Frimet Bolensky Herstic ('73) and her husband Bryan on the engagement of their daughter Brooke Herstic ('03) to Josh Katz!
Marnina Allis ('90) on her engagement to Arthur Berkovitz!
Ori Portnoy ('95) on his engagement to Naomi Itzkowitz!
Ari London ('97) on his engagement to Debra Goddard!
Marisa Harary ('98) on her engagement to Adam Zucker!
Josh Brandt-Rauf ('00) on his engagement to Rachel Chopra!
Arielle Harary ('00) on her engagement to Leor Wolf!
Dani London ('02) on her engagement to Jeremy Salzberg!
Seth Steinmetz ('02) on his engagement to Tzivy Lerner!
Danielle Landau ('03) on her engagement to Benjamin Ludman!
Cindy Askowitz Remin ('73) and her husband Robert on the marriage of their son Jeffrey to Daniella Klians!
Ari Silverman ('89) on his marriage to Koca Wen!
Rabbi Josh Rosenfeld ('94) on his marriage to Jaclyn Bieder!
Danielle Bergman ('97) on her marriage to Yoni Leitman!
Jordana Miller ('98) on her marriage to Adam Altman!
Shelli Hoffman ('01) on her marriage to Chaim Sussman!
Shani Porter ('02) on her marriage to Elan Nyer!
Esther Wirgin Goldman ('56) and her husband Jack on the birth of a granddaughter!
Eitan Goldman ('87) and his wife Juliana on the birth of a daughter!
Beth Lewis Greenbaum ('87) and her husband Yoel on the birth of twin daughters!
Greg Fragin ('89) and his wife Elisheva on the birh of a daughter!
Aaron Lippman ('90) and his wife Alyson on the birth of a son!
Adam Farber ('93) and his wife Jordana on the birth of a son!
Shari Damast Mosenkis ('93) and her husband Jeff on the birth of a daughter!
Elana Bergman Dvinsky ('96) and her husband Boris on the birth of a son!
David Ziering ('97) and his wife Efrat on
the birth of a son!
Ilana Gelman Herskovits ('98) and her husband Ezra on the birth of a son!
Isaac Rice ('99) and his wife Tamara on the birth of a son!
Eytan London ('00) and his wife Ally on the birth of a son!
Much of our contact information is out of date. Please tell us a little bit more about yourself by filling out our WDS Alumni Update Form here
Please send us any email addresses of your friends and family who graduated from WDS!
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Become a Class Representative!
We are looking for alumni from each graduating class (at least 2 per grade) to represent their grade and work with the WDS Alumni Committee on any future projects!
1970- Robert Lebovics 1972-
1973- Cindy Askowitz
1977- Shari Pitkoff
1982- Mark Novitz
1983- Donald Reich
1984- Sara Meyers
1986- Wendy Packer
1989- Dafna Winter
1990- Sahara Wroclawski 1991-
1992- Danny Essner
1993- Robyn Levenfus
Hammerman 1997- Michelle
1998- Caryn Friedman
1999- Gila Daman
2000- 2002-Caroline Trencher
2001- Adam Moskovich
2004- Jesse Bernstein
2005- Jordana Samot
2008- Nicky Bernstein
2010- Sophia Zeitz,
If you are interested, please e-mail us here
This edition of
Walls of Ivy
featured WDS graduates from the following years:
Rabbi Yosef Wikler, 1958
Pamela Ehrenkranz Zur, 1976
Elon Gold, 1984
Ari Hoffman, 1995
Welcome back to the Walls of Ivy!
Rabbi Joshua Einzig, Head of School
Throughout elementary and middle school, we teach our students language skills in order for them to become proficient readers in both Hebrew and English. In addition, we teach children math skills so they are comfortable using their math facts. At the end of each year, achievement tests are administered to measure how the students have developed. We are proud that the scores at WDS reflect a very strong academic program.
However, an integral part of a Jewish education is teaching middot and mentschlichkeit. It is hard to measure how much of these skills our students take with them when they leave WDS. In this issue, you will read about a number of our graduates who have performed great acts of chessed and volunteerism in their communities which reflet skills learned from their role models, teachers and Rebbes at Westchester Day. We are proud of all of these individuals and are confident that each of our graduates has been well prepared for community service.
May they be blessed with the prayer that we say on Shabbat "All who are involved faithfully in the needs of the community, may the Holy One Blessed is He, pay their reward and remove from them every affliction, heal their entire body...."
We hope you enjoy this edition of the Walls of Ivy!
2010 PEJE Assembly WDS receives honorable mention for Alumni Outreach Campaign.
The 2010 PEJE Assembly for Advancing the Jewish Day School Field took place on October 24-26 in Baltimore and was attended by over 1,100 Day School professionals and lay leaders from across the United States, Canada, and Australia. Of the schools participating in the conference, 36% were Orthodox Day Schools. Present at the conference from Westchester Day School were Rabbi Joshua Einzig, Rachel Goldman, Leslie Gang and lay leaders Amy Eagle and Alisa Mannis. The Conference featured sessions on the Critical Challenges Facing the Jewish Day School Field, Case-Based Learning and Promoting the Value Proposition of Jewish Day Schools.
One of the highlights of the 2010 PEJE Assembly was the presentation of Day School Excellence awards. Rabbi Joshua Elkin, Executive Director of PEJE, honored the recipients as "models of inspiration and motivation across the day school field" in the categories of Visionary Fundraising, Inspiring Communication from a Head of School, Board Ambassadorship Initiative, Alumni Outreach Campaign and Use of Data.
Westchester Day School received an honorable mention in the Alumni Outreach Campaign category. According to the judges, "Day school alumni are living the very future for which their schools prepare them-they have the most direct sense of a day school education's importance and impact. Until recently, all too many day schools have refrained from cultivating this group. The purpose of this award is to recognize and promote examples of what schools are doing now, so that others may follow suit."
Thank you for all of your help in this endeavor. We will continue to build our alumni relations and find creative ways to connect with our alumni.
For more information about the award, click here
If you have any suggestions or ideas for future alumni events, please e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
A Contract to Do Good Ari Hoffman, Class of '95
I find myself frequently referencing my days in Westchester Day School. Not because they were my "glory days," and not because I don't have plenty of stories from high school and college. I do so because I hold my education up on a pedestal of what I hope to give to my children. I do so because I hold multiple positions in community organizations in which I try to create for my children the same educational opportunities I had.
Though I am a contractor by trade, growing up I was always more focused on my extra-curricular activities. That still holds true today. I currently serve on the Board and am the youth director for my synagogue (BCMH), I run Seattle NCSY, Jewish Student Union and Torah High, and I just completed my term as a board member for my children's school (Torah Day School of Seattle). One of the reasons I put so much effort into all of these other activities is because my parents were like that for me and my siblings. My mother was PTA president of WDS and my father was always around school giving of his time to lecture, chaperone or do anything else that was needed. I think one of the other reasons I do all this was Mr. K.
I was not the most popular kid in the school, in fact far from it. Luckily for me, I was taller than everyone else so I never got picked on but I did hear what people said about me behind my back. One day I wrote an essay for Ms. Demarco about it (one of my other favorite teachers). She immediately told Mr. K because most of the teasing was happening in the locker room. Not only did he immediately deal with it, but he was almost my personal guardian angel. He took a special interest in me and nurtured my athletic abilities as well as my social skills. He completely changed my outlook on school so much so that I gained the confidence to go out for basketball, try out for the plays and become active in my school instead of sitting on the sidelines. He gave me the self-esteem to get through all that. I would think to myself: the most popular teacher in school cares about me. Every day when I stepped off the bus, there was Mr. K. to greet us, and every day when we went home, there he was again, waving goodbye. I know I wasn't the only kid Mr. K looked out for. Sometimes it felt like he was the fun uncle you always wanted.
I remember when I was in 6th grade that WDS basketball had a shot at the playoffs. With four seconds left we were down by one point and had the ball to inbound after a foul at half-court. Mr. K called a time out. He spent a few moments going over the play with us and making sure we had it. Then he spent the rest of the time-out talking about every player and how special each of us was and even seemed to have a story about all of us. It was a one-minute time-out and to this day I don't know how he crammed all that in. The play went perfectly until the shot rolled around the rim and didn't go in. Of course we were depressed missing out on the playoffs, but I still think of that moment fondly because of what Mr. K said to us and what a role model he was.
I think about all my other teachers-Ms. Demarco, Mr. Hoffecker, Mrs. Lippman, Rabbi Tuchman, Rabbi Feuerman, Rabbi Zeigler, Mrs Katzevman and even nurse Pat-and realize that the reason I care so much about these other organizations is that I want my children to have the same types of teachers I did. They were teachers who treated you with respect and didn't just read out of a textbook but broadened your mind with the tools to succeed in life.
While I may not have gone into contracting because of WDS (well, maybe because of Mrs Lippman...she helped me build a theme park to demonstrate centrifugal force), I volunteer in my neighborhood because of WDS. I want for my new home, what I know students today are getting in my old home.
What's in a Name? Elon for IlanElon Gold, Class of '84
As a comedian who incorporates a lot of Jewish themed material into my routines, I am often called upon to do Jewish fundraisers. While the point of such an event is to raise funds, the organizers still have to spend money to create a successful evening. Renting a hall and hiring a caterer, a band, and sometimes a comedian can be very costly. Though, as much as the caterer and I care about that night's charitable cause, this is what we do for a living, and we feel no guilt in getting paid for our work. After all, what would an evening be without food or entertainment? If you paid for a 300-dollar-a-plate dinner, you better see some plates! No food plus boring speeches equals, 'Let's not go to this again next year!' Wheras, if I bring joy and laughter to an otherwise serious evening, and people leave happy and continue to support the charity, then I did my job, and I'd like to get paid for it.
I was recently given an opportunity, however, to work for a charity where my reward would be much greater than payment. This experience was not for an organization, a Federation, Chabad, a synagogue or a hospital, but for a family-a family that was suddenly faced with tragedy and incredible hardships. In summer 2010, just a day after Tisha B'av, 32-year-old Ilan Tocker fainted on a marble floor, cracking his skull and leaving him to have to undergo two emergency brain surgeries. The doctors were less than optimistic about Ilan's survival, giving him less than a 10-percent chance to make it through the extreme procedures and nearly assuring that if he did, he would most likely remain in a vegetative state.
I had heard about Ilan Tocker from my wife's friend, Abigail "Avi" Septimus. She called me one night asking if I would pray for someone in her community. My heart always aches when I hear any stories that involve such suffering, but upon hearing the details-a father of four named Ilan: this one really got to me. Being a father of four myself, I felt an even greater connection and realized I needed to do something more than just praying. I thought about Ilan every day and kept in touch with those who were close to him. l couldn't help but feel that there must be something I could personally do to help the family. I just didn't know what to do-don't let the fact that I play a doctor on TV fool you, I am no medical expert.
In the months following the tragedy, my manager called me about a "gig" in the Five Towns. The moment I heard it was for Ilan, I told my manager to have the woman planning the event contact me immediately. This "woman" was Michal Weinstein, someone I met briefly over the summer, a person that people are lucky to have in their lives. She told me about an idea she had called, "Elon for Ilan." It was to be a night of laughter, a celebration of Ilan's miraculous progress, but more importantly, a fundraiser. While he has surpassed expectations, Ilan still has a long road to travel until he reaches a complete recovery. Ilan's acute care is no longer being covered by insurance, and with a monthly cost of $40,000 at minimum for the necessary rehab, the Tocker Family is still reaching out to anyone that can help. The main goal of this event, explained Michal, would be to raise money for his medical bills and physical therapy. Without hesitation, I jumped at the opportunity to actually do something for the Tocker family, at no cost to them.
I met Ilan and his incredible wife, Rachel, moments before the show. I was very emotional. The pressure was now on me to bring the laughs; I knew I had to deliver. My nerves were greater for this show than any other I can remember, even more than any of my Tonight Show appearances. And, for the first time, the pressure wasn't to do a good job for the folks who wrote my check, but to make this beautiful family, who had been through so much pain, laugh, and to ensure that the hundreds of people who came to support one Ilan and watch another, had a great time.
"Elon for Ilan" was an amazing night from the very beginning, everything was perfect. After performing for almost an hour, to nothing but uproarious laughter and applause, I can easily say that this was one of the best experiences I ever had on a stage. This wasn't just another funny performance, it was a meaningful one. Contributing to this family through my comedy was not only incredibly rewarding, but it really showed me why G-d gave me this ability-it's not just to support my family, but to support others as well. Anytime I think of that night, my heart is warmed. It was "our own little Tu B'Shvat, a Chag La-Elanot," (as I joked at the beginning of my set). I also made beautiful new friends in the Tockers and Michal. I am forever grateful to them for giving me the opportunity to fulfill this important mitzvah.
When I was asked to write about my experience, I was hesitant at first, but having thought about it, I decided to share my story and express that there nothing more rewarding than doing acts of chesed. Many of the life lessons I learned about caring for your fellow man and being involved in your community stemmed not only from my parents, but from the Westchester Day School. Whenever people ask me where I'm from, I often say, "I'm from the Bronx, but I 'grew up' in Westchester." All of my friends were from there, and many of my childhood influences in Torah values and education were WDS teachers including Rabbi Zvi Zeigler, Rabbi Lyle Kamlet, and Mrs. Lippman (who I'm not even sure has a first name!).
Getting involved and helping a family or community is honestly not something I do every day, as I am very busy with my career and my family. I find, however, that the little things I do, such as feeding the homeless on Thanksgiving at The Laugh Factory in Hollywood, hosting the Chabad Telethon, serving on the board of my synagogue, or lending a hand to my own community, are so much more gratifying than any paycheck I could receive. I truly believe that my involvement in these acts of kindness, have their roots in the Walls of Ivy.
For more information about the Ilan Tocker Foundation and to learn how you can help, visit http://ilantockerfoundation.com
We're All Connected as Jews Pamela Ehrenkranz Zur, Class of '76
Staring out on the Sound from the window of our eighth grade classroom in 1976, I was not daydreaming about becoming a Federation director. In fact, outside of the role of rabbi, I had no idea there were even jobs in the world of Jewish communal service. So, I dreamed about becoming a teacher or psychologist. But as the saying goes, Man plans and G-d laughs.
Twenty years later, very much by a twist of fate, I moved from owning my own wholesale Jewelry business to working at the UJA Federation of Greenwich. At the job interview for a career that entailed fundraising, event planning, outreach, educational programming and managing a not-for-profit, I had to answer the question,"why should we hire you since you have absolutely no experience?"
I had to think for a minute. After all, how did a career in jewelry prepare me for the Jewish communal world? It didn't. So I answered, "You are right. I have no technical experience. But what I DO have is extensive Jewish knowledge and commitment, a passion for Israel and the Jewish people, and the ability to transmit that to others. " I am still here after 14 years.
I credit my current life, in many ways, to my education at Westchester Day School. I had teachers who not only lit the fire of study in me, but gave me the tools to study, research and analyze text on my own. But Federation directors cannot succeed with study alone.
At school, we never heard the words "conservative" or "reform". We were Jews. Period. We flourished in a pluralistic environment before that was the key phrase of the Jewish community. As a result, my favorite hours of the week are those that I spend teaching classes in our Florence Melton Adult Mini School - a text based, pluralistic adult Jewish literacy program. It allows me to give others what I received at WDS - and hope that they will pass it along to their own families. And while achieving Jewish literacy is a challenge for most all American Jewish communities, the success of a community really depends on how interdependent and connected the Jewish people feel toward each other, Israel, and their local institutions. I could not have learned that lesson better anywhere than on Orienta Avenue. I have a clear memory of coming into school the day after the Maalot massacre in Israel. The assembly, which included moving speeches and prayer, left one impression on me: No matter where you live, when a Jew suffers, you hurt. When Israel is in trouble, you have to care.
And the message of being a caring member of American society was not lost on us either. Our trip to the Statue of Liberty in 8th grade, our study of American literature, and a deep appreciation of American democracy, all paved the way for me to be involved with AIPAC, to have personal relationships with our state Senators and Congressmen, and to help a community mobilize when Israel needs our support as Americans, not only as Jews.
The greatest gifts I received from my teachers at the Day School are the ones I use at work every day: the life-long desire to learn, to teach, and a strong commitment to the "big tent" of Jewish community.
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A Subscription of Friendship Rabbi Yosef Wikler, WDS '58
Growing up in Westchester (Mount Vernon), my brother Meir (WDS '61) and I needed WDS to gain a proper Jewish education and to establish Jewish values and commitment. Over the years, I maintained a strong connection with Mr. Plotnick, of blessed memory, who was the first principal (then called headmaster)at the school.
One year I tried to convince him to have a Shabbaton at WDS. "We have no beds," he explained. But I countered with, "You can rent cots." They did so, and Mr. Plotnick reported back to me that the Shabbaton was a huge success.
My father, Judge Samuel Wikler, of blessed memory, helped WDS immensely. As Chairman of the buliding Committee, he made a major contribution and got the rest of the board to pay off the mortgage, which had, at that point, become a major challenge for the fledgling Torah school.
Recently, I celebrated sheva brachos for my daughter. A woman came up to me and introduced herself as Mrs. Baer. Her husband had been my 8th grade Rebbe at WDS, and all these years she remembered my name. Rabbi Aaron Baer has passed on, but I was able to get the Rebitzen to send me several digital pictures of him.
For thirty years I have been publishing "KASHRUS Magazine" -The Periodical for the Kosher Consumer, based here in Brooklyn. The magazine is read across the U.S. and in 17 foreign countries. Some of my readers are old friends from WDS, who now are in many of the states. When I get a subscription order from some small town, I often wonder, if it had not been for Torah making it "out-of-town" to Westchester in form of WDS, would I today be the "kosher link" to this person in that small Jewish community?