Character Assassination is Not Just Reserved for Politicians…it Just Hit My Dad

I have to say, I feel very lucky to have two amazing parents who have inspired me to become who I am today. Unfortunately, today I watched as some very hurtful people maligned my dad’s character and realized that while he’s never run for public office, I got a taste for what horrible people do in order to get elected.

This weekend, I wrote a letter that I was hoping my dad would share with members of the community he lives in where he was running for an unpaid board position. He didn’t do it and honestly, even if he did, I don’t think they would have cared. So instead, I’m sharing it with here so you know how amazing my dad is and how proud I am of everything he has done in his life. If you have ever met my dad and are lucky enough to become his friend, you’ll understand why.

To the Members of the St. Andrews Homeowners Community,

In light of a recent email that was circulated around the St. Andrews community by individuals who clearly do not know my father, I decided it was time to tell you what kind of person he is is by sharing some personal information I think you all should know about. Perhaps from this letter, you will be able to truly assess what a kind-hearted, hard-working, financially responsible and trustworthy individual Neil Stoller is and hopefully, when you vote today you will do so without being manipulated by someone’s malicious online web search.

My dad is truly one of a kind. From an early age, he was a performer – entertaining crowds starting at age three with his rendition of “Don’t Fence Me In.” From there, while he had a passion for theater, he also loved sports and in junior high, he played basketball on a team named “The Comets” with fashion icon Ralph Lauren! Although back in those days, Lauren was better known as Ralphie Lifschitz. Incidentally, my dad’s nickname was Butch.

As he grew up, dad auditioned for the High School of Performing arts and made it! And while his dream was to become a professional actor, Dad came of age when heartthrobs like James Dean were all the rage. And so, rather than move to Hollywood or try his hand auditioning for a Broadway show, Dad attended City College, worked in his aunt and uncle’s bakery in Brooklyn and eventually decided to become an educator after he married my mom (his childhood sweetheart) when they both graduated in 1962.

By the time my brother and I came along, Dad’s favorite sport was tennis – he played regularly on weekends and then encouraged both of us to take lessons too. While he was a bit of a tough coach, Dad actually was a great motivator and in high school, I even won a few trophies as a doubles player for my tennis team. My only downfall was that every time Dad watched one of my games, I usually choked and lost the match.

While my parents bought a home in the Poconos so we could escape the humidity and concrete jungles of Brooklyn, Dad used to work summers to bring in extra money. During the year, I remember that he worked by day as a special education supervisor and then he’d make extra cash selling roofs for Edelstein & Sons. I also recall when my mom was attending graduate school, Dad would serve us TV dinners – which he fondly referred to as “radio dinners” – giving us permission to watch our favorite television shows in the den while munching on fried chicken.

Despite his busy schedule, my father always did what he loved. From tennis, to performing in community theater, to taking us to the Amish Country, Gettysburg, Washington DC and eventually Israel, Greece and Italy too, Dad has always made the things he loves an important part of his life.

While he constantly worked hard to support our family, my father was also a dedicated public servant. He served as the president of the Paerdegat Civic Association located in Brooklyn, NY where he looked out for the hundreds of families who lived in our community. While working at the Board of Education, my father was one of the original volunteers for the Special Olympics – dedicating his time to handicapped and mentally disabled children.

Throughout his career, my father was a motivating force for children with special needs as a teacher and special education supervisor. He retired after becoming a school principal and then proceeded to work as a principal in a religious school for a few more years.

My parents covered the costs of my college and graduate school education, paid for my wedding and assisted with a downpayment on our home in Westchester. They did the same for my brother who now lives in Florida. Despite the fact that they both worked in the New York City Board of Education, my parents were able to afford homes in Southampton and Florida – the ideal locations to enjoy retirement and a relaxing life.

When I worked as a publicist at CBS, I used to take Dad with me to the CMA Awards so that he could enjoy the performances and help me out on the red carpet. One of my favorite memories was when Dad took on the glorified role as water boy – racing around the red carpet offering bottled water to Brad Paisley, Faith Hill and Tim McGraw, among many other country music artists. My friends in Nashville loved seeing my dad every year and when he wrote them a song called “The Jewish Cowboy,” he pretty much became an honorary member of the Country Music Association.

Today, while my dad has been retired from the Board of Education for more than 20 years, he pursues his passions even more. He plays tennis and golf several times a week, he’s taken tap dancing lessons with my mom – and even made the cover of the Southampton Press since he was the only man among the group of Senior hoofers. Dad also performs every year in the Palm Isle Players sold out theatrical production in Boynton Beach Florida and leaves Southampton every October so that he can make it back in time for rehearsals. Dad has also applied his love of history, coupled with his incredible gift of gab when he was a docent at a museum in Stonybrook, NY. He is also the author of the children’s book Grandpa Fix-It.

All I can say is I am so lucky to have been raised by a man who truly loves everything that life has to offer. You too would be lucky if you elect him to serve as a board member for the St. Andrews Homeowners Community.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


Beth Feldman

My New Year’s Predictions for 2012

iStock_000017115651XSmall.jpgWhile I’m not a psychic, I do know a little bit about entertainment, trends, moms, politics (well not really) and tweens. So here’s my top 10 predictions for 2012 – see if you agree.
1. Ryan Seacrest will be named co-host of Live with Kelly. It’s inevitable – he just has to sell his mansion and figure out how he’s going to host “American Idol” from L.A. but Ryan Seacrest is totally Big Apple bound. Besides, “Live with Ryan and Kelly” has a way better ring to it than “Live with Kelly and Andy.”
2. Pinterest is poised to become the hottest new site in 2012. Forget Foursquare and Stumble Upon. Now that you can create a bulletin board with videos, links, photos and more, Pinterest has the ability to attract all ages and drive traffic to websites and blogs in an organic way.
3. Goodbye Nate and Oprah, hello Katie and Ricki. Looking forward to seeing the daytime talk shows that will be hitting the airwaves next Fall. My money is on Ricki since new moms, tween moms and moms to be can relate to her realism. And I love that she nearly grabbed the mirror ball trophy this year on “Dancing with the Stars.” Go Ricki and welcome back to talk!
4. The Road to the Presidency – my gut tells me that Mitt Romney will get the nod and his running mate could be Chris Christie. Either way, I don’t think that’ll be a strong enough match for the Obama camp. While the economy has yet to rebound, the health care situation is still a bit of a mess and he doesn’t have the support of Congress, he did find Osama Bin Laden and finally get rid of him; he captured Moammar Khadafi and got rid of him too and finally started bringing troops home. Rome wasn’t built in a day, but at least we’re headed in the right direction.
5. The Rise of the Ezine – Sure, I have a personal interest in this one, but trust me when I tell you, people like to read publications online. I happen to live for my New York Post and People Magazine apps so here’s hoping that Project You Magazine becomes an app in the New Year and reaches millions of parents worldwide! Incidentally, I’m also loving the brand new Editions App from AOL where you select the sections you want to read and a magazine miraculous is created just for you.
6. Another Trash TV Reality Star will Emerge – While I don’t know who it is just yet, I’m sure that 2012 will launch the career of another talentless person who doesn’t deserve the spotlight but will get it due to their awful behavior. Will they come from MTV, Bravo or TLC? That is the question
7. Meryl Streep will win another Oscar. Put Meryl Streep in a movie about Margaret Thatcher and trust me when I tell you, she will win the Academy Award for best actress this year. Here’s hoping that Octavia Spencer nabs the supporting actress category for “The Help,” but my money on the top prize is Streep. And best movie…I say “The Help” but something tells me it’ll be something I haven’t actually seen in theaters.
8. Young Adult Books will surpass traditional best sellers First there was “Harry Potter,” then there was “Twilight” and then came the “Hunger Games.” And now, I’ve seen a commercial for a new book geared towards tweens and teens written by James Patterson. Who needs the boomers or GenXers when you’ve got socially savvy kids who are actually reading a lot! Thank goodness for little things.
9. Mediterranean Cuisine is the New It Food – Now that we know that fish, olive oil, hummus and other delicacies from the mediterranean are good for us, look for plenty more Greek restaurants to pop up in your area. We went to one restaurant that actually delivers! So long Chinese, you’ve been replaced by Greek food!
10. Apple will come out with a new iPad, a bigger MacBook Air and yet another iPhone: The year would not be complete without me buying the previous year’s model of an Apple product only to find out the latest version is available in the New Year.

If You Can’t Stand the Heat…

Sheesh. It’s funny, I’ve been blogging at Working Mother for the last nine months and have hardly gotten a response to my posts. That is until today. I decided to take on a dicey topic. Politics. And I got slammed. Slammed by Republicans, by older women who have been there, done that; slammed by women whose husbands have served in the military, and pretty much made to feel like if I don’t know my facts about the candidates, then I should just shut my pie hole.
Here’s the deal-io my fine, well-educated feminist friends on both sides of the Republican and Democratic fence. Most Americans don’t know the nitty gritty facts about all the candidates and their stance on all the issues affecting Americans. Plain and simple, many of us vote with our emotions. We make our decisions after watching negative ads or seeing news reports about a candidate’s latest indiscretion. Sadly, we vote like we’re selecting an American Idol contestant. And that is the cold hearted truth. Sure there are some who research all the issues and make an informed decision after they’ve weighed the pros and cons, but when it comes to the current political climate, we’ve just turned up the heat to broil.
Women are saying we should support Sarah Palin just because she’s a woman and if we say petty or jealous things, then we should be ashamed of ourselves. I truly don’t believe I’m jealous of Sarah Palin or being petty for that matter. What I do know is while I respect the things she’s accomplished in her political career, I don’t believe in her stance on issues that affect women. Just because she’s a part of my team, I still don’t feel compelled to support her. Others say we should support Barack Obama because he represents change. And while he has motivated millions with his incredible oratorical skills, conservatives maintain that he has yet to singlehandedly pass a bill or law since taking office. Republicans say we should vote for John McCain because he’s a war hero and will protect us from terrorists at all costs by keeping us in Iraq for 100 years. And Democrats say we should support an Obama/Biden ticket, because Joe Biden is a really decent guy who has tons of foreign policy experience and will finally get our troops out of Iraq.
I guess since I’m sharing my opinions for the world to see I’m fair game for those who think I’m a petty, heartless shrew who shouldn’t be throwing my two cents into an election process I know nothing about. And if I make a joke about a candidate, watch out, I’m going to be lynched by an angry mob of humorless political die-hards.
Here’s what I know about what I want from whomever is elected to office. I don’t want to see anymore friends lose their jobs. I don’t want to ever lose another dear friend to a terrorist attack. I want our environment to be safe for our children. I want my daughter to pursue whatever she wants in her life free of guilt that she’s neglecting her own kids in the process. I want to see cures for cancer, Alzheimer’s and heart disease in my lifetime and I want people to stop being so damn mean on the Internet when others share their honest opinions. Maybe I’m a culprit too and for that, I apologize for being so heartless with my choice of words. Honestly, I write things to be funny and if it seems insensitive, then I’m sorry I offended you, your political candidate and the entire female gender.
Now I’m off to find out more about Ron Paul.