Honoring esteemed and cherished teacher and author Bella Bel Kaufman on the occasion of her 100th Birthday

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LEGISLATIVE RESOLUTION honoring esteemed and cherished teacher and
author Bella "Bel" Kaufman upon the occasion of her 100th Birthday

WHEREAS, It is the sense of this Legislative Body that certain individ-
uals who have distinguished themselves in their profession and have
brought both enlightenment and pleasure to thousands upon thousands of
people around the world through their work merit the recognition and
celebration of certain milestones in their lives; and
WHEREAS, Attendant to such concern, and fully in accord with its long-
standing traditions, this Legislative Body is pleased and justly proud
to congratulate and honor renowned author and teacher Bella "Bel" Kauf-
man upon the occasion of her 100th Birthday; and
WHEREAS, Born Bella Kaufman in Berlin, Germany, where her father was
studying medicine, on May 10, 1911, she is best known for her 1965 best-
selling novel UP THE DOWN STAIRCASE and as the granddaughter of, and the
last living person to have known, her grandfather, the great Sholom
Aleichem, well-known as one of history's greatest Yiddish authors and
playwrights, the Mark Twain of Yiddish literature, on whose work, the
story about Tevye the dairyman, the renowned musical "Fiddler on the
Roof" is based; and
WHEREAS, Sholom Aleichem passed away in New York City on May 13, 1916,
at the age of 57 while Bel was living with her parents in Moscow, where
she witnessed pivotal events in the Russian Revolution; and
WHEREAS, As she observes her 100th Birthday on May 10, 2011, Bel Kauf-
man poignantly also marks, during the same week, the 95th anniversary of
her grandfather's passing; and
WHEREAS, Bel Kaufman will, in addition, celebrate the auspicious occa-
sion of her 100th Birthday at a special program and reception on Wednes-
day, May 11, 2011 presented and hosted in her honor by Bernstein Global
Wealth Management and The National Yiddish Theatre-Folksbiene, the
oldest and the only remaining professional Yiddish theatre in the United
States; and
WHEREAS, Though born in Germany, she was raised in Odessa, now a city
in Ukraine, and her native language was Russian; she began writing at an
early age and, as a child, published her first poem, "Spring," in the
Odessa magazine LITTLE BELLS; and
WHEREAS, Bella "Bel" Kaufman emigrated to the United States in 1923 at
the age of 12 with her parents, moving to New York City, where she first
began learning the English language; and
WHEREAS, At the age of 18 she attended Hunter College in New York,
from which she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree, then pursued a master's
degree at Columbia University after which she began working as a teacher
in various New York City high schools, along with working part-time as a
writer, including articles for ESQUIRE magazine, for which she began to
use the name Bel, rather than Bella, Kaufman thinking the editors would
assume she was a man, a strategy which worked, leading her to use the
name Bel ever since; and
WHEREAS, Bel Kaufman married the late Sydney Goldstine in 1940 and
they had two children, Jonathan and Thea Goldstine; and
WHEREAS, In 1965 she published UP THE DOWN STAIRCASE, a novel, based
on Bel Kaufman's own teaching experiences, about an idealistic young
honors college graduate who becomes an English teacher in a New York
City high school and deals with the gritty realities of her colleagues
and students; it became an enormous success, remaining on the NEW YORK
TIMES Best Seller list for 64 weeks and was, in 1967, turned into a
highly successful and entertaining film on which she served as a
consultant and in which she happily appeared in a brief cameo; and

WHEREAS, In 1979 Bel Kaufman published a second novel, LOVE, ETC. and
has, since then, written various short stories including "Sunday in the
Park," which won the National Education Association/P.E.N. Short Story
Contest in 1983; she has also continued as a teacher and lecturer at a
number of colleges, including the New School for Social Research,
Manhattan Community College, the University of Rochester, the University
of Florida, and since February 2011, at age 99, at her alma mater, Hunt-
er College of The City University of New York, where she teaches course-
work on Jewish humor; and
WHEREAS, She also still spends her days at home writing in her book-
lined study and being glad, as she says, that she is "too busy to get
old"; and
WHEREAS, This distinguished woman, who has experienced the incredible
joys and sorrows characteristic of and reserved for those with the
stamina and courage to savor a full life, has inspired the lives of her
friends, family, colleagues and students; and
WHEREAS, This beloved lady has distinguished herself in her chosen
field of endeavor and has enriched the lives of those around her through
her work and through the charm and wisdom which comes only from a full-
ness of years; and
WHEREAS, In keeping with its time-honored traditions, this Legislative
Body is pleased to publicly recognize those such as Bel Kaufman who have
reached such a remarkable age and who have witnessed and celebrated the
innovations, cultural developments and awesome achievements during the
last century, while themselves contributing to the growth and excellence
of this great Empire State; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, That this Legislative Body pause in its deliberations to pay
tribute to and congratulate Bel Kaufman upon the occasion of her 100th
Birthday; and be it further
RESOLVED, That a copy of this Resolution, suitably engrossed, be tran-
smitted to Bel Kaufman.


  • 04 / May / 2011

Resolution Details

Law Section:
Resolutions, Legislative


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