Go help somebody else

Rivian Marcus

Title: Parachaplain, Ruth Rales Jewish Family Service, Jewish Federation Of South Palm Beach County, Boca Raton.

Other job experience: Retired interior designer, lecturer on cruise ships, at libraries and at organizational gatherings on topics such as positive thinking, feng shui interior design, removing clutter from your life

Other community posts: Former trustee, B'nai Torah Congregation, Boca Raton.

Personal: Age 82. Born inPhiladelphia.

Family: Married to Harold Marcus, a retired pharmacist. Three sons, seven grandchildren .

How did you get into your vocation?

I was diagnosed with cancer at age 58. A friend saw how positive I was and how I encouraged others and suggested I be a parachaplain. I took a three-year course, and when we moved to Florida, I contacted the Jewish Federation to ask about being a volunteer and got involved almost immediately. My husband and I helped out at a rehabilitation center and started doing Shabbat services.

It was hard to leave, but we decided to start services in our assisted living community, Stratford Court. My husband has Alzheimer's now and isn't able to help, but I do the services as well as services or parties on all Jewish holidays.

What's the one most mistaken impression about your faith?

People don't often understand what was done to the Jewish people through the centuries. We're stereotyped as pushy, but we have had to learn to survive. I tell people God didn't choose us as his people to get rich or famous. We were chosen to be an example to the world on how to be kind, good and generous people.

Favorite part of your work?

Doing for others does more for me than anything. If I feel I'm able to touch someone or ease some pain or sorrow, I find joy. One woman said she was never interested in going to shul (synagogue) growing up. Then she came to one of my services, and she has a newfound connection with her faith.

Hardest part?

Some people tell me I do too much or tell me I'm Miss Goody Two-Shoes. I've learned to ignore that because I truly love what I do.

What book have you been recommending lately?

I love reading family stories, no romance novels or mysteries. I love the Irish author Maeve Binchy. She integrates a story with the characters so well. It's like eating a good piece of cake when I get into her stories. One of my favorites was "Evening Class." It was brilliant.

Do you have a hero?

My main hero was my mother. She set such a great example for me. I don't know anyone who was or is as generous as she was, and she didn't have a lot. She came through Ellis Island and was turned away at first. She was pregnant, and her husband was ill. Her husband later died and she married my father and had to work hard, but always provided for others.

What person in history would you like most to meet?