Pictured are five of the 2013 Women of Achievement honorees: (from left) Margaret Israel, Peggy Nelson, Vida Prince, Sally Katzif and Sheila Greenbaum. Women of Achievement is currently seeking nominations for the organization’s 2014 honorees. Photo: Trotter Photography 

By Lois Caplan

 I think spending the evening with David Robertson and his 120-plus merry musicians at Powell Symphony Hall is the most delightful. According to my friend Patti Teper who is a regular at this annual event, “Everyone is in a wonderful mood. The hall is decorated beautifully, the music is enchanting and what everyone loves, the audience is invited to sing along and it is a joyous occasion filled with fun and surprises.” In conversation with the Symphony’s VP of External Affairs Adam Crane, tickets are available ranging from $35 to $125 for this delightful evening, which starts at 7:30 p.m. and ends in time for a New Year’s Eve supper at your favorite restaurant. For reservations call the SLSO Box Office at 314-534-1700.

LATKES AND VODKA, Hadassah’s fun fundraiser originally scheduled in the midst of our recent snowstorm and cancelled, has been rescheduled for Thursday, Dec. 19 at 7 p.m. at the United Hebrew Youth Lounge, 13788 Conway Road. It is a Hanukkah celebration, installation and gift auction benefiting Hadassah’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. The cost is $10 with a nice, well wrapped auction item or $18 without. RSVP by Dec. 16 at 314-991-0434 or online at [email protected] or if you are old fashioned and still have stamps, you can send it by mail to St. Louis Chapter Hadassah, 12 Millstone Campus Drive, St. Louis, Mo. 63146.

DOES EIGHT DAYS IN COSTA RICA munching chocolate sound unreal to you? Well, it’s not and here is the information that goes with the invitation. Friends of the Children’s Eternal Rainforest are offering an eight-day exclusive Chocolate Eco-Tourism Adventure in Costa Rica for chocolate lovers, world travelers and those who want to experience the Costa Rican cloud forest. The ecological not-for-profit organization is hosting this exclusive chocolate making adventure in with one of North America’s Top 10 Chocolatiers, Rick Jordan of St. Louis. Jordan will be taking a limited number of guests ages 12 years and older to the Children’s Eternal Rainforest, July 19-27, where they will learn how chocolate is made – beginning with cacao, a rainforest plant, and ending with their own luscious chocolate creations.

Jordan calls this culinary experience “Children’s Eternal Rainforest Food Fantasy – from Cacao to Chocolate.” In addition to exploring the surrounding rainforest, attendees will learn about how the cacao plant thrives in the rainforest as well as what steps conservationists are taking in order to preserve this special natural habitat. Cost of the trip is $3,200 per person, not including airfare, considerably more than the cost of a Hershey bar, but much more exciting. For more information about the trip contact the FCER at 314-941-1257 or via the organization’s website at www.friendsoftherainforest.org/eco-tourism/chocolate-trip. 

WOMEN OF ACHIEVEMENT IS CALLING FOR NOMINATIONS for the 2014 Class of Honorees and you have until Monday, Jan. 13 to submit the name of your favorite candidate. Since there have been so many St. Louis Jewish women who have received this great award I need not tell you that this is not just a beauty or charm contest but rather recognition of outstanding women who have demonstrated special commitment to the betterment of the St. Louis region through voluntary contributions and volunteer close leadership. Gaps women of Achievement considers nominees with significant volunteer impact in areas such as education, arts, health and human services, youth and family, philanthropy, social justice and advocacy. I should also tell you that self-nominations are accepted so you do not have to depend on your busy, organizational friends to submit your name. Ten women will be selected and will be recognized at the Women of Achievement luncheon on Thursday, May 15 at the Ritz Carlton. For more information about the awards, visit www.woastl.org or contact Women of Achievement President Nanci Bobrow at 314-361-5667 or [email protected].

LIFELONG LEARNING INSTITUTE, Washington University’s brilliant offspring consisting of hundreds of older adults (just barely older) recently mailed its winter term catalogue to me with an enticing schedule of 40 courses. Most of them are eight-week courses but for folks who are not here for the entire winter or prefer a shorter term there are six, four-week courses ranging from “2 American Novels” on Thursdays to “Gay Paree French Art” on Fridays. All but one of the courses meet in the LLI facilities at 9 North Jackson in Clayton. (Are you old enough to remember it as Famous Barr? If so you are old enough for LLI.) One course, “The Musical Play,” will meet at Chesterfield City Hall.

The program offers courses in art and architecture, contemporary issues, creative writing, economics, film studies, history, literature, math/science/technology, music and philosophy. Knowledgeable members plan, develop and present the courses and related field trips, workshops and cultural and social events. I think I have told you the basic good news. The bad news is that the courses fill up quickly so hop to it if you are interested and call LLI at 314-935-4237.