Columbus Arts and Music Festival Debuts September 18 


Arkadiy Gips, well known Columbus violinist, envisioned sharing Jewish music, identity, and culture with the Columbus community. 

” It’s the first Jewish music festival in Columbus. We want to showcase talented musicians who play music in Columbus. We have a lot of different heritage festivals and now we’re bringing a Jewish art and music festival to Columbus.” said Gips. 

 This vision will become a reality on September 18, 2016 at the JCC, 1125 College Avenue. The Columbus Jewish Foundation, JCC, and Jewish Family services is supporting this great arts event. 

Children’s musician, Marc Rossio, will kick off the festivities at 1:00 P.M. Children and adults will enjoy Marc’s creative songs and great showmanship. 

Arkadiy and Friends includes Cheri Papier, Lucy Smirnov, and Lucas Holmes. They have played traditional Jewish music with an original music arrangement for over twenty years. 

American Gypsy includes Arkadiy, Neil Jacobs, and Steven Fox. “American Gypsy’s debut CD was nominated for the American Independent Music Award’s, “Album of the Year”! It will be a real treat to listen to them. 

Sveltlana Portnyansky, a well-known Jewish singer and California Cantor, will sing and narrate the documentary, “Terezin,The Code to Life.” Terezin was the concentration camp in Czechoslovakia that imprisoned talented children and adults from the arts during World War II. The documentary earned second prize in the Toronto Documentary Film Festival. 

Laeli is a Jewish music project made up of husband and wife, Eli and Lael Palnik. Elijah composes original songs, and they perform contemporary and Israeli songs. 

Cantor Max Axelrod, representing the JCC book fair will be discussing his book, “Your Guide to the Jewish Holdays: From Shofar to Seder.”

Columbus area Jewish community choirs including Koleinu, Temple Israel and Temple Beth Shalom will perform. 

Free performances will take place every 45 minutes. 

The final performance, a showcase gala, takes place from 6:00 to 7:00 P.M. at the JCC Roth-Resler theater. All the musicians will collaborate and play together. It will be amazing! 

Tickets for the showcase gala concert will be $20.00 for the general public and $15.00 for JCC members and Senior citizens. 

“It’s a time to celebrate our Jewish identity together. This is a time to have fun, listen to great music, and eat wonderful food. We want this day to express the heart and soul of the entire Jewish community in Columbus,” said Gips.  

To get exact times of performances, and more information about the artists, consult the festival’s website. 


Ghosts linger around my Passover table 

The Passover of 2016 was tinged with sadness because I couldn’t help thinking of my childhood.  My parents and grandparents faded from sight; one right after the other, mostly without warning.

Grandma was a small, stout lady, with a face that I can’t really ever forget because I look so much like her, especially in my 66th year. My grandfather, was short in stature, but high on everyone’s respect list. He had a head full of beautiful white hair.

I remember going along with my tall, handsome, adored daddy to pick them up at their apartment. My grandmother would have her coat on, and announce to my grandfather that “the machine is outside, and it was time to go.” Why she didn’t just refer to it as the car was a mystery to me. I do remember she wore red old-fashioned shoes, a longish skirt, and a long sleeve blouse. She always carried a  black purse that held Dentyne gum. She would offer this special treat randomly to all her grandchildren.

We’d arrive at my house where we ate the standard dinner we always ate at holidays, it didn’t really matter which one. Mom was in charge and she didn’t appreciate any help.

There was always chopped liver and matzah ball soup, my mother’s tie to her ethnic background. We’d all gathered around  the kitchen table, my grandparents sitting next to each other on one side, my mother, wearing her blue apron, always up during the meal serving us.  My father and

My dapper grandpa, Harry Zelivyansky

My dapper grandpa, Harry Zelivyansky

My Grandmother, Miriam Zelivyansky when she was young.

My Grandmother, Miriam Zelivyansky when she was young.

Marilyn, Mom, Dad and me .

Marilyn, Mom, Dad and me .

My sister Marilyn and I with my dad outside of Grandma and Grandpa's house,

My sister Marilyn and I with my dad outside of Grandma and Grandpa’s house,

L to R: Eileen, Dad holding me, and Marilyn.

L to R: Eileen, Dad holding me, and Marilyn.

two sisters and I would take our familiar seats. It was usually turkey, sometimes a roast, salad, sweet potatoes, and a vegetable.

The Seder I remember was not too formal. I do remember my grandfather singing some prayers. He had a beautiful voice that I can almost hear when I close my eyes and concentrate.

Little did I know that one day my grandparents and parents would be long gone, but their presence would always linger; they’re always around me, like a loving purple aura.

This year I particularly missed them all, but I’m grateful for the love that is still there.


Going to prison on Chanukah

The last night of Chanukah; Menorah with all 8...

The last night of Chanukah; Menorah with all 8 candles burning. I used a combination of a ceiling facing strobe and a LED flashlight to create the shadow on the wall. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am a member of a Jewish singing group. Today, I went to prison with them. No, we didn’t do anything wrong.  We were entertaining the Jewish prisoners with songs pertaining to Chanukah. One of the women in our  group,  is a volunteer with different organizations that help the prisoners once they get out of prison. A few years ago, we started going to the prison on Chanukah. This is my third time going with the group.

Going to a prison is a sobering experience. First of all,  you have to put all your possessions in a locker, or in the locked trunk of your car. ( No cell phones are allowed in the prison.) Then you have to wait in line, and take the stuff out of your coat pockets, and put it in little baskets, similar to going to the airport.  In the middle of all her checking us in, the prison admissions lady had  to unlock the bathroom, so several of us could use it.

I’m sure we don’t look very threatening. Most of us are a little older, and we look it. Plus, we were all carrying our little black music folders. All this checking in, reminded me  that I wasn’t  at  a happy place.  After all, people residing in prisons aren’t there because they were acting like model citizens.

I couldn’t help wondering what they did: were they murderers, terrorizers, thieves, drug addicts, social misfits, or just desperate people who got into trouble. It wouldn’t take all that much to drive somebody the wrong way. ( Not to mention all the mentally unstable people who don’t have a place to go except the streets or the prisons. )

After we were checked in, we all started down the hall in a group. Going down the hallway, I couldn’t help noticing that there was  a lot of unlocking and locking going on. The clanging was a little intimidating.  The bars were painted white. It didn’t whitewash the fact that the place was really a series of cages.  I thought,  what would it be like to be locked in all the time?

We passed a big room where a lot of men were sitting
together listening to a speaker. A sign said, “visitors room,” but nobody looked like they’ were visiting. Nobody looked like they are reuniting or particularly happy. I’m guessing it must be hard for them to all live together with no women around.  There was  the smell of perspiration lingering in the hallway.

We finally got to our destination, and the Jewish prisoners were waiting for us. There wasn’t a lot of them, about 15.  Not only were they waiting for us, but they cooked a feast for us to eat after our little  concert: potato pancakes, applesauce, herring, salmon pate, and luscious desserts. All of the men were  polite, and they looked like typical nice guys. Not only were they nice, but they sure can cook. I wasn’t expecting such a big spread It’s all kosher too. (I don’t keep kosher, but some of the others in the choir do.)  The men said several of them had been cooking all day and I believed it.

We sang our little performance for them, and they were  attentive and seemed to enjoy it. (Nothing like feeling appreciated.) I wondered if they  were remembering a time before they got here, when they celebrated Chanukah with their families. Were we making them feel sad or happy? One man looked pensive, as if he was thinking about another time in his life. Others wanted to clap and just enjoy themselves. I guess you have to find joy wherever you can get it.

The co-director had us mingle with the group, and we sang a Chanukah song in different groups. They  seemed to enjoy this activity, and willingly participated.  They wanted to enjoy the holiday as best as they could,  and had some fun.

One man said to me, “Do you remember me from last year?” I felt bad because he seems like he’s such a polite, handsome, young guy. He says “I’m going to be here for a while, so I’ll be here next year too.” How did he turn the wrong way? What did he do?

One man is a native of another country. He came far to find freedom, then ended up with none.

After the performance, we sat and ate the food they prepared. They came around and asked if we had everything we needed.  It reminded me of those restaurants where the manager asks, ” Does everything taste good?” After I was done eating, I went around and talked to some of the inmates.

One man told  me that the years fly by when you have a good roommate. It wasn’t so good for him the first few years because his roommate wasn’t that nice. I don’t know what he did in the first place, but he reminds me of the kid in school that could get teased. (I can almost imagine what his not so nice roommate did to him.) He said  he can see the end of the road coming because he’s going to get out by 2018. To me, four more years seemed an eternity to be locked up. To him, it’s not that far away.

Finally, the time was up for our visit. The men politely thanked us for coming to visit them.   When it’s time to go in that place, it’s time to go. We had to get in our little groups again to go back to the front desk. Back to go through the locking and unlocking routine. I was glad to be getting out of there. It put my life in a different perspective. I know I will really appreciate my freedom in the next few days.

Don’t get me wrong, I know that society needs a place to lock up people who break the law, and harm others. It’s been that way from the beginning of time. It’s a place for people who have done unforgivable things. Some of the acts are so bad, that they deserve to stay there. The good news is that some can come out of a place like that, and change for the better.

The Girls: Women who have been friends for over 66 years!

“The Girls” l-r Top row Ida, Florlyn
Bottom Row: Late Ruth Stern, Ruth Stone

This article originally appeared in The New Standard a Columbus, Ohio, paper. I feel it’s worth revisiting.

The Girls

How many people can say they’ve been friends for sixty-five plus years. Five women in Columbus can say that because that’s how long they’ve been meeting at each others homes. They call themselves “the girls,” although some of them have adult grandchildren and are great-grandmothers.

The girls started in the early 40‘s but nobody is sure of the exact date. Back then, they were young women who had met at school, and Junior Hadassah. Hadassah is the organization that raises money for hospitals in Israel, and is an important part of the Jewish community today.

The original girls were: Florlyn Rinkov Freedman,Ida Wolpert Gordon, Ruth Mathless Stern, Ruth Berliner Stone, and Fanny Shenker Tobias.  Original members who are not longer living are: Miriam Carlstein Goodman, Joan Mathless Hattenback , and Terry Feldman.

The group have been mainstays in one another’s lives, and is like a close family. It’s fun to watch them interact with each other. These women, ranging in age from late 70’s to late 80’s,  light up when they come together. You can see he group dynamics at work, and  can imagine them as young women in Hadassah going to different events together.

We met to discuss their lives together, the Jewish community they knew as young women, and what their friendship has meant to them.The women I spoke to were Florilyn, Ida, Ruth Berliner Stone, and Ruther Mathless Stern.

These women are not typical  little old ladies.” They all  have strong, engaging personalities. Florlyn is the most outspoken, Ida and Ruth Stone have definite opinions, and Ruth Stern is a good listener and only talks when she has something to say. Everyone was stylishly dressed, and still attractive.

It is remarkable that they’ve stayed in contact for so many decades. They’ve lived through many  life cycles together  —young adulthood, marriage, raising children and loss of loved ones. They have been a great support to each other.

The New Standard: How did you all get together?

Ida: We started meeting in about 1945. We were an offshoot of Hadassah. We started meeting in the evening, just to socialize. It was a way of getting out and about. None of us were card players, so we decided just to talk and have a snack together.

Ruth Stone: We really liked each other. We were all single and independent at the time.   Everyone did eventually get married. Some of us moved away and came back. I lived in San Diego for two years, and meeting with the girls was something I really missed.

Florlyn I left Columbus in 1946 to go to the Pentagon to work for the Defense Department.  I came home, and ended my 38 year career in Columbus, and helped raise a younger brother. I was a career gal, and didn’t get married until I was 40. I’ve always considered myself a bit of a rebel. I love meeting with the group.

  Ida:I missed the group when my husband and I were living as snowbirds in Florida.  We lived there for 18 years.  I came back to Columbus for a short while, and now live in Cleveland. My husband and I owned Gordon Jewelers together when we lived in Columbus.

Ruth Stone: We talk to Ida on the phone when we meet.  We’ve been meeting every other Monday or Tuesday for 65 years.

The New Standard: What was the Columbus Jewish Community like when you were growing up?

Florlyn: I imagine there were about 10,000 to 15,000 people.  The Jewish population was all centered in the Southeast and most of us went to South and East High schools. We had a lot more butchers at the time. I remember when my mother bought live chickens. She had to take it to the kosher slaughterer.

All reminiscing:  There was Martins, Mendleman, Briar Center, Bornsteins and Heps. A good deli was Krolls.

Ruth Stone: Our parents kept kosher, and we attended shul on Friday nights.

Florlyn: In my family, we rode on Shabbos. We weren’t allowed to go out with non-Jewish guys in those days. I remember when we went to my uncle’s on Passover, and didn’t come home until it was very late.

The New Standard: What are some of the best times you’ve had together?

Ruth Stone:  We went to Hadassah conventions together. One time we went to Louisville for “Kentucky Derby Day.” We had a terrific time. There were soliders that came over from Fort Knox. We went to a dance with them that night.

Florlyn: It was 1949. I was the only one who had a car. We met other Hadassah people. I remember a regional we went to in Pittsburgh. It was so much fun.

The New Standard:  How have you helped each other through losses?
Ruth Stone: We’re good friends. We maintained our friendship through all these decades. Knowing hou have friends that have been through a lot of the same things is comforting.

Florlyn: It’s kind of a support. We get together every couple of weeks. It’s good to get out and see people who have been through our history.

Ruth Stern:  It’s a good habit.

The New Standard: Is Judaism still as important to you as it was when you were growing up?

All: Yes
Florlyn: It gives me an inner feeling.
Ruth Stone: It’s a comfortable way of life

  Ruth Stern: I enjoy the Sabbath Service

All of them still light Sabbath candles.

The New Standard: All of you are very vibrant women, even today. What do you attribute that to?

Ruth Stone: I am definitely an optimistic person. I don’t want to dwell on bad things.

Ruth Stern: I bowl, keep busy, go to a book club, and don’t watch daytime TV.

Ida: Getting out and trying new things is important. I didn’t know I was good at art until I took an art class,  and now some of my art is being displayed at an art show.

Florlyn: We are a good support system for each other. Good attitude is the most important thing. I exercised and I still want to do it. I know I can overcome obstacles one way or the other. Getting out and meeting people is important, even if it’s the same people! Each day that is behind you can’t be relived. The future has to be better.

*Ruth Stern passed away this year.

To read more of my articles, go to http:// I’ve written in each edition.  Just hit the archive button, and you will find them.

In honor of Yom Hashoa, a story of survival and triumph

Sundown marks the beginning of Yom HaShoah (Ho...

Sundown marks the beginning of Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Memorial Day) in Israel as flags are at half-mast. Français : Drapeaux en berne le soir de Yom HaShoah (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yom Hashoa is a day where we commemorate Holocaust survivors. It usually occurs around April.

Here the story of a woman, Fran, who went through the Holocaust, but didn’t let it defeat her.

Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Memorial Day, has a special meaning for a vibrant woman. Her childhood was spent hiding from the Nazis during WWII.

Today, Fran leads a fulfilling life. This busy wife, mother, and grandmother has a busy career in sales.  In addition, she finds time to do volunteer work.

Fran remembers living in France during World War II. She lived with her parents, and sister, Gloria, in a two bedroom apartment. “I remember the apartment. My mother was always amazed at how much I could remember, but they were not good memories,” said Fran.

When Fran was a small child, there was a knock at their door in the middle of the night.  She remembers her father being taken away by French citizens sympathetic to the Nazis. She never saw him again. Many years later, she discovered that he died in Auschwitz, a German Concentration Camp.

At first, the men were the only ones taken away. No one believed that people would arrest and kill women and children too.

Fran’s mother hoped that they could continue living in their home. Several days after her father was taken, they returned to the apartment. “It was padlocked. All our possessions were gone,”  said Fran.

The two sisters, and her mother moved in with a Jewish friend, Berthe, who lived on the other side of Paris with her son, Armand.

Fortunately, there were non-Jewish  people who were willing to risk their lives for them.  The landlady of an apartment building distracted some soldiers when the family was hiding in a closet.  A neighbor pretended the children were his own, so they wouldn’t be taken away by Nazis.

Fran remembers her mother reassuring them. “She never wanted us to be frightened,” said Fran.

Soon, things became so dangerous that Fran’s mother hid in the forest with others. The girls were placed in non-Jewish homes in the French countryside. Fran remembers her mother trying to see the girls at night. Sometimes, she would give the foster families a little money so the girls could have more food to eat. “We sometimes lived on one or two pieces of bread a day,” Fran recalled.

As a result of poor living conditions,  Fran contracted childhood tuberculosis. She stayed in a TB sanitarium run by Catholic nuns. “The nuns were wonderful to me,” Fran said. Consequently, Fran adopted Catholicism into her life.

The war wasn’t officially  over for Fran until the family was reunited, and moved back to their two room apartment.

Fran wanted to attend church, and her mother would say to her, “Go ahead because wherever you go, God will hear you. Pray that your father comes back… Someday you will be a Jew again.”

Unfortunately, her mother became ill, and died. Fran was devastated.

When Fran was eleven and her sister twelve, the girls came to America by boat. “The struggle didn’t end when we landed in America,” said Fran. She was shuttled between relatives and given away for adoption. The hardest obstacle she faced was being separated from her beloved sister.

After many years of struggle, Fran found happiness and stability with her husband and their four children. They have six grandchildren.

Her mother’s prophecy came true—Fran found her way back to Judaism.

There is much more to this story, and Fran tells it when she speaks to schools and organizations about the Holocaust.

The only tangible reminders she has of her early life are some photographs.

Fran still has a close relationship with her sister.  Although Fran’s life has been tumultuous, she is a happy person.

“ Tragedy becomes a part of you, but you can choose to be positive about life,” Fran explained.

Do you gossip or commit Loshon Hora?

I took this list off of my mother’s refrigerator after she passed away. Maybe it’s the most valuable thing she left me.

Being human, I have committed Loshon Hora, otherwise known as gossip. At times, it’s come back to haunt me. I’m sure everyone has had the same experience.

This list was Sponsored by Aish Ha Torah. They are an orthodox Jewish organization.

"Treasure" by Alfred Tibor, sculptor living in Columbus, Ohio.

However, they did not think Loshon Hora up.  It’s been a part of Jewish tradition for centuries. I first learned about it when taking a class at a Reform synagogue.

The Ten rules of Loshon Hora

1. Say only positive statements. Derogatory statements, even if true, are forbidden.

2. Promote people’s well being. Any statement that can cause someone physical, financial, or emotional harm is also loshon hora.

3. Humor is great, but make sure jokes aren’t at someone else’s expense.

4.Be kind to yourself. speaking badly even about yourself is loshon hora

5.Loshon hora cannot be communicated in any manner, be it through writing, body language or verbal hints.

6. It is loshon hora to speak against a community or to make harmful remarks about children—even your own.

7.Communicate with your spouse, but not loshon hora

8, It is forbidden to listen to loshon hora

9. Always give people the benefit of the doubt.

10. Loshon hora is permitted, or even required when warning a person about potential harm, for example, a potential business or marriage partner.

At the end of the list it says, “Words can hurt. Words can heal”

Do you think these rules pertain to today’s society?  Do you engage in gossip? What do you think would happen if everyone followed these rules?

Aren’t we getting more gossipy as time goes on? Turn on the Fox Channel or CNN and you will be listening to nothing but gossip! Is news gossip?

If you think the list for Loshon Hora is valuable, feel free to share it.

Thoughts on a Jewish Tradition at 60+

Tonight I cooked a Passover dinner. It wasn’t probably the one my grandmother cooked. Back in those days, they really cooked from scratch. They made their own gefilte fish. They plucked their own chickens. Maybe it meant more when you finally sat down to eat.

I bought some of my dishes ready-made from the local Kosher grocery which is housed in a Kroger in Columbus, Ohio.

Jews Celebrating Passover. Lubok, XIXth centur...

Jews Celebrating Passover. Lubok, XIXth century. Русский: Празднование Песаха. Лубок XIX века. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I don’t keep Kosher, so it was just symbolic for me. The generations that preceded me gently nudge me to do what’s right. Get the bread out of my house, eat Matzah, and read the Hagaddah with my family—a book that describe the Jews exodus from Egypt.

My aunt, who cooked us many Kosher Passovers was in attendance. It was at her house, that I first read that Hagaddah with my  growing family. Now, she’s almost 90, and doesn’t have the energy to put on a dinner. Now, she takes a lesser role than in previous years past. Many of the people who attended her Seders are gone. She’s taken good care of herself, and has outlived almost everybody.

I think about the first Passover I remember when I was a little girl. It was at my Aunt Arlene and Uncle Clem’s house. My aunt bought all the little cousins presents. (Her idea, not a Jewish tradition). We had fun at that first Passover, though I remember all the reading being a little too much for a little kid.

Last night there was only one little kid in attendance because there just aren’t many children in my family. He was my great-nephew, and he is six. He started reading the 4 questions in halting English. (He is only starting to read). The youngest child in attendance asks the four questions. In the answers, the child will learn what Passover is all about.

It moved me because it’s a link to my past. I think about my own children reading those words. How I listened carefully, and with pride, because I knew it was a connection to their heritage, and I knew it meant they were growing up.

So, that’s how it is when you’re in your 60’s and starting to think about what traditions and holidays really mean. It’s comforting to have a book where the same story is told year after year. It is comforting to know that the tradition will go on in some way, even when you’re not here anymore.

Do you have any traditions in your religions or family, you’d be willing to share?

Happy Easter to all my friends who celebrate it!