THOMAS JEFFERSON H.S. - CLASS OF 1961 - 55TH REUNION
HILTON GARDEN INN, STATEN ISLAND, NY
SUNDAY, MAY 22, 2016
The following individuals have expressed interest in attending our 55th Reunion!
(alpha sequence by first name)
Andrew Wyskota-Zakezewski - Anita Belkin Evans - Asher J. & Anna Matathias - Barry Goldberg Glenn - Cindy Anish - Clayton Henman - Edmund & Rochelle Kolodny Singer - Ellen Katcher - Ellen Nesin Lam - Ellen Robbins - Gary & Phyllis Friedland - George Steven Henman - Gerald Baskin - Irma Sherman Latinsky - Jackie Levy Terry - Lester & Nancy Cohen - Marty Witriol - Rochelle Guss Melamed - Sheila Blumenfeld Felsen & Marv Felsen - Stu Blaustein - Thea Alpert
Add your name to this list! Advise us of your interest - write TJHS1961@aol.com
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55TH REUNION UPDATE!
BRUNCH BEGINS ... 11:00 AM (EST) - PARTY ENDS ... 3:00 PM (EST)
Our 55th Reunion on Sunday, May 22, 2016, is fast approaching. To begin, if you plan to lodge at the Hilton Garden Inn, secure your room promptly (see important details below).
The Guest Room Block begins Friday, May 20, 2016 until Monday, May 23, 2016. Reserve a room under your name as a member of the Thomas Jefferson H.S. 1961 55th Reunion of May 22, 2016.
Free pick-up and drop-off at Newark Airport for air travelers is yours with a confirmed reservation.
The Guest room rate is the same for Single or Double - $139 per night plus New York taxes and room charge. This rate (plus taxes/room charge) is applicable when booked in accordance with the hotel's rules for obtaining special rates (re-read above/read below) during the aforementioned booking period.
The sleeping rooms/suites will be held for Thomas Jefferson High School's 55th Reunion until 5:00 p.m. EST, April 20, 2016. After the cut-off date, all accommodations not reserved with individual guest names will be released to the general inventory for sale. The Hotel will continue to accept reservations after the cut-off date at the Hotel's prevailing rate on a space-available basis.
Call Reservations at 718-477-2400 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. (EST). Emphasizing: In order to receive the group rate, it is very important that the individuals identify themselves as part of the Group - and all reservations are required by April 20, 2016.
Check-in time is 3:00 p.m. Check-out time is 12:00 noon. Any departures after this time will be subject to additional charges.
Registration is a "must" - registrations forms and additional details will follow in October.
Please address all questions to: TJHS1961@aol.com
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PRELUDE TO AN INVITATION
Thomas Jefferson H.S. - Brooklyn, New York
55th Gala Reunion - Class of 1961
by Thea Alpert, Class Administrator/Event Coordinator
The year was 1961. We were teenagers of 16, 17 and 18 at graduation. Who could have known the future and made sense of the concept of 2016. We were young and free in the 60s, pursuing a college education; landing our first job; traveling the world; questioning, searching for inner and world peace; serving our communities; searching for reciprocal love, even starting families. Lives were interrupted and cut short as our country engaged in protested war; assassinations gripped the nation; turmoil on U.S. soil begged for social reform. Much has gone awry in our world in 54 years, but it is because of our individual strengths, humor and good fortune that we have made it to 2015 in what has been a journey of substance.
The year 2016 will be a shining one as we celebrate our 55th year of graduation from Thomas Jefferson High School, the institution that offered us a quality education, the road to maturity, and the place where many lifetime friendships blossomed. 2015 will be an exciting year as we engage in plans for our gala affair. The New York area is the chosen site of celebration in springtime of 2016. Details will follow at a future date.
Join us in celebration and indulge yourself memorably at our 55th high school reunion.
With best wishes and a good year to all...
NOTICE TO 1961 GRADUATES: Those students who have provided us with their contact information will receive an invitation to our 55th Reunion. Please enter this information in your profile here on Classreport - or - email the info to your Class Administrator (contact info is always confidential unless you elect to share).
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PROF. ASHER J. MATATHIAS
A Visit to a Jewish Inmate at The Suffolk Correctional Facility - Reprint
June 12, 2003
Arrangement were made yesterday, via the telephone, identifying myself as JPSI representative for the Northeast Region, and giving the digits of identity located on my NY State driver's license. I had prepared a bundle containing recent periodicals, and articles having Jewish content addressed to me for inmates' use by the Aleph Institute in Surfside, FL. Reviewing them, I discovered the spiritual messages from Hanukkah, Purim, and Pesach, accumulated materials reflecting the several earlier attempts to schedule a visit to see this particular prisoner --- twice aborted for unusual climatic conditions.m
Thus, and following my monthly current events talk to the adults who frequent the Helen Keller Services for the Blind facility in Hempstead, NY, I was off on the Long Island Expressway, driving nearly seventy miles to the SCF in Riverhead, NY, Exit 71. The plant's appearance to the casual observer belies the fact that it is a maximum security prison, home for those charged with the most violent offenses. It blends into the suburban surroundings by not being built high, and is adjacent to a learning institution --- Suffolk Community College!
At the gate, I was greeted by an officer who inquired about my reason for being there, checked my photographed identity, and matched it to the previously prepared list of expected visitors. Meanwhile, the facility's emblem announced that Sheriff Alfred C. Tisch was in charge. I parked in the ample grounds, and walked to the entrance.
Everywhere, signs blared admonitions, instructions, warnings, declarations: This is a Tobacco Free Facility; Drug Dog on Patrol; No yelling or loud talking … only inmate visitors allowed in facility, visitors must leave facility upon completion of visit; … report any inmate's inclinations for self harm or suicide, YOUR INFORMATION CAN SAVE SOMEONE'S LIFE.
Locker #10 was opened for me, and I was asked to deposit all personal articles that I was carrying: wallet, belt, change, jacket, necktie, even my kipa (first without the pin, then to take it off altogether), for it was deemed a hat, even my repeated protests. Surely, this last regulation begs for amendment, even though staff did not seem aware of Jewish custom, or familiar with Jewish prisoners who may need other accommodations. The final inspection, prior to entering the huge conference room, was to walk shoeless through the metal detector, as they made their stationary trek, examined through a conveyor belt.
At the appointed hour, the prisoner I came to see entered in yellow jail overall to take seat #17 opposite me, separated by a glass partition. Upon rising in order to make a special point, and as noise increased with the volume of visitors showing up, we could overcome the height of the window, and actually shake hands in the flesh. The inmate, a financial services professional working from his home, is in his early 50's, and incarcerated since October '02. He is awaiting a trial date on the serious charge he was earlier assured he will never face, and for which he feels he is neither guilty, or prepared to plea bargain. Repeatedly, he expressed his appreciation for my visit, thanking me for my/our concern.
He resides in a single cell, has made acquaintances, and in the ensuing months has been out in the fresh air twenty times. His intellectual input is limited to five books and five magazines. Officer Cuevo, when informed I had brought reading matter, offered the possibility of having them accepted on my next visit, or I could use the mail. However, as the inmate had given me the precious previous quota of spiritual nourishment to dispose, his slate was now clean again, and the officer accepted my offerings on the technicality that my exit was made prior to the official closing time.
Returning to the Five Towns, I took the leisurely Sunrise Highway route, the better to reflect on my experience, enjoy the scenery, even as the salty whiffs from the nearby Hamptons penetrated inland. Shabbat shalom.
P.S. While waiting for the prisoner to appear, I was given the facility's Y.E.S. (Youth Enlightenment Seminar) pamphlet, a community relations program to raise "the consciousness of ALL Suffolk County youth regarding the realities of criminal behavior and imprisonment." Along with rules to observe, a route of the tour, a description of "some of the common offenses/crimes and the maximum sentence," there was a useful listing of "Jail Jargon" which is instructive:
A Bid --- A sentence (except five-year bid), Back to Back Bullets --- (2) One year sentences run together, Bug --- a mentally ill inmate, Bullet --- A one year sentence, Busted or Popped --- Arrested, Cheese Eater or Rat --- A Snitch, Chillin --- Laying back, resting, Crack Ho --- A women who prostitutes for drugs, Copping a Plea --- Accepting a guilty charge without a trial, Crib or House --- A cell, Crate --- A carton of cigarettes, Dropping dimes --- Snitching, Dissing --- Disrespecting someone, Foul --- Wrong, Five-O --- An Officer, Getting Off --- Using Dope, Give someone up --- Snitching, Going up North --- Going to a state prison, Hitting the streets --- Getting released, Holler --- That's the real info, How you livin --- How are you, Homebody --- Someone from your neighborhood, I got your back --- I'll help you, I'm straight --- Everything is ok with me, Ice-Short eyes --- Porno Material, Livin Large --- Comfortable, have everything you need, Lock in --- Go into your cell, Max Out --- Complete your sentence, On the count --- Stand in front of your cell to be counted, Punk --- Homosexual, P&J --- Peanut Butter & Jelly, Shakedown Search of your area, Shutdown --- everything stops, Skeezer --- A promiscuous woman, Stash --- Hidden Contraband, Soft --- A weak person, Throw down --- A fight, The eral world --- Life outside the jail, Word is bond --- Everything I say is truth. AJM M
*Thank you for your excellent (but necessarily detailed) report. I suspect that your writing was a way of helping to sort out this jail initiation in your head. So, how do you feel about the experience? Did you bring some light into the jail? Did you leave the prisoner in better shape than he was in prior to your visit? Were you able to figure out anything that you might be able to do for him and/or his family? Hopefully, it was a rewarding experience and you can now move on to being cleared as a regular volunteer at various prison/jail facilities so that you can make contact visits with groups or inmates (rather than individually behind glass).
****** National Chair, JPSI, WA
**Dear Professor Matathias, Thank you very much for taking the time to visit me today. Let me tell you, it is very much appreciated. It appears you persuaded them to allow you to leave the reading materials --- thanks also for that. All I do is read and write. I assure you that I am innocent of these charges. I loved my … (wife) very much, and could never have done this. I look forward to talking to you again --- hopefully under better conditions.
All my best, ******NY
***Thank you for your email and for visiting my son. It is very much appreciated. … … London, UK
*Hi, quite an experience. We bless you for it. ****** NY
**Dear Asher, It takes a special person to go into a prison and visit a stranger. Thanks for being that special person. G-d will bless you for your good deeds. Your description of the time you spent at SCF in Riverhead was outstanding and quite an enlightening bit of information. Best regards, ****** FL
***Dear Asher, Wow! I knew your visit meant the world to that inmate. Individual visits are great for them too. You are like a light for that inmate! Some of them hardly get any visitors, and some get none. You are amazing. Thanks for sharing this! Take good care,
**Dear Asher, Kol HaKavod!!! You did something great which you will remember in all your life, G-d bless you!!! ****** Athens, Greece
***Dear Asher, You are a true Samaritan --- visiting those incarcerated is an important part of any ministry. You are truly doing G-d's work. Bringing religious reading materials will bring peace and serenity to him and sustain him if he is not guilty (all men are considered innocent until proven guilty) or redirect him and prepare him for his destiny, if he is. Warmest regards, ****** NY
Followed by this …
"Dear Asher, I found your last message to be particularly interesting. As a student at St. John's University in the early '60's, I minored in sociology and took a course entitled "Criminology," which required that in addition to the usual textbook readings, term papaers, and other assignments, we take a field trip to Riker's Island to see and experience firsthand what a penal institution was like. My friend ***** and I were the only women in the group of about 10 students who attended the trip. We were told to "dress down" for the trip. We met with the Commissioner of Corrections, Anna Cross, who was a very interesting and informative speaker.
"We went on a tour, and were taken through the Juvenile Detention Facilities, with prisoners as young as 13 years of age (so sad), and toured pastel colored rooms with some housekeeping items in each one. Mrs. Cross mentioned that they were trying to humanize the juvenile facilities and make them more comfortable for the prisoners. It was her hope that by treating the prisoners better, that when they returned to their homes, they would be less likely to resume their criminal activities. However, as we were aware, and Mrs. Cross intimated, the rate of recidivism was extremely high.
"We also ate lunch in an administrative lunchroom and were served food prepared and served by prisoners. While we were there, there was a "break out" and we were forced to be secured in the psychologist's office. Although we were worried, we resumed our tour when the situation was brought under control. We saw a rock and roll show, and were amazed at the talent of the prisoners. It was very professional. In fact, two of the singing groups we witnessed recorded songs, and one song hit the top 10! It was a fascinating day!
"Years later, my son, *****, and I, visited a friend of his who, because of circumstances, found himself incarcerated in Nassau County Jail. ****** and I met at ****** School, where I teach, and left together to visit him. We first had to park our car in their lot, and then board a small bus which brought us to the main entrance. We had a very similar experience. I was given a locker to place my jewelry --- wedding band, necklace, and earrings and my purse. Then, I had to take the jacket to my suit off so I couldn't hide any contraband. Then, I had to take my shoes off because they set off their metal detector. And so, jewel-less, jacket-less, and shoeless, I went to visit ... with my son ******. To see him in the orange, jail-issue suit, broke my heart because I knew what a kind and sweet boy he was. He was only 17 and got caught in a stolen goods scenario. A friend had given him some "items" that were taken from his ex-girlfriend's house, and ... brought them to a pawnbroker, signed the slip, and gave the money back to his friend. He was unaware that the items were stolen. After the police were called, the only person arrested was .... because his signature was on the pawn ticket. The boy who stole the merchandise was able to get off scot free because his parents were wealthy and able to get the best lawyer for him. ****** parents depended on a legal aid lawyer and ****** was jailed for six months.
"There are no words to describe the indignities you experienced. To have you remove your kipa was very insensitive. It seems as though they do need an education about Jewish religious customs. I will keep your friend in my prayers. Fondly, ***** "
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