Judy Berlfein on Aspects of Family

judy2I’ve seen Judy in yoga class once a week for a few years. She always requests neck and shoulder stretches because of how much time she works at a computer. After class she might discreetly announce Meet-The-Candidate events and fundraisers. She’ll say one or two sentences and add, “Let me know if you’d like more information.” At a fundraiser brunch in her backyard, I was introduced to egg-in-a-jar and a team of volunteers from her family and the community. It was obvious that Judy has created a life in which she’s surrounded by love.

Many people would describe you as a hippie. What do you think about that as a word/movement/culture?

I’ll just tell you the first thing that comes to mind. I’m the youngest of 4 girls and I was born in 1958 and I really looked up to my sisters. They were all hippies in the 60’s and 70’s. I wanted to be just like them; I wanted to be a hippie. But they grew out of it and I never did.

So it has a positive connotation for you?

My only concern is that maybe people don’t listen to me or take me seriously because they put me in a box. Like when a neighbor cut down her Torrey Pine tree. She asked me what I thought and I understood that it was pulling up her driveway. She said, “Oh good. I talked to the other neighbors and they said, ‘Probably no one on this street would mind except for Judy and [her husband] Dadla.’” I don’t like being put in a box.

You mentioned your sisters. What have you learned from your parents and siblings?

I’m incredibly blessed. Hmmm… who in my family challenges me? I had the best parents one could ever have. And my siblings, we have been close and together for the past 15 years when judysfavoritemy parents haven’t been well. I said at one of my sister’s weddings that there are tons of ways we’re all similar and tons of ways we’re all different. So I guess I learned that you can always find a way to connect with someone, even if they have a lot of pieces that are different than you.

What keeps you in San Diego?

I didn’t want to live in LA because that’s where my whole family was. So that was too intense. Family gatherings were all the time and I felt obligated to participate in all of them. And generally I don’t like LA. It’s too big of a city with too many people. But I didn’t want to be so far that if they needed me I wouldn’t be able to drive there. So this was a happy medium.

What keeps me here now is that it’s an amazing place to live. We live in a house that we’ve made really nice and we’re really close to the beach. And they finally put an underpass in [under the train tracks at Santa Fe Drive] so we can walk there. And [my daughter] Rosie is here. I’ve raised 2 children here and I have a community of people that I’ve created. My roots go down very far. Once I stand firmly somewhere, I don’t move.

How does religion fit into your life?

My father grew up Jewish Orthodox and my mother grew up reform. My father called my mother the “Jewish WASP.” We just had the Jewish holidays [Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur ] and I went to temple for both of them. I really enjoyed it. Some years I don’t enjoy it as much as other years. I’m mostly culturally Jewish with a little bit of observance. We light the candles sometimes and I make a really good challah.

Did you consider religion when choosing your mate?

Dadla’s father was Jewish and his mother wasn’t. But he didn’t know his father was Jewish until he was 18. His father kept it a secret because he had been in a concentration camp and thought there was going to be another holocaust. So, after we had been dating a bit and I spent Christmas with him, I said, “If we’re gonna stay together, we better talk about this.” Our agreement was that we would raise the kids Jewish but we would still celebrate Christmas because that was important to him. He has become more Jewish over time. It’s kinda funny. I used to go to the High Holidays with the kids and without him. Now I go with him and the kids don’t come.JudyYoga

You and Dadla have a wonderful relationship. What annoys you the most about him and how do you deal with it?

What annoys me the most about him is what I love the most about him. He’s a total dreamer and if he didn’t have me, he’d be floating up in the sky. Sometimes that can be really frustrating and challenging but it also makes our lives a lot more interesting. If I wasn’t married to him, this house would look the same as it did the day we moved in. And we have some land in Canada. We definitely wouldn’t have that without him- he’s able to dream about things.

What is vital for a sustainable marriage?

To have a happy marriage, it certainly helps to find someone who you share interests and sensibilities with. I mean, I can’t deny that. But beyond that, what I tell my kids all the time, or other friends who are still looking for love, I think listening, hearing, not wanting to be right, being willing to say you’re sorry even if you still think you’re right. That’s most important- you have to be willing to be the first person to say you’re sorry. And just keep a bigger picture in mind.

If you won $40 million, how would you spend your days?

I’d give it all back. (laughs). Actually, I’d give most of it away. And then I would volunteer for Citizens’ Climate Lobby. I volunteer for them now, but I would spend more time doing it. And I’d work to put a pedestrian bridge through the lagoon from Cardiff to Solana Beach. Then if you’re on the Rail Trail you could go through the lagoon and not have to get on Highway 101. I would pay for the bridge out of my $40 million so the city wouldn’t be able to say, “No, that’s too expensive.”

Rosie designs lingerie. Do you ever wish she was designing something else? What do you think about the lingerie industry?tevye

So, Rosie designs bathing suits and lingerie. And [my son] Misha is a computer programmer and is really into watching baseball and football on tv. I had never been to a baseball game before he dragged us to one. And I’d never been to a fashion show before she started being in them. So I feel like I’ve learned a lot about the fashion industry. I was completely judgemental in the beginning but now I can see it from a few different angles. I still have some issues- and so does she as a woman, trying to figure out what she wants to be and do and how to understand the art of it versus the sexism part of it. So I’m trying to learn to appreciate the art of fashion, which I had no idea about before.  And do I ever wish she was a doctor or a lawyer or had a regular paycheck? (shrugs). It can be challenging. But I just support her and understand her world. In the very beginning I was her tester because my breasts are small and that was what she needed. My parents taught me to find the positive in something that could be negative. And how to think your kids are wonderful no matter what they do.

What Judy didn’t say when talking about her “really nice” house is that it’s energy-efficient! She and Dadla can help you do the same to your digs. www.ponizilenergy.com


  1. Terry Sprague · · Reply

    Great article, Rachel! My son Riley and Judy’s daughter, Rosie are born within weeks of each other and spent some of their early years playing together while Judy and I had as interesting conversations as was possible for two exhausted, sometimes overwhelmed new mothers could have. I’d love to take yoga with you and her in the class. Which class does she attend? Cheers, Terry


    1. Judy takes the Monday 8:30am class at Yoga Viva, 124 Seeman Drive, 92024. Rosie’s usually there too. 🙂


  2. Liz Lacy · · Reply

    It was really nice to reconnect with Judy in class on Monday. Her son and my daughter went through elementary school together. She has always been such an advocate for her family, our community, and the environment. Thanks Judy for the good you do, for your smile, and now sharing yoga with me in Rachel’s class.


  3. judy berlfein · · Reply

    Thanks Rachel — it’s pretty fun to read about yourself, and thank you for being curious enough to ask all those questions. Thank you to Liz and Terry for your kind words.


  4. Wonderful article!! Judy has always been beautifully straight-forward, and you really capture that here. After college, she was wanting a sense of community–and she has clearly created it in every way–family, friends, neighbors and wider community.


  5. Liz Stimson · · Reply

    Wonderful!! So glad that George and I are her neighbors! And Dadla’s too!


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