A new path for a longtime Jewish professional
Photos: Courtesy Karen Hoffman
The growing Hoffman family was grateful to be together for Passover 2021. Back row, from left, are David, Brian, Alan and Aaron; front row, Dr. Alyssa Krentzel, Amanda and Karen Hoffman and Nicole Rich.

Karen Hoffman starts fresh with Living on Purpose

By Deb Silverthorn

Karen Hoffman is beginning the Jewish new year with attention to intention in her new endeavor to help people lead lives of greater meaning in community with others.

Her company, Living on Purpose, offers workshops, activities and resources to help people cultivate practices of self-care, compassion and gratitude. 

Through a partnership with the Retreat House Spirtual Center community in Richardson, she will lead a five-part Zoom series on Wisdom and Aging, beginning at noon on Oct. 5. 

“In the last year-plus, we’ve all changed how we related to people in almost every way,” said Hoffman. “But relationships and life haven’t stopped and, even by Zoom, I’ve been able to delve into the hearts of those I connect to. We’re all writing new chapters and I’m excited to share mine.”

Hoffman is offering individual, small group, classroom and corporate workshops. 

“I offer a ‘soul curriculum,’” said Hoffman. “Balance and harmony in life are critical.”

Through one-time sessions or ongoing groups, interactive workshops, retreats and customized meetings for people of all ages, Hoffman hopes to guide participants to be fully present in whatever they’re experiencing.

“The real deal,” is how both longtime friend Rhonda Duchin and Congregation Beth Torah’s Director of Congregational Learning Beri Schwitzer describe Hoffman.

“We met at a Hadassah meeting, both pregnant with our third children. We’ve become family and we’ve been through everything together,” said Duchin. “Karen is an inspiration, a mentor and teacher who lights up any room. She understands living one’s true and purposeful life and shares the tools for focusing on what is important.”

Schwitzer met Hoffman through Jewish Family Service and has watched her impact on the Jewish community through her many roles. “Karen has, through many avenues, captured the hearts of our community. She’s compassionate and her kindness and goodness leave fingerprints wherever she is. Her classes open every heart and mind and you can actually see the burden of the world of a participant leave, their soul softened through her process. Even virtually, Karen fills the cups of our souls.”

Roz Katz, a tutor at Temple Emanu-El who has taken numerous classes with, and from, Hoffman through the synagogue and Temple and the Retreat House Community, said: “Karen used this time we’ve all been ‘in’ to deeper explore her own soul. By doing so she will further enrich each of ours and you can’t help but be captivated by her smile. Whatever I’ve ever done with her has been more meaningful because of her.”

A Southern California native, Hoffman is the daughter of Dr. Bob and Ruth Pushkin and sister to of Dr. Sharon Pushkin and Linda Suffin. A University of California at Los Angeles graduate, she was raised at congregations Valley Beth Shalom and Stephen S. Weiss. She and her husband Alan have been married since 1982 and are the parents of Brian, David and Aaron. In the past 18 -months, the Hoffmans have welcomed Brian’s wife Amanda (married last October), David’s fiancé Alyssa Krentzel (a spring wedding is planned) and Aaron’s girlfriend Nicole Rich, into their family.

Hoffman, who began her career as an accounting supervisor, realized early on that she wanted to work with people, not numbers. She returned to school at the University of Judaism (now American Jewish University) and earned her MBA in nonprofit management.

She worked at the Jewish Home for the Aging (now Los Angeles Jewish Home), where her professional career flourished under the guidance of an internship with the director, Sheldon Blumenthal, of blessed memory.

She says her work with Blumenthal and her experience in the Ulpan in Israel program of the Los Angeles Bureau of Jewish Education in 1977 were pivotal in her career combining caring and Jewish connections. “These ‘moments’” she said, “absolutely directed my life’s compass.”

The Hoffmans moved to Dallas in 1990 and she volunteered at Golden Acres Home for the Jewish Aged (now Legacy Senior Communities) with Dr. Herb Shore, to whom she also attributes kavod, respect, for her learning and growth in the field. Hoffman has worked at the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center and Jewish Family Service of Dallas in the areas of programming and other services for seniors.

For 14 years, until this past November, Hoffman worked at Temple Emanu-El in a variety of roles including as its program director, director of congregational engagement and also interim executive director. “I cultivated relationships and put people at the core of everything we offered. Not as tasks and ‘programs’ but focusing on the depth of relationships,” said Hoffman. “It was important to all of us that Temple not be ‘just’ a place for the High Holy Days but a place to connect, to focus and to always be part of something special.”

Hoffman’s 60th birthday fell on Election Day 2020. The day after she worked with Temple leaders at a polling booth, she decided it was time for something new. She took a personal sabbatical from her career, had many conversations with personal and professional relations, and took her son Aaron’s advice to “find your next.” With the unconditional support and love of her family, she’s found just that.

Hoffman has set forth on her own journey to lead the journeys of others. Her husband, sons and parents, all on her advisory board, have faith she will succeed.

“Karen is so special, so natural and so motivated for this new project,” said her mother Ruth. “From the time she was a child, we saw her caring nature and the depth of her concern for others.” 

Her dad, Bob, agreed: “As she grew up, her kindness and spirituality motivated her to help others find their passions. She is definitely a ‘people person.’ That’s why she’s found so much love among her family, friends and associates and why we’re so proud to call her our daughter.”

Aaron, who spent extensive time in Dallas during the pandemic, speaks for himself and his brothers in saying his mom’s gumption isn’t surprising at all.

“Mom has taught all of us to follow our dreams. We all have careers that we love and that touch and support others,” he said. “To see her realize her joy, her own strength and for her to find her stride by creating a business of pure intention, is a gift.”

In addition to her offerings through Retreat House Community, Hoffman works with Hillel, NewCAJE (professional development for Jewish educators), partnering with a yoga studio in Los Angeles and planning, with a group in Israel, a series on the holistic approach to creating.

“I’ve learned to combine my business management background and people-caring works,” said Hoffman. “Now, I’m excited to build something from the start.”

Hoffman said she asked herself: “What opportunity, if you pass it up, do you imagine regretting? This work, and this time, isn’t about the money;  it’s about the soul and this is my soul work.”

For more information about Living on Purpose, visit livingonpurpose.us. To register for the Wisdom and Aging series, visit retreathousecommunity.org

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