Front and center in the St. Louis People’s Chorus, circa 1950

St. Louis People's Chorus, approx. 1950, captured by professional photographer Al Redler

Another photo dated 1950 was in the same pile as this one from Doris’s years in St. Louis. An accompanying note suggests that the fellow on the right in the rear was comedian Jan Murray.  I believe that Irwin Silber was the guitarist on the left of the photo. He was one of the editors of People’s Songs in the late 1940s and became editor of Sing Out! magazine in 1950. If anyone can identify others in the photo that’d be great – I think the blacklist is gone. I have an idea one of the other fellows may be Waldemar Hille.

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Honey in the lion

“Out of the eater came forth meat, and out of the strong came forth sweetness” Judges 15

Response

That out of the body of feared strength,
The lion of father of my fathers
where the Ark shows the sign to us,
Should be the nest of bees
In which I am one in name.*

Riddle of appearance,
That the lion asks with his eyes
For other becoming, and cannot
That bees might beget butterflies,
But habitate honeycombs,

Honey in the lion,
The living part of death,
My mother and father natures
And their ancient body breath
Grows in mine
How sweet the song may be/become,
How strong the thought/the answers.

Audacity of life:
The possibility of finding and of loss,
I speak of Them,
I am Thou,
Saying Yes and No in meeting,
an answer.

*Dvorah, meaning a bee, is the Hebrew name for Doris.

See the Way of Response by Martin Buber

(all text above as excerpted from Doris’s book – MG)

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Send forth a raven

Who is out in the reigning rain?
The giants and the insects
The swimmers and the drowners
Lie in the majesty of water
Brimming the country’s cup past thirst

If only we could drink of history,
And be as Noah,
Filled with oceans
Yet above the flood

Subject as I am
To the tyranny of wicked days
And something of a beast
Saved in its stall with food and warmth,
Yet human in my forty thousand days
I send forth a raven

1953
(MG note: In that year, Doris married Bernie.)

 

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The driving force in founding the Mid-Island Y

Irving Silberg, 1st president of Wantagh, NY Mid-Island YM-YWHA, wrote to the family recently:

Your mother was the driving force and an inspiration in the founding of the Mid-Island Y.  I have memories of her dedicated energy and creativity.

Today the Mid-Island Y JCC is based in Plainview, NY and has 12000 members.

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A coincidence of place

Sometime during Doris’s childhood, she related many times, she broke a rule and didn’t tell anyone. She peeked through a window into a small Hasidic worship space in Brooklyn, only to see her grandfather, Nathan, dancing with other men, in some mysterious ecstatic devotion, all with their eyes closed, so nobody detected her spying. No other females were present. She recalled leaning down; the space may have been below the ground floor, with a short window just above ground level.

I asked what sect such men could have belonged to. “The Kobriner Rebbe” she answered. Who was that? This is not a simple question. But I will say this: Kobrin was in the neighborhood of my father’s family. Not my mother’s. Kobrin, now in Belarus, was 400 miles away from Felstyn, then part of Austro-Hungaria. This man, Nathan, perhaps he just coincidentally stumbled into and embraced a nearby congregation that happened to be the Brooklyn home of a community that had fled violence in the old country. Or perhaps back in Austro Hungaria he or his own father had heard of a sage in the pale of settlement and made the pilgrimmage; then deliberately lived near their outpost in the new world. Hard to say.

But whatever happened, it is uncanny that Doris’s grandpa Nathan befriended a community that came from hundreds of miles away from his own country; a community that’s associated with the family of Doris’s husband Bernie; and that all this occurred decades before Doris met Bernie.

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Hebrew School graduate

In 1935 when nearly 16 or thereabouts, Doris graduated from a Hebrew day school she had attended for four years, mentored by an eminent and perhaps scandalous teacher who was in some circles ill-regarded as a person of poor morals; perhaps he was, or perhaps the idea of teaching girls Hebrew itself was scandalous then. At that time and place, and so it had been for centuries, Jewish girls did not commonly attend Hebrew school, and Doris’s white-bearded paternal grandfather Nathan vigorously opposed her attendance. Doris’s clean-shaved father Saul, who on other occasions could be strict and forbidding, sided with Doris and paid the tuition all that time, despite the controversy in the community and the conflict with his own father over the matter. Upon graduation the teacher told Doris there was to be no further communication between them.

Perhaps the teacher was the same Harry Aronson who, shortly before his death in 1986 or thereabouts, then known as Rabbi Iosef Tzvi Aronson wrote “In my grandfather’s family, a truly Jewish Torah education was given not only to sons but to daughters” (download this 3.6 Mbyte image of the English version of an Aronson family memorial plaque) and who was also known for the distinction of instituting an adjustment the Jewish calendar of Talmud education.

I myself cannot read a word of Doris’s Hebrew diploma but hope to post the document online at this site, and hopefully someone will translate.

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Photo of Doris by grandaughter Sara, April 2010

Doris B. Gold

Doris B. Gold

April 10, 2011

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