Thursday, July 26, 2012

Love is in Bloom

We are pleased to share with you the romance of Jenna and Aaron, friends from high school whose lives took them on separate journeys, yet they found their way to the Young Friends Sunset Soiree at the Museum last summer, where their fates were sealed. Read this excerpt from an e-mail Jenna sent us describing how their great friendship blossomed into upcoming nuptials this August.

When high school ended, Aaron and I went off to our respective colleges; he was at Harvard while I was at Penn. We stayed in touch because Aaron's close friend at college was one of my close friends from summer camp. After college, Aaron moved to New York, and I moved to Israel for one year, and then went to Harvard Law School. During law school, I became very friendly with a bunch of Aaron's college friends, which gave us more reason to stay in touch.

After law school, I moved to New York, and that's when Aaron and I really reconnected. Aaron had just started his company, Tutorspree, and I was starting my job at the Education Law Center, so we had many conversations about students, parents, learning, and education reform. During the first few months of my time in New York, we met for hot chocolate on a crisp fall day. At the time, we were both dating other people. My sister met us afterwards, and mentioned to me later, totally unsolicited, that I should marry Aaron. At the time, I just laughed.

Over the next few months, Aaron and his company moved to California. We were in touch constantly, but still, it was strictly a friendship. When Aaron came home from California, we both attended the wedding of our good friends. Aaron says that he decided at the wedding that we should be together, but he didn't tell me then.

In the summer of 2011, on Aaron's birthday, we both attended an event at the Museum of Jewish Heritage for young professionals. We spent most of the evening together. After the event, a few of us went out for birthday drinks. By that point, I realized how comfortable and happy I always felt with Aaron, and suddenly felt this spark. During the cab ride home, Aaron mustered up the courage to tell me how he felt, and asked if we could go on a proper date. We did, just a few days later, and have been together ever since. We are very excited to be planning our wedding for this August!

Photo: Jenna Statfeld and Aaron Harris at their engagement party held at the Museum earlier this summer.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

How to Recognize a Love of Learning

Although school is out for summer, director of education Elizabeth Edelstein is leading an advanced workshop this week for high school teachers about the role of the professions during the Holocaust. I always like seeing teachers in comfortable attire, ready to learn. I find when teachers are in the role of students they cannot help but encourage of a love of learning.

Earlier this spring I heard about a wonderful encounter in our galleries that was a result of this kind of encouragement. One of our lovely Gallery Educators, Geri Jacobs, was leading a tour of 10th graders from a charter school of Erasmus High School on Yom HaShoah. Her students represented a number of Caribbean islands; one student, a Muslim, was from Pakistan. This young Pakistani expressed his deep interest in the Holocaust after hearing from the survivors in the galleries. After a lengthy and moving tour, listening to testimony, and learning from artifacts, the boy asked Geri how she was going to commemorate Yom HaShoah that night. She replied that she was going to a service at her synagogue, which turned out to be six blocks from his home. He asked if could attend the service and she assured him that he would be most welcome.
It was not until the end of the service, after the guest speaker had related his experience, and the survivors lit the six candles that she noticed the young man in back, wearing a white shirt and a yarmulke. He told Geri how much the experience meant to him. Geri then introduced the boy to the rabbi, the president, and practically every member of the congregation, telling them how they met.

As Geri shared in her e-mail, her new friend is a fine representative of today’s students, many of whom are born in other countries and do not have a lot of information about the Jewish people and the Holocaust. She went on to say, “What happened…reinforces the important role that the Museum plays in educating young people. It gives special meaning to the words LIVING MEMORIAL. It reinforces the reason why I volunteer at the Museum and the satisfaction that I receive when I can tell this story.”
It also reminds us that learning happens outside of the classroom, especially if one has a love of learning.

Photo: Thea Gottesman telling students about her experiences during the war. She made the blouse, dress, and bag that you see behind her shortly after being liberated from Mauthausen. Gift of Jack and Thea Gottesman Rumstein. Photo by Melanie Einzig.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

These Are the People in Our Neighborhood

If we haven’t gone on and on about our neighborhood must-read, The Battery Park City Broadsheet, that’s our error. An e-version is e-mailed each morning, there is a website, and for those of you who kick it old school, there is a print version as well. We were avid readers when it was print exclusively, but after Sept. 11, when the paper continued to publish even though publishers Robert and Alison Simko and their family were displaced from their home in Battery Park City, it became even more important to us. It is a fabulous resource for information about Community Board meetings, the curious and ever-changing pace of Pier A’s redevelopment, events downtown, and a way to reach our own community. As Lisa says, “The Broadsheet is one of the things that makes Battery Park City feel like a small town in a big city.”

We are singing its praises today because they just published The Doorman’s Guide to Lower Manhattan. Now one does not have to be employed in the door opening industry to benefit from this little gem. Who knew there were 26 restaurants in Battery Park City? Or that there is an urgent care center open 24/7 on Chambers Street? Or that Wagner Park had Wi-Fi? There are listings for places in Tribeca, the Financial District, and the Seaport in addition to Battery Park City.
If you can get your hands on this little guide we recommend it.

Image: Cover of The Doorman’s Guide to Lower Manhattan, courtesy The Battery Park City Broadsheet.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Mmm. Beer.

It is rare at my house when there is a nexus of interests and delights, but yesterday was one of those miracle moments. My homebrewing husband and I went to see Beer Here: Brewing New York’s History at the New-York Historical Society. Just when we thought we could never achieve the supreme confluence of interests and delights that were to be found at a NYC bakery owned by one of the stars of NCIS comes an exhibition about the history of beer in New York.

The exhibition is interesting and not just to beer geeks, although the growing and pressing of hops pegged the geek meter in my opinion. Who knew that were it not for the Erie Canal and the cutting of ice allowing it to be brought downstream, brewers would never have been so successful in New York? I was struck by the patent for the bottle cap, the same bottle cap used today, held by the Crown Corporation. I guess it is true that you cannot improve upon perfection, although clearly the screw top syndicate has surely tried.
As a communications professional I enjoyed the salute to the advertising and marketing employed by Peils, Schaffer, and Rheingold. Not having grown up in New York, I had never seen the historic footage of the Miss Rheingold ’61 competition, hosted by Marge and Gower Champion. Cited as “America’s second most important election,” I was not the only one laughing out loud.
N-YHS must be applauded for the interactive conclusion: a tavern room with beer and pretzels for purchase. There are chalkboards that take up the length of the walls. On one is a quote attributed to Plato: “He was a wise man who invented beer.” A question is posed to the visitor: What say you? There is plenty of chalk with which to write your opinion, in keeping with the historic nature of the show because, if I recall, Plato did not have a Facebook page on which Socrates and Aristotle could “like” his comment.

We enjoyed the show very much, and not just because it was a hot Sunday afternoon. Check out Beer Here through September 2.
Image: Sign, “Rheingold Extra Dry/Lager Beer,”1950-1960. Printed paper, New-York Historical Society Library. Rheingold beer was brewed in Brooklyn from 1883 until 1976. Courtesy of the New-York Historical Society.