“Ode Age,” by Marty Kafka

May 15th, 2023

Marty, a member of BOLLI’s Writer’s Guild, offers a humorous look at the challenges and many joys of living a long life.

The salves and pills,
those oily creams,
the sticky, stinky ointments,
all of these for treating
my age-owed ailments, disappointments,
and embarrassments I must endure because,
for sure my wrinkling scaffold,
blued from ageing’s pox ‘n’ bruises,
sums of symptoms,
some reclusive, some elusive,
some concussive, some contusive,
others plain old itchy “nuisancives”.

But my wounds, are all egalitarian,
so for this cranky antiquarian,
now a mid-septuagenarian,
whose hand-picked pharmaceuticals,
maintain his organ’s cuticles,
I sing to you with proudest praise,
from my personal band
and all its aides,
that I‘m still alive, to celebrate
my ever-golding days.

Read the rest of this entry »

In Memoriam: Richard Averbuch, Director of CAST, by Mark Seliber 

May 3rd, 2023

BOLLI has a long and proud tradition of performing live theater. As one example, Scene-iors, an informal drama club started by Eileen Mitchell and Becky Meyers, evolved into a series of more formal study groups culminating every semester in full-length, one-act plays performed in the Turner Street Gathering Space. During fall semesters many members also participated in the CAST (Creative Acting, Storytelling and Theater Group) Special Interest Group, with a focus on short scenes.

Then, three and a half years ago Richard Averbuch burst upon the scene. A quiet and gentle man, Richard had a strong background in theater performance and education. In the fall of 2019, he assumed leadership of CAST and began to direct members in weekly exercises in performing scenes and improvisation. He also started an improvisation group outside of BOLLI which many CAST members subsequently joined. Members gathered with Richard at 60 Turner Street in March 2020 to prepare for a live performance of A.R. Gurney’s The Cocktail Hour. But a few days later, COVID hit, BOLLI went virtual, and CAST was on hiatus.

CAST regrouped that fall, and members decided to perform ten scenes from another Gurney play, The Dining Room, though this time with rehearsals and performances taking place on Zoom, a technology previously unknown to any of us (including Richard).  Over the course of the semester, Richard became proficient in the new platform and gave us a master class in how to effectively perform on Zoom.  Among his teachings: “Look straight ahead; wait for your fellow scene-mate to finish speaking before you start; listen actively and react with facial expressions and tone of voice; and focus on the key transitions within a scene.”   Read the rest of this entry »

“Travels with Charlie”- A Profile of BOLLI’s Charlie Raskin, by Na’ama Ansell

March 28th, 2023

(It is with sadness we note the passing of longtime BOLLI member, Charlie Raskin. Na’ama Ansell visited with Charlie in 2021 to learn more about him, his family, and other aspects of his well-lived life. He will be missed.) 

“I was born in the back of my family’s candy store, located next to the Otis Elevator Company in Yonkers, New York”, Charlie Raskin told me when we recently sat down for a conversation. No doubt an unusual place to be born, but for Charlie a uniquely warm and comfortable one since his family was quite well-known by their neighbors. He recalls that at the end of each day, “People coming down the elevator would stop by the store to chat with us before heading for home.” Is it any wonder that with these beginnings Charlie, a member of the BOLLI board of advisors, became the super-friendly, enthusiastic person whom we know?

Read the rest of this entry »

“New Violinist for Lydian Quartet”, by Phil Radoff and Jack Curley

March 21st, 2023

It was just over a year ago that we reported on the imminent retirement of the Lydian Quartet’s Second Violinist, Judy Eissenberg. Judy has now been replaced by Julia Glenn, who returns to the Boston area from an extended stay in China, where she has been a member of the faculty at the Tianjin Juilliard school and a member of the Tianjin Julliard Ensemble. Julia has been named an Associate Professor of the Practice in the Brandeis Music Department with teaching as well as performance responsibilities.

We recently sat down with Julia (all appropriately masked) in the Lydians’ rehearsal room in Slosberg Music Center to ask about her thoughts on leaving China and joining the Quartet.

Tianjin Julliard Ensemble

The decision to leave China, where Julia had been living, teaching, and concertizing for the past three years, was not an easy one, but the opportunity to join the Lydians and to be closer to her family proved to be irresistible. Having grown up in Wellesley, the daughter of musical parents (her mother, Bayla Keyes, was a member of the Muir String Quartet), and having attended New England Conservatory as well as Harvard University, Julia was well acquainted with Brandeis’s world-renowned quartet-in-residence. When she learned of the position opening she quickly submitted a sampling of recordings of her past performances and soon was invited to come to Waltham for an extensive series of auditions with the members of the Quartet. It became clear to all in short order that Julia would be an ideal fit for the vacant Second Violin position.

Read the rest of this entry »

Memories of Ten Years at BOLLI

January 24th, 2023

As we learned in a recent message from Avi Bernstein, senior associate director Megan Curtis has accepted a new position and will be leaving BOLLI at the end of the month. The Banner asked her to share some of her thoughts as she departs following a ten-year tenure.

What positions have you held at BOLLI?

I like to think I “grew up” at BOLLI, starting as a program administrator in 2013, progressing to senior administrator in 2015, assistant director in 2016, associate director in 2020 and senior associate director in 2021. Some may not know that while working at BOLLI I also had the opportunity to earn a Master of Science in Management at Brandeis.

Read the rest of this entry »

Arlene Weintraub

January 3rd, 2023

Arlene Weintraub

It is with sadness we note the passing of founding member, Arlene Weintraub, who participated in BOLLI’s initial planning meeting more than twenty years ago. Our condolences to her family and many friends. To learn more about Arlene’s role in the early days of BOLLI, click here; to view her obituary, click here.


“What CAST Means to Us,” by Mark Seliber

November 26th, 2022

BOLLI’s Creative Acting, Storytelling and Theater group (CAST), under the direction of Richard Averbuch, is preparing for its fifth virtual production, which will take place from 1:00 pm to 2:15 pm on Tuesday, December 6. Our ensemble will perform scenes from the following six plays, with two actors/characters on-screen in each scene:

Lettice and Lovage, by Peter Shaffer

A Narrow Bed, by Ellen McLaughlin

Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune, by Terrence McNally

The Cocktail Hour, by A.R. Gurney

Road to Mecca, by Athol Fugard

Steel Magnolias, by Robert Harling

Pre-Covid, CAST performances took place at lunchtime in the Gathering Space at BOLLI’s home on South Street in Waltham. But like many other activities, our productions have been presented virtually for the last two-and-a-half years. The ability to keep our group going through Covid has been a lifeline for members – combating loneliness and struggles, and establishing deep, supportive relationships.

During our time together, we have had the opportunity to sharpen our acting skills by learning the nuances of ZOOM acting – looking straight ahead, waiting for our fellow actor to finish speaking before we begin, listening attentively, reacting with a focus on facial expressions and tone of voice, and focusing on key transitions within a scene. An additional advantage to our current virtual format is that the three out-of-state members of our troupe have been able to participate in the current production. We have also enjoyed in-person CAST parties the last two summers, at which some of us met for the first time.

Positives aside, we do, of course, look forward to the time when we will again be able to rehearse and perform in front of a live audience. Until that day arrives, the show must go on!

(To register to watch the performance, click here. If interested in learning more about our group, please contact me at mseliber1@gmail.com or Richard Averbuch at richardaverbuch@gmail.comTo read more about what some of our actor/members have to say about their CAST experience, see below.)

Read the rest of this entry »

“Remembering Sophie”

October 18th, 2022

Longtime, revered BOLLI member Sophie Freud died on June 3 at the age of 97. As noted in a previous issue of the Banner, Sophie was “a free spirit who lived according to her own high-minded values and principles, and in doing so became an inspiration to us all”. Her family will host a celebration of her life at 3 pm on Sunday, October 30 in Brandeis University’s Sherman Hall at the Hassenfeld Conference Center. They invite the members of the BOLLI community to join the celebration.

In April Sophie sat with Peter Bradley for an extensive interview about her remarkable life, beginning with time spent in the company of the man she called her “famous grandfather,” her later escapes from both Vienna and Paris just ahead of the Nazis, and her subsequent career, spent first as a social worker and later as a professor at Simmons College. The interview, which is summarized in the June Banner article found below, was part of BOLLI’s Oral History Project which offers all members the opportunity to capture their life stories through recorded interviews to be shared with friends and family, and sometimes with the BOLLI community.

(To attend the October 30 celebration of life, write to Andrea Freud Lowenstein at lilychatte@gmail.com with “Sophie” as the subject of the email. To listen to Peter’s talk with Sophie, click HERE. If you are interested in participating in the BOLLI Oral History Project and capturing your story, click HERE or write to Peter at bradleypa@mac.com. 


“A Conversation with Sophie Freud,” by Joyce Lazarus (originally posted June, 2022)

Longtime BOLLI member and Study Group Leader, Sophie Freud, died peacefully at her Lincoln home on Friday, June 3 at the age of 97. ​Sophie was a free spirit who lived according to her own high-minded values and principles, and in doing so became an inspiration to us all. Member Peter Bradley met recently with Sophie to interview her for the BOLLI Oral History Project, which he is spearheading.* During their time together Sophie relived some memorable moments of her childhood and young adulthood, as well as her more recent experiences at BOLLI. Some may recall Naomi Schmidt’s October 2007 Banner essay on Sophie’s memoir, Living in the Shadow of the Freud Family. In both the memoir and in Peter’s recent interview, Sophie demonstrated her outspoken nature, courage, and strong drive for professional achievement.

During the interview with Peter, Sophie observed that both good luck and tragedy had marked her life. She felt fortunate to have escaped from Vienna in May 1938 before she could witness the horrors of Kristallnacht (November 1938) and the Holocaust. She had a happy but overly-protective childhood in Vienna with a nanny who accompanied her to school every day, when she would have much preferred to go there on her own. Sophie remembered her famous grandfather, Sigmund Freud, as caring, protective and generous, though emotionally distant.

Read the rest of this entry »

“Welcome, New Members!”

October 13th, 2022








This semester we are pleased to add 57 new members to the BOLLI community!

Charlotte Baer, Washington DC
David Baskin, Acton MA
Elisa Batterman-Sutton, Marlton NJ
Ron Bick, Framingham MA
Harriet Bloom, Mountain Lks NJ
Dixie Borus, Newton MA
Gail Breslow, Watertown MA
Caroline Chauncey, Cambridge MA
Phyllis Cohen, Great Barrington MA
John Day, Lexington MA
Nan Feldman, Framingham MA
Ruth Freedman, Newton MA
David Friedman, Jamaica Plain MA
Neil Glazer, Newton MA
Sue Goldberg, Livingston NJ
Jeffrey Goldberg, Waltham MA
Read the rest of this entry »

“Meet Our New Director” (From the Banner Archives – September 2012)

September 30th, 2022

(Editor’s note: This month marks Avi Bernstein’s 10th anniversary as BOLLI executive director.)

Avi Bernstein, our new director, was attracted to BOLLI for many of the same reasons our members are: the quality of the participants, the depth and breadth of the curriculum, and the connection to Brandeis. Creating places for people of every religion and ethnic background with a hunger to learn is important to him, and he enjoys engaging with those who enjoy learning for learning’s sake. He admires Bernie Osher’s brilliance in recognizing the synergy between lifelong learning and the work of universities and in providing seed money to Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes at many schools. Furthermore, Avi had friends on the faculty at Brandeis, was acquainted with several BOLLI members, and knew he would take pleasure in interfacing with them.

Bernstein views himself as a facilitator in a highly collaborative environment that is an element of the shared governance envisioned by BOLLI founder Bernie Reisman, and he feels that it is his job to carry on Reisman’s legacy of a program with academic learning at the center, but which also has an essential and unique community aspect and is peer-run and peer-led.

“Let’s see the organization clearly, then pause, correct course as needed, and extend what we are doing right. We need to examine aspects not currently attended to—like the ties to Brandeis—and develop a clear vision of where we are heading,” he said. He is hopeful that changes will be made not just reactively and reflexively, but only after thoughtful consideration involving himself, member leaders, and Vice Provost Michaela Whelan. To this end he has had meetings over the summer to learn what issues are most urgent, and he has prioritized those that need clarification or change. Avi wants to enhance the connection between Brandeis and BOLLI, for he believes the more regular contact we have the more both parties will appreciate and value each other.

A native of Orlando Florida, Bernstein always felt a bit like a fish out-of-water in the South, and when he studied at Brown he realized he was better suited to life in the North. His journey to find his life’s work led him to study at The Pardes Institute for Jewish Studies in Jerusalem, to take a fellowship in ethics and politics at Princeton, and ultimately to receive his Ph.D. in Religion from Stanford.

Avi lives in Newton with his wife Elizabeth Nahar and their four children (two teenage daughters and twin ten-year-old sons), and he enjoys playing baseball and basketball with his family.

September 2012


“Hello, BOLLI! A New Term Begins”

August 16th, 2022

The start of a BOLLI term brings welcome opportunities for learning and friendship, which given the worries and isolation of the past two years are now both more important than ever. Many will recall Executive Director Avi Bernstein’s March 2020 message in which he announced that spring classes would be held remotely. Due to the remarkable efforts of staff and a dedicated group of members, BOLLI’s virtual platform soon became a reality. At the time of Avi’s announcement, few expected that the crisis would still be a part of our lives in 2022. Though it would be unreasonable to expect a Zoom screen to fully replace the intimacy and companionship of the in-person, face-to-face classroom learning so cherished by BOLLI members, most would agree that online programming has proven to be a welcome and enriching resource for our community.

Read the rest of this entry »

Protected by Akismet
Blog with WordPress

Welcome Guest | Login (Brandeis Members Only)