May 25, 2017

Past events excerpts and photos – 2017


May Book & Author Luncheon a Great Success!

On May 4 nearly 60 BNC-Somerset branch members enjoyed a full luncheon at the Pines in Edison.

We were there for a talk by Talia Carner, author of Hotel Moscow.


The menu consisted of fresh fruit cup, salad, rolls, entrée choice of chicken kiev with roasted potatoes or salmon with
wild rice, coffee and apple crumb tart with vanilla ice cream.


Ms. Carner spoke about her experiences both here and in Russia. She is an activist, a feminist,
and a humanitarian who gives a voice to those without one. A proud 7th-generation Sabra, the
New-York- based author is a woman unafraid to tackle controversial issues. Her psychological
suspense novels bring to the forefront indignities and atrocities long ignored, and include Puppet
Child, China Doll, Jerusalem Maiden, and Hotel Moscow.

Formerly the publisher of Savvy Woman magazine and a consultant to Fortune 500 companies, Talia Carner is a committed
supporter of global human rights. She is a board member of  HBI–the Jewish women’s research
center at Brandeis University. Talia is married to Ron Carner, president of Maccabi USA, and is
a graduate of Brandeis University.


Healthy Italia in Madison

On Tuesday, April 18, lucky 13 of us went to Healthy Italia in Madison for a cooking demonstration and lovely lunch of chicken scallopini and roasted vegetables.


Our meal was enhanced with samples of cheese, sauces, and a delicious dessert.


Trip to the Manischewitz Factory

On a cold, windy but bright March 2, we had a fantastic trip to the Manischewitz factory in Newark. According to its Web site, “The B. Manischewitz Company, LLC traces its beginnings back to the spring of 1888, when Rabbi Dov Behr Manischewitz opened a small matzo bakery in Cincinnati, Ohio.


“It was largely from his spiritual concerns that he set out to make matzo or unleavened bread for Passover, first for his family and a few friends, but soon for many of the devout Jews of the city. His bakery soon evolved into a successful business, innovative and prosperous––though never inattentive to the spiritual needs of its customers.
“In 1932, the company built a second factory. Closer to a much larger Jewish population than that of Cincinnati, the new factory also made distribution of the company’s product more efficient and quickly enlarged its customer base.”


Our tour included stops to see where the flour and water are mixed, how the matzo is pierced and baked, vats for gefilte fish, as well as the bakery.



A wonderful time was had by all.






Helping Where Help Is Needed

As part of our work with the Center for Great Expectations (CGE) here in Somerset, in February members prepared many delicious dishes for CGE’s Valentine’s Day luncheon at which the residents had a chance to visit with their non-custodial children.

Shown here are Laura Holdsworth and Ellie Goldman delivering mac ‘n cheese (always a hit with tykes!) and squash for the adults.

CGE offers “A safe place, a safe presence, and a safe path” for homeless, pregnant, or parenting, adult women and adolescents and their children to overcome, and break, the destructive generational cycle of trauma, abuse, homelessness, and addiction.
Rasheedah Hope, Residential Associate Supervisor (Adolescent Program) at CGE said, “Everything was AWESOME as we received so many wonderful homemade dishes and desserts.

Previous BNC-Somerset projects at CGE have included re-packaging donated toiletries and baby clothes, as well as donating a special summer picnic meal.
Lois Schaffer Addresses Gun Violence

On Wednesday, February 8, we welcomed New York author Lois Schaffer who wrote The Unthinkable. Amazon notes, “In 2008, a daughter talking to her mother on a long-distance call hears cracks, and the phone goes dead. Later her seventeen-year-old brother returns from school and finds their mother murdered. She had interrupted seventeen-year-old burglars who shot her multiple times. Now from the perspective of time and reflection, Lois Schaffer creates a memoir about her daughter’s life and the consequences of her death and voices a mother’s plea for control of illegal guns.”
Lois asked that as individuals we act on gun violence, such as urging local and county officials to institute “safe storage ordinances.”

The website of the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence
has full information on the subject.

At the end of this presentation, a free-will collection totaling $135 was taken for “New Yorkers Against Gun Violence.” Lois also signed complimentary copies of The Unthinkable for all attendees.
Again, for those who are interested, the Afterword lists organizations that “are passionate about preventing the easy accessibility of handguns and in the process save lives.”


Members Enjoy January Theater Outing

On Tuesday, January 31, we went to see the one-woman show, “Rachel Calof—A Memoir with Music.” The performance was held at the Raritan Valley Community College, and the plot concerned a Jewish bride determined to make a new life in North Dakota in 1894 with a man she has never met.
After the noontime show, the “lucky 13” members who attended enjoyed a lovely lunch at the Stoney Brook Grill in Branchburg—a meal that feature everything from squash soup to  chocolate mousse.


JFS Service Opportunity Results

Margo Siroty and myself are happy to report that the mom and three sons whom you read about in our last e-blast have received all the items that Jewish Family Services said they requested. Job well done, Brandeis members!

We especially have to thank the women who spontaneously collected enough money at our recent “Marie Antoinette” program to purchase and deliver the needed winter coats for all three children.  As it happened, the mom was in terrible shape. All three boys were sick and her boss was upset that she was unable to come to work.  Her life was becoming increasingly difficult.  Then, her JFS worker presented her with the three new coats for her boys.  She was elated and so appreciative.  Her stress was dramatically reduced for at least one day.
In our own community, BNC members help support those in need who deserve the right to have the basic necessities of life.

We at this Brandeis chapter feel really encouraged that we support both our community and a university that adheres to the principle of a quality education for everyone.

Thank you for your continued support.
Marilyn Altman


“Marie Antoinette and Vigée Le Brun”  Brighten the Winter Blues

BNC-Somerset members had the time of their lives in January 2017 when they were treated to a two-part program on Marie Antoinette and her court painter Vigée Le Brun. Chris Retz wrote a short biography in French of the doomed queen, providing guests with a simultaneous English translation.
After partaking of (what else?) French vanilla tea, French yogurt cake, and French apple pie, the program was turned over to artist Barbara Yaney, who showed and commented on a two-part DVD on the life of this long-neglected woman artist.

Here you see pix of the queen both in her heyday (note the tiara and mink coat), and as a headless ghost. Costuming (including a guillotined head) was done by Judy Streger, who kindly took the role of “Fifi,” the queen’s faithful mad who applied her rouge. Barbara Yaney is in costume as Vigée!





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