Cycling for HMLC; St. Louis native an Olympic chef

More than 40 people showed up for a fundraiser hosted by Lory Cooper (center, with blue head band) at Cyclebar in Creve Coeur in December.  Cooper raised $867 for the St. Louis Holocaust  Museum and Learning Center, where she is a docent and tour guide.

Ellen Futterman, Editor

Spinning for good 

When Lory Cooper won a private party at Cyclebar, an indoor spinning and cycling franchise with a location in Creve Coeur, she started brainstorming some ideas to make the event a fundraiser. “I wanted to do something that was meaningful to me,” said Cooper, 30, who is the youth program supervisor at the Jewish Community Center.

That’s when she decided to merge her two passions: fitness and the St. Louis Holocaust Museum and Learning Center (HMLC). 

“I realize the two don’t necessarily fit together, but I am crazy about both fitness and the Holocaust museum, and I wanted to share those passions with my family and friends,” added Cooper. 

She held the party on Dec. 7, explaining that for every rider who came, she would make a donation to the HMLC, where she is a docent and leads tours. She also invited guests to join her for a private tour of the museum a few days later, which would be followed by a brunch at Kohn’s Kosher Meat and Deli Restaurant. Cooper is the granddaughter of the late Bobbie and Simon Kohn, who started the restaurant in 1963. The elder Kohns were Holocaust survivors who met after being liberated from the Auschwitz extermination camp. 

Cooper said about 40 people attended that party, and she wound up raising $867 for the museum. About a third of those who came also donated — “I did my best to guilt them into it,” she joked.

Cooper is aware that at 30, she is likely the youngest docent at the museum. 

“I went to the Holocaust museum benefit at the Ritz in August (2015) and saw the montage video they had done. I decided then I wanted to be a docent,” said Cooper, who explained that her grandfather never spoke about the Holocaust, though her grandmother did. 

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“It was always…not quite real. I knew they were survivors and I knew 6 million Jews were killed, but I never put it together as a kid.”

Cooper said that while in college at Northwestern University, she took a class about women in the Holocaust. For an assignment, she compared a story she read in class to her grandmother’s experience.

“My professor believed that women suffered more in the Holocaust because the Nazis hated Jewish women since they were the bearers of Jewish children,” said Cooper, noting that others disagree with that assessment. “I was watching my grandmother’s video, done in the 1990s by the Shoah Foundation, where she talked about her mother holding a cousin’s baby while the cousin went to get a diaper. The Nazis saw my grandmother’s mother holding the baby and sent her to the line that went to the gas chamber. That was the last time my grandmother saw her mother. 

“That’s when the whole thing connected and got very real to me. I started sobbing in the library.”

Fueling athletes at the Olympics

Parkway Central High School graduate and culinary wunderkind Brett Eisen, 28, is feeling the love at the XXIII Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, where he is cooking for the U.S. ski and snowboard team. What makes these Olympics “extra special,” according to his mother, Marci Mayer Eisen, is that her son is working alongside his mentor and good friend, Chef Adam Sacks, who also happens to be Jewish. The two met at the Johnson & Wales College of Culinary Arts in Denver when Eisen won a four-year scholarship there is 2008.

“This has been a completely different experience for him,” said Marci Eisen, director of the Jewish Federation of St. Louis’ Millstone Institute. She explained that Brett had served as team chef at the Olympic games in Brazil for the U.S. women’s soccer team in 2016, but “he was on his own and had to travel ahead of the team and the team didn’t make it to the finals.” (They lost in the quarterfinals to Sweden.)

“This time they are in the Olympic Village and cooking breakfast and lunch,” said Marci Eisen. “They didn’t expect to have any extra time but they’ve been able to see some events and have a lot of fun. (Brett) said the athletes are very down-to-earth and so appreciative.”

Both Eisen and Sacks have been working with athletes for many years. In 2015, Eisen took a job as sports performance chef for the Sacramento Kings, and last year founded a wellness and nutrition consulting business called Fuel Good Consulting.

Marci Eisen said her son and Sacks plan to spend a few days after the Olympics to do some sightseeing and visit friends in Seoul.  

Stack this up

The Jewish Federation of Southern Illinois will pay tribute to Ida Stack during a fundraising dinner benefiting Camp Ben Frankel on Sunday, March 11. This will be the 60th anniversary of when Stack began her 44-year association with the camp, as a counselor, song leader, program director and director of cultural arts. 

The Jewish Federation of Southern Illinois will also establish an Ida Stack Ruach Scholarship.

Stack, who passed away in 2010, was a member of Congregation Shaare Emeth faculty for 52 years. She also was director of “The Young at Heart” choral group of the Jewish Center for Aged for 40 years, a co-director of the St. Louis Yiddish Theatre for 20 years and taught Yiddish and Hebrew at the Adult Jewish Education Institute for 30 years. Among her many honors, she was a recipient of the Hadassah National Leadership Award in 1990 and was recognized as the 1999 Woman of Valor by the Jewish Federation of St. Louis.

The dinner will be held at the Cheshire Inn. For more information, contact the Jewish Federation of Southern Illinois, Southeastern Missouri and Western Kentucky at 618-235-1614.


Calling all poetry lovers

Also on Sunday, March 11, Nusach Hari B’nai Zion’s Sisterhood and Israel Committee are hosting Jane Medved, poet and editor at The Ilanot Review, who will read from her latest poetry collection, “Deep Calls to the Deep” (New River Press, $17). The collection speaks to the practice of writing poetry and life in today’s Israel.

A native of Chicago, Medved has lived in Jerusalem for the past 25 years, where she currently teaches poetry at the WriteSpace Jerusalem studio.

A complimentary book signing and wine and cheese reception will follow the 4 p.m. poetry reading at NHBZ, 650 N. Price Road. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, call Chani Smason at 314-303-0703.