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May 31, 1985 - Image 72

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1985-05-31

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Friday, May 31, 1985



11111 ■ 11111 ■ 111.11111111111=1111 ■ 1


Continued from Page 88

Thursday's 7 p.m. concert at Temple
Beth El will be by a new chorus in
the Detroit area. Thirty-three sixth
graders from Hillel Day School of
Metropolitan Detroit and 43 senior
citizens, primarily from the Jewish
Federation Apartments in Oak Park,
will offer a medley of English, He-
brew and Yiddish songs at the free
public concert.
Like the words in the song, this
chorus is indeed a mixing cup. Its
participants include a former drama
teacher, a long-time dancer, many
veteran singers who regularly per-
form in local choirs, numerous bud-
ding baritones, tenors, sopranos and
altos, and a self-styled consumer ad-
vocate who was once fondly
nicknamed "The Lady of Hammers-
tein Drugs."
Laughter comes from a trio of
girls surrounding a bespectacled
man. "Meet my girlfriends," Ab-
raham Lincoln Offen invites, as he
introduces Rosalie Rosenberg, Re-
becca Cohen and Naomi Berlin.
"These are the sweetest young ladies
you could hope to meet. They sent
me a most-appreciated get-well card
a few months ago. I love being in
this atmosphere of good cheer." And
he goes on to add, "I think one
would have to be a very unhappy in-
dividual not to get swept up in all of
As he gestures to indicate his
peers and the group at large, it's
evident that friendship is a powerful
force, cutting through - decades of
birthdays which separate seniors
from the students. What's not so ob-
vious is that both contingents of this
chorus were total strangers just five'
months ago.
The Dor le' dor concert will be
the culmination of a broader pro-
gram launched last January. Spon-
sored by the National Council of
Jewish Women's Greater Detroit
Section and Federation Apartments,
with the cooperation of Hillel, the
project actually began with a series
of four lectures on aging which Fed-
eration Apartments executive direc-
tor Helen Naimark presented to
Hillel's sixth grade class. A pen pal
letter writing program was then in-
itiated and plans for the cooperative
concert took shape.
Although separate rehearsals
had been actively underway for a
few months, the pen pals didn't for-
mally meet until an introductory
party in March.
"Their first meeting was a sight
to see," remembers Dor le' dor
chairman Shelly Cooper. "There was
an instant chemistry, a marvelous
mood of being reunited with old
friends that really exceeded our ex-
pectations. Since that time, each let-
ter which was written further
cemented new relationships. This
program is working every day on its
'own. We gave the students and resi-
dents an opportunity to meet, but
they're doing the rest."

"We never forget to write our
pen pals," insists Fran Solomon, who
has been Cheryl Waller's and Amy
Opperer's correspondent. In addition
to being active in the Morris Branch
JCC chorus, Solomon is also secre-
tary of the Center's Mothers Club.
Reviewing the concert prepara-
tions, Solomon states, "This brings
me back to the good old days, when
children sang and played with their
grandparents. I think the people who
didn't join this program are regret-
ting it, because it promises to be a
thrilling evening for everybody."
Hillel student Jonathan Rosen-
baum remembers feeling that the
idea sounded good, but "I wasn't
Hillel student Amy Opperer practices with friend Fran Soloway.
really sure if we would be comforta-
ble with it."
Cooper and her NCJW col-
Dor le' dor has been good for my
His thinking has changed.
leagues had long contemplated a
class because it's preparing us for
"The lectures and whole pro-
project which would bring older and
later in our lives, to make friends
gram have really helped us learn
younger generations together in a
with all different kinds of people —
about older people: their feelings,
mutually-satisfying way. Since view-
not just older ones, but people of
their problems, and their good ex-
ing the award-winning film Close
different races and religions, too."
periences, their hobbies which they
Harmony some time ago, Cooper
Marc and classmates Alan Re-
share with us."
particularly had seen a need to ad-
iter and Aaron Hamburger have
"The program was never de-
dress the fears and stigmas children
been writing Lillian Gordon, who,
signed to paint just a rosy picture,"
may experience with the issue of
Marc says, "has a really great
says Hillel assistant principal
growing old.
Rudaysky, "but rather, a realistic
In conversations with Helen
Great voices abound in the
view of different things that happen
Naimark and Hillel Day School
chorus, but singing experience
in our society when someone gets
assistant principal Amittai
wasn't required.
older. I believe this answers a lot of
Rudaysky, Cooper found that their
Federation Residents Club
needs for kids to learn to deal with
organizations had also been explor-
president Eva Meister explains,
different kinds of potential prej-
ing new vehicles for community
"When Helen Naimark told us about
udices. They're getting a chance to
service programming.
this program, she said, 'You don't
interact with a population they're
Why a concert? Why not stop
have to be a singer. You just have to
not a part of."
with the lectures and letter-writing
attend the rehearsals and want to
Another message made avail-
program? Stuart Rogoff believes that
have an enjoyable . time.' Well, I've
able to the students was that being
"Judaism speaks to all ages, and
derived so much pleasure from my
older doesn't make one unable to
music is a beautiful way of express-
boys — pen pals Danny Najman,
help oneself and one's peers. Belle
ing our religion. I think this kind of
Richard Clark and Tony Engleberg."
Friedman is a perfect example. She
program puts into clear perspective
Freely admitting to her 82
is one of four concert participants
the real magic that is Judaism: it
years, Meister adds, "Just because
from Hechtman Federation Apart-
shows the spark of old and young
you're aged or widowed, your life
ments in West Bloomfield, and is
people who are brought together for
doesn't stop. You have no idea how - Jonathan Rosenbaum's pen pal.
a happy reason."
active many of us are."
Friedman was incensed that SEMTA
The program has fulfilled differ-
"I really believe dramatic ability
drastically cut back bus service to
ent needs for various individuals,
can be taught," Meister reflects. "I
Oakland County. She went on Mort
but the response has been over-
think this concert has been good for
Crim's Free For All on WDIV-TV to
whelmingly positive. Hillel student
these students because they have an
protest the situation.
Alaine Waldshan has made a valu-
opportunity to develop skills and
"I did that because it was per-
able new friend.
gain confidence in front of an audi-
sonally satisfying, but also because I
"My pen pal is Ada Ritten," says
ence. For people my age, well, it's
couldn't stand back and wait for
Wardshan. "She came to the United
always wonderful to be with children
others to fight something I though
States from Chile ten years ago. Ada
in any capacity."
was important."
tells everyone I'm her grand-
Working with children is one
A long-time volunteer at the
daughter! I only have one grand-
avocation Sylvia Bailey insists keeps
Jewish Community Center, Fried- .
mother, so she's really special. I plan
her feeling young. Formerly the
man was named Volunteer of the
to invite her to my bat mitzvah."
owner of a ballroom dance studio,
Month in April for senior citizens
Dana Goldberg and Amy Berris
Bailey makes annual trips to Camp
program assistance. To people in the
have found pen pal Mildred Snitz
Maas' Butzel Center, where she
Oak Park area, she was known as
wonderful to talk to. Besides enjoy-
"grandparents" -t least four campers
"The Lady of Hammerstein's" by
ing her outgoing, lively spirit, both
each su.mrner. She also plays tam-
pleased customers who patronized
students have also appreciated the
bourine in the Jewish Center Jimmy
that store when she was working to
chance to learn new Yiddish songs
Prentis Morris Branch's kazoo band,
help support three growing sons.
like Tumbalabaika.
participating in performances for
"This opportunity to work with
"My grandmother speaks Yid-
visiting groups as well as at nursing
children again, in a choir with won-
dish," says Dana, "and I understand
derful songs, has been a source of
some of the words in the song."
The "beautiful letters" she has
deep pleasure to me," she says. "You
Amy is really happy it was her
received from pen pals Rachel Rosen
know, there are a lot of youngsters
class that is performing this concert
and Lori Gutov have humored her
in this world who don't have any
for the first time.
and made her feel needed. Whether
grandparents. That's so sad. But a
Marc Galens found the lecture
it was hearing about the adoption of
program like this can make it possi-
series, pen-pal program and rehear-
a new pet hamster or just being in-
ble for the younger ones and us older
sals a sobering but enriching experi-
cluded in private thoughts, Bailey
ones to enjoy each other. We have a
ence. "I like being with the elderly.
treasures the correspondence.
lot of good things to share."


— "Generation to generation." Next

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