January 3, 2008
Teacher’s impact creates lasting memories and values
(Page 2 - Previous Page)I find out about his spiritual journey when we sit down in a quiet office, and I ask Alan questions a student can't, but a journalist can.
Alan's mother died of cancer when he was around 7, and his distraught father left Alan, an older brother and two younger sisters in a Milwaukee orphanage. A year later, the four of them were adopted by a European immigrant Jewish couple who owned a Wisconsin dairy farm. The family was loving and solid, but Alan and his siblings worked hard on that farm, getting up early to do chores and continuing after homework was done. After he graduated high school, Alan joined the Marines. He served for nine months in Vietnam and played in the Marine band. He then moved in with an aunt and uncle in Los Angeles and got a degree in physical education from Cal State Northridge. In 1972, he was hired by Yavneh Principal Rabbi Zev Litenatsky, whose son, Menachem, was Alan's student. Like many of Alan's students, Menachem is still his close friend. He sat next to him at the Milken Awards luncheon.
"As a young kid, I was always in trouble, and he never gave up on me," says Menachem, who is now the director of youth and volunteer services at the Etta Israel Center, working with kids with disabilities. "He became like a father, a brother, a mentor, a friend -- he hits all the roles, and I know that I am not the exception. There are thousands and thousands of people who have benefited from knowing Alan."
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