Judith Rabinowitz (Wise), 1952-54, Upper School
When my mother died in ‘52, my aunt knew the Kreiners and suggested to my father that he send me to Manumit because my grand mother could not keep up with caring for me. I came in October and my sister Penny came briefly in January of ‘53 and stayed for about a month. I was 13 when I arrived and was four inches taller and two years older when I left, smoking and cursing and filled through the years with wonderful and difficult memories of my experiences at Manumit. I felt my own uniqueness there in
a positive way and was nurtured to be creative. I wrote there and painted and acted and sang and discovered modern literature and classical Music as well as Rhythm and Blues. When I left Manumit, my father urging me to return to a now reconstituted family and a country location, I was fully equipped to be considered either brilliant or a pseudo intellectual nerd in my now provincial high school. I knew that I had lost vital support of the best parts of myself and my development. I continued contact with Manumiters, Joan Slocum was my bridesmaid when married at 23, and I went to college with Judy Van Wicklen at Hunter and was taken under her lively and lovely wing. I was in touch with Bunny Rotker and then went on to occasionally run into others along the way.I went to Hunter College, then to Columbia School of Social Work, married, became a stay- at- home mom and then returned to work and finally went back to school to become a psychoanalyst/psychotherapist. I now have a private practice in Manhattan and Brooklyn, teach and supervise and occasionally write and present workshops in my field. My husband, who is a retired psychologist, and I travel in the summer and am very involved with my kids and grandchildren.. They all live in New York City and I often cook Sunday dinner for all of us. We also have a house in Berkshire County in Mass. and escape to garden. tag sale, and partake of the rich cultural scene there. My latest passion has been finding and getting in touch with Manumiters who are providing a wealth of joy in shared memories and stories of their lives. It has been sad to learn of loses and sad times, and to be reminded of the less pleasant aspects of those turbulent adolescent awakenings and misadventures, Above all, Manumit was lost to all of us with no place to return to. We are now finding a common room, at times, in the Cedar Tavern to touch base and reminisce. I thank Aulay for his brilliance in reaching out and putting together this web page which is yet another common room and urge everyone to share here and to keep in touch. I once wrote a story about Manumit for a creative writing class in college and my teacher, a somewhat conservative preacher’s daughter from the South, and a gentlewoman, asked me if it was a reform school. It contained elements of fighting in the dinning room, temper outbursts and bullying, but these did not strike me as so aberrant when I wrote it. I called it “When the Evil Days Come Not”, a biblical quote referring to youth and at least my teacher got the quote. The title contained all the ironies of Manumit experiences for me, their attempt to nurture us, to give us freedom, to see us as more innocent than we were and to try to protect us from the social, political and psychological evils that could befall us. Bless them all. It was one of the best experiences of my life.
Christmas & Hannukkah 2005- Memories of Manumit.
It is the Christmas Party at Manumit and there is a large tree and we are dressed up and there are guests and returned alumni. Ben sings “I’ve got a cousin from Milwakee” and “With her Head Tucked Underneath her Arm”.( Ann Boylen) and he and Magda do a dance that is possibly a two step and they look so sophisticated and elegant. Billy tells a story…memory is not clear here,but it may be The Night before Xmas or a ghost story or both. We do a version of the Farmer in the Dell and even dance a Hora, both in huge circles and including everyone who wants to participate and many do. There is close dancing and girls lindying together. One of the Alphas does a mean lindy with an upperclassman and, till it ends, it seems just perfect and glamorous and full of good cheer……there are other further parties of sneak drinking and whatever, but they are somewhere else……and a Jewish girl from Queens thinks that this is what Christmas should be….”We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year……….to quote the song which the Weavers sing and it includes Shalom……”Why can’t we have Christmas the whole year around…….. With affectionate and probably flawed memories…..Judy R. Nee Wise