TORONTO — The Anne and Max Tanenbaum Community Hebrew Academy of Toronto’s class of 2002 recently celebrated its 10-year high school reunion in a bittersweet way.
More than 80 graduates (out of 242), plus their spouses, gathered at TanenbaumCHAT’s Wilmington campus on Nov. 15 to shmooze with friends and support a fundraising effort in memory of a former classmate.
Heather Guttman, CHAT’s campaign and alumni associate, along with reunion co-chairs Noah Zatzman and Rachel Albert, decided that the event should honour TanenbaumCHAT graduate Darryl Odes, who lost his life to cancer in 2008.
“Rachel, Heather and I decided that donating a shulchan [Torah reading table] to the new chapel [to be built shortly, along with a new addition] on behalf of our grade would be the most meaningful way to remember Darryl,” Zatzman said.
“CHAT also reached out to the Odes family, who were touched to hear about the idea and were quite supportive.”
Zatzman said he and Albert decided to co-chair the reunion because their years at TanenbaumCHAT were “a definitive time” in their lives. “The lessons learned over the four years, both in and out of class, are still applicable in my life today, 10 years later.”
Albert said it was important for her to help plan the event because she wanted to give back to the place and people who supported her during tough times.
“In high school, I was dealing with my mother’s illness and her eventual passing, and I was completely overwhelmed by the love I was shown by my classmates and teachers. The CHAT family took care of me.”
Zatzman said the event was a huge success.
“Organizing the reunion was so special for me, because it was a way to thank and support the school that taught me so very much, and not just academic. The fact that we have lost a classmate in the last 10 years put things into perspective for all of us. Don’t sweat the small stuff.”
While many grads could not attend the reunion because they are living abroad (some have made aliyah to Israel), they still supported the cause, Zatzman said.
Three laptops were set up at the party for friends to Skype with people who were absent.
Zatzman said even though the building’s structure changed dramatically during his high school years, the energy and spirit that defined his CHAT experience “was still there throughout.”