Jewish Journal

Ellie Kahn

  • A father’s love

    June 17, 2015 | 3:46 pm

    My father, Bob Goldhamer, passed away two years ago, a week after his 94th birthday. When he died, my sister, Sue, and I each inherited a large box containing all of our childhood drawings and every letter we sent to Dad from camp or college. 

    Dad had apparently lugged these...

  • Father’s Day: A model of involvement

    June 17, 2015 | 3:35 pm

    Marcia Berman grew up in Boyle Heights, as did her father, Isadore Berman. Although he graduated with a degree in chemical engineering from Caltech, the Depression prevented him from having a career in that field. So, with his brother and father, he opened and ran a chain of movie...

  • Father’s Day: Sending love from the bimah

    June 17, 2015 | 3:31 pm

    Australian-born Janine Lowy is the mother of three daughters and one son. Her father, Chazzan Andre Winkler, was born in Hungary in 1923, and his father, Chazzan Pinchas Winkler, was a protégé of the famous Cantor Yossele Rosenblatt. Andre’s parents, three sisters and their...

  • Father’s Day: Down-to-Earth role model rabbi

    June 17, 2015 | 3:25 pm

    Rabbi David Vorspan is the founding rabbi of Congregation Shir Ami in Woodland Hills, and rabbi-in-residence of New Community Jewish High School in West Hills. His father, Rabbi Max Vorspan, was a scholar, historian and community leader, and vice president at the former University...

  • Father’s Day: The lesson of free speech

    June 17, 2015 | 3:24 pm

    Dean Okrand is an Emmy-winning sound re-recording mixer, husband and father of two adult daughters. His own father was Fred Okrand, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Southern California for more than 60 years, and its first legal director. Fred, born in...

  • A Celebration of Dad

    August 29, 2012 | 5:29 pm

    I called my 94-year-old father in Ohio on July 9. I told him how much I loved him, that he was the most wonderful father ever, that I would miss him, and that it was OK for him to let go.

    All I could hear was his heavy breathing as the hospice nurse held the phone to his ear.

  • Controlling who shall live and who shall die … and when

    October 25, 2011 | 7:15 pm

    My 93-year-old father and I have little left to say to each other.

    He sleeps while I sit by his side. Every so often, Dad wakes up, and looks with some confusion around his small room, at the hospital bed, the TV and the whiteboard where someone has printed in large letters:...

  • How to record your family’s story

    September 1, 2010 | 10:53 am

    When my friend and I couldn’t get a table at Junior’s, we sat at the counter. Of course sitting at the counter means having lunch with the stranger next to you.

    The man beside me looked about 75, and I couldn’t help but notice him because he was flirting so loudly with the...

  • Centenarian celebrates fourth bar mitzvah

    November 13, 2008 | 6:25 pm

    "If my mother was here, she'd probably be saying, 'Dayenu, enough already,'" said Dr. Eugene Gettelman, who turned 100 in June. "She'd think I was meshugge for having a fourth bar mitzvah."

    Last Saturday, Gettelman was called to the Torah, along with a group of seven women, at...

  • Mom’s final resting places—a cremation story

    August 7, 2008 | 3:18 pm

    If you are offended either by the idea of cremation or humor about the dead, you may want to stop reading. It's OK.

    Maybe you weren't raised (as I was) by a woman who had no short-term memory for several years before she died, but retained a sharp and sick sense of humor --...

  • Saying Goodbye to Mom

    August 3, 2006 | 8:00 pm

    The phone woke me at 3:45 a.m.

    It was Joanne, the owner of my mom's board and care.

    "Ellie, it's time," she said.

    "Time for what?" I asked.

    She paused and then said, "Your mother's gone."

    Maybe I was still asleep -- or in denial. I thought, "Gone where? Back to the...

  • Midlife Reinvention Not So Uncommon

    February 2, 2006 | 7:00 pm

    John F. Kennedy once said, "When written in Chinese, the word 'crisis' is composed of two characters. One represents danger, and the other represents opportunity."

    Life is full of change -- in fact, one of the only things we can predict and count on in life is that things won't stay...

  • Lingerie and Meditation

    February 2, 2006 | 7:00 pm

    "I always say it is lingerie and meditation that have kept me young," says Michael Attie, a 62-year-old author, spiritual seeker and former owner of Playmates of Hollywood -- the world's largest lingerie store.

    Once known as "The Lingerie Monk," Attie managed to combine his passion...

  • Senior Moments - Great-Grand Marshal

    November 24, 2005 | 7:00 pm

    As I walked through the grounds at the Jewish Home for the Aging (JHA), I noticed a man in a wheelchair reading a magazine. It was called "Life Extension."

    I had to laugh. Someone must have strategically placed this magazine, like a prop, for the interview I was about to conduct....

  • Senior Moments - Proudly Jewish in ‘Sunset’

    November 17, 2005 | 7:00 pm

    Within the first moments of the comedy/drama "Sunset Park," I wanted to get to know Sheila Oaks, who plays widowed mother

    Evelyn Horowitz two nights a week at the Zephyr Theatre. Something about Oaks' authentic, sensitive portrayal of a 70-something New York Jewish woman made me...

  • Culling Your ‘Stuff’ Can Be Painful Task

    November 3, 2005 | 7:00 pm

    My Aunt Naomi is overwhelmed.

    Now 78, she was widowed three years ago. She lost her husband, but inherited his piles of files, cancelled checks and warranties for current and formerly owned equipment.

    Aunt Naomi also has her own collections -- beloved tchotchkes that are scattered...

  • How to Keep Your Love Alive

    November 3, 2005 | 7:00 pm

    I'm smiling a lot these days because I've recently fallen in love. Starting over at 56 years young, it's unlikely that I'll experience a golden anniversary, but I'd really, truly like to enjoy and adore one special person for the rest of my hopefully long, healthy life.

    With the...

  • Anticipating Orphanhood

    September 22, 2005 | 8:00 pm

    Over coffee at Panera, my friend Ellen and I discussed our children's school, her career options and my recent dating adventures. And we laughed about the policeman who didn't give Ellen a ticket because he liked her "Beat Bush" sticker. We laughed a lot, as we usually do.

    Then we...

  • Senior Moments - And in This Corner, Stella Goren

    August 4, 2005 | 8:00 pm

    Stella Goren is only about 4-foot-10, but she packs a strong punch.

    It all started when she was turning 79, and her husband asked what she wanted for her birthday.

    "I'd like to work out at a gym with a personal trainer," Goren told him.

    In spite of thinking she was meshugge and...

  • Soothing Music Memories

    May 26, 2005 | 8:00 pm

    When Len Lawrence was sitting shiva for his father 12 years ago, he found himself longing for some Jewish music to help soothe him through that difficult time, but he just couldn't find the right songs.

    Now that Lawrence is general manager of Mount Sinai Memorial Parks and...

  • My New Mother

    May 5, 2005 | 8:00 pm

    My mother has become a serene and content old woman.

    The changes, probably due to both her dementia and medications, have created an unexpected-and quite wonderful -- new chapter in our relationship.

    Maybe we would have gotten along well at this point in our lives -- me at 55...

  • Tell Me a Story

    April 21, 2005 | 8:00 pm


    When I was growing up, my family's Passover gatherings were a joyful blend of holiday traditions, over-eating, stand-up comedy and most important of all -- storytelling by our "tribal elders."

    For example, I was always moved by one of my Grandma Lena's stories from the Great...

  • A Man and His Toys

    March 31, 2005 | 7:00 pm


    Irvin Kipper may be 88 years old, but he still loves wooden blocks and Tinker Toys.

    In fact for 60 years, "Kip"

    has spent his days thinking almost exclusively about dolls and trains and stuffed bears, because he owns Kip's Toyland in the original Farmers Market.

    Kipper just can't...

  • She’s 88 and Going Like 60 Volunteering

    February 3, 2005 | 7:00 pm


    Imagine this situation: You've arrived at LAX after hours of sitting in an airplane from Italy. You've waited in line to get through customs, lugged your suitcases from the baggage claim and you finally emerge to locate your relatives. But they're nowhere to be found, and you don't...

  • Problems Abound in Pampering Parents

    February 3, 2005 | 7:00 pm


    My mother and father are both in diapers. I wasn't at all prepared for this possibility. Dealing with the visual and olfactory aspect of my son's end products when he was a baby was an expected part of being a mom, but it's a completely different matter when it's my parents wearing...

  • Mom and Dementia

    June 24, 2004 | 8:00 pm

    My mother sounded upset when she called the other day. "What's wrong, Ma?" I asked. "I don't know what's going on or where I am she said. "Who are these people with me?"

    I reminded Mom of her move to Los Angeles three years ago, and her life at a San Fernando Valley board and care....

  • Teens Build a Bridge Beyond the Past

    May 27, 2004 | 8:00 pm

    "I was afraid there could be aggression toward us, because we are German. I'm really surprised about how friendly and open all the people are." -- Hannah Ketterer, teenage exchange student from Germany

    "We didn't see each other as the grandchildren of Nazis or as grandchildren of...

  • L.A. GOAL Opens ‘Doors’ at Skirball

    April 24, 2003 | 8:00 pm

    Sherrie has cerebral palsy, which causes her hands to tremble. So when she was hired to work as an artist for L.A. GOAL in Culver City, she was concerned.

    "I can't paint a straight line, because my hands shake," Sherrie told Susan Wilder, L.A. GOAL's art director.

    "Well, then...

  • There’s No Time Like the Present

    December 27, 2001 | 7:00 pm

    In my family, death and funerals seem to inspire joking. Maybe it's discomfort, but it also seems to be a lack of concern and heaviness about the whole thing. No one in my family does much visiting of graves, and burials are apparently not deemed necessary.

    My mother wants her body...

  • Encouraging Tzedakah

    May 3, 2001 | 8:00 pm

    "There's nobody involved in the ADL who is older than I," Leona Goldring said the other day. "Whether or not that is something to be proud of, I don't know!"

    You decide.

    Leona Goldring is 93. She not only attends monthly Anti-Defamation League (ADL) meetings, as well as planning...

  • Moving Mom

    February 8, 2001 | 7:00 pm

    When I last wrote this column for The Jewish Journal several months ago, I had no idea that my mother would soon be living a short bike ride away. Or that her relocation to Los Angeles would take over my life. But transitions, while challenging and stressful, thankfully don't usually...

  • To Let Go, to Love, to Forgive

    October 5, 2000 | 8:00 pm

    "I have good news! My cancer is in remission." I've called Elsie Schwartz to talk about the High Holy Days, but the news about her illness is an unexpected surprise and a huge relief. At 89, Elsie has taught me a great deal about life and about choosing to face death by living fully...
  • Working Through the Golden Years

    September 21, 2000 | 8:00 pm

    Seniors are fast becoming the largest segment of our population. The image of old is changing, but maybe not enough. Too often, senior citizens are seen - and see themselves - as useless and past the time of having much pleasure. What an awful feeling that must be.

    An 85-year-old man...

  • The Key of Women

    April 27, 2000 | 8:00 pm

    It's a Saturday morning at Adat Shalom in West Los Angeles. Adat Shalom is a mainstream Conservative synagogue, but there's nothing ordinary about the Shabbat service I'm attending.

    There are about 100 women of all ages assembled in the sanctuary. No men are present, though...

  • Chicken Soup and a Mother’s Journey

    April 20, 2000 | 8:00 pm

    When I'm 79, I want to be Mollie Pier.

    With a name like that, she could have been a torch singer or silent film actress, but she's not at all famous -- except to the people who appreciate and adore her.

    What I love about Mollie is her vibrant, warm personality and her seemingly...

  • Viagra and Love

    March 30, 2000 | 7:00 pm

    I've been thinking about sex.

    Now that I'm over 50, I'm enjoying sex more than I did in my youth. Will the fun last, I wonder?

    Many people assume that aging means the loss of sexuality. I don't want to believe it. Maybe, as we get older, our pictures of what constitutes sex just has to...

  • Changing Places

    March 9, 2000 | 7:00 pm

    "I want to move back to Cleveland."

    It's my mother, calling from North Carolina.

    "I miss my friends," she says, tearfully. "I just can't stay here."

    "Here" is a cottage next to my sister's house, surrounded by trees, in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains. A creek cascades by her door....