B’nai Mitzvah of Kyra and Jaron Polinsky – The Celebration

My nephew Craig Polinsky and his lovely wife Tara are both medical doctors with a practice in Deerfield Beach, FL. The Pandemic caused the postponement of their daughter Kyra’s Bat Mitzvah three times and she was at risk of missing a major milestone in her life.




On March 14, 2021, Kyra was joined by her younger brother Jaron in a B’nai Mitzvah and was rewarded for her patience and understanding with a wonderful celebration. Their parents organized what I believe to be an excellent hybrid model for all families planning major events this year.


Tara and Craig produced a safe and responsible party that strictly followed all protocols and would have made Dr. Fauci proud and happy. Prior to the gathering, participants were vaccinated or tested to prevent a spread.


The forty to fifty guests who attended wore masks a lot and were seated safe distances from each other. Guests who could not attend participated through video streaming links.


It helped too that Tara and Craig put together a fabulous bash that was fun as well as safe. The Conrad Hotel in the heart of Fort Lauderdale was a great choice and platform. The supportive staff did a terrific job of hosting us too.



The hotel’s pool and sun deck on the sixth floor offered a pretty and compact setting for the ceremony and serving of appetizers. The bar poured drinks while food was ladled out on the green turf area. The location was spectacular and the architecture exceptional.


The columns around the pool reminded my son Sasha of the Colossus of Rhodes.



Picture of Fort Lauderdale Beach Boulevard North.



Picture of Ford Lauderdale Beach Boulevard South.



Kyra and Jaron stood at the Habima with the Rabbi and the Atlantic Ocean behind them, a truly spectacular background.



Craig and Tara joined their children at the Habima while the Rabbi accompanied the reading of a prayer by singing and playing guitar.



My son Sasha, the man with black and white mask, waits by the bar for a drink to celebrate the great job performed by his younger cousins.



Appetizers were served in the green turf area.




The reception moved inside to the grand ballroom for a delicious sit-down dinner, extraordinary family and event video, and entertainment and dancing provided by a DJ.



A photographer recorded all key moments for the Polinsky family gathering.



Carrie and Clint Mason.



My son Sasha is sitting with my niece Carrie Polinsky Mason, his first cousin. Clint Mason, her husband and the handiest man I know, is pictured standing. The four of us, seated about six feet apart, safely enjoyed this perfectly planned party. In the following photo, JKP stands for Jaron and Kyra Polinsky.



Kyra and Jaron delivered their reception speeches that thanked their guests for sharing this special moment with them. It was our pleasure.



Kyra and Jaron slice their nifty B’nai Mitzvah cakes.



Lisa, the hotel’s event planner who worked with Tara and Craig to produce this perfect party, recommended that the event close with everyone visiting a pop-up store full of

family and event branded items. It proved to be another smart idea – capping the night with selections of memorabilia.


The B’nai Mitzvah of Kyra and Jaron Polinsky celebrated family and life and I am proud and honored to have been part of this special moment in time. I hope I live long enough to witness the birth of their children, the twelfth generation. With God’s blessing.




For more information about the Heller Family in America, please access the following three links:


The B’nai Mitzvah of Kyra and Jaron Polinsky - Tradition





It is a Jewish tradition to Bar Mitzvah boys at age thirteen and Bat Mitzvah girls at age twelve to thirteen. Due to the Pandemic, young Kyra Polinsky was facing her fourteenth birthday on March 14, 2021. For her, sadly, the window was closing and it was almost now or never.


Fortunately, her younger brother Jaron was nearing thirteen so parents Tara and Craig combined them into a B’nai Mitzvah and invited family and friends to safely join them.


Essentially, the religion initiates a boy or girl into the faith as a young man or woman with the ceremony. They are now ready to observe religious precepts and eligible to take part in public worship. For example, a minyan of ten adults is needed to say Kaddish, the prayer for the dead.



Tara and Craig carried on in the spirit of this tradition.



Craig expressed in the invitation that the 1.5 million children who perished in the Holocaust did not have an opportunity to celebrate Bar or Bat Mitzvah. The Covid 19 Pandemic pushed the date back for Kyra three times in hope of a vaccine and a safer attendance for family members and friends.


Craig shared a poem Kyra wrote for her Posnack School class that honored the memory of the 1.5 million children that perished in the Holocaust. The poem is particularly meaningful to me because of my support for AM Yisrael Chai’s (Sandy Springs, GA) annual Daffodil Dash in Atlanta that raises money to plant 1.5 million bulbs for each departed child’s memory.


My Wave Goodbye

In honor of the 1.5 million children that were lost in the Holocaust: I played a game with all my friends.

We also colored with our crayons and pens.


I found school very fun.

My teacher said school happened to be ending soon, but it felt like it had just begun.


When I got home, I heard a loud knocking at the door. These tall and bulky men came in and started to explore.


I did not know what went on.

Next thing I knew, my father and brother were both gone.


I felt upset at the time.

But, my mom told me to go to my room because it happened to be bedtime.


Eventually, I ended up in the concentration camps without my mother. I missed my family like no other.


I did not like this place.

I always felt hungry, tired, and lacked personal space.


I constantly thought of going home, back to my normal life. Sometimes, I wondered how my brother could fight this strife.


I looked in a mirror and unhappily stated; “Oh, I am so thin.” I saw my bones right through my skin.


I thought I would never escape from this terrible place.

The Nazis took me to the gas chambers with fear in my face.


At the time, I knew so little about what might happen or where I would be going. I was headed to the showers where the nasty gas would be flowing.


When I closed my eyes, I saw my parents staring back at me. For once, I felt free.


Then I started to cry. I waved bye-bye.


This web page is a natural extension of the three consecutive web pages that documented our family’s American experience from 1738 through today. The B’nai Mitzvah brought together the Heller - Polinsky family lines and recognized the two generations following Arnold Heller and Bobbie Heller Polinsky, the children of Hoyt Bernie Heller and Jeanne Bernstein Heller Polinsky. For more information, please access www.arnoldheller.org/ travel-writing/arnold-heller-and-bobbie-heller-polinsky’s-genealogy/ and the two related, following pages.


My son Sasha Bart Heller and I attended the blessed event. This picture was taken in Aspen, Colorado, in 2019.



Sue Auerbach Heller is Sasha’s mother, my late wife, and the Great Aunt of Jaron and Kyra Polinsky.

image image


Jaron and Kyra Polinsky are the children of Craig and Tara Polinsky. Craig is the second son of Bobbie Heller Polinsky and Arnold Polinsky. Brett Polinsky and Carrie Polinsky Mason are the first and third of Bobbie and Arnie’s children.




Picture of Drs. Craig and Tara Polinsky.



Bobbie is pictured with eldest child Brett Polinsky of Hoboken, NJ.



Bobbie and husband Arnold Polinsky.



My hope for Kyra and Jaron was to give them the gift of memory through provision of special items that have a rich history or backstory. The items are associated with the Heller – Polinsky family, both living and departed; in this case, their Great Aunt Sue.


This web page’s aim was to capture my Great Niece and Nephew’s special event in detail, and provide a history of the B’nai Mitzvah that focused on the two generations in America following Arnold Heller and Bobbie Heller Polinsky. This family reunion of sorts is a continuation of a family line stretching back 283 years to Philadelphia in 1738, covering eleven generations.


Bobbie Heller Polinsky and Arnold Heller are the ninth generation of Hellers; Brett, Craig, and Carrie Polinsky and Sasha Heller are the tenth; Kyra and Jaron the eleventh.





Jaron loves baseball so my two gifts were a memorable baseball and t-shirt. I am a proud graduate of Weequahic High School in Newark, NJ. My fellow alumni are also very proud and have formed the largest association of graduates in the country.


I participated in several Weequahic alumni events and to show their appreciation, the director awarded me a baseball signed by Hank Aaron. He estimated the value three years ago at over $400 and which may have possibly increased since Mr. Aaron’s recent death.


In 1976, the association enlisted then Yankee manager Yogi Berra to sign and auction off baseballs to fund college scholarships for lower income minority youth. Yogi recruited another Hall of Fame slugger, Hammering Hank Aaron, to join him in helping ten students become the first in their families to attend college.



Jaron’s Great Aunt Sue Auerbach Heller and her mother Roz Auerbach loved to fly to New York for a weekend to see relatives and take in Broadway shows. In October 2000, Sue and Rozzie were returning home to Atlanta and in Newark Airport headed to their departure gate.


The Mets had just won the National League pennant and vendors began hanging celebratory t-shirts promoting the upcoming subway series between the Mets and Yankees. Brooklyn born Sue knew that this shirt was special and bought one for me. I was thrilled to receive it and even happier to pass this twenty-one-year-old garment on to Jaron who has already been to a Mets World Series game.




The late Northside School of the Arts Director Billy Densmore and I led a performing arts student exchange to Russia and Ukraine where I developed an appreciation for the country’s traditional and native arts. For more information, please access www.arnold- heller.org/social-science/northside-high-school-of-the-arts-soviet-youth-visa-exchange- december-22-1989-january-6-1990.


The following year, Billy obtained a $17,000 grant from Anne Cox Chambers to reciprocate for our Russian hosts. Sue, Sash and I put up three of the Moscow Aviation Institute students, Victor, Vladimir, and Vassily. We affectionately called them the three

V’s and they brought us many beautiful gifts – huge, expensive art books and numerous traditional arts and crafts such as decorative boxes and trays.


Vladimir told me that the Soviet government ruthlessly enforced a harsh Russification program on the country’s 180 ethnic groups. A monstrous assimilation process forbade religious expression and banned traditional arts such as producing icons and richly painted boxes.


The Soviets crushed the people’s spirit and devastated their cultures. With little worth living for, the people became senseless drunks.



The Soviet government soon realized the error of their ways and began reforming the situation in the mid-1970’s. The result, according to Vladimir, was a dramatic improvement in the people’s lives.


Russia became a more normal country after the collapse of Soviet communism in 1991. By 2000 there were many wealthy Russians who greatly valued traditional arts and prices exploded. The boxes are constructed by gluing together many layers of a special paper, then drying, painting, and lacquering to produce a beautiful work of art.


The ring has a rich history too and is Kyra’s connection to her Great Aunt Sue; the subway series shirt is Jaron’s.


Sue’s father Herman Auerbach was the youngest of five children; his older sister Janet was always getting her mischievous younger brother out of trouble.



Janet was a woman ahead of her time. She graduated from business school in 1920 and headed to Wall St. for a job. A financial titan who did not like Jews hired her as his executive secretary. Janet could not let him know her religion so she never took off work for the High Holy Days, Passover, or Hannukah.


But the boss liked Janet very much, thought she was smart and able and paid her extremely well for a woman a century ago. Janet married but was never able to have children. When Herman married Roz and my brother-in-law Marc and late wife Sue were born, Janet lavished her love and affection on them.

Especially Sue who became her quasi-daughter. When Sue turned twelve, Janet gave her two diamond rings that she had purchased in 1925. I am happy to give one ring to Kyra and hope that the ninety-six-year-old antique generates a warm remembrance.


The other ring is reserved for Marc’s granddaughter Tallulah Lu Bolstad and will be presented to Lu on her achieving Bat Mitzvah. That is a wonderful event for another web page in the continuing sage of the Heller – Polinsky – Auerbach family lines.


Kyra was Bat Mitzvah’d on her fourteenth birthday. Jaron will be thirteen in June. Three important vocabulary terms are provided to understand and appreciate the service Kyra and Jaron performed.




Many loved ones have passed on and their memories are a blessing for all of us. Tara’s father is the late Dr. Kenneth Levine and his wonderful spirit was lovingly described by his brother. My father, mother, and wife are part of this list of departed relatives.



In Loving Memory of

Dr. Kenneth A.Levine Z"L,





Betty Polinsky Z"L Ruby Polinsky Z"L

Dr. Kenneth Kurtzman Z"L Donna Kur zman Z"L Jeanne Heller Z"L Bernai;d Heller Z" L


Paula Poli sk'¥ Z"L Irving Sackin Z"L Els·e Sackin Z"L


Ann Levine Z"L Sidney I5 vine Z"L Susie Heller Z"L Jean Heller Z"L Ralph Heller Z"L Ivan Heller Z"L




Bar and Bat Mitzvah, the coming of age, is celebrated with the gift of a tallit to honor the day and ritual.






This concludes Part 1 of the 11th Generation of Hellers in America: B’nai Mitzvah of Kyra and Jaron Polinsky. Please click here to continue to Part 2, the celebration of the blessed event.

Sarasota, Florida, is a city of 53,326 located south of Tampa on Florida’s Coast. File source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sarasota_Bay_and_waterfront,_Sarasota,_Florida_(2003).jpg

This attractive and relatively affluent city was once the winter home of the Ringling Brothers Circus which recently ceased performing after 146 years. For its size, Sarasota hosts an amazing number of cultural institutes; the Ringling Brothers Museum which showcases old masters and modern art; also an opera house, symphony hall, and numerous theaters and performing arts venues. The Bay front is a major magnet for locals and tourists.

I spent a week in the Sarasota area exploring the city and bay front with good friend Dr. Warren Melamed who enjoys spending part of each winter in the area. The below three pictures are the entrance to the bay front, the marina and grounds, and photographer Robert Capa’s famous 1945 VE Day picture of the sailor kissing his girlfriend which was captured in a fifteen foot high statue.

Nik Wallenda on high wire walking across Bayfront Drive.

Boating is very popular in Florida and the Sarasota area thus requiring application and enforcement of regulations and appropriate behavior.

I was particularly impressed by Walt’s Fish Market Restaurant and Tiki Bar which was established in 1918. John Ringling was a great force in the building of Sarasota but others like Walt Wallin, the first owner, played major roles too.

Some of Walt’s most popular items are the Mullet and Blue Crab Salad and fresh shrimp.

In conclusion, I am partial to cities that invest heavily in public art, a sign that the people believe that their home is so special that want to beautify it even more – Sarasota is such a place. Two particular statues that caught my eye are The Duffer (Royal St. Andrews, the Father of Golf) and the Butterfly Lady.

In retrospect, I ask myself why it took me so long to finally visit this lovely city and area.

I have always loved the beach and Longboat and Siesta keys are two of the prettiest that I have ever visited - both are located in the Sarasota area.

Longboat Key is one of three barrier islands (Anna Marie Island to the north, Lido Key to the south) and joined together by bridges and causeways.  Siesta Key, south of Lido Key, is accessed from Bee Ridge Road or Clark Road.

Beach Place is one of many attractive condominium complexes on the island located between Sarasota Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.  The island’s resorts accommodate a broad range of family budgets.

Longboat Key beach is fairly long, very pretty, and relatively quiet.  In January of 2017, I and a few other people daily had the beach all to ourselves. 


The sea breezes make walking the beach very comfortable and enjoyable

One of the great pleasures of the west coast of Florida is the sunsets. 

Each afternoon we took in the gorgeous sunsets with a glass of wine, various fish spreads and shrimp and crackers – nice.

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St. Armand’s Circle is where the people of Longboat Key often go to shop, eat, drink or listen to music.  The many smart looking shops sell everything from basics to exotic gifts, the restaurants are varied and quite good, and the area is also the cultural hub of the island. John Ringling commissioned seven statues – The Seven Virtues of Sarasota – that are placed in the circle or other parts of the island.

The weekend of Jan. 27 – 28, 2017 featured the most upscale and attractive arts and crafts festival that I have ever been too.  Highly desirable paintings, sculpture, jewelry, crafts and some furniture were for sale and at high prices too.  These two cat sculptures caught my eye though I apologize to the artist whose name I do not remember and for taking the picture – private photos are not encouraged by the vendors. 

Siesta Key

Siesta Key is the deepest beach that I have ever witnessed - it is also pretty and has friendly people and some good seafood restaurants.

Observe the width and white sands of this extraordinary beach.

My friend Dr. Warren Melamed fell in love with the area five years ago and has returned to Longboat each winter.  We spent the week eating and drinking our way across Sarasota and environs.  From the smiles on our faces, it’s apparent that we enjoyed ourselves immensely.

Perhaps my greatest pleasure in life is traveling and in recent years making web pages of the places I visited.  If you are interested, please access my other web pages on Oregon and Washington State road trips; also St. Simons and Jekyll Island, Georgia and Iceland and South Africa – the latter two are described through the Five Themes of Geography format.  I promise many more travel pages before I leave this planet. 

Last year, my friend Patty Morrison and I spent four days in mid-October 2015 at the King & Prince Hotel on St. Simons Island – see St Simons Island, Georgia, a Love Story.. We enjoyed ourselves so much we decided to return Oct. 14 – 18, 2016 to our special place in southeastern Georgia.

We were also worried about destruction caused by Hurricane Matthew’s winds and storm surge and luckily found less damage than we expected.

The Torras Causeway cuts across five miles of marsh and rivers. Our first site of storm damage was to the island’s famous marshes.

Much of the marsh grass was flooded and under water, or simply uprooted. The marsh is resilient and the grass will eventually return.

One of the island’s iconic structures is the Lighthouse which the week before was engulfed in three feet of water caused by a six to nine foot storm surge. I saw a video of the seawater rising up and waves rolling by the lighthouse. The Arnold Road video showed three feet of water rolling around the King & Prince Hotel and standing in front of the beloved Crab Trap and Crabdaddy’s restaurants.

The storm surge rose well above the below sea wall and water filled the Village, the island’s main commercial center. The tide pictured is higher than normal due to a historical annual high tide during mid-October.

Gould’s Inlet adjacent to the East Beach is noted for the tides and currents that constantly change the sandbars that appear at low tide. Two virtual rectangular super sandbars now appear at low tide with new sandbars rising from the sea in front of the King & Prince.

The celebrated and miles long East Beach is accessible by foot from Gould’s Inlet. The wooden stairway was partially washed away and must be rebuilt.

The East Beach Road marsh is one of the thickest and most dramatic of all the island’s beautiful marshes – one can see new streams carved out by Matthew’s winds and surges.

Access to the East Beach area and Coast Guard Station was currently limited due to ongoing repair work in the area – electric wires fell and power lines were being rebuilt.

This picture provides a closer look at the mitigation efforts by Emergency Response Teams that got the island up and working in less than a week.

St. Simons Island is noted for its vast tree cover of live oaks that an arborist might value in the billions of dollars. Although the tree cover did take a serious hit, it is safe to conclude that the island’s green treasure survived in fairly good shape.

Two massive live oaks on Butler Street (above picture) survived despite losing a lot of branches and perhaps half of its leaves.

My friend John Allen, an islander, assessed that the live oaks came through alright but a lot of water oaks split or toppled.

Above tree fell on house, below tree uprooted but held up by adjacent tree.

Many residences suffered water seepage as exhibited below in ruined carpet and plastic bags full of damaged home goods.

I captured a live oak, located ironically on Oak Street, that survived the storm fairly intact but with serious loss of small branches and leaves.

I often accompany John Allen during my visits while he walks his dog Daisy around the Village. Mallery Park is probably both Daisy’s and my favorite stop during the tour – have always been in awe of the stately live oaks that grace the park. I was both happy that this distinguished congregation of oaks came through okay but suffered a measure of disfiguration.

The King & Prince Hotel combines a fabulous ocean-front location with a spacious, comfortable facility and staffed by attentive, capable people. Our ocean view suite is at far right of picture.

The suite is fully furnished with daily maid service.

The view from our second floor terrace captured new sandbars appearing at low tide.

In contrast, I took a picture of the ocean at high tide. Coincidentally, an annual mid-October event, a historic high tide, occurred a week after a historic storm surge.

Below, a post-card from St. Simons, is a glorious sunset that I captured our last night.

Patty requested that I try to photograph the moon over St. Simons too – gave it a good effort.

This is an appropriate place to say ‘that’s all folks’. There’s a good chance there will be a St. Simon’s III in 2017.