Class of '53 Biographies
Hebrew Institute of Boro Park
Yeshivat Etz Chaim

1953 Class Photo

We owe a debt of gratitude to Jack Berger and Saul Cohen for their successful efforts in reconnecting our class of '53. In reviewing the names of fellow classmates, it seemed a bit eerie, however, to try to recall past memories of who we were 50 years ago! It seemed only natural to try and get to know each other for who we are today. And so, Marty Lebowitz developed a brief survey, asking fellow classmates to fill out and submit their responses so he could develop the biographical sketches below. For those who'd like to update their existing bio, cut and paste the paragraph to this email buffer, then edit and email it.

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[Next] [Top] - Jack S. Berger; Mahwah, NJ

Jack and his wife Carol have been married for 40 years , and have six children, Sharon Javer (38) (married with two daughters Daryn (10) and Deanna (7)), Daniel (36),(married with two sons, Adam (7) and Isaac (5)), David (35)(married with three sons, Zachary (7),Jordan (5) and Gabriel (1)), Judyth Greenbaum (33) married, with newly born Lily Symone, Rachel (26) graduated from Rutgers University in May 2003,and Robert (24) who received his MA in Education from Rutgers University in 2007. Jack retired as a VP at Citibank in August 2000. He continues to enjoy family genealogy, music, reading, fishing and walking. He continues to sail with his son-in-law's father, Herb Javer, in Long Island Sound, and taking periodic sea hegiras as far as Nantucket and back. His idea of a good vacation "is not having to travel, sleeping late in the morning and enjoying a good cup of coffee." He can do without being bothered by telemarketing calls at ANY hour. People who know him say he's "too honest for my own good" and his one vivid memory of Etz Chaim is "listening to Bobby Thomson hit the home run off Ralph Branca in 1951, in Mr. Eiss's English Class in the sixth grade."I thought the End of Times (acharit hayamim) had come..."

Since retirement, he has also translated four more Yizkor Books from Yiddish into English for a total of six.. He is currently at work on his seventh such endeavor. The most arresting coincidence, was to discover that he and Stanley Nash were landsleit. Their forbears came from two towns not more than ten miles apart in what is today Belarus.

[Next] [Top] - Saul Cohen; Stamford, CT

After receiving his MSW, Saul worked in the field of Jewish Communal Service, left that field for an opportunity in marketing research, and thereafter started his own firm, Saul Cohen & Associates, Ltd, a qualitative marketing research company.

Married since 1964, he and Mimi (Miriam) nee Rosner, whom he met on the ship while traveling to Israel, have two daughters. Amy, born in Sep.'67, lives in Needham (MA), is director of HR for a division of Bayer and and has taken on leadership roles on the Board of Camp Ramah and the Solomon Schechter School in Brookline. She is married to Carl Kruglak and has 2 children Alyssa (7) and Eric (4). Rena, born in Nov.'70, lives in Gladwynne, PA, has a JD and MBA, a daughter Elana (4), and is married to Josh Kopelman, who sold his dot-com company to Ebay and is successful venture capitalist. Saul's wife Mimi, retired as a vice-principal from Solomon Schechter School in White Plains, NY.

Saul enjoys work but likes spending more of his time at his home in Lenox, MA "to take in good music and theater, and indulge in my passion for food and tennis. When not traveling, I play four times each week, indoors or outdoors, depending on the weather." Gregarious and still easygoing, Saul can do without winter and as he puts it, "my coronary artery disease!" His idea of a good vacation, is "taking a winter trip with the kids and grandkids to a warmer climate or getting away with my wife, and occasionally with friends, to any oversees destination."

Saul has recently been honored for his work in the Jewish community by both Jewish Family Service and the Jewish Historical Society, having his Flatbush Yeshiva High School basketball letter enshrined in New York's Museum of Jewish Heritage.

Some vivid memories of Etz Chaim? "Enjoying when several of us got together at each other's homes on Shabbat afternoons; throwing small pieces of lox up to the ceiling in Rabbi Bilitsky's class; zippering together all the hanging coats in the closet of Mr. Oretsky's class; Mr. Eiss throwing chalk; climbing out the windows from Rabbi Bilitsky's class so we could begin recess and our ball game a bit sooner!"

[Next] [Top] - Jack M. Fein; Pougkeepsie, NY

Jack is a Neurosurgeon affiliated with the Department of Neurosurgery, Midhudson Medical Center in Pok NY, and with the Westchester County Medical Center in Vallhala, NY. Remarried four years, Jack's family consists of his wife Karen, a daughter Shifra, who is a hard working medical student at Tel Aviv University, stepsons Mat and Aaron, a dog Abigail, cats, deer, Canadian geese, wild turkeys, and a few rabbits.

According to Jack, he "really enjoys Neurosurgery, my family, my new rototiller (3 forward gears), organic vegetable gardening, woodland perennial garden design, and low interest rates." Jack can do without "Benjamin Netanyahu, the Fed tightening and a strong dollar." His idea of a good vacation is driving around Norway, Israel, Eastern Europe and New Hampshire and admits that "friends and family tell me I'm unable to relax."

Some vivid Etz Chaim memories: "How many other kids went about asking can I borrow your tie for Minnie's inspection?" And wonders, "how Greenfield survived as the only Giants fan in the class?" A vivid memory? "Kufeld with his hard hat and whistle during fire drills."

[Next] [Top] - Aaron Fruchter; Belle Harbor, NY

Aaron, who together with his wife Susan settled close to the beach in Belle Harbor, has three children: two sons, Josh, an attorney married to Merav , a pediatric dentist, Yehuda, the founder of a personal e-mail messaging service, and a daughter Chanie, a physical therapist, married to Simcha Axelrod, a financial analyst. Aaron says about his six grandchildren, "if I knew being a grandfather was so much fun, I would have done that first." Aaron enjoys learning the Daf Yomi and teaches a weekly class in Chumash and Halacha in his community synagogue.

A CPA, working in the Office of the NYS Comptroller for 30 years, which have been satisfying and fulfilling, is looking forward to retiring soon. Aaron's idea of a good vacation is traveling to all points of the globe, especially Israel. His vivid memories of Etz Chaim include: "working at the Yeshiva bazaar, particularly the hot-dog stand, helping Melech prepare for the spelling bee (Melech missed the word Caribbean), and getting hit on the wrist with a pencil in the sixth grade (can't remember the rebbi's name)."

[Next] [Top] - Elliot S. Gershon; Chicago, IL

Professor of Psychiatry and Human Genetics, and Chairman of the Department of Psychiatry, at University of Chicago. Elliot retired from the Public Health Service position he had at the National Institute of Mental Health since 1998 (where he was a psychiatrist doing research in genetics and biological psychiatry). Married to Debby since '67, they have two children, Ari (34) and Ethan (30, married, one child). Both are physicians. Ari made aliyah in 2000, and is a resident in Psychiatry at Tel Hashomer hospital in Ramat Gan, near Tel Aviv. Ethan is in medical software in Kansas City. Their daughter-in-law Naomi is a pediatrician, soon to start a part time practice, and staying home with their grandson Levi. Even though the winters are cold in Chicago, Elliot keeps in shape by swimming three times a week.

Elliot's vivid Etz Chaim memories include: "Rabbi Binumovich chasing me out of his class. Opening the windows in Mrs. Weisman's room before lunch, and getting her to cancel the afternoon because there was no heat. I remember Allie Rosen putting his hand on a scalding radiator, smiling calmly, and telling her there's still no heat. Max Epstein teaching us about air has weight. Mr. Oretsky teaching us the poetry quality of the book of Isaiah."

"My really poignant memory is from the early '80's, when there was a reunion for all classes after the school had closed, and Mrs. Kufeld was still alive (A"H). She held an assembly, had us all pledge allegiance and sing Hatikva, told us to be good Jews and good Americans, and remembered the boys who had given their lives in the second world war, the Israel war of Independence, and other conflicts. They were magnificent people."

[Next] [Top] - Uriel Gottesman; Arlington, VA

After graduating NYU and Baruch College (MBA), Uriel worked for CPA firms in NYC, and was chief accountant at Owens Illinois in OH before permanently settling in the DC area. After 27 years at the US Department of Commerce, he retired as its Director of the Office of Budget Operations. After a brief retirement, Uriel took a position with Grant Thornton, a CPA and consulting firm where he worked on financial management systems for the Federal Government. In March of 2002, Uriel formed his own company, providing consulting services in all aspects of federal financial management including accounting, budgeting and systems implementation.

On a personal level, Uriel was married for 30 years; his wife passed away in 1992. In 1995 he married a young, part-time model and budding actress, who has appeared in the Chris Rock movie "Head of State and is currently filming "Sex and the City" as well as commercials. Uriel has no children but has remained close with his brother Aaron, a Rabbi in San Diego, who was recently honored by the city for his 30+ years of service as police, fire and FBI chaplain.

Uriel is a member of the Arlington Fairfax Jewish Congregation where Marvin Bash, son of Etz Chaim teacher Cantor Bashkowitz is Rabbi Emeritus. Uriel still reads the Hafotrah on a regular monthly basis in his shul. Always athletic, Uriel obtained a Black Belt in Karate at the age of 45, and at one point, tried out for the Dodgers - but it wasn't to be! Uriel, however, still keeps in shape by playing over 100 games of softball a season for the last 20 years. His vivid memories of Etz Chaim is "playing slap-ball in the yard, and of course, the famous home-run."

[Next] [Top] - Larry Greenfield; Silver Spring, MD

A Ph.D. Psychologist, Larry is Director of Research at Institutes for Behavior Resources, Inc., where he evaluates substance abuse treatment programs. He has also recently started his own software company, Audio Data Systems, with a presence on the World Wide Web. Married since '89 to Melanie Gross Greenfield, they have an adopted son Sammy (5) who's in kindergarten. Larry enjoys all sorts of dancing, especially the Argentine Tango, and for the past two summers, has found an ideal way to vacation - renting a house in Bethany Beach where he and his wife can relax and enjoy their 5 year old son. People who know Larry, characterize him as "a delightful person, messy, forgetful and someone who can't fix a thing around the house."

As for Etz Chaim memories, Larry's favorite teachers where Mrs. Brenner and Minnie Weisman. He still remembers "playing in the yard and breaking a tooth in 5th grade. Minnie Weisman reporting that she stayed healthy and never missed a day of school because she regularly drank 'black strap molasses.' I remember trying the stuff. It was awful. I decided I'd rather take my chances on getting sick."

[Next] [Top] - Morton Kaplan; Valley Stream, NY

Morty is sales manager at Bill Gallo Realty in Valley Stream, NY. He has distinguish himself as a licensed broker of both residential and commercial properties on Long Island for over 20 years. As a director on the Board of the New York State Association of Realtors, Morty serves on many of its committees and is active in lobbying efforts both in Albany and Washington.

Immediately after graduating, Morty worked in the New York District Attorney's office as Chief Appeals Clerk and did some work as a translator for JFK when he was a Senator in charge of the Organized Crime Commission and his brother, RFK, was counsel to that commission.

On the personal side, Morty is divorced and has a married daughter Jill, living in Princeton, NJ. She and her husband David own a head hunting firm, specializing in the technology industry. Morty's hobbies include bicycling and learning and performing simple magic tricks. With some encouragement, it sounds like we may have found our entertainment for our next class reunion.

[Next] [Top] - Oliver Klapper; Brooklyn, NY

Ollie, and his wife Susan have been married for the past 35 years and have a son and daughter. Their son, Andrew is a Plastic Surgeon having recently completed his residency at New York University Medical Center. He is now in private practice in Manhattan. Their daughter, Karin, is an attorney working for a Manhattan law firm. In June 2004, Karen married James Orenstein, who was recently appointed Federal Magistrate for the Southern District. They live in Brooklyn.

After earning his PhD from Columbia University, Ollie has been, for the past 34 years, Director of the Career Development Center at Kingsborough Community College of the City University of New York. In March, 2002, still retaining his rank as Professor, Ollie began serving as Special Consultant on Higher Education to the Borough President of Brooklyn. And if you have cable TV, you can watch Ollie on his weekly program on BCAT.

Active in his community, Ollie was chairman of the Board of the Manhattan Beach Jewish Center for 10 years and its president for 4 years. He also served as president of the Homeowners Association of Manhattan Beach and was elected to 2 three year terms to the local school board, and is also a member of the Executive Committee of Community Board #15.

Finally Ollie noted, he enjoys being on our class email list and reading the messages that travel across the globe, and the good feeling he gets staying in touch with past Etz Chaim classmates.

[Next] [Top] - Martin Lebowitz; Brookline, MA

Living in the Brookline since '66, Marty has served as president of the Young Israel of Brookline, and is volunteer designer and webmaster of its Web Site. In his spare time, Marty runs CIS Personnel Services, his own contract programming and executive search firm, placing qualified candidates in high technology and management positions across the country.

On the personal side, Marty and his wife Deanne have been married since '62, have three married children. Laurie, an anesthesiologist at Einstein and her husband Hal Klestzick, a cardiologist have three children and live in New Rochelle. Lisa, an attorney and her husband Michael Fuller, an analyst on Wall St., have four children and are living in Great Neck. Robert, an HBS graduate, is a VP of a major company, reporting directly to its CEO. His wife Yael, is a producer on the Today show. They have two daughters and a son, and live on the upper West Side.

As for responses to our survey questions, to quote Marty: "Since I'm a shmoozer and my wife loves to look at interesting shops, etc. our ideal vacation is touring Jerusalem while talking to lots of strangers about their life experiences. I enjoy working with creative, focused people to make good things happen!" Some vivid memories of Etz Chaim: "Allie Rosen standing in front of Iggie Saymon's class telling his off-the-wall, extemporaneous stories; being glued to the radio, listening to Bobby Thomson's famous home run in the '51 playoff series; eating a club sandwich with French fries at Skilowitz and getting change back from a dollar bill!"

[Next] [Top] - Stanley Nash; Fanwood, NJ

A Professor of Modern Hebrew Literature at Hebrew Union College, Stan and his wife Edna have two children Ethan (27) and Rebecca (26). Rebecca is now a first year resident at Montefiore Hospital. She is married to Judah Cohen, who just received his Ph.D in ethnomusioclogy from Harvard. Ethan has been teaching music at a private school in Rye New York. He plans to study for an advanced degree in choral conducting. To relax and unwind, Stan enjoys gardening, music, reading, exercising at the gym and swimming. His idea of a good vacation, is traveling to places where there's nice scenery. His most vivid memory of Etz Chaim: "Those punch ball games!"

[Next] [Top] - Fred Nathan; San Francisco, CA

According to people who know him, Fred is "gregarious, a bit overweight and a workaholic." Fred is involved in education as Director of Kol Emeth in Palo Alto, and as Temple Educator at Temple Beth El in Aptos. He and his wife Esther have two daughters and a son. Alysa (33), is married to Eric Segal; they have three children, Dana, Brian and Rebecca. Their second daughter Tamar (27), is soon to marry Duvid Halberstam in NY. Their son Aaron (23), is still in school and lives at home. Fred enjoys reading, cooking and eating; he can do without Synagogue politics and his idea of a good vacation is "spending time with the family in places without phones." His vivid recollection of Etz Chaim: "G'veret Kopelman breaking her leg after I prayed that she should." A good question to have included: "When do you plan to visit San Francisco?"

[Next] [Top] - Michael Ostrow; Lido Beach, NY

Michael and his wife Judy, a retired RN since 1998, have two married sons David and Seth. David lives in Kiryat Arba with his wife Tamar and their three children Avi, Jeremy and Ora. David is involved in security. Seth and his wife Naomi, live in Queens. Seth is a Patent Attorney, specializing in hardware/software matters and issues relating to the cable industry. He is one of three senior partners of a 240-person NYC firm. His wife Naomi, is chief of Pediatric Radiology at NYU. They have three children Talia, Eden and Ari.

Professionally, Michael has always held positions in industry that have enabled him to travel extensively around the country and to places like Japan, China, Taiwan, Korea and Europe. For many years Michael was associated with the ladies undergarment business where he was director of operations and served as import/export manager. He also held positions as VP/GM of a firm importing ferrous and non-ferrous fasteners such as nuts, bolts, screws, washers etc. Never to walk away from a challenge, Michael is currently battling cancer with a vigorous program of therapy and rehab. We wish him well!

According to his survey responses, Michael can do without: "The Palestinians, about 50 lbs. and insufferable intellectuals." His most poignant memory "was the Bobby Thomson homer heard on a portable Radio on the 51st street side of Etz Chaim."

[Next] [Top] - Mark Press; Brooklyn, NY

Married to Suzanne (Zlata) for thirty-two years; she is principal of Prospect Park Bnos Leah Yeshiva High School, a large Bais Yaakov in Flatbush. They have six children. Nechama, 28, is married to Yitzchok Basser, currently learning in Lakewood; they have three children. Rivka (26) is married to Rabbi Ezra Schwartz, currently learning in the Beren Kolel at YU. Rivka is working on her doctorate at Princeton (in the history of science) and has two children, Baruch and Chava Geula. Avrohom Yitzchok (25) is learning in Lakewood and is engaged to be married to Naomi Glick on August 17. Sora (24) is married to Dovid Tendler. They live in Yerusholayim and have one daughter, Chaya Vitzia. Chana Baila (22) is married to Yoel Alter, who learns in Chaim Berlin. They live in Flatbush and have one son, Chaim Yosef. Leah (21) is engaged to Akiva Lustiger, currently learning in Philadelphia. They'll be married on September 2 and will move to Lakewood.

Mark, generally known to his friends as Melech, is Professor of Psychology and Chair of the Department of Psychology at Touro College in Brooklyn and Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry at State University Health Science Center at Brooklyn. He also has a private practice in clinical psychology.

[Next] [Top] - Solomon Schimmel; Newton Centre, MA

A resident of Newton, MA, Sol teaches Judaic Studies, Jewish education, and psychology of religion at Boston Hebrew College (now located in Newton. MA). His 1992 book "The Seven Deadly Sins: Jewish, Christian and Classical Reflections on Human Psychology" was reissued in paperback by Oxford University Press in 1997. In 1998 Sol spent a six month sabbatical as a Fulbright Fellow at Cambridge University, UK (in the Faculty of Divinity and Clare Hall college). He researched the psychology, theology and ethics of forgiveness in Judaism and Christianity and the relevance of repentance and forgiveness to interpersonal and and inter-group relations and reconciliation. As a culmination of this work, his book "Wounds Not Healed By Time: The Power of Repentance and Forgiveness" was published by Oxford University Press in 2002.

On the personal side, Sol is married to Judith nee Tam (born in Sa'ana, Yemen), who teaches Hebrew at Hebrew College's Prozdor High School. They have three children, David (33), a YU graduate, who is working at a startup Internet company in Boston; Atara (28), a Bar-Ilan graduate, who lives in Israel and is studying drama therapy; Noam (23), who graduated from Yale in 2002 and has spent this year working on projects for the benefit of "street children" in Capetown and in Buenos Aires.

Sol enjoys reading poetry, psychology, Jewish studies and philosophy. He also enjoys teaching, especially Bible and Midrash. Sol relishes "provoking people to examine their beliefs and values." He is currently working on a book that deals with the psychology of religious belief and of loss of faith, and the psychology of religious fundamentalism.

Sol's idea of a good vacation is spending "free time in a serene and beautiful natural setting, to read, walk, and listen to music, without feeling guilty that I should be doing something more 'productive'." He loved the beauty and ambience of Cambridge, England, and hopes to return there on his next sabbatical in 2005. He was also awed by the natural beauty of Capetown where he spent several weeks lecturing on aspects of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

A survey question he would have asked: "How did Etz Chaim affect your identification and practice as a Jew?" Some vivid memories of Etz Chaim: "Bobby Thomson's homer; his ongoing fear and anxiety of being bullied by Michael Ostrow (who I have since learned is a pretty nice guy)."

[Next] [Top] - Joel Sperber; Brooklyn, NY

Married since '64 to Diane (Zelnick), a psychotherapist in private practice, Joel received his PhD from the Ferkauf Graduate School of YU, and is currently teaching English Literature and Composition at Seton Hall University. Anna, their talented daughter, is a choreographer and modern dancer whose work was recently showcased at the Joyce theater in SOHO, NY Joel's hobbies, which he cultivated after turning 50, include fly fishing, tennis and riding his new Italian road bike through Prospect Park and Vermont. As for his ideal vacation, "it's hard to choose between Portugal/Italy, Vermont or San Francisco - where my 95 year-old parents have recently moved from Florida and will be celebrating their 71st anniversary in August."

Some memories of Etz Chaim include "being told in the 7th grade, to stop reading books during English class or my public library card will be taken away, and singing the Birkat in kindergarten."

[Next] [Top] - Baruch (Barry) Weissman; Netanya, Israel

A resident of Netanya, Barry is a Database Administrator in Oracle & DB2. He has three daughters Gila (28, married), Rachel (22), Devorah (21) and two sons Isaac (23) and Joseph (16). Barry enjoys "music, my aquarium, snorkeling in Eilat and swimming and can do without politicians." His idea of a good vacation is: Hawaii, Seychelles, Belize. Like others his one vivid memory of Etz Chaim is: "Bobby Thomson's home run, without question, not so much the HR but the reaction in class!!!"

[Top] [Photos] - Bernard Zazula; Flushing, NY

Bernard and Elise have two children both of whom are married. They have twin grandchildren, 20 months old. His wife Elise, has been retired for about a year and Bernard will be retiring (IY"H) on Friday 7/25 from the NYC's Human Resource Administration, Medicaid Program, where he served as Medical Director since 1986. On the timing of our reunion, he says it's certainly "Nice of you to make me a party."

Bernard enjoys reading, traveling and (of course) the grandchildren. He can do without the noise and pollution of NYC and religious bickering within the Jewish community. His idea of a good vacation is seeing new parts of the States/world.

Some vivid memories of Etz Chaim include: "Sitting outside the principal's office before my admission interview; Finally being allowed to leave the yard during lunch so I could buy a sour pickle down the block; Rabbi Bilitzky's signed dollar bills." His thoughts of Etz Chaim, "Great school. Great education. Great classmates."


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