Class Correspondent

It was wonderful hearing from those of you who sent in a Class Note to let us know what you’ve been doing. In June, my family celebrated another happy occasion as my father turned 85 and we had a mini family reunion. Our two daughters are both on their own, and my husband and I keep occupied in our spare time with some New York theater and a bit of travel. Please keep writing; it’s great to catch up on your interesting lives!

In March and April, Bob Jaffe performed his solo show “... and then you go on. An Anthology of the Works of Samuel Beckett” at the cell theatre on 23rd Street in New York. He is planning, with his co-artistic directors, the fourth season of the Berkshire Playwrights Lab, which does highly staged readings of never-produced plays at the 675-seat Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington, Mass. Bob is proud that a number of Brandeis alumni have been involved over the years.

Karen Meyers, assistant attorney general of New Mexico, was named the 2011 recipient of the Justice Mary Walters Award, which honors an outstanding woman in the New Mexico legal community. Karen serves as director of the state’s Consumer Protection Division. Prior to joining state government, she was in private practice as a plaintiff’s attorney providing representation in personal injury matters.

Ralph Martin is now general counsel at Northeastern University. The former district attorney in Suffolk County (Boston) had spent the last nine years at Bingham McCutchen, most recently as managing partner of the Boston office.

Judith (Kurnick) Karp lives in Narberth, Pa., and works as vice president for strategic communication at the League of American Orchestras in New York City, where she manages strategic communications support for about 900 orchestras across the continent. Her daughter, Susanna, a senior at Dartmouth, will be applying to veterinary school, and her son, Daniel, is a high school senior.

Kathy Cannings checked in to let us know that she works as an economics professor at Uppsala University in Sweden.

Caroline Leavitt is a newly minted New York Times bestselling author for her novel “Pictures of You.” While on a 22-city book tour, she worked on a new novel. She lives outside Manhattan with her husband, writer Jeff Tamarkin, and their teenage theater-kid son, Max.

Kenneth Fried wrote in to say that he is a general/peripheral vascular surgeon and is married to Sharon, a dermatologist. They have four daughters ages 17–25. The family recently visited Rwanda, where they saw the majestic mountain gorillas and contemplated that country’s recent genocide. Kenneth still plays baseball competitively and enjoys skiing with the family in Colorado. Daniel Brin, P’08, reports that he is “still having fun.” He is managing editor and senior writer at Bleiweiss Communications in Calabasas, Calif. The firm produces magazines, newspapers and other media for labor unions across the country. Dan is an elected member of Los Angeles city government, serving on the board of the West Hills Neighborhood Council. In that capacity he dedicates himself to transforming his placid suburban community into a center for the visual and performing arts. His wife, Janette Oakes, teaches English at Reseda High School. Their daughter, Sarah ’08, is completing a master’s thesis at the University of Southern California’s Roski School of Fine Arts. Their son, Nathan, is a volunteer at the Dubnoff Center for Child Development.

Sam Brett celebrated his 35th anniversary with Bloomingdale’s, where he is the operating vice president for Florida. He also celebrated his oldest daughter’s wedding on March 19. He reports, “Life is great!!!!!!”

Jane Goldman Ostrowsky, P’06, P’13, writes that she had her best year as a real estate broker in more than 20 years. She works for Prudential Edna Kranz Realty in Newton Centre, Mass. Jane and her husband, Mark, just celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary and took a trip to Turks and Caicos. Their oldest child, David ’06, married Lauren Schreider ’04 in October 2010. David is active in his tutoring business and also works for Prudential. Jane and Mark’s daughter, Sharon, is teaching in Harlem and pursuing a master’s degree in school administration at Bank Street School of Education. Jonathan ’13, their youngest child, is a sophomore at Brandeis and was named an Eli Segal Fellow for this summer. He is news editor of The Hoot, is a leader in the Brandeis Haiti Initiative, plays for the men’s tennis team and was active in Massachusetts Gov. Deval Parick’s reelection campaign. The Ostrowsky family also includes Sandy, a 13-year-old cockapoo. The whole family enjoys skiing, tennis, running and traveling. 

Charles Schreger writes that he has been living in New York since leaving Los Angeles in 1990. After graduating from Brandeis, he earned a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern and ended up at the Los Angeles Times covering the entertainment industry. He started working in the movie business for Columbia Pictures and made his way into television. He has been at HBO since 1990, except for a couple of years around 2002 when he went on what he calls “a self-imposed sabbatical.” He’s the president of international programming sales, responsible for a group that licenses HBO original programming around the world. He has two children from his first marriage: Molly, 21, would like to be an actress and graduated from Manhattan Marymount this year. Jesse, 25, graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 2006, worked at the Council on Foreign Relations for two years as a research associate, and is now pursuing a doctorate in economics from Harvard. Charles was remarried two years ago to a Turkish woman, Shebnem Askin, who works at 20th Century Fox.

Dan Kazzaz became a grandfather to a wonderful little boy in November 2010. Dan’s youngest son graduated from college in 2010, joining his brother and sister in completing undergraduate degrees. Dan’s only regret is that he could not talk any of them into attending Brandeis. Dan and his wife have been empty nesters since fall 2006, which has provided them the opportunity to travel the world. After 10 years of leading the Alumni Club of Washington, D.C., he is proud to hand off the torch to energetic fellow alumnus Seth Spergel ’99. Dan found that connecting with alumni of all ages and positions while interacting with the campus academic, professional and volunteer leadership was a rewarding experience. He encourages other alumni to get involved and looks forward to seeing everyone at our next Reunion.

Laurie Orgel writes, “I live in between Baltimore and Washington, D.C. I have a private psychiatry and child psychiatry practice in Baltimore, which remains interesting. My three girls all declined to go to Brandeis lest they follow their mum. They are currently scattered in New York and doing semesters abroad. My husband, Aaron Roberts, continues at NASA thinking about space. There are no shuttle trips in our future. During my residency, I met and remain friends with Steve ’75 and Ginny Salzberg ’76.

Tom Phillips wrote the score for an American Experience two-hour documentary, “Freedom Riders,” which aired on PBS in May. The film chronicles the May 1961 bus trips into the South by an intrepid group of African-American and white men and women. They wanted to test the new law prohibiting segregated interstate travel and to knock down the Jim Crow laws still in existence in the South. The travelers were met with beatings and rioting, and their buses were burned. The episode focused the attention of not only the nation, but also the world, on the inequity in the South. The Kennedy administration was forced to act to protect the group’s right to travel peacefully and safely in the South.“Freedom Riders” was a 2010 Sundance Film Festival feature and played in theaters across the country before its broadcast on PBS.

Beth Slavet is an attorney in private practice, representing unions and employees. In October 2009, she married a Danish national who had lived with her family in the 1960s. They reconnected after 25 years. She writes, “Following many travails with immigration, he moved here the August before we got married. We took a belated honeymoon in Italy in October — Rome, Umbria and Florence. Although he has traveled the world, he had never been there. More recently, I took a cruise through the Panama Canal with my parents and two sisters on the Queen Victoria. I saw Sally Zanger and her family recently.”

Rabbi Bonnie Steinberg is the director of religious life at Jewish Home Lifecare in the Bronx and lives on Long Island. She is pursuing a master’s degree at the Montefiore–Einstein Center for Bioethics. She enjoys keeping in touch with Brandeisians. Her sons, Joshua, 27, and Micah, 23, are productively engaged and on the road to what they want to do. Her husband, Daniel Gensler, is a psychologist.

Janette Rozene lives in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., and works as a librarian at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Her son is a senior in high school and will attend SUNY Fredonia in the fall to study theater design and production.

Alan Shapiro, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, has published 10 books of poems. A book of his poetry (“Night of the Republic”) and a novel (“Broadway Baby”) are due out this year. A member of the faculty at the University of North Carolina, Alan has received numerous honors, including two awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, a fellowship from the Guggenheim Foundation, and the O.B. Hardison Jr. Poetry Prize from the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. In February,

Betsy Platkin Teutsch returned from her “Late Middle Age Sandwich Generation Tour,” which included visiting her husband David’s 101-year-old uncle, her 88- and 89-year-old mother-in-law and her sister, and taking her mother-in-law to visit her granddaughter and great-grandsons in a four-generation celebration. She also spends time with her 94-year-old aunt. She writes, “Who envisioned that, at 58, [I would have] a whole crowd of elders still kicking around? Keep on exercising and eating healthy, everyone; you could be around for a long, long time!”

Paula Rabinowitz has been teaching American studies and feminism, as well as visual culture, as a distinguished Fulbright lecturer at East China Normal University in Shanghai. Earlier this year, “Accessorizing the Body: Habits of Being,” which she co-edited, was published. It’s the first of a four-volume series on clothing and identity, comprised primarily of translations from an Italian-language series.

Gwynn Simon is a physician with Kaiser Permanente and practices in the area of infectious diseases. She has two sons, Noah, 22, and Aaron, 21, and a golden retriever, Monty. Noah graduated from Bucknell in May 2010, and Aaron is studying architecture, economics and math at Washington University in St. Louis. Gwynn writes, “Monty, my trusted companion, fills the empty nest with love. Happiness is a warm puppy. Hope all my classmates are well. If you visit the San Francisco Bay area, I’d love to hear from you.”

Cathy Morris Chernoff writes, “My production company, Cathy Chernoff Productions, was one of the producers of ‘The Merchant of Venice,’ starring Al Pacino and Lily Rabe. It was a phenomenal Broadway success. Currently, I am one of the producers of ‘Catch Me If You Can,’ which opened on Broadway on April 10.”

Amy Koplow, executive director of the Hebrew Free Burial Association, recently led a group of four dozen people to a Staten Island cemetery to recite kaddish, the mourner’s prayer, to mark the 100th yahrzeit of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire victims. Twenty-two of the dead were laid to rest in 1911 at the cemetery, which is owned by the association.

Jan Smith writes, “I now go by Jan (rather than Janet Ann) and live in the Capital Region of New York with my 15-year-old daughter, Natalie Cross. I’m still a business-to-business marketer, currently splitting my time between a sustainability firm and a materials testing laboratory. I’ve returned to my love of Russian by volunteering for a sister-city organization called the Albany-Tula Alliance. I gave up roller skating last year after my second bad wrist fracture and am looking for something safer.”

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