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February 21, 2003 - Image 54

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-02-21

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over nor

"The USY kids were my social group. We had
memories that nobody else had._

Jeff Frank, former Beth Moses USY member


from page 53

alumni of Arias Shalom Synagogue's
USY chapter, said"with the glee you'd
expect from a teenage girl. She's been
working hard to get out the word and
convince her old friends to meet in
"I've been looking up people on the
Internet. I found my best friend's old
boyfriend from USY. I found the first
boy who ever kissed me. I was 14 and it
was at Camp CRUSY!"
Each day, new inquiries are posted on
the group's Web list and, with each alum
who logs on, a new set of connections.
West Bloomfield's Allen Olender was
president of Congregation Shaarey
Zedek's USY chapter from 1966-1967.
Known then as the junior congregation,
it was one of the country's largest.
"We didn't have organized activities
back then the way the kids do now," he
said. "We went outside and played with
the guys or went to the synagogue. Your
social life and religious life and youth
activity life were intertwined because
everyone who was in the USY chapter
was in the religious school. You'd see the
same group of regulars four days a week,




so it was a very close-knit group."
Olender stumbled onto the alumni
database accidentally, but it wasn't long
before it actually seemed serendipitous.
"I sent a couple of e-mails through
when I saw some familiar names, but I
haven't seen any of my old buddies," he
As he ran down the list, he stopped as
if the memories were all flooding back.
"I wonder where Kenny and Joey Lerner
are ..."
It just so happened that one of the e-
mails he'd sent was to Margi Weinhaus,
who had dated Kenny Lernet during her
USY days. Soon, Olender had the
answers he was looking for and the tools
he needed to find his old friends.
Jeff Frank, now a newspaper reporter
in San Diego, can rattle off the names of
dozens of friends from his days at
Congregation Beth Moses in Detroit he's
reconnected with.
"I've always felt the people who knew
you when you were forming your life
and personality have a connection that's
difficult to make later on," he said. "The
USY kids were my social group. We had
memories that nobody else had."
A 1974 graduate of Detroit's Henry


Rocking out at Camp CRUSY in the late 1960s were Rick Bornstein of Detroit, Alan
Gordon ofAkron, Norm Shub of Cleveland, Gary Docks and Allen Olender, both of Detroit.

Ford High School, Jeff and his buddies
Alan Hurvitz and David Margolis were
the founding members of the "Off Key
3," a group whose first act was drawn up
on the inside of a cake box just before a
4 a.m. talent show at an all-night USY
"We ripped the box apart to give us
something to write on and came up
with our theme song: "Ah yes, we're the

off key 3/ the finest group you'll ever see/ we
do perfect harmony/ if we could only stay
on key!"
And while the Off Key 3 legacy was
eventually passed down to Jeff's younger
brother, Garry, Alan's younger brother,
Ed, and Gary Davis, all Beth Moses
alums; to this day as Frank sits in his
office he can still recite the words to
every song.
"There's a connection that never leaves
you," Ron Elkus of Huntington Woods
said as he recalled his days in
Congregation Beth Shalom's USY chap-
ter. "The Israeli dancing after services,
the basement of the synagogue where we
all met, the bus rides around the region.
I look back and that's where I met my
oldest friends. Lisa Lopatin Friedman
and Val Liner Rosner, we met on a bus

to Cedar Point. I was sitting with
Nathan Upfal! We're all still friends!"

Lasting Connections

These kind of memories are fueling the
CRUSY reunion and alumni activities
throughout the country and around the
"There's no stopping this thing," said
Jackie Saltz of Los Angeles, chairperson
of USY's Project Reconnect.
She laughs as she recounts the
reunions she has witnessed at gatherings
in Los Angeles. There was such joy in
seeing each other, with lots of hugging
adn kissing. All wanted to get together
more, Saltz said.
Project Reconnect was the brainchild
of Judy Yudof, international president of
the United Synagogue of Conservative
"I have two daughters and both were
in USY," Yudof said. "My daughter who
was very active had moved to New York
after college and was really having a
non-Jewish experience. Every once in a
while, she'd run into someone she knew
from USY and she'd be so excited, but it
was catch as catch can.

Camp CRUSY's "teeny bopper counselors" in 1967 were Michelle Koplow of
Indianapolis, Barbara Harris of Oak Park, Mouse Weiderhorn of Cleveland, •
Terry Rosenblatt of Evansville, Ind., and Margi Fridson of Detroit.

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