- CHARITY BENEFIT
Bel Kaufman celebrated her 100th birthday at The National Arts Club with the Dutch Treat Club in high heels. At 100 years old, Ms. Kaufman is full of humor and life, much more than most people I know. Bel is a woman who has done it all. She published her first poem at 4 and her first story at 7. Ms. Kaufman’s famous grandfather the great Yiddish storyteller Sholem Aleichem, influenced her life even though she was 5 when her grandfather died. Born in in Berlin and was raised in Odessa and Kiev, during the Russian Revolution she “thought every normal child walks over dead bodies in the snow.” At 12 her family immigrated to New York. She graduated from Hunter and began teaching jobs at a series of public high schools. Kaufman began writing and publishing her short stories in the late 1930s and early 1940s. She was the first woman to write for Esquire an exclusive gentlemen’s magazine that did not publish writing by women. When Kaufman wrote a short story in the early 1940s entitled “La Tigresse” about a femme fatale, her agent suggested that it would be perfect for Esquire. Belle, shortened her name and it has remained to this day. Up the Down Staircase was originally a short story published in The Saturday Reviewon November 17, 1962. In 1965, she published a longer version and became an over-night celebrity. It spent 64 weeks on The New York Times’s best-seller list.
Singer KT Sullivan sang in honor of Bel, KT’s mom wrote a song, Albert Maysles, Joe Sirola, Vicki Sanders, Geraldo Ramierez Miller and a room packed with history and love joined in singing Happy Birthday to this feisty woman who lives life and now does what she wants. She is old, she is not a senior, to Bel that is for High School Proms.
1st photo: Joe Sirola and Bel Kaufman
2nd Photo: Albert Maysles and Bel Kaufman
3rd photo: KT Sullivan
ALL PHOTO”S BY ROSE BILLINGS