Janet Pont was born in 1939 and grew up in Detroit, the oldest of three children. She has many warm memories of her maternal grandmother who, widowed at a young age, lived with them. Janet helped her grandmother learn to read and write so she could become an American citizen. She found “that was really a very unique and special experience because she learned her history.” Janet’s mother gave her a sense of independence by encouraging her to try new things and allowed her to make decisions on her own, instilling in her confidence. Janet’s father was influential in her life. He emphasized the importance of Tikkun Olam and that one should be good to other people. She thinks of him often as she tries to emulate his very positive attitude toward life.

After graduating from Mumford High School in 1956, Janet’s plan was to go to college to become a French teacher with a minor in Spanish. She applied to be a day camp counselor at Shaarey Zedek but was initially rejected. She said, "I’m a very, very strong believer in God and I feel that there is a path that is made for us,” so the next call from the summer camp director who offered her the job, “started my whole life as an adult, impacting everything I did with Judaism.”

That call changed her plans. Because of that job, she pursued her master's degree in preschool and parent education. She continued working at Shaarey Zedek for 65 years, tremendously impacting the lives of many children. Janet held many different jobs at Shaarey Zedek. There was a six-year period that she was also working as nursery school director at Adat Shalom. She was still doing Hebrew school, youth activities, and working on Shabbat and Sundays. She worked seven days a week until age 50, when she slowed down a little. On January 1, 2021, she decided to give her two weeks’ notice and retire.

“I felt, they're bringing in this new computer program and you do lose some brain power as you get older. And I don't want to waste whatever I have learning this thing that I'm never going to use in daily life. So, I decided it's time. I figured this was a sign.”

What made her work so special is that she got to help raise the next generations of Jewish youth. She has been married for 64 years to her husband, Herb, and they raised three remarkable children, Eddie, Nancy and Michael, who happily brought into the family, Sheila, Ira and Natalie. She has six grandchildren, Abi, Jolie, Ryan, Gabe, Emma and Dani.

Janet still stays active in the Jewish community and enjoys working with Jewish Hospice in the dementia area. She remains interested in learning. Her greatest accomplishment was starting her own family. She is proud that they have become “incredibly committed Jewish human beings.” She believes that her generation has already made their impact and it is now time to step back to watch the younger generations make their change.

They are the ones that are going to make the difference.

As for being over 80, Janet says that “wisdom comes from experience.”