Jewish Journal


March 15, 2007 | 8:00 pm

Brooke Asher, educator and entrepreneur, 47 Brooke Asher Brooke Asher died in Santa Monica on June 2, 2006, at the age of 47. She grew up in New York and Holland and was educated at Hunter College, where she earned a degree in economics. She first found success as an innovative restaurateur, opening the critically acclaimed and highly successful Continental Divide at 24. This fun and lively dinosaur-themed hot spot drew both New York crowds and critics and spawned other themed restaurants.

In the early 1990s, Brooke headed to Los Angeles, was married, and became actively involved in a number of AIDS and sex education charities. As a speaker for Peer Education Program of Los Angeles, her straight talk and compelling words made her a popular speaker at high schools and colleges. Her work with Children of the Night helped educate and inspire homeless youth to be sage, stay clean and make positive changes in their lives.

In 2003, she launched a revolutionary concept in the detox and sobriety world with her company, Sober Coaching, which "brought the center to the client." She is the beloved daughter of Kenneth and Rachel Blumenstein; sister of Rodney Blumenstein; and wife of Glen Kessler. She leaves family and many friends who loved and respected this passionate woman.

-- Kenneth Blumenstein

Harvey Cohen, "Hanukkah Swings!" co-producer, 55 Harvey Cohen Emmy Award-winner Harvey Cohen died of a heart attack at the age of 55 on Jan. 14. He had worked on numerous television, film and animation projects. He was also the arranger, conductor and co-producer of "Hanukkah Swings!"

It all started 15 years ago in the shower, when I was singing "I Have a Little Dreidel," and in my head I heard the Count Basie Orchestra. All I needed to find was an arranger. After many years of searching, I was singing in Beverly Hills at a concert, and the piano player knew of a guy who might be perfect for the project. The only problem was that "he lived in the middle of nowhere."

I asked where that was, and he said Agoura. I told him that I lived in Agoura, and I met Harvey Cohen the next morning at the Agoura Deli for breakfast. It was an instant friendship. I felt like I knew him all my life. Harvey then wrote the entire idea out on a napkin, and we were in the studio recording a demo a few months later. It then took three years to get a label to sign me, and had it not been for Harvey's incredible arrangements, I don't think anyone would have listened to my big band Chanukah idea. None of this would have been possible without the genius of Harvey Cohen's arrangements.

I miss Harvey, who became a "soul mate" and great friend. He was in the Temple Beth Haverim High Holiday Choir for two years and played his klezmer-style clarinet at our first Friday Night Love service. He had me premiere "Swingin' Dreidel" and "Hanukkah Candles" at the 2005 Agoura High School Winter Concert and then put together and led an incredible 18-piece big band at the "Hanukkah Swings! Live" concert at the Canyon Club.

The last time I saw him was at the two concerts we did at the Jazz Bakery in December. He will be missed by all who knew and loved him.

-- Cantor Kenny Ellis, Temple Beth Haverim

Marshall Blair, civic and Jewish community leader, 85

Born in Chicago in 1921 to Harry and Kate Blair, Marshall Blair was a self-made businessman who moved his family to Northridge in 1957. He started Acme Bearing in Burbank and retired to Oceanside in 1995. Marshall attributed his success to his positive outlook on life -- his motto being, "Go, go, go" -- and to the support and encouragement of his wife, Shirley. Marshall was an ethical businessman who helped employees and strangers alike through the trials and tribulations of life.

He was president of Temple Judea in Tarzana; president of the San Fernando Valley Mental Health Center; president of Build Rehabilitation Industries (provides training and work skills to disabled people); president of the North American Federation of Temple Brotherhoods; vice president of the Jewish Chautauqua Society; president of the Jewish Men's Club of North County; president of the Burbank Rotary Club; president of the PTA; board member of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion; board member of Tri-City Hospital; and board member of the Burbank YMCA.

His greatest achievement, however, and that for which he was proudest, was raising four wonderful and successful children -- two medical doctors, one doctor of psychology and one doctor of jurisprudence -- all of whom were very active growing up in the temple youth group.

He is survived by Shirley, his loving wife of 58 years; children, Steve, Joyce, Nancy and Gary; grandchildren, Molly, Sarah, Kaitlin and Emma; and brother, Sidney. He will be dearly missed by all who knew him.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Marshall Blair Leadership Fund at Temple Judea.

-- Gary Blair

Max Lent, fighter and folkdancer, 88

Max Lent, who died Jan. 24 at 88, was a character, a hard-working man whose interests were many.

He was a Jewish carpenter ("like you-know-who" as Max would say), incomparable improvisor and self-taught worker-intellectual who sustained his family and many friends with his irreverent wit and generosity.

He had a lifelong passion for sailing. He fought fascism as a World War II Marine, built countless houses, fixed just about anything and, with his wife, Millie, folkdanced locally and around the world.

He stayed strong until the end, annually riding his bike from Venice to Hess Kramer, 35 miles, most recently at age 88. He began riding as a Western Union bike messenger in Manhattan during the Depression and never quit.

Max was a proud communist, a secularist with strong Jewish roots reaching back to his shtetl birthplace. Opinionated and involved, he worked for a better world but lived fully in the present. The Valley Cities Jewish Community Center crowd will miss his humor and his "goldineh hent."

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