Sara Sitzer, Ida Orenstein, and nominations

Columnist Lois Caplan

Lois Caplan

SARA SITZER, a young, accomplished cellist, is currently a member of the New World Symphony in Miami Beach, Fla.  The daughter of Bill and (New Jewish Theatre Artistic Director) Kathleen Sitzer, Sara received a master’s degree in music from the University of Wisconsin. She has been a fellowship recipient at numerous music festivals including Tanglewood, Aspen and Pacific Music Festival in Sapporo, Japan. Wait ‘til you hear this.  Sara hopes to start her own Jewish chamber music festival here in St. Louis in the near future.

Sara has most recently passed through one round of auditions for the YouTube Symphony, a round judged by a committee of musicians. Now all the judging is all done by the general public.  If Sara receives enough votes she will be one of a dozen or so cellists to be sent to Sydney, Australia to rehearse and perform with the YouTube Symphony for one week, so here is what you and your computer can do to help Sara fulfill a dream.  Go to and click on “Vote.” Then choose “orchestral audition” and click on the picture of the cello (bottom right). Choose Sara’s video under the name “Sarasitz” and finally click “Vote for this video.” Sounds complicated but it’s not. However don’t delay as you have only through Friday, Dec. 17 to cast your vote for this very talented young woman.

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GREAT-GREAT AUNT IDA ORENSTEIN is turning 100 on Thursday, Dec. 23, and according to her great-great niece Vicki Redler Chervitz she is a hoot, not to mention an amazing woman who lives independently and remembers everything. In a phone interview with Aunt Ida who sounds like she is 50, not 100, I asked her what is the secret of her happy, healthy longevity. “Some of my family says that it is because I never had children,” she remarked laughingly.  “But the reality is that I have led a good, clean life according to my standards.”

Ida Orenstein is both a role model and a pin-up girl as an article about her in the Missouri Baptist Hospital bulletin is being displayed all over town. Ida will celebrate her centennial at a family birthday party at The Brentmoor the day before her 100th.

GIVE LIFE: GIVE LOVE and donate food to help those in need. This urgent message comes from Congregation Young Israel in partnership with the American Red Cross and the Harvey Kornblum Jewish Food Pantry. On Sunday, Jan. 16 at Congregation Young Israel, 8101 Delmar Boulevard from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. the public is invited to both give blood for the Red Cross and bring food for the Food Pantry. Winter can be particularly difficult for the hungry and the need for blood increases – for cancer patients, newborns and surgical patients. The number of people relying on the food pantry has seen a large increase. Joan Robinson, program coordinator for the Food Pantry, indicated that the most needed foods are canned fruit, canned tuna, peanut butter, macaroni and cheese and cereal. To schedule an appointment to donate blood with Red Cross, go to (sponsor code YIGS) or call 1-800-REDCROSS. Walk-in donors are welcome, but appointments take priority.

IT’S TIME FOR NOMINATIONS for the 9th annual Grand Center Visionary Awards, which recognize women who have help advanced the arts in St. Louis. Nominations are open through January 28 and include the following categories: Major Contributor to the Arts, Outstanding Arts Professional, Successful Working Artist, Outstanding Arts Educator, Emerging Artist and Lifetime Achievement Award. Over the past eight years, nearly 50 women have been honored, including Jewish women such as Carol Staenberg, Joan Lipkin and Jessica Hentoff. The 2011 awardees will be recognized on May 17 at the Sheldon Concert Hall. To nominate someone, go to to request nomination forms and instructions.