Kibbitzing with Caplan

By Lois Caplan

NOT IN MY WILDEST DREAMS 50 YEARS AGO could I imagine a celebration of the Jewish Light’s half-century of service to the community as an independent Jewish newspaper. Back then, we were new to the community, I was an untested journalist, and no one knew the editor, Geoffrey Fischer, a former sports writer for a Cleveland weekly. A lot of great, outstanding guys gave us our start — Alfred Fleishman, Morrie Pearlmutter, Sam Krupnick, Selwyn Pepper and on and on. As I think back on that era, I know now that I was the froth, the fun and the cultural maven, while all the other writers were serious, well-informed and respected authorities on life in Israel as well as Jewish and non-Jewish relations in this country.

Then in 1969 Bob Cohn replaced Fisher as editor and the paper took off. We have been flying high ever since even though Bob is now editor-in-chief emeritus and writes even more interesting stories today than he did as full-time editor. He has been succeeded today by the talented, hard working Ellen Futterman whose red-golden curls put Bob’s bald pate to shame. As for me, I am more part-time and write about many of the city’s cultural events and openings, along with highlighting fundraisers for important causes, which seem to be the focus of my life.

If you have not yet heard, there were more then 400 guests at the Ritz Carlton Oct. 6 for at Light’s Golden Gala. Working the room, I realized I knew at least 200 of them, though I sadly did not have time to chat or say more than, “so good to see you here.” Also, I was aware as I was shaking hands that I had met many of those guests when I promoted their very worthy fundraisers in my column. It made me feel good to see all of them turn out to congratulate me on 50 years at the Light and to let me know that I was helpful to their cause.

When the Gala was announced I decided it would be a good time to retire. However, I panicked and said, “No way, José.” A few folks panicked with me, so I never made that announcement. For the record, I am not retiring. Please know that I am here for you and want to publicize your events and fundraisers, or whatever floats your boat for the good of the community.

SPEAKING OF WORTHY FUNDRAISERS, here is one that turns me on for its lifesaving effort. Dr. David Caplin, a board certified reconstructive surgeon, and Dr. Marlys Schuh, a board certified oncologic surgeon, founded Gateway to Hope eight years ago. The physicians were motivated to launch the organization after seeing too many uninsured and underinsured breast cancer patients who did not have access to lifesaving treatment.  Gateway to Hope, now a St. Louis-based nonprofit that provides comprehensive breast cancer treatment and care at no cost to these needy women, will honor its founders at 6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 26 at the downtown Four Seasons Hotel, 999 N. Second Street. To purchase tickets at $175 per person, call 314-569-1113 or go to  For more information on Gateway to Hope visit

VIVIAN ZWICK IS MY PERSONAL POSTER GIRL. At 96 and a resident of the Gatesworth, she has become its bathing beauty on both of its posters (you can see her yourself as you drive south on Highway 170 at Delmar) and occasionally on TV or in print. It is not for her beauty that the National Council of Jewish Women is presenting Vivian with their most prestigious honor, the Hannah G. Solomon Award, but for her commitment to volunteerism and to her outstanding contributions in the area of women’s reproductive rights.

Vivian was part of the “abortion underground” prior to the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, and served as Board Chair of Reproductive Health Service through its merger with Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis region in 1996. She was the first female president of the Jewish Light, served as President of the Jewish Hospital Auxiliary, chaired the NCJW Council Shop committee when it was located on Easton (in the Middle Ages) and was also NCJW vice-president of administration.  I recall Vivian interviewing large numbers of men and women who applied to the Delcrest (now Crown Center) for an apartment. Vivian will receive NCJW’s highest honor on Wednesday, Oct. 30 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on the second floor of Neiman Marcus at Plaza Frontenac. Reservations are $25 for NCJW members, $30 for non-members and $100 for supporters. RSVP online to or call 314-993-5181.

THE 11th ANNUAL AGELESS-REMARKABLE ST. LOUISANS GALA is hosted by the St. Andrews Resources for Seniors System. On Sunday, Nov. 10 at the Hyatt Regency the gala will pay tribute to 19 older adults age 75 plus who are living proof that retirement does not have to be synonymous with slowing down.  Among the honorees are two members of the Jewish community –- 76-year-old Ken Kranzberg and 83- year-old Fritzi Lainoff, a former Unsung Hero of the Light.

A very successful philanthropist and businessman, Ken is one of the area’s most passionate supporters of the arts, having supported hundreds of educational and cultural organizations, as well as to the Jewish community. Fritzi is an advocate, volunteer and lobbyist who demonstrates day in and day out that you are never too old to make a difference in people’s lives. Ken and Fritzi and the other honorees are described as St. Louisans who continue to reshape the face of aging in our region and provide a new prospective on what it means to grow older.  To reserve your place at the Ageless Remarkable St. Louisans Gala, call Shirlene Treptow at 314-436-9090.