Community

Honoring the first graduating class and their families, left to right, Penny Stein, Dianne and Martin Newman, Lucy Brown, Allen Metnick, Rabbi Alvin Kaunfer. Marcia Kaunfer,  Rachel Levy, Saul Metnick, Sheila and Paul Alexander. /Steve PeiserHonoring the first graduating class and their families, left to right, Penny Stein, Dianne and Martin Newman, Lucy Brown, Allen Metnick, Rabbi Alvin Kaunfer. Marcia Kaunfer, Rachel Levy, Saul Metnick, Sheila and Paul Alexander. /Steve PeiserOn Nov. 16,  200 guests gathered at the Brown RISD Hillel to celebrate the 36th year of the Jewish Community Day School of Rhode Island (JCDSRI). The Double Chai Benefit brought together current parents, alumni parents and community supporters from many different eras of the school.

“The evening was filled with fond memories of parents who helped build the school, the students that thrived during those years and the buzz about the school’s bright future,” said Alison Walter, the development director at JCDSRI. More than $70,000 was raised for the JCDSRI Fund for Excellence, which will provide new and exciting programs at JCDS.

“We have helped create incredible menshes and scholars over our last 36 years,” stated Adam Tilove, the head of school, “But our best days are still ahead of us! We are thrilled to have brought the community together to remind them of the beautiful and important work Jewish day schools are doing.”

Abraham ZeltzerAbraham ZeltzerAbraham Zeltzer is 93 years old. He espouses the wisdom of old age, but many of the insights he lives by have been in his arsenal since his 20s. The unpredictability of life is a lesson he learned while serving in the U.S. Army Air Forces, where he stayed throughout WWII. In 1941, he was a student at the New England Aircraft School at Logan Airport in East Boston. As soon as the war broke out, Zeltzer enlisted, becoming a crew chief and working on fighters and bombers for four years. Once, when he was eating lunch in the mess hall, he heard a huge explosion. A B-24 airplane had caught on fire, and the fire department, unaware that the plane was loaded with bombs, arrived to extinguish it. All the men died. Looking into space, Zeltzer says, “I still remember a GI’s shoes – neatly tied and nobody in them. I think back about all these people blown to bits. You couldn’t even send anything to their families.” Later, when one of his three sons died unexpectedly of a heart attack at the age of 45, Zeltzer again experienced the helplessness and anger at the cruelty and volatility of life. He kept busy with work.

 

Sarah Brody and Sandy Cotton at The Phyllis Siperstein Tamarisk Assisted Living Residence.Sarah Brody and Sandy Cotton at The Phyllis Siperstein Tamarisk Assisted Living Residence.Some may consider this story a very small flash in the realm of time. Others may consider it destiny or bashert, as it is referred to in Yiddish. It is about a small moment of fate – an encounter that took six decades to occur. This is a true story that allows one to believe that the world we live in is, indeed, very small.

On June 6, 1944, Canadian, British and American soldiers landed on the beaches of Normandy. Under the code name Operation Overlord, more than 150,000 troops stormed the coast to take back Western Europe from Nazi control. Many casualties ensued. Because of the heroism of the soldiers, physicians and nurses, this battle marked the beginning of the end of World War II.  Two of these heroes, Sarah Brody and Sandy Cotton, now live at The Phyllis Siperstein Tamarisk Assisted Living Residence in Warwick. And as proof of what a small world it is, the former nurse and soldier first met during the Normandy invasion before reconnecting many years later at Tamarisk.

Shirley Koller next to  Seurat’s masterpiece. /Irina MissiuroShirley Koller next to Seurat’s masterpiece. /Irina MissiuroShirley Koller – artist, curator, educator – is at a point in her life when she no longer has to do something she doesn’t like. And, having lived a full life, she knows what appeals to her and what does not. Among her dislikes are: dry chicken, gossip, cliques and artificial flowers. The latter are a particular bane of her existence. As we settle down on a comfortable couch inside one of Laurelmead’s gorgeous rooms with Victorian dimensions, she points to one of the two vases on nearby end tables, “These were everywhere!”

Koller is referring to the time when she entered the senior retirement community 2 1/2 years ago. Since then, she’s volunteered to transform the room we are sitting in, and some others, with artworks she considers to be more fitting for the space. Koller dispensed with the still lifes and the bouquets and hung some reproductions of well-known masterpieces that feature people enjoying life.

Memoir group participants Morton Paige and Lillian Siegel. /Karen FerrantiMemoir group participants Morton Paige and Lillian Siegel. /Karen FerrantiIn a new memoir writing group, residents at EPOCH on the East Side are recalling faded memories to write prose under the guidance of Rita Watson, a PsychologyToday.com and Providence Journal columnist. In April she joined EPOCH on the East Side as a part-time receptionist, after cutting back on academic work to begin writing books. Watson, who has a master’s degree in public health, previously served as education and policy director at Yale and later for a group with the Harvard Consortium of teaching hospitals.

Initially, many of the residents and staff didn’t realize Watson was a professional writer, but when they started seeing her name in the paper, they put two and two together. Watson had been writing memoirs about her grandparents for The Journal; EPOCH’s Life Enrichment Director Karen Ferranti asked, “Will you do something like this for us? We would love it.”

Watson happily agreed, excited to help residents write memoirs so they could pass them down to their children and grandchildren. Since it first began earlier this summer, the memoir group has been well received by the residents. One of the first participants was Sylvia Denhoff who continues to attend memoir group meetings.