2016-11-09 / Local News

Amazing 89-year-old creates challah plates for Shabbos Project


AGE: 89


FAMILY: Daughter Mindy Rosen and her husband Larry; Daughter Jerri Pinsky and her husband Bob; 5 grandchildren, 4 great-grandchildren

FAVORITE PLACE TO BE: “Wherever my family is.”

FAVORITE ARTIST: Mordechai Rosenstein

The fact that Dorothy Klein had never done ceramics in her long and active life didn’t stop her for a minute. That’s because this amazing lady with the wonderful smile won’t let age become a barrier to anything— including learning.

“I like to try new things,” Dorothy explained on a recent afternoon at the Weston Club, where she seems to know everybody—and everybody knows her.

The occasion was an art show and sale, and at 89, Dorothy Klein was delighted to be showing her wares. Many visitors paused at her magnificent plates and decorative items, delighting in the artistry.

What they might never have guessed was that these pieces, so elegantly and gracefully made, had come from a potter who basically had touched clay for the first time this year. It was like Helen Keller finding her voice.

So extraordinarily gifted was Dorothy that even the instructor, Pam Kohler, has been awed.

A native Philadelphian who had helped her late husband in his business and raised two dynamic daughters, Mindy Rosen and Jerri Pinsky, was no slouch when it came to the arts. She had done handwork like knitting, crocheting and sewing, and also was one of those dynamos who was immersed in her synagogue back in Overbrook Park in Philadelphia, manager of its gift shop, and deeply involved in the PTA at Akiba Academy (now Barrack).

So when Dorothy Klein walked into that first ceramics class, she was on her way to a new challenge, and being on the verge of 90 wasn’t going to stop her. Instead, it energized her.

She immediately took to the tools of the trade, including a rolling pin that had known her nimble hands in a culinary context.

“I found that I could just lose myself in the clay, and it was somehow very easy for me to catch on.”

That would be an understatement indeed. Over the last weeks, Klein has taken her newfound skill to a level so ambitious that the management at the Weston Club actually extended her time privileges in the ceramics room. What she has undertaken was to provide challah plates, created by her own hands, for the honorees of the Shabbos Project, a worldwide celebration of Shabbos to be held in Southern New Jersey Nov. 10 (Women’s Challah Bake at Temple Emanuel) and Nov. 12 (An Evening of Music, Havdallah and Dinner at the Katz JCC). For more information call (856) 673- 2542.

Daughter Mindy, one of the local chairs, was delighted when her mother decided to create the challah plates to be presented to nine local honorees to mark their community commitment. Mind you, each plate typically takes a minimum of four weeks to make.

While the plates are similar, each one has something that sets it apart, from the texture to some bearing garlands of border flowers.

Dorothy’s greatest joy, she will tell you, is not selling her pieces; it is giving them away. “I want other people to have them and enjoy them,” she insists, and you know instantly that she means it. s

Return to top