Bernice Mossafer Rind is familiar to the Seattle-area Jewish community for her commitment to many causes. Her interests in higher education and politics have led her to leadership roles in the American Friends of Hebrew University ' she founded our state chapter and is a member of the international board ' Hadassah and the Women's Division of the Jewish Federation, as well as committee work at the University of Washington's schools of music and medicine.
Bernice is also devoted to the arts, which is evident in her philanthropic work, including 30 years of involvement in Seattle Symphony.
Her dedication comes from her own musical virtuosity. She grew up in a large Seattle Sephardic family, one in which all the girls were studying piano or violin.
'I was second youngest,' she explained to me by phone from her home, 'so [my mother] thought perhaps I should have something else. One of my aunts [knew] someone who became a harp teacher so my mother invited her over to check me out. I was able immediately to play a few chords.'
Rind soon surpassed her teacher's abilities and made her professional debut with the Los Angeles Symphony at age 11. She performed regularly, mostly in California, traveling back and forth with her mom. There were few performance opportunities in Seattle then, she recalls, noting that the current music scene didn't develop until around 30 years ago.
'I used to tell people 'the problem is there aren't enough Jews or Italians'' to support the arts,' she says.
After a year in public high school, Rind entered the UW, earning a degree in music composition with a pre-med minor. She continued her studies at Cornish School for the Arts, USC and UCLA.
'All along I composed. I felt that the harp repertoire was limited, so I began composing.'
In 1996 Bernice and her late husband, Martin, endowed a scholarship at the UW School of Music for harp or composition. Because of this, 'harp has had a renaissance here,' says school director and professor of music, Robin McCabe, an award-winning Juilliard graduate who tells me Bernice has been an encouraging presence in her life since she was a teenager. About six students now study harp with professor Pamela Vokolek.
'She's a great friend of the school,' adds McCabe, 'and an inspirational model for all of us who also know her as a mother and wife.'
When the Rinds had their four children, Bernice turned her focus to family, although she still plays recitals and composes as time permits.
Rind is a lifelong member of Temple De Hirsch Sinai and Congregation Ezra Bessaroth. When she is not volunteering, performing or composing, she continues her interest in classic cars which she and Marty began collecting when they were young marrieds.
'He did the mechanical part and I did the cosmetics,' says Bernice, who admits that her current favorite is a 1931 Nash Victoria convertible with less than 25,000 miles on it. (May I say, 'wow!'?)
One little-known fact I uncovered is that Marty, who was also an active and dedicated volunteer in our community, was a champion equestrian before he and Bernice were married.
'I think he was the only Jewish person involved in the non-professional horse field,' observes Bernice. 'When we got married and were expecting our first baby, he didn't feel he could afford the horse and the baby, so he gave the horse to a friend who showed him and took marvelous care of him.'
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B'nai B'rith Youth Organization's new Seattle city director, Jane Rutstein, was born and raised in Seattle and attended the Jewish Day and Bush Schools. She went to Tufts, where she studied philosophy, and returned home in June, scouting for something to do.
'I am very excited to be working with youth. I wanted to do something in that realm,' she told me from her office at the Stroum Jewish Community Center.
The Seattle-area BBYO has four chapters: two for boys (a.k.a. AZA) and two for girls (BBG). There is a small chapter in Tacoma, too. The organization develops leadership skills and Jewish identity.
'The kids do everything,' explains Rutstein. 'They have a structured hierarchy with a president and different roles at the regional and city levels. They run their own meetings, plan their events' with the help of advisors, mostly former BBYOers in their mid-20s.
Jane takes the place of David Basior (profiled here a year ago) who recently went to learn at the Pardes Institute in Israel.
When she's not supervising weekly meetings at the J, she is working to develop links between her chapters and other Jewish youth groups. She is also creating a newsletter about Jewish teen life in Seattle.
In her free time, Jane likes to write and paint. In high school she was the coxswain for the Mt. Baker rowing team and she 'coxed' one year in college. Her parents are Nancy and Harry Rutstein of Seattle and the family belongs to Temple B'nai Torah.
For information about BBYO you can call Jane, or regional director Matt Lemchen at 232-7115, ext. 257 or ext. 241.
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Carolyn (Puddin) Cox (profiled here last October) is working hard developing her avocation in acting. (In her day job she's a social worker.) She's just landed a role in the Vagina Monologues, which opens at the Historic Everett Theater on Oct. 7. You go, Puddin!