Merle Rothenberg Saferstein

Merle Rothenberg Saferstein, a 1963 graduate of Cleveland Heights High School, will return to the area from her North Miami Beach home this weekend with her husband, Daryl, her high school sweetheart, for their 50-year class reunion.

Saferstein will speak about her first book, “Room 732,” at 7 p.m. Monday, June 24, at Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple, 23737 Fairmount Blvd. in Beachwood.

In a telephone interview from her home in South Florida, where she and Daryl have lived since 1972, Saferstein said her book is a collection of short stories based on the history of the Hollywood Beach Hotel in Hollywood Beach, Fla.

“Each story reflects the culture of the times,” she said.

The book, which she self-published in December, is dedicated to her mother, Ruth Rothenberg, who taught Hebrew school at B’nai Jeshurun Congregation, first in Cleveland Heights and later in Pepper Pike, for 40 years.

“My mom was an avid reader,” Saferstein said. “She was always interested in my writing. Probably the hardest thing about this whole experience was not having her to share it with.”

Ruth Rothenberg died in January 2012, but Saferstein still has a lot of family in the Cleveland area, so she comes back to visit every few months.

Saferstein, 68, grew up in Cleveland Heights and attended B’nai Jeshurun, then popularly known as Temple on the Heights.

“Judaism was very important in our home,” she said. “My mom was an observant Jew, and she taught us well.”

Saferstein, who taught Sabbath school at B’nai Jeshurun from 1968 to 1970, worked as an educator for more than 40 years. She retired in December 2011 after 26 years as director of educational outreach at the Holocaust Documentation and Education Center in Hollywood, Fla.

A prolific journal writer, Saferstein facilitates writing workshops that help others preserve and pass along their legacy.

“Legacy work is a huge focus for me right now,” she said. “I’ve been teaching an eight-week course at my synagogue, Living and Leaving Your Legacy, to help people find meaning in their life.”

Saferstein and Daryl, who celebrated their 46th anniversary June 11, are members of Temple Sinai of North Dade, a Reform congregation in North Miami Beach, Fla. They have two adult children and two granddaughters.

Saferstein’s talk is open to the public. Call 216-464-1330.

HONORING PETS: Cantor Diane Yomtov and Rabbi Steven Denker will lead the second annual Simchat Chayot (celebration of animals) service at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, June 22, at Temple Emanu El, 4545 Brainard Road in Orange.

Yomtov brought this special liturgy to Temple Emanu El, reflecting her love and gratitude for the blessings she has received as a pet owner.

Bring lawn chairs or blankets for the outdoor service, along with pet food, blankets or newspapers to be donated to Geauga Humane Society’s Rescue Village. If you can’t bring your pet, bring a picture or a stuffed animal instead.

A carrier or leash is required for all pets. Prizes will be awarded, and refreshments will be served.

For more information, call Yomtov at 216-454-1215.

NEW OFFICERS: Gerald Strom was recently elected to a two-year term as president of Temple Israel Ner Tamid in Mayfield Heights.

Also elected were vice presidents Jordan Levy (administration), Judy Aplis (development), Mark Friedman (membership) and Allan Miner (religious practice); treasurer Steve Newman; secretary Linda McMullen and member-at-large Craig Appell.

New board members are Bill Droe and Antoninette Summers, both elected to three-year terms.

ewittenberg@cjn.org

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