NCJW, NAMI honorees and arts notes

Columnist Lois Caplan


NATIONAL COUNCIL OF JEWISH WOMEN (NCJW) was the first organization I joined as a young bride in the late Middle Ages. Since then I have watched it grow, carefully following the progress and changes of “Council” and kvelling at its successes. Within the next couple weeks its uniquely busy business schedule is punctuated with two semi-social events: the first is the anniversary celebration of The Resale Shop (formerly Council Shop); the second is Celebrating Women, which includes the presentation of prestigious awards to Karen Aroesty and Meg Schnabel.

On Thursday, Nov. 1, NCJW will present the Hannah G. Solomon Award, named for the organization’s founder, to Aroesty, Director of the Anti-Defamation League of Missouri and Southern Illinois, and Schnabel, Executive Director, Redevelopment Opportunities for Women – St. Louis. Also those of us who have received the Hannah G. Solomon Award over the years will be recognized. The event will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Neiman Marcus. The cost is $20 per person for NCJW members and $25 for non-members. RSVP to 314-993-5181.

NAMI ST. LOUIS, the National Alliance of Mental Illness, is an outstanding organization dedicated to helping people with mental illness. If you do not recognize its name, it’s because only recently has the organization had good public relations, thanks in large part to its president, Arlen Chaleff, who has learned how to deal successfully with her own mental illness (and was one of the panelists on the subject for the “Can We Talk?” discussion series in June, sponsored by the Jewish Light, Jewish Community Center and Jewish Community Relations Council.)

On Saturday, Nov. 17, NAMI is hosting Celebrating Beautiful Minds, its annual gala at 6 p.m. at the Hilton St. Louis Frontenac, 1750 S. Brentwood Boulevard. The evening will include a silent auction and cocktails, dinner, dessert and an oral auction, and an awards ceremony. RSVP to 314-962-4670 or log on to

WHITE FLAGS PROJECT is a relatively new kid on the block (founded in 2006). A nonprofit alternative art institution, the group will hold its first annual White Flag Projects Gala on Saturday evening, Nov. 3 at 4568 Manchester Avenue, White Flag’s gallery space.  Co-chaired by Susan Sherman, Jimmy Jamieson and Susan Barrett, they told me the evening includes a chic seated dinner with special guests from some of the most prominent galleries on New York’s Lower East Side.  In addition, there will be an auction of more than 30 contemporary works including pieces by Mickalene Thomas, Ernest Trova, Garth Weiser and Virginia Overton. Tickets for the evening are $500 per person and all proceeds benefit White Flags’ internationally recognized exhibitions and programming. For more information about the benefit or to RSVP, call 314-531-3442. You might ask about the less pricey $20 Karaoke After Party at 10 p.m. FYI, the Director of White Flags is Matt Strauss, marvelous Mary Strauss’ son, who is responsible for the organization’s establishment. It aims to improve the viability of contemporary art in St. Louis by facilitating meaningful exhibition opportunities for progressive artists and curators.

THERE WAS A TIME when my cultural orientation was mainly toward Grand Avenue, Powell Hall and the several neighboring cultural venues. Now I seem to be spending more time at the Touhill Performing Arts Center on the University of Missouri-St. Louis campus. Here are two examples of the great programs available next month:

• Our city’s Arianna String Quartet will present a special program called “Passport to Latin America” at 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 2 at the Touhill’s E. Desmond and Mary Ann Lee Theatre. The program’s inspiration came from ASQ’s recent trips to Brazil. Guest Flutist Albert Almarza will join the quartet. For tickets ($25)call the Touhill box office at 314-516-4949.

• Philobolus, one of the most innovative, athletic, physically daring, and thrilling dance companies in the world will perform at the Touhill 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 9 and 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 10. The company, founded in 1971, is composed of poetic athletes, dynamic dancers, acrobatic and gravity-defying dancers who can twist their bodies together to create fabulous illusions. Prior to the Friday night and Saturday afternoon performances Michael Uthoff, director of Dance St. Louis will host a free talk about the program, in the Touhill’s Terrace lobby.  For tickets ($35 to $55), call 314-534-6622 or visit