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Power Switch

Michal Eisikowitz

They may spend much of their day in corporate boardrooms or hectic emergency rooms, but when frum women who are leaders in their fields get home to the kitchen, they switch their focus and their demeanor. How do they pull it off?

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Every Erev Pesach, a besnooded Brandie (Lerner) Geizhals would whiz around her kitchen, scrubbing and schlepping and peeling potatoes until her hands got raw. And every so often, she’d envision a recent work conference, and a bemused smile would creep onto her face. If they only knew how many potatoes I just peeled! she’d think. For nearly 27 years, Brandie — an endlessly energetic Kew Gardens mother of seven — worked at Pfizer, serving as IT division leader for a chunk of her tenure and managing up to 23 employees. Her stature was such that when she walked into the cafeteria, employees would instantly filter their speech, knowing she didn’t appreciate foul language. When she entered a meeting, attendees would immediately quiet down and start taking notes. “It was really funny. At work, everyone would hang on to what I say, look to me for answers. At home, I was treated just as ‘badly’ as any other parent — I had to nag four times before someone took out the garbage!” Brandie’s potato snapshot illustrates the jarring contrast that defines today’s high-powered frum woman: decisive, assertive manager by day; caring, empathetic homemaker by night. How do women likeBrandie manage to wear such different hats? And how does a high-powered position color other relationships and roles in a woman’s life?

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