When Laurie Puhn addresses the Women’s Philanthropy Spring Luncheon of the Jewish Federation of Princeton Mercer Bucks on May 5, her message will not be about a uniquely Jewish subject.
“My talk is going to be designed for women who would like their relationships to be a bit better, so they can go home that evening and have more fun and better enjoyment of their life with their families,” she told NJ Jewish News in a March 25 phone interview.
But as a Jewish woman herself, Puhn said, she plans to frame her ideas in an ethnic context.
“Here’s the thing,” she said, “what is particularly Jewish is I am talking about bringing life to values in our relationships. We want to work hard and be of service to the community and be good role models for our children. But when we get home, are we having an endless fight with our husbands because we never resolved it? Our children see us fighting with someone we love, and what good is it to take them to a community service project if they see a lack of respect in the home?
“In Judaism,” said Puhn, “we hold ourselves to high values and think it is critical to live our lives with high morals and principles. Let’s take a magnifying glass to our own homes.”
Puhn is a Manhattan resident with a Harvard Law School degree whose career morphed from being a corporate litigator to a mediator and now a lecturer and author.
In 2005 she wrote her first book, Instant Persuasion: How to Change Your Words to Change Your Life. “It was based on the do’s and don’ts of what I had heard people say in mediation,” she said. “I noticed how often people put their foot in their mouth when they didn’t mean to, and they would blow up an entire settlement discussion. So I took notes and wrote this book about how those do’s and don’ts apply to our everyday lives and how we can get what we want from our friends, or families, and our colleagues.”
After writing Instant Persuasion, Puhn noticed “most people who were suffering were having communication problems in their relationships, and so I put my microscope on those issues.”
Five years later she published Fight Less, Love More: 5-Minute Conversations to Change Your Relationship without Blowing-Up or Giving In, a work, she said, that offers “tips that can change relationships overnight.”
Puhn maintains that as long as there is no physical or emotional abuse of one partner by another “it is always possible to reconcile relationships, whether cheating had happened or a relationship has just gone stale…. My aim is to empower people and tell them: ‘If you can talk, you can have a better relationship.’”
At the luncheon, Princeton resident Hazel Stix will receive the Woman of Valor Award. An activist generous with her time and gifts to the local Jewish community since 1950, Stix is a Lion of Judah — an honor conferred on those who commit at least $5,000 to the federation’s annual campaign. At the federation, she has also been an active member of the Prime Time Women’s group, served on the Kick-off committee, helped raise funds as a solicitor, and hosted events at her home.
The other organizations she has been involved with include the American Jewish Committee, the New Israel Fund, and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
Stix, who chaired the local UJA Campaign in 1967, met Albert Einstein at a UJA dinner in 1954, one year before the great physicist’s death.
“I am very pleased at this honor,” she told NJJN, “but calling me a ‘woman of valor’ may be a little extreme as a description. But I have certainly been interested in Jewish things all my life.”
Joanne Berman of Princeton, who has twice served as cochair of the Spring Luncheon, will receive the Young Leadership Award, given to an individual who has demonstrated dedication and leadership potential.
The luncheon cochairs are Shari Blecher and Nicole Vermut.