My mother passed away on February 20. I got to spend the last two days of her life with her. She was not afraid, she was ready, and she died peacefully without pain.

Jewish tradition requires us to observe a seven-day mourning period called Shiva. When we "sit Shiva" we don't leave the house, so people from the synagogue bring us food and take care of menial tasks. They bring the services to us and say the daily prayers in our home, including Kaddish, the Jewish prayer for the dead. Once Shiva is over, I will continue to say Kaddish for my mother during daily prayers and on Shabbat for 11 months to honor her life and her memory.

Shiva gives you a lot of time to think, and I spent the past week thinking a lot about the lessons I learned from my mother. Sandra Pushkin was a proud Jewish woman. She was born in Brooklyn to immigrant parents who arrived in America with nothing. They taught her to be frugal and work hard, which she did her entire life. The only thing she loved more than the Jewish community and Israel was her family.

My mother was devoted to her husband, her children, her family and her friends. She taught me to waste nothing and appreciate everything. Responsibility was big with my mother. Not just being responsible for yourself and your family, but the responsibility we all have to help others, to practice kindness and charity, to stand up for what is right and to speak up for those who have no voice.

So as I sat there reflecting on my own life, I took heart from the lessons my mother taught me.

Be responsible. That means providing for my family, being accountable to my clients, behaving ethically at home and at work, contributing to my community, my people, my country and my planet.

Be grateful. Appreciate where you came from and everything you have. Treat others with kindness.

Be happy. Even though my mother was a big worrier, a trait I inherited, she always had a smile for everyone. She enjoyed taking care of people. She wanted to make sure everyone always had enough to eat. She ended every one of our phone conversations with "I love you, up to the sky and into space."

Be present. Understand what is important and what isn't. Don't sweat the small stuff. Always treat family, friends, clients, employees, colleagues and strangers with kindness, respect, dignity and love.

There are a lot of people who teach us important lessons in life. Sometimes we are too busy or too arrogant to remember to appreciate those lessons. Sometimes we need to sit Shiva to finally understand what it was that they were trying to tell us. If we are lucky, we will keep those memories with us when we stand up and move on.

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