My son, Ariel, and my daughter-in-law Shannon organized a very beautiful and a very meaningful birthday party for me. They chose an exquisite location and, with the help of my dearest friends, Susan L. Bender and Merle Hoffman, hired the best kosher caterer in Manhattan, Pini Ben-Ari, and chose the loveliest flowers. Enlarged, high quality photos of Yours Truly from infancy on adorned the walls -- courtesy of my loving, photographer-cousin Sam Merians.
I was in such an altered state, that I saw neither food nor flower. Instead, I was ingesting all the love and precious memories that each guest brought to the evening.
More than eighty five souls came, some to praise me, others to shower me with grateful reminders that bread cast upon the waters always returns ten-fold.
Representatives from some of the many worlds in which I move were there: Lawyers, feminists, artists, rabbis, (both male and female), authors, journalists, an ex-Muslim dissident, a religious Muslim feminist, Israel advocates, politicians, academics, a linguist, an opera librettist and three opera mavens, a Very Important Judge, a psychic, psychotherapists, philanthropists, literary agents, education innovators, filmmakers, playwrights, photographers, physicians, business people, three blood relatives, three more by marriage, a fashion designer, two acupuncturists, several Holocaust survivors, one of our European Free Speech heroes--and a former Canadian Minister of Justice. The adult children of a dear friend who lives too far away to come, and the adult children of dear, departed feminist friends came, as did two adult children whose late mother was once on the run in the 1980s and whom I was privileged to help.
Amazing speeches were delivered on my behalf by Alan Dershowitz, Rabbi Michael Shmidman, Merle Hoffman, Ibn Warraq, State Assemblywoman Rebecca Seawright, Sheryl Haut, Raquel Evita Saraswati, Cornelia Foster Wood, Bill Hoffman, MP Irwin Cotler, Lynne Skinner--and by my beloved son. He had also organized a Proclamation about my work to be read in Congress and written into the Congressional Record by Carolyn Maloney; similarly, two other such Proclamations in the NY State Assembly: One signed by Rebecca Seawright, another by Dan Quart, as well as a Proclamation in the NYS Senate, signed by Liz Krueger. I have been duly warned that more may be forthcoming.
There was a wonderful pianist, Matthew Grieco, who played both blues and operatic arias. What more could a former girl-singer such as myself ask for? I was in heaven. And he was not just any pianist--he was a leading lawyer as well.
Best of all: My granddaughter Lily sang me a pitch-perfect "Happy Birthday," holding a mike from which she parted only reluctantly. Both she and her younger sister Kate were so well-behaved.
For a long time, I grumbled against this party. I said I was too busy, that it was not really necessary--that I had nothing to wear and no time to shop. But my son was right. The party was perfect. And I loved it.
Below is a slideshow that my daughter-in-law created. She is working on a video of the entire evening which I will happily share when it is ready.