Close your eyes, breathe in deeply, now exhale slowly… That was easy, wasn’t it? Not for everyone…
Who are all these ladies with the gray hair and/or sheitels? We are all looking into each other’s faces for a glimmer of recognition. Thank goodness everyone has a nametag; it makes it so much easier to identify each person.
Who are we? We are the Central Yeshiva University High School class of 1959 and we are gathered at Yeshiva University for our 50th reunion. Not a one of us can believe 50 years have passed since that day we walked down the aisle at graduation. And to watch us hugging and laughing, no one else would believe it either. All of us feel like young women for a few hours and the cares and aches are forgotten for the moment.
There is something about the passing of so much time that makes things like physical appearance and life’s ups and downs seem unimportant. No one is judgmental. Everyone is genuinely interested in catching up. Where do you live now? Are you retired? Do you ever see so and so? Do you remember when ?
Esther L. and Deanne C. (all initials represent maiden names) were two of several women who brought along our Senior Yearbook and it was fun to look at each other and then at our pictures and the sayings of long ago. I counted about 16 girls out of a graduating class of 96 who made aliyah (the number may actually be higher) and we all applauded for them. About six of us are no longer alive and we paid tribute to them. A number of our classmates could not attend because of illness and we missed them.
After an hour and a half of catching up and enjoying the delicious spread provided by Yeshiva University, we were officially welcomed and then the program was turned over to us. Susan S. read a wonderful poem she had written for the 25th class reunion. I was living in Israel at the time and was not even aware that we had had a class reunion. Susan had updated the poem and I had to confess I had no idea she was so talented. Rebecca G. was next and she too brought back so many memories.
The next speaker was Linda G. who had traveled all the way from Los Angeles to attend (but of course a 50th reunion doesn’t happen every day). Judy C., a rebbetzin now, gave a dvar Torah and Elinor L. read a beautiful tribute to our deceased classmate Brenda Behrman, written by Brenda’s daughter. Deanne C. recounted how it was to be an out of towner that freshman year so long ago.
I spoke about my own impressions on coming to a “big school” from the small class in Bais Yaakov of Brighton Beach. I also spoke about our late classmate, the author Penina Spiegel, and brought everyone up to date on the accomplishments of another classmate, the pioneering medical researcher Ethelea Cohen. And I reminded my classmates of some of the songs from our Freshman Sing, which brought about lots of laughter.
Yeshiva University had a photographer on hand and we took a group photograph. I hope I’ll remember who’s who without the benefit of the nametags.
The hours passed quickly and soon it was time to say goodbye. None of us knows what the future has in store and whether we will get to meet once more. But for a few hours, the years melted away and we were schoolgirls once again.
About the Author: Naomi Klass Mauer is associate publisher of The Jewish Press.
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