December 5, 2021

Photo Gallery and Events Excerpts 2016-2017


A Trip Back in Time

On Friday, December 1, Chris Retz (“Lady D”) and Judy Streger (“Fifi”)


brought the scandals of the Gilded Age to life. The afternoon included a revelation of the tragic secrets of the marriage bed of Elizabeth Wharton Drexel Lehr, high tea, and a film about the Gilded Age mansions of Newport.


The sign-up for the program was so great that it had to be repeated!

A Review of the 4 th Amendment

Tuesday, December 5, found us at Quail Brook Senior Center for a most stimulating talk on the 4th Amendment, which deals with search and seizure. Laura Graumann, BNC Somerset member and attorney, gave an informative, thorough and timely presentation. Laura talked about four Supreme Court cases and how they evolved from Colonial times to today’s technology-rich present and what to expect in the future.

The cases that were discussed were:

  • United States v Olmstead (1927) – wiretapping
  • California v Cairaolo (1986) Reasonable expectation of privacy vs. aerial surveillance
  • Kyllo v United States (2001) – extraordinary technology (thermal imaging) without a warrant – infringement on 4th Amendment rights
  • United States v Jones (2012) use of GPS tracking without warrant – 4th amendment violation
  • Riley v California (2014) – search of cell phones without a warrant – 4th amendment violation
  • Carpenter v United States was mentioned too. It was just argued, and relates to the use of cell
    site information obtained from cell service provider without a warrant.

November Retreat: Woodloch Spa in the Poconos

This terrific 3-night ‘Girlfriend Getaway’ package at Woodloch Spa in the Poconos included lavish accommodations, 3 gourmet meals daily, speakers and workshops, group fitness classes and lectures, a chef’s cooking demonstrations, guided group adventure excursions, as well as health and fitness amenities including pools and a well-equipped gym.

As you can see, we had a great time at this mid-November retreat.


10/22 A train journey to the Villa Milagro vineyards

Our last outing of the fall season took us on a unique journey. On Sunday, October 22, we hopped aboard a steam-driven train for a journey along the banks of the Delaware River to the Villa Milagro vineyards, nestled in the breath-taking Warren Hills.


We were met by vineyard co-owner Audrey Gambino. She explained that the “vineyards uses sustainable practices and minimal inputs to provide a protective habitat for native species of birds, plants and wildlife, as well as to grow grapes using pesticides and herbicides that are approved for organic use.” After the tour of the farm we all enjoyed sampling the several vintages that are grown and pressed there.



10/19 Seeing Eye Institute


On Thursday, October 19, we paid a visit to the esteemed Seeing Eye Institute in Morristown, where we met with both clients and trainers. The Seeing Eye’s mission is to enhance the independence, dignity and self-confidence of people who are blind, through the use of specially trained Seeing Eye® dogs.

In pursuit of this mission, The Seeing Eye breeds and raises puppies to become Seeing Eye dogs, trains Seeing Eye dogs to guide blind people, instructs blind people in the proper use, handling, and care of the dogs and conducts and supports research on canine health and development.


10/5: Twombly Hall

Our trip to historic Twombly Hall on the campus of Fairleigh Dickinson University,
Madison, has been one of our most popular this autumn.
We were the first group to tour this lovely Vanderbilt property under the auspices of the Friends of Florham preservation society.

One of our guides was the inestimable Sam Convissor, one of the authors of Florham: An American Treasure.
Sam was one of our honored guests at a full tea luncheon at the nearby Cosy Cupboard. He even autographed the book!


9/12: At Quail Brook Senior Center with Susan Addelston

It was a “standing room only” crowd at Quail Brook Senior Center on Sept. 12 when we gathered for an ice cream social and a terrific presentation by popular returning guest speaker Susan Addelston.

Her topic was “The Supremes,” which focused on the lives and work of the three current female Supreme Court justices.


9/11: Haven farm

This beautiful late-summer day found us enjoying the quiet of rural New Jersey.


Bird Haven farm was a vast area of woods, orchard, gardens, ponds, open space and seat areas to
relax and contemplate.



A First-Hand Account of the Bielski Partisans

On August 22, we had a rare chance to hear about the courage and suffering of the Bielski
Partisans. The partisans operated in Western Belorussia (Belarus) between 1942 and 1944, and
was one of the most significant Jewish resistance efforts against Nazi Germany during World
War II.

Group portrait of former Bielski partisans from Nowogrodek taken in the Foehrenwald displaced persons camp. Germany, April 3, 1948.
— US Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Jack Kagan

While its members did fight against the Germans and their collaborators, the Bielski group
leaders emphasized providing a safe haven for Jews, particularly women, children, and elderly
persons who managed to flee into the forests. Under the protection of the Bielski group, more
than 1,200 Jews survived the war, one of the most successful rescue efforts during the Holocaust.
Our unique experience came about through the generosity of Jim Sokolowsky, who came to
speak about the lives of his young, newly married parents who were among the partisans.


Shown here is chapter president Judy Dorfman with Norma and Jim Sokolowsky.


Afternoons with Molière

On July 20 and 22 our focus turned to the famous 17 th -century French playwright and actor
Molière. The first afternoon found us having a short lecture about the life and times of this great
man of literature. The talk include not only his biography but a discussion of the commedia
dell’arte, which heavily influenced him. Notes on the physical theatre of the time were also

This provided a great prelude to our attending a performance of Molière’s little-performed first
major play, “The Bungler,” which was first staged in Paris in 1658. Nearly 20 of us enjoyed a
prix fixe luncheon at Rod’s in Morris Township before motoring to nearby Drew University to
enjoy this wonderful comedy, which was staged by the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey.


Matisse Exhibit in the Montclair Art Museum

One of the most important artists of the 20th century was Henri Matisse and on June 7 we went to the Montclair Art Museum to see 19 works by him as well as many others by American artists that he influenced, such as Robert Motherwell, Roy Lichtenstein, and Andy Warhol. According to the museum’s website, “His oeuvre has provided a liberating model for varied explorations of vibrant color, strong fluid lines, and clear compositional structures in the pursuit of artistic self-expression. . . . This is the first exhibition to expand Matisse’s impact beyond the typical focus upon the New York School by extending it back to the beginning of the 20th century and forward to the 21st.”


Second Annual Luncheon – June 2017

June 5 dawned dreary and damp but nothing could spoil the fun at our second annual luncheon. A total of 53 BNC-Somerset members and guests attended this lovely afternoon, filled with food, fun, and fellowship at nearly Royce Brook Golf Club. Luncheon was preceded by the discharge and installation of officers. President Judy Dorfman then spoke proudly of our many accomplishments over the past year, not the least of which was the building of this website! Our special guest speaker was Rabbi Eli Garfinkel of Temple Beth-El in Somerset. He spoke after lunch on the topic of Jewish superstitions, and his talk was enjoyed by all.

  • Second Luncheon - June 2017


Mt. Laurel and the Alice Paul Institute – May 2017

May 23 found us on the road to Mt. Laurel in Burlington County. It is a bit of a ride, but in
pleasant company the miles melted like snow on a spring day. Our first stop was the Jacob’s
Chapel AME Church complex in Mt. Laurel. Its buildings include an 1840 meeting house, which is the oldest black church in Burlington County; a church that was constructed in 1867;
and a cemetery that dates to 1811 which holds the remains of a number of Black Civil War veterans.

The complex was an important stop on the Underground Railroad in New Jersey during that terrible conflict. We had a great visit with Rev. Terrell Person, who showed us the premises and discussed their historic importance.

After lunch at an Italian restaurant, it was off to the Alice Paul Institute (API). According to
the API website, “Alice Paul was the architect of some of the most outstanding political
achievements on behalf of women in the 20th century. Born on January 11, 1885 to Quaker
parents in Mt. Laurel, New Jersey, Alice Paul dedicated her life to the single cause of securing
equal rights for all women. “Few individuals have had as much impact on American history as has Alice Paul. Her life
symbolizes the long struggle for justice in the United States and around the world. Her vision
was the ordinary notion that women and men should be equal partners in society.” We enjoyed a
DVD about her life and its importance, and had the chance to see many pertinent documents,
such as her diploma when she received one of several doctorates.

  • Mt. Laurel - May 2017


Book and Author Luncheon – May 2017

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.

  • Book and Author Luncheon - May 2017


Healthy Italia in Madison – April 2017

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.

  • Healthy Italia in Madison - April 2017


Trip to the Manischewitz Factory – March 2, 2017

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.

  • Trip to the Manischewitz Factory - March 2, 2017


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, 2017 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.


“Marie Antoinette and Vigée Le Brun”  Brighten the Winter Blues – January 2017

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 maid who applied her rouge. Barbara Yaney is in costume as Vigée!

  • "Marie Antoinette and Vigée Le Brun"  Brighten the Winter Blues - January 2017


Cooking Lesson at Masala Bay

In addition to a young ‘chef to be'(Judy Dorfman’s granddaughter) , a bunch of eager women listened to the inspiring story of chef Anita of Masala Bay Cafe, at her Easton Avenue cafe. Chef Anita, demonstrated how to prepare a tasty sauce and marinate that can be used in a variety of ways.

A butternut squash gratin, was served to the hungry bunch who also tasted an unusual bit of white and dark chocolate…think raisins, nuts and cinnamon. The best part is that all went away with an understanding of how to create tasty dishes that can be enjoyed by all, from the vegetarian, gluten free guest, to the meat eater amongst us.

  • Cooking Lesson at Masala Bay - 2016


Grand Central Terminal Visit

Conceived by Cornelius Vanderbilt, Grand Central Depot (as it was then known), opened in 1871, and was electrified in 1875. It quickly became outmoded and in 1903 extensive renovations were begun. Early 20th-century innovations included ornamental inscriptions, decorative flourishes, and sculpted oak leaves and acorns (symbols of the Vanderbilt family), including playful carved acorns festooning the Main Waiting Room’s chandeliers.

The Oyster Bar’s vaulted ceilings are adorned with a herringbone pattern. On the exterior, imposing sculptures of Mercury, Hercules, and Minerva top the 42nd Street façade.
During World War II, troops thronged the terminal’s U.S.O. canteen. People have assembled here to pray together, taken refuge during blackouts, and sought solace at memorials for Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Martin Luther King, and victims of September 11th.

In 1975, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis spearheaded an effort to save the station from threatened demolition. In 1978, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the landmark status of Grand Central Station. The restoration completed in 1998 doubled retail and restaurant space. It restored the zodiac ceiling and brought a new staircase, escalators, elevators, and ramps.

Our members visited this city gem on November 15, on a trip organized by Harriet Cohen and led by Marilyn Altman. It was a hit with our members, who remarked variously as follows: “I love learning the history and background of famous places. Our docent was amazing, he could do stand-up comedy. The tour was educational, informative, and never boring during its 2 hour length!” (Toby Marks)

Nancy Gulbin commented, “I was interested in the tour.” She too enjoyed the guide.

“Our Brother-in-law was friends of artist Peter Milton who created an amazing picture depicting the renovation of the Grand Terminal, and the trip sounded too good to pass up. The highlight was the Terminal itself as presented by its extraordinary friend, our guide. We had Oysters Rockefeller and Oyster Stew at the Oyster House—a perfect conclusion to an excellent experience!” (Elizabeth Woodbury)

Pete Giampietro noted, “Friends told us about the trip. I have passed through the terminal numerous times but never had the chance to really see it. We ate at Cucina, right in the terminal, up the escalator opposite the clock. Good food, good service, and a reasonable price.”

“It was a new experience. I liked hearing about the history and going up high to look down at the terminal.” (Myra Rosenberg)

Ina Nelson shared this: “I had never been to Grand Central Terminal and thought it would be a worthwhile experience. And I was right! It was most enjoyable and informative. I enjoyed learning the history of this building, and how close it came to being torn down, and then its recovery.”

  • Grand Central Terminal 2016


A day in Historic Bethlehem

GemeinhausBethlehemKathy Dohrst, docent at the Gemeinhaus in Historic Bethlehem, enthusiastically explains Moravian women’s headgear at our trip there in October 2016. Shown here is the “Schneppel Haube.” The Schneppel refers to the shape of the outer cap, which forms a pointed peak or “beak” in the middle of the forehead. A “Haube” is a simple, close-fitting cap historically worn by Moravian women.









Productive meeting

productiveMeetingA great end to a productive meeting! Shown here are programming committee members Chris Retz, Harriet Kaplan, Harriet Cohen (committee chair), Ellen Schorr, Susan Glazer, and Barbara Hurwitz. They have just put the finishing touches on a great and varied season of programming for winter 2017. Not shown: Judy Dorfman, chapter co-president.







St. George Greek Orthodox Church visit

A cold, rainy day didn’t dampen the spirits of 20 chapter members as we visited St. George Greek Orthodox Church in Piscataway near the end of October 2016.

Our docent was Peter  Stavrianidis, Ph.D. After giving us a compact history of the Greek Orthodox Church since its inception in 1054 A.D., Peter led us into the church proper, where Fr. Nicholas Pastrikos explained some basic tenets of Greek Orthodoxy.

Then it was off to lunch at (where else?) Pithari Taverna in nearby Highland Park, where we enjoyed several courses of delightful appetizers and entrées, finishing with a round of coffee and Baklava.

groupspeeker    pithariTavern


Installation of Officers event on June 28, 2016

  • Incoming president Judy Dorfman reads laudatory poem to outgoing president Iris Kislin at the Installation of Officers event on June 28, 2016



May 2016 visit to Brandeis for a chapter leaders’ meeting

  • Marilyn Altman and Judy Dorfman at Brandeis University in Waltham MA

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