Rabbi Margaret Holub

Chapter Two: Work or Retire?

Chapter Two illustrates by the year 2030, workers over the age of 55 are set to equal one-quarter of the global labor force. One study predicts that 150 million jobs worldwide will shift to that age group – a number almost equal to the entire working population of the U.S. today.

I am thrilled to be participating in the global collaborative project, 1 in 6 by 2030, alongside renowned photojournalists. Recent photo essays include Chapter One: 72, Jude Thilman: "A Life of Activism", Chapter Two: Work or Retire?, Rabbi Margaret Holub: "Being of Service" and Dr. Robin Serrahn: "What does work require of me now?".

This project is a natural extension of my lifestyle photography which documents every day, real life moments.  If there's someone in your life whom you would like to celebrate through a photo essay, I invite you to start a conversation with me.

Being of Service

Rabbi Margaret Holub

During Rabbi Margaret's college years, she grappled with profound questions of morality, exploring Catholicism and encountering radical Christianity, such as the Catholic Worker movement. These experiences ignited her interest in her Jewish heritage. From there, she embarked on a journey to learn Jewish rituals and delve into the Torah, ultimately leading her to pursue rabbinical school.

Attending Hebrew Union College, the Reform movement's seminary, she found herself in a contrasting environment: white bread academia during the school year, and immersive engagement with the Catholic Worker movement and Skid Row's homeless population during breaks. This exposure to diverse worlds profoundly shaped her, nurturing her commitment to advocating for marginalized communities alongside her rabbinical studies.

Though Rabbi Margaret engages in occasional activism, her focus lies in daily life among her community, experiencing its challenges and joys. Presently, she is supporting Rabbis for Ceasefire, which was formed as an ad hoc response to the Oct. 7 Hamas attack. Witnessing the embrace of communal living and mutual support in the Mendocino Community moved her profoundly. When invited to become their rabbi at age thirty, she eagerly accepted, finding solace and purpose in their midst.

Over the next thirty-five years, she became intertwined with the fabric of this community, learning as much as she taught and forming enduring bonds. Alongside, Rabbi Margaret met and married Mickey Chalfin, sharing thirty-three years of devoted companionship until his passing in March 2022.

Looking ahead to the challenges of our global future, she reflects on where she can make a meaningful difference. So far, the answer remains "right here," within this community that has become her home and source of inspiration. As time has passed, she has grown more introspective and contemplative, finding solace in art and embracing this new phase of widowhood with gratitude for the richness of life's experiences.

Why did you retire or why are you still working?

"I haven’t retired yet. Our Jewish community is changing demographically, with more younger people and people of all ages, new to the Coast. After decades of soloing, I now work with a wonderful young rabbi. She is bringing new ways, while I am like the keel of a boat, with long relationships and lots of experience. Our work feels complementary, rhythmic, braided. I'm excited by the changes. I feel a commitment to the people who were here when I arrived, who are now late in life.

For personal reasons I am still working. I am 66 and healthy, and hopefully have energetic years ahead. I’m not quite ready for the rocking chair. Nor am I hot to start a new project or endeavor somewhere else. I’m grateful to still earn a salary.

Mostly it just still works — I love people here. I get to think and learn about things I care deeply about. I feel hopeful and inspired by the people. I still feel like I have energy and spirit to contribute. I look ahead to a challenging global future and ask myself where I can possibly be of service. So far the answer seems to be “right here.”"