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We Remember Bel Kaufman (1911-2014)

Granddaughter of Sholem Aleichem was 103 Years Old

Bella "Bel" Kaufman died on July 25 at the age of 103. A living link to literary history, she was the granddaughter of Yiddish writer Sholem Aleichem, whose stories about Tevye the milkman led to the creation in 1964 of the classic musical, Fiddler on the Roof.

Bel also made her own history as the author of Up the Down Staircase, the story of a woman teacher’s experience with the New York City public school system. Published in 1965, it was a bestseller and became a 1967 film with Sandy Dennis in the starring role.

Back in 2011, CUNY TV producer Sara Porath was graced with the assignment of getting Bel's observations about turning 100. Sara was accompanied by Despina Teodorescu-Maris, at the time the young co-host of Study with the Best. Captured at that time and preserved forever is an exchange between Kaufman and Teodorescu-Maris that is a touching example of a wise senior inspiring a young lady at the beginning of her adult life.

When you watch the Bel Kaufman segment above, we think you'll agree it was a pleasure to know her!