a few years of our dress rehearsal in a rented home we decided to perhaps try it with our own home. A house in Washington Township, where I also had my Bar Mitzvah in 1998 at the now defunct Temple Beth Or* had been on and off the market a few times as I closely and curiously watched it online. When it became available for the 3rd time, we couldn’t let it get away. Our offer was made and accepted within a few hours of the house being back on the market. What had we just done!!??

I had moved several times over the years, but just by myself. There is no manual that tells you about moving with a significant other, her son, two dogs, and lugging at least twice as much stuff along with us. There really should be! As I write this while looking out the window at our new front lawn, which needs minor landscaping attention, it truly is incredible how much has changed in the last 3 years. We, like all of you, have had no choice but to roll with the times as they certainly are different than any other during my life. I am grateful that we managed to make a good situation into a great one over the past few years. Obviously my sympathies go out to whoever has not been quite as fortunate. We played the cards we were dealt the best we could, and that bachelor lifestyle of “living alone, grabbing a quick dinner and meeting buddies for a drink” no longer exists. Now, my routine is rising early every day to let the dogs out and caring for our new home, parlayed into long/hard days of work so we can afford to keep this new lifestyle that has grown on me in an incredibly favorable fashion. 

If you told me 15 years ago as I was pursuing a fairly successful career in professional golf that I would be a suburban dog dad and on a first name basis with many employees at Home Depot, I would have called you crazy. But here we are. Even though our new home is only 3 miles away from my old apartment in Ridgewood where I lived most of my life, Washington Township also feels like 1000 miles away. Although Temple Beth Or is no longer there, it does feel like coming full circle to land back in the town where I was celebrated on “becoming a man.” This is the town where we three are now building roots for a bright and beautiful future. 
Before I sign off, I would like to impart to you some quick history on Washington Township: It was founded in 1840 between the territories of the Hackensack and Saddle River that had been part of Harrington Township.  It’s roughly 3 square miles and currently has a population of about 9,285 which will now include myself, Julia, and Julian who will start in the new school system this fall. The dogs do not count in the census as far as I know. It is no surprise the town is named for George Washington. I guess some of us leave our imprint in spirit, some by our Bar Mitzvahs and some by adding to the population growth.

*According to the Kol Dorot website(
Temple Beth El and Temple Beth Or merged in 2017 “with a vision that is an open and welcoming Reform Jewish Community meeting the new and changing needs of Jews and Jewish families today.”


Todd Shagin, Friend of the JHSNJ
Portfolio Manager, Private Wealth Advisor


Todd BarMitzvah
Todd with his mom
Todd in 2022 at White Beeches Gold and CC