Sandy Nogg opened her Summer Speaker talk last Friday night with an anecdote about how she came to be known as the “Candy Lady” by the younger members of the congregation, much to the consternation of the children’s teachers and parents. It’s a light, fun story that serves to highlight Sandy’s personality and the whole of her speech.

Sandy’s story is a fascinating one. The daughter of a Filipino doctor who had coverted to Protestantism from Catholicism, and who urged his daughters to chart their own path, to make their own choices in life. Sandy’s mother was Methodist, and that’s the religion the family seemed to most embrace, though as the girls got older, they both went their own, different ways: Sandy converted to Judaism, while her sister chose Catholicism.

Before her conversion, though, Sandy was a staunch Methodist, who decried the Pope’s late ’60s decree that mass services be held in English. She had taken two years of Latin in high school and understood the service just fine as it was, thank you very much.

Sandy’s story takes us through her first marriage, to a “Persian,” as she referred to him, as calling him a Muslim would be a disservice to practicing Muslims, and her first child, before she returned to Omaha a divorced single mom. Feeling something was missing from her life, Sandy chose to convert to Judaism and, as she put it, “I married a Jew,” whom she has been with for nearly 40 years now.

Sandy quickly became involved with Temple Israel and all its various committees, filling her with what she felt was missing earlier in her life. Her tale is a heartwarming one, of her family and friends at Temple Israel, and the strong community she found here. I urge you to listen, in her own words, as she, the Gift Shop Lady, tells you how she got here and why it’s so important to her.


(NOTE: The camera is a little shaky at the beginning of Sandy’s speech, but it steadies after a minute or two. My apologies, I was playing with the settings.)