Friday, September 02, 2016


Portrait of Rabbi Jacob Pressman by the children at The Pressman Academy, Los Angeles

You may remember, last month I wrote about the estate sale at the late Rabbi and Mrs. Pressman's condo in Beverly Hills. I mentioned that I really liked a colorful painting of Rabbi Jack. I didn't buy the painting, but I posted a photo of it on my blog. A mutual friend of Judy Pressman's (daughter of Jack and Marjorie) tagged Judy on Facebook so that she would see my blog post about the sale and my mini-tribute to her parents. Rabbi Jack and Margie really were one of the power couples of Beverly Hills during my youth. I knew Judy in school, she's a year older, but we were never really friends, just acquaintances.  
Margie and Jack Pressman

Judy commented on my blog post: "Very special to read what you wrote. I'm glad you got some things that are meaningful. By the way, that "colorful portrait" was a work of art done by the children from Pressman Academy ... I thought someone from the family had said they would take that - I hope it goes to someone it will mean something to. Take care, Judy Pressman" 
I replied:
"Thanks so much for your comments, Judy. I'm so sorry for your loss. My sincere condolences to you and your family. You may want to ask your brother, Danny about that portrait of your Dad by the children at the Pressman Academy. If the estate sale people still have it, it would look great hanging in the hallway at the school! Best, Ellen B"
I contacted the estate sale people, Dan and Danna at Again L.A. Estate Sales  to ask if the portrait was still there. Dan let me know that he thought it was. The buyout company would be unloading all of the unsold items on Tuesday at noon. Dan suggested I go to the condo just before that time and pick up the portrait.
I drove over to Lasky Drive in the morning. I saw a big truck parking in front. I followed the guys into the lobby of the building and was met by the guard. The guys in the truck were at the building to deliver something to another unit. The guard remembered me from the estate sale the previous weekend. I told him why I was there. He let me know that Dan Pressman, Jack's and Margie's oldest son, and their grandaughter, Aviva, were in the unit right now, going through the items that had not sold at the sale. He let me go upstairs and talk to them.
I identified myself to Danny. He and my brother had gone to Hebrew School at Temple Beth Am together, DECADES ago, but Dan remembered Ken. I let him know that his sister, Judy had commented on my blog. He'd heard from Judy about the painting. Dan and Aviva were both rushed and had so many things to do. When I offered to take the painting off their hands and return it to the Pressman Academy, they were delighted.
Research time! I looked up The Pressman Academy online and went through their staff list. I found e-mails for the Principal of the school, Erica Rothblum and also for the Art Teacher, Hanna Keynan. I sent an e-mail and attached a photo of the portrait of Rabbi Pressman expressing my interest in returning the portrait to the Academy as a friend of the Pressman family. A few days later, Hanna Keynan replied and said they would be delighted to have the portrait for their school.
I did a bit more research and found out that Hanna won the Jewish Educator Award for 2015, presented by the Milken Family Foundation! Wow! I'm so impressed and glad that I contacted her.
Hanna Keynan, accepting the Jewish Educator of the Year Award, 2015, Milken Family Foundation photo.

This morning, I dropped off the painting at The Pressman Academy. The school was buzzing with teachers in meetings, people getting ready for the beginning of the school year. It was wonderful to meet Hanna and talk to her a bit about her method for making the portrait. I love her aesthetic of using bright colors and studying art masters to inspire her students. Here is a quote from Hanna, after winning the Educator Award in 2015, "I chose teaching because it inspires me. The students inspire me every day. The work of famous artists is used to inspire the students; Matisse, for instance, is studied and emulated by second graders, whereas Keith Haring is the artist of choice for seventh graders." An art exhibit is mounted by Hanna of her students' work every May at the Academy. 
Artwork by Hanna's Students at Pressman Academy
I found Hanna's Facebook page and "borrowed" a few photographs of her students' work. She seems to be a wonderful and engaging instructor! 
A mitzvah was performed today! Shabbat Shalom!
Today, September 2, 2016 at The Pressman Academy. Instructor, Hanna Keynan

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At 2:17 PM PDT, Blogger ken bloom said...

This is a wonderful thing you did Ell. Most people wouldn't have taken the time or trouble to see this through. It's great that the painting now has a home in the bet place it could live. Mozel Tov!!!

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