School will bid farewell to Grazman


Saying goodbye is never easy, but the Saul Mirowitz Day School-Reform Jewish Academy will temper any tears with plenty of laughter at its annual fundraising event on April 29.

Rabbi and comedian Bob Alper will be the featured entertainment as SMDS-RJA bids farewell to retiring head of school Marsha Grazman during its annual spring fundraiser, which will be held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Clayton on Sunday, April 29 from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Alper, who refers to himself as “the only practicing clergyman doing stand-up comedy…intentionally,” has built up a sizeable following performing on a circuit of synagogues and Jewish organizations’ events, as well as comedy clubs in the United States and England. Alper received his ordination from the Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, and he earned a doctoral degree from the Princeton Theological Seminary. Alper served congregations for 14 years, and began his comedy career in 1986 after he entered the “Jewish Comic of the Year Contest” at the Going Bananas club in Philadelphia. Since then, Alper has become a seasoned comedian, making numerous television appearances, including spots on Good Morning America, Showtime, the BBC and CNN. Arlene Stiffman, who chaired the event’s planning committee, said this is the third year that SMDS has brought in an entertainment performance for the event. The school previously brought in the Capitol Steps and Forbidden Broadway.

“We wanted the event to be fun, and we thought people probably didn’t need another speaker,” Stiffman said.

However, entertainment aside, the school’s fundraiser will focus attention on Grazman, who has been head of school since it was founded seven years ago.

“We started out with eight students,” Grazman said, noting that enrollment is now at 86.

The school will recognize Grazman with the Melvin Dubinsky Visionary Award.

“Founding a school, and actually being the founding director of a school is a very hard thing to do, because nothing is established,” Stiffman said. “From curriculum to the reputation, to all of the hiring, Marsha did it all and put the school on a great footing.”

In addition, the school will honor Randy and Nancy Green with the I.E. Millstone Community Service Award.

Randy Green is senior vice president of wealth management and financial advisor at Smith Barney, as well as serving on the board of the Jewish Federation and Congregation Shaare Emeth.

Nancy Green, who holds a bachelor of fine arts, has been very involved with COCA, and currently serves on the organization’s advisory committee.

“They’re wonderful community leaders,” Grazman said about the couple. “They’re involved with the Jewish Federation, with the Crown Grant program for synagogues to try new programs, with their congregation and here at the school. They’re involved all over the place.”

“They’re just those kinds of people who are deeply involved in the community, and put forth a lot of time and effort.”

Grazman said that she is looking forward to the gala, and has heard a few hints from kids at the school that they are planning something special for the gala.

“I hear there may be a few surprises in store for me,” she said.

Even though this will be Grazman’s last fundraising gala as head of school, “It won’t be my last gala,” she said. “I’m sure I’ll be back to ones in the future.”

Tickets for the event, which will feature a heavy hors-d’oeuvres dinner and cocktails and a dessert and coffee reception after the show, are available for $150 per person. For more information, call SMDS-RJA at 314-569-2692.