I was part of the infamous Class of 2000, the class that everyone has been watching since the time we entered kindergarten in 1987. Back then, it seemed almost impossible to imagine what the world would look like in 2000, but everyone was certain that the turn of the millennium would be momentous, and our class would be front and center as we graduated high school and headed out into the world. Well, the year 2000 has come and gone — anticlimactically — and over Thanksgiving weekend, I attended my 10-year high school reunion for Cleveland High School, a public school in Reseda.
It was called the "Miracle on Florence Avenue," a small, humble synagogue that thrived for 50 years before shuttering its doors in 1986, a victim of old age and changing demographics. By all accounts, Huntington Park Hebrew Congregation, the second Conservative synagogue established in Los Angeles, should be buried in the sands of oblivion by now. And yet, 30 of us -- all fiercely loyal former members, ranging in age from 50 to 97 -- gathered on Jan. 7 at the home of Elliot Monka in Sierra Madre for a reunion that brimmed over not only with nostalgia, but with insight into how this tiny Jewish enclave could produce an unprecedented number of successful professionals and deeply committed Jews.
Schmetterling and Czekaj had not seen each other since 1944, when Soviet troops liberated Kopyczynce from the Nazis.
"I am here today only because she and her family risked everything to save us," Schmetterling told the crowd, looking at Czekaj. "Now, to see her here in Poland, is more than I could have imagined."
The Rolling Stones have done it. Cher has done it. The comeback -- that big farewell concert tour followed by a reunion and a new album -- is about as American as apple pie. It's not unheard of in Israel, either.
When Danae Elon, daughter of famed Israeli journalist and author Amos Elon, was 6 months old, a Palestinian Muslim knocked on the door of her home in East Jerusalem and asked for a job.
He was hired on the spot and for the next 20 years, Musa Obeidallah was Danae's nanny, caretaker, confidant and second father.
"Watermarks" is a life-affirming documentary that celebrates the constancy of courage and grace, from youth to old age.
Its setting is the waltz-loving Austria of the 1920s and '30s, where the lithe young swimmers of the fabled Hakoah ("the strength") Vienna sports club are beating their "Aryan" rival clubs year after year.
Freestyler Judith Deutsch alone breaks 12 national records in 1935 and is the toast of the town, until she refuses to compete for Austria at Hitler's 1936 Olympic Games. As punishment, she is barred from competition for life and all her marks are erased from the official record books.
After the Reich's takeover of Austria in 1938, the swimmers scatter to Palestine, the United States and England, marry and establish professional careers.
Some 65 years later, Israeli director Yaron Zilberman decided to track down eight of the swimmers, now in their 80s, in their adopted countries.
Of all the Jew joints, in all the towns, in all the world, I walk into his. The artist formerly known as Jake didn't just go to my high school. I was a freshman cheerleader in a sophomore geometry class and Jake was the hot football player who sat next to me.
L.A. resident Ralph Harpuder reports that he had a fantastic time at the 2002 Rickshaw Reunion in Foster City, Calif., which brought together 320 former refugees, including Harpuder, from around the world who were all part of the Shanghai Jewish Ghetto.