A family intact is a family, in fact. Reap the rewards of membership in the TJHS Alumni Association family. For an application, write Stu Rothstein @ email@example.com
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ATTENTION CLASS OF 1961: INVITATIONS TO REUNIONS AND LUNCHEONS WILL BE SENT TO EACH PERSON WHO HAS INCLUDED HIS/HER EMAIL ADDRESS IN THEIR EXISTING PROFILE. DON'T NEGLECT TODAY THAT WHICH YOU WILL REGRET WHEN YOU MISS OUR GALA CELEBRATIONS.
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PRELUDE TO AN INVITATION
by THEA ALPERT
Class Administrator/Event Coordinator
THOMAS JEFFERSON H.S. - 55th GALA REUNION - CLASS OF 1961
The year was 1961. We were teenagers of 17 and 18 at graduation. Who could have known the future and made sense of the concept of 2016. We were young and free in the 60s, pursuing a college education; landing our first job; traveling the world; questioning, searching for inner and world peace; serving our communities; searching for reciprocal love, even starting families. Lives were interrupted and cut short as our country engaged in protested war; assassinations gripped the nation; turmoil on U.S. soil begged for social reform. Much has gone awry in our world in 54 years, but it is because of our individual strengths, humor and good fortune that we have made it to 2015 in what has been a journey of substance.
The year 2016 will be a shining one as we celebrate our 55th year of graduation from Thomas Jefferson High School, the institution that offered us a quality education, the road to maturity, and the place where many lifetime friendships blossomed. 2015 will be an exciting year as we engage in plans for our gala affair. The Tri-State area is the chosen site of celebration in Springtime of 2016. Details will follow at a future date.
Snail mail has been discontinued. Invitations and registration forms will be sent to all 1961 students who provide us with their e-mail address.
Join us in celebration and indulge yourself memorably at our 55th high school reunion.
With best wishes and a good year to all.
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WE ALL AGREE,
WE LIVE IN PARADISE!
by Irma Sherman Latinsky
Florida Luncheon Coordinator
Sunday, March 15, 2015, was our day of pleasure in the Paradise of Florida. Forty four 1942 thru 1964 graduates of Thomas Jefferson High School who grew up in Brooklyn arrived at Arrabiatas in Boynton Beach, ready to say hello to long-time friends and meet new ones at our luncheon reunion. Balloons of all colors provided a festive aura. One by one, Brooklynites filled the room and received a name tag with the year of their graduation. Guests of previous socials were happy to see one another and new attendees were excited to share in a new experience. Each person introduced her/himself, telling us when they graduated, where they lived in Brooklyn, and every person spoke of how much they love living in Paradise.
Seating was open, everyone engaged in enjoyable conversation with those seated at their table. Many walked around to find friends from high school and others long remembered.
Menus were at each place setting. Dallas the waitress and David the owner could not have been more accommodating. Service was excellent; food was plentiful and enjoyed by all.
As guests began to leave at 3:30, they thanked me for a wonderful day and asked for an encore. When I introduce myself I make a point of saying how grateful I am to all the gals with whom I reconnected at our 50th reunion in New York. It's sometimes said that you don't make new friends at our age. I disagree. Thanks to all who attended.
Special thanks to Thea Alpert for her role in creating our March 15 event.
*One way to get the most out of life is to look upon it as an adventure." - William Feather*
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by ASHER J. MATATHIAS
GALA PREMIERE IMMORTALIZES WILL TO SURVIVE AND THRIVE
27 Adar, 5575 March 18, 2015
SAR Academy, 655 West 254 Street, Riverdale, NY 10471 is a magnificent, inclusive, Jewish day school, and the venue for this evening’s unveiling of a unique film project, NAMES NOT NUMBERS. Present were: Tova Fish-Rosenberg, the creator whose inspiration overcame the initial reluctance of principal Rabbi Binyamin Krauss; Stefa Hasson, coordinator and instructor who served as the conduit for six Holocaust survivors, with varied experiences navigating the booby trapped landscape that Germany and its allies prepared, to systematically ensnare and exterminate Europe’s Jews during World War II.
The artistic professionalism of Sandra Stakie and Michael Puro was manifested not only in the manner with which hours of raw footage became the seamless emotional and heroic storyline on the wide screen, but also in employing their considerable skills to instruct children --- as the pupils eventually shed their insecurity, to become mesmerized, even enjoy the process.
For this “caveman,” the shorthand reference to my birth and months of living in a primitive mountain hiding place in occupied Greece, the evening’s adventure began with the arrival of www.LudwigHKutlinacarandlimoservice.com to pick up our daughter Sara Thayer, Mom Nina (the heroine of our survival, and, oh, so grateful am I that at 94, she’s still able and willing to get around), my wife, Anna, and me. Warmly welcomed, Stefa was a most gracious hostess as she both introduced us around, and guided us to murals on tripods on which were mounted the illustrated lives of this occasion’s fabulous six: Helena Rezel Boral, Inge Heilbronner Chaskel, Maximilian Lerner, Magda Stern Makkay, Prof. Asher J. Matathias, and Peter Smogyi.
Ushered into the dining room, student-volunteers held signs aloft with the names of the honored survivors beckoning guests to reserved places --- my long table included Rabbi Kenneth N. Hain, his daughter-in-law Shari, and his grandson Akiva, one of those who had interviewed me in inquisitive depth (the others were Sophia Bruder, Leah Fenster, and Nadav Schwartz) --- and, later, served a dinner of breaded chicken cutlet, baked wraps with ground chicken, beef steak, roast potato, rice with vegetable; a dessert reception followed the documentary and program, generously underwritten in memory of Lea and Herman Ziering, z”l there were listed several sponsors.
The phenomenon of erupted Holocaust story-telling was neither obvious nor immediately forthcoming. Indeed, after V-E Day, the meager number of inmates who were liberated in the East by the Red Army, January 27, 1945, and the Americans and Allies in the West, had the overwhelming task of composing their now-extended lives: frantically searching for relatives in displaced persons camps, or seeking passage to the Americas, or the still closed-to-immigration to English Mandate Palestine. Some emaciated among the liberated, disoriented and starving, gobbled enormous amount of food in short time intervals, ironically, dying shortly thereafter as their bodily system was unable to sustain the intake overdrive!
The rivulet that eventually turned into a torrent of survivor testimonies --- including my late father Jacob’s, z”l, by Steven Spielberg’s Shoa Foundation --- can be dated to the arrest in Argentina, flight to Israel, and trial and hanging in Jerusalem of Adolf Eichmann, the architect of the nuts and bolts in the Nazis’ demonic Final Solution that would claim Six Million Jewish lives (including one and a half million children). Suddenly, many survivors lost their inhibitions about sharing their dark past while captives of a systematic killing machine; others saw the utility in making family members aware lest such a ghastly event recur; still others, were forgiven their relative indiscretions of seeming to cooperate with their camp masters in the supervision of fellow Jews; a few might have even offered favors to their captors in exchange for morsels of forbidden delicacies, more humane treatment, perhaps, the chance to live.
How wondrous is the demand to live, minimally to exist, then to prevail, and thrive. For ninety minutes more than 200 in the audience were riveted in the abbreviated composite that emerged from the retelling of six stories by the protagonists who lived them. Helena Boral was thrice given to families, first to acquire the safety afforded by a Christian environment, returning to her Jewish roots, the United States providing final refuge, including marriage and daughter.
Inge Chaskel, came to the United States, her dream, after living in Bogota, Colombia, with another stint in pre-Castro Cuba. She was involved with the Kindertransport, playing a role urging parents to send their children to safety in England. A brother survived the Holocaust in India. Maximilian Lerner, escaping surging Germany in France, managed to come to the United States, where he promptly enlisted in the Army and returned to Europe to fight the torturers of his People. Language versatility made him a natural candidate for Military Intelligence, and was recruited in Central Intelligence Agency’s predecessor, Office of Strategic Services. As interrogator and Nazi hunter he exposed some who sought to cover their murderous tracks.
Magda Makkay did not leave her native Hungary until its tragically suppressed anti-Soviet revolution in 1956. She has been a most successful bag-lady, designing and selling for the rich and famous, including Princess Grace of Monaco. A fellow Hungarian, Peter Somogyi, came to our adopted country in 1970, never speaking of his gripping details while in Auschwitz, with his twin brother became subjects of the genetics experiments conducted by the notorious Dr. Josef Mengele. Their virtuosity in classical music appealed to this medical monster, as did the brothers’ personalities and mien.
Perchance, Peter and his wife also named Anna, form the perfect segue to my own contribution in the film. The fraught betrothal and marriage of my parents Jacob and Nina; the roundup of the bride’s parents Daniel and Rachel Atoun (with younger siblings Shabetai and Jake), eventually to perish in the mass evacuation of Thessaloniki’s Jews); intervention by the Christian Orthodox childless couple Phroso and Yorgos Stamos, spiriting the Matathias family to relative safety outside Volos, Greece; the miraculous refusal by the head of a German patrol, who discovered our refuge, to harm us, and saving us intact; the insistence of our benefactors that I be given to them as a future heir, and the intercession of the Metropolitan to restore me to my parents.
Our post-war lives replete with economic challenges reminiscent of present-day Greece, but with the added political danger of a four-year civil war; the 1950’s seismic convulsions from underground tremors destroying business and home; the hastening assistance of the Joint Distribution Committee and the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS), bringing us to the blessed shores of America, ends a tumultuous chapter of life in the Old World.
No one could have foreseen the sweetness of life in the United States, since January 30, 1956, also masterly encapsulated in the students’ oeuvre, to include through my innate enthusiasm the lessons of optimism, hope, and basic kindness --- so often juxtaposed by the understandable bitterness of others, and even guilt by a segment of an inexorably diminished cohort population. Alas, demographics are catching up. But it was my fervent confidence of self-definition, and conviction in an inclusive existence as a Jew qua Jew, indeed, other minorities and members of the human family that caught the fancy of the viewers and my interlocutors after the screening.
For me, no greater compliment could be issued than sharing my sentiments shared by the eminent Rabbi Irving “Yitz” and Blu Greenberg: proponents of Jewish pluralism, we, resident of the Five Towns, sorely need the compassion, tolerance, acceptance of differences connected with the collective oeuvre of this distinguished couple. His message of Zionism, and political moderation; interfaith dialogue, Jewish feminism, amazingly espousing the revolutionary dictum of to live and let live, harks to another man and his former student/mentor, the aforementioned Rabbi Ken Hain, as well as the octogenarian celebrated Rabbi Arthur Schneier of the Park East Synagogue and Day School!
With embraces and kisses on both cheeks, and carrying a handsome bag: containing the unedited DVD interview versions; a framed photograph of our student participants; and SAR’s published Megillat Ruth, illustrated by the high school students; and a most gracious letter of appreciation from principal R’ Krauss, and project coordinator Stefa Hasson. This documentary has been accepted by the Jewish National & University Library in Jerusalem, and Yad VaShem, for providing valuable information to researchers and scholars of the Shoah.
We bid a fond adieu, the memory of a thrilling encounter with the past, and a more promising future now permanently ensconced in our minds. May we again gather, please G-d, to recognize the goodness that is inherent in us all --- how fortunate we are, for we do not face existential challenges that would test our mettle --- cognizant of the truism found in the masthead of our Lodge Bulletin: to live for each other, to live with ourselves. Amen.
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