Bethany White ’03 Schklar
Bethany Dawn Schklar joined her parents, Patty Avery and John White, in 1981 in a small Illinois town where Heath bars are made. Waiting for her was her big brother Sean White, who, seeing her smile, shortly thereafter decided all babies’ middle names should be Dawn. At two, she boarded a plane for London, and thirty-five years later, she stepped off another plane with her two-year old, Noah Micah, and onto the top of a double-decker bus.
When she was almost six, living in Amsterdam, Bethany settled a months-long family debate by pronouncing, “He’s David,” the moment her just-born brother was placed in her arms. Back then, everyone thought the nuclear White family had been completed with David Isaac, but, unbeknownst to all, Bethany’s Amiga, Aretha Natalie, was waiting in Brazil.
By the time she was nine, Bethany had already learned to speak three languages and to call four countries home. Just like a dancer, in each new place, Bethany quickly grounded her feet, found her balance, and fixed her focal point before spinning and leaping with her whole self into new adventures. No difference in language, culture, color, faith, age, or identity could stop Bethany from flashing the guide star of her smile, drawing numberless travelers into the open home of her heart.
Upon returning to America, intent upon studying dance and choreography, Bethany chose Hope College, whose symbol is an anchor. There she discovered her friend and traveling companion Mandy Olson and side by side they leapt in grand jeté to Chicago, where Bethany found her footing as a teacher.
In 2010, on a lark, she signed up for an eHarmony special and agreed to a date with Joshua Schklar. A year and a month later, he proposed to her on Passover, before his gathered family, who had already claimed her. Bethany and Josh married in 2012, sowed the seeds of a new community in Chattanooga in 2014, and were blessed with their Noah Micah in 2016.
In her own time, through measured steps and joyful turns, delighting in her family, her friends, her students, and her own bright shining son, she found the unifying faith she had long been seeking. Ever wholly herself, just months after choosing her Hebrew name, it was she who pulled a partner onto the floor to start the Horah at a Schklar family wedding.
In response to a 2018 Instagram montage, Bethany wrote, “Apparently the best year of my life included dancing, becoming Jewish, a flexible-seating classroom, protesting, and chopping off my hair. I’ll take it.”
Though Bethany has departed this temporal stage, she leaves, to dance on in her glow, her beloved Joshua and Noah; her parents, Patty and Dennis Avery and John White; her Just Grandma Phyllis Herzfeld and Bob; Joshua’s parents, Susan Spencer, Raymond Schklar, and Toni and Kenneth Kanter; Grandmommy Lillian Schklar; her “first siblings” Sean, Aretha, and David White, and all the siblings who joined them in loving her – Jessica, Aaron, Sarah, Hannah, Joanna, Barry, and Cam; her aunts, uncles, nieces, and nephews.