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Pastime Passions
Busy execs find fun in their free time
By Sally Friedman

Hobbies are often a luxury for people with little spare time, so it’s surprising when a busy executive can describe with fervor their extracurricular activities. But for the lucky few who make time for a passion that has nothing to do with their career, life is good.

 

Karen Harkaway, MD

Profession: Founder, The Center for Skin Refinement

Passion: Bonsai

Dr. Karen Harkaway is endowed with enviable energy and curiosity. She talks fast, thinks fast and moves fast. A graduate of Johns Hopkins University and the University of Pennsylvania Medical School, Harkaway chose dermatology as her specialty and today practices both medical and aesthetic dermatology in her office in Delran.

DSCF3841“I love what I do. I have a chance to be creative and also to guide people medically,” says this busy physician. Then there are her two homes – one in Moorestown and a country place outside Mount Holly that serves as a retreat for Harkaway, her husband Michael and their blended family.

It would seem that Harkaway already has a full and satisfying life. But then she encountered bonsai, the art of cultivating and nurturing trees or shrubs that have been “dwarfed” through various intricacies. The goal is to create a desired shape or effect within a container. The art form originated in Japan, and similar practices exist in other cultures.

Harkaway’s move to bonsai was evolutionary not revolutionary. “Never did I expect to fall in love this way,” admits the physician, who is now so smitten that even after long working days, she can’t wait to get her hands digging and sculpting for hours.

Ironically, Harkaway had admired bonsai from afar but hesitated to take the plunge. “It actually took a couple of years and a lot of flower shows to convince myself I could do this.”

The precise moment, she recalls, came about eight years ago when she looked at her beloved dogs. “I reminded myself that I’d manage to care for them and keep them alive, so I figured I could probably do that with plants.”

Now Harkaway is so involved in her bonsai world that recently she had Ryan Neil of Portland, Ore., one of the country’s leading bonsai experts, come to her Moorestown home to lead a mini-seminar on the art. It was, in her words, “Glorious.”

Harkaway travels the country to bonsai meetings and conferences, and now serves as vice president of the Pennsylvania Bonsai Society and vice president of the American Bonsai Society. She is actively involved with the Bonsai Society of South Jersey, headquartered in Mount Laurel. She notes that most bonsai enthusiasts – about 80 to 90 percent – are men.

“There’s something about the beauty of the trees that keys into my sense of aesthetics. I work with faces all the time, trying to make people look as wonderful as they can,” says Harkaway. “The mix of science and creativity in bonsai is just as exciting a challenge.”

 

Jerry Klein

Profession: Executive Vice President, Anne Klein Communications Group

Passion: Ice hockey

It’s 4:30 am, and Jerry Klein is up and at ’em. It’s not a thorny PR crisis that might be part of his professional life, but rather a rendezvous with hockey.

Klein is admittedly happily addicted to a sport he never paid any attention to until he graduated from Temple University and worked at WCAU radio as the morning drive guy. Hockey in the Philadelphia area was just coming into its own, and Klein was intrigued.

“I was honestly a sports geek. I had tried out for the baseball team as a kid and struck out. Radio was my passion.”

7775640054_a4735141ac_bStill, Klein was determined to master hockey, playing regularly for seven years. Then two factors collided: Klein was badly injured in a hockey game, and he was on board to start law school. “I was already married to Anne [Klein], who wisely reminded me that maybe law school, not hockey, should be my priority.”

Jerry graduated from law school in 1980, worked for a large firm in Philadelphia, and then decided to leave law to join his wife in her growing business. Today, Anne and Jerry Klein are partners in a successful Mount Laurel communications firm. And hockey is back in Jerry’s world big time, with Anne as his loyal supporter and cheerleader.

It was, in fact, Anne who signed up her husband for a hockey fantasy week in Montreal as a surprise birthday gift back in 1989. He has been on the ice ever since, defying all notions about age sidelining hockey players.

At 64, Klein is in a local men’s league, playing open hockey several nights a week – and also at 5 am on Fridays.

“I’m exclusively a goalie now, and I love it. It has a mental and strategic aspect that challenges me,” he says.

Klein recently crossed the country to play with other players over age 60, and his team walked away with the silver medal. Next year, he hopes, the gold.

His only dread, he admits, is arriving at the day when he simply can’t play hockey anymore. “To say I love the game is an understatement. It’s definitely, absolutely, one of the best things in my life.”

 

rolling pins 2Bonnie Goldman

Profession: Presiding judge, Municipal Courts of Burlington County

Passion: Rolling pins

She was just browsing, seeking appealing accessories for her first home in Bordentown back in 1980 when Bonnie Goldman happened upon a rolling pin at the Columbus Mart.

It appealed to her because of its two-foot-long size. It was decidedly sturdy and hearkened back to another era. And Goldman’s Bordentown house was no kid either – it was vintage 1800.

So Goldman, a judge of the Municipal Courts of Burlington County, bought that rolling pin and carried it home like pirate’s booty. And the collecting bug had bitten.

Today, Goldman and her husband Dr. Steven Lederman, live in another historic home in Bordentown, this one a showplace that often is on house tours. In it is the couple’s collection of over 400 rolling pins. They hang over doorways, fill walls, meander through the first floor of the home, and are clearly almost members of the family.

Goldman can identify the lineage of almost every one, from her local finds to those from the couple’s extensive travels.

rolling pinsIronically, Goldman’s late mother was not a baker, so rolling pins were not present in her childhood home. But her maternal grandmother was, and one of the judge’s most precious possessions is the French-style rolling pin with tapered ends that her grandmother used to make her famous apple strudel. “That’s probably the one I’d grab in a fire.”

Goldman has an extensive collection of the unique swirled glass rolling pins made in 1870’s and 1880’s England from end-of-the-day glass scraps in window factories. She has wooden ones and porcelain ones.

She has expanded her passion by finding and acquiring pitchers and other pieces that complement her pins. A lack of space is now the only deterrent to more, more, more.

A walk through the Goldman-Lederman home is an adventurous tour through history, and the couple takes obvious delight in this unusual collection. “I love them all – the only regret,” says Goldman, “is that lack of space…and the ones I didn’t buy and wish I had.”

 

Mitch Cohen

Profession: Counsel, Flaster/Greenberg

Passion: Karate

When the informal baseball club in his Philadelphia neighborhood dissolved, Mitch Cohen told his mother that he and his pal next door wanted to take karate at a school that had recently opened in another town. “My mother and the mom next door figured they’d car pool for the month it would take for their boys to tire of this new notion,” Cohen says.

That was 44 years ago. And Cohen, a partner at the Flaster Greenberg law firm in Cherry Hill, is still at it.

Cohen06“Karate is a basic part of my life. I work out at a local karate school two nights a week and do individual workouts just about every day. I often start a 5:30 in the morning, so I can get to work by 6:30.”

This 57-year-old grandfather is in a family of five lawyers – his wife and three children are all in the profession. Cohen’s own specialty is in the areas of corporate law and real estate, and land use. He also spearheaded the firm’s Alternative and Renewable Energy Group.

His energy and sense of well-being, he insists, come from his karate passion and his cross-training as a marathon runner. “Luckily, karate is a safe sport. It’s generally a matter of bruises and sometimes some facial injuries back in my tournament days. But basically, you can go on and on with karate.”

Cohen is gradually transitioning into a less challenging style, but still loves the self-discipline and self-control that karate brings. He’s enjoyed transmitting the sport to the young through teaching and working with youth.

It took rather well for his own son Josh, a lawyer who as a teenager became the youngest black belt in the United States. Another son, Justin, is so athletic that he lettered in 11 sports in high school and studied karate to the brown-belt level.

“We’re definitely an athletic family,” says Cohen, whose daughter Ali, now in law school, kept up the family tradition by becoming a high school softball star.

As to that prediction from Mitchell Cohen’s mother that karate would interest her son for one month? “My mother is 96 years young, and by now, she’s conceded that while she’s right on most things, she wasn’t on this.”

April 2013
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