2008-04-18 / Columnists

Notes from the High C's

Rockaway Music and Arts Council
by Sharon Gabriel

Last Sunday evening I attended a wine tasting hosted by Shelly Schneider and book signing by Miriam Sorger at Temple Beth-El. Now I know you're asking what the two things have to do with one another. Actually, I don't know, other than the fact that the two people involved are members of the Temple. However, it was a fun evening and it gives me an opportunity to discuss the book signing event and how it is involved with our upcoming Literary and Film Festival on June 7 and 8.

"A Raft on the River" is the story of Miriam Sorger and her escape from the Holocaust in the 1940s. Miriam's book was written with our own Stuart Mirsky, who is putting together the Festival weekend.

For those who don't know her, Miriam is a charming and lovely woman who lives right here in Rockaway, and what a story she has to tell. I cannot imagine having to live the life that she and her family had to live during those horrible years in Europe. While I haven't yet read the book, I have spoken with Miriam at other events where she explained the horrors that her family endured. I just can't imagine how any of us would have survived under those circumstances.

If you are interested in history and the events surrounding the Holocaust, come to the Literary Festival and meet Miriam, hear her discuss her life story, and purchase a copy of her book.

In addition to Miriam, another panelist at the festival is Tibby Duboys. Tibby is a professor at Brooklyn College who teaches Holocaust studies. She is a former Rockaway resident. In discussing my interest in the war and the Holocaust (I was a small child at the time of the war), Tibby invited me to her home in Belle Harbor and selected several books from her own library, which she thought I would find interesting. They were, indeed, eye openers. One book in particular that she recommended was entitled "Hitler's Children," and was about the children of Hess, Himmler and all the other higher-ups in the Nazi regime. I have never forgotten that book, because those children would be about my age. They were small kids during the war, and they really didn't have any idea, as we didn't as kids, about what was going on. They have had to live with their names throughout the years. I don't remember which one, but one of the children ended up marrying a Jewish person when he or she grew up. I found that fascinating, but then again, these were small children during the war and I always remember the saying that you can't be held responsible for the sins of the fathers.

In any event, let me get off my little stage here and get back to the Literary and Film Festival.

To be very truthful, I couldn't possibly do a better job of describing the festival

than Stuart Mirsky did in The Wave edition of April 4. Stuart lays out the whole event, and all I can say is that if you don't come out to see it, meet and greet our writers and some surprise guests, you will be missing one of the most interesting events in Rockaway.

For too long it has been said that nothing interesting ever happens in Rockaway, but if you said that now, you would be wrong. The Rockaway Music & Arts Council has been adding new events each season. Last year the Literary and Film Festival began and it was very successful, so this year has been expanded with more writers and panelists and books to buy, as well as more films being presented on both Saturday and Sunday evenings at the Rockaway Theatre Company building in Fort Tilden. Among the films are "The Limbo Room," by Debra Eisenstadt, daughter of the late chairman of the board, Barbara Eisenstadt, and a film entitled "The Kid Stays In The Picture," by Brett Morgen, who happens to be Debra's husband.

"The Kid Stays In The Picture," is the story of Robert Evans, a big mover and shaker in Hollywood during the 60s, 70s and 80s. Evans was a very handsome fellow, gorgeous in fact, who was first an actor and then ran one of the Hollywood studios. If I remember right, it was Paramount. Many a day I remember my boss saying to me, "Get me Bob Evans," and sure enough he would get on the phone, one Hollywood big shot to another. One of Bob's pictures was "The Godfather." We would have our executive screening every week, prior to the film being released, to see the other company product. Well, the week I arranged to screen "The Godfather," our screening room was overflowing. But there was no way I was giving up my seat. When one of the executives, who called me too late and couldn't get a seat, went and complained about my being at the screening, my boss told him, "Too bad. You should have called earlier." I think that fellow didn't speak to me for a few weeks. But the only way he would get to see my boss, who was the president of the company, was to go through me. So he had no choice. But, we ended up being friends again after all of that. In any event, Evans got involved with drugs, among other things, and has sort of faded from the picture.

These are just two of the films being shown, and I hope to see you at the festival and we can talk some more.

Don't forget, our trip to Yesteryear is being held on Saturday, May 17. Our guest list is almost complete, so if you intend to join us, please let me know as soon as possible.

See you around the neighborhood.

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