#4: How a 14 Year Old Schoolgirl Brought the Beatles to America Two Months before the Ed Sullivan Show

Beatles1

I couldn’t resist writing this fun post about something that happened 51 years ago today.

Most people think that America discovered the Beatles on their debut on the Ed Sullivan Show (see it here). But did you ever wonder how they achieved that much noise on their first visit?

The story really goes back earlier – to a report filed by Alexander Kendrick, CBS News’ correspondent in London, where Beatlemania had already erupted. You can watch the original story here, called “Beatle-land”. He talked about juveniles who fainted when the tickets run out and used fancy descriptions: “Besides being merely the latest objects of adolescent adulation and culturally the modern manifestation of compulsive tribal singing and dancing, the Beatles are said by sociologists to have a deeper meaning. Some say they are the authentic voice of the proletariat…” Watch the 5-minute report, especially the interview with Ringo, Paul, George and John.

The story was scheduled to be aired on Walter Cronkite’s CBS Evening News on November 22, 1963, but President Kennedy was murdered that morning, and America went into shock and depression.

It was only two and a half weeks later, on December 10, that Cronkite decided the nation was ready for anything lighter, so the Beatle-Land story was shown.

James and Albert
Carroll James with Marsha Albert (1984)

Enter Marsha Albert, a 14-year-old schoolgirl from Silver Spring, Maryland. She called up her local disc jockey at WWDC radio, Carroll James, and asked him to play a Beatles song. He obtained a record (remember those?) from someone traveling from England.

And so he played “I Want to Hold Your Hand” exactly 51 years ago today, on Tuesday, December 17, 1963. And Marsha Albert got the honor of introducing it on the radio (hear it here).

And that’s how Beatlemania began in the U.S.  The song hit Number 1 weeks before the triumph on the Ed Sullivan Show on February 9, 1964.

References:

#3: Yossi Vardi and the Denmark High School

Yossi-Vardi-Bob-Rosenschein1

People know Yossi Vardi as an Israeli high tech leader, for his role in the creation of instant messaging, for being an advisor to the CEO’s of AOL and Amazon.com, for his involvement in Israeli peace negotiations, and even his funny TED talk. Fewer people know that Vardi contributed to Sergey Brin and Larry Page the idea for Google AdWords, no less (see Auletta p. 90, Vise, p. 99).

My own involvement with him began back in 1998, when he gifted me the concept that became GuruNet and later Answers.com. He was also one of our first investors and always a generous connector.

Yossi has always been interested in education and helping underprivileged kids. He told me a story once about the remarkable Bialik-Rogozin School project in Tel Aviv, about which the Academy-Award winning “Strangers No More” documentary was filmed. It serves kids from dozens of countries, most of them immigrants, many of them refugees, teaching them Hebrew and integrating them into Israel.

Following the unimaginable Dolphinarium suicide bomber attack on June 1, 2001, and coinciding with world leaders like Bill Clinton visiting Israel that year to celebrate Shimon Peres’ 80th birthday, Yossi decided to take the Google founders to visit the school and inspire and cheer up the students. Now, Mikhail Gorbachev heard about this and wanted to come along, too. So did Shimon Peres! So, imagine if you will, Yossi Vardi, Sergey Brin, Larry Page, Mikhail Gorbachev and Shimon Peres descending on a high school in Tel Aviv.  Gorbechev asked if he can address the students in Russian, which many of the kids and most of the teachers (and Sergey) spoke. He said, “Even though you have left Russia, I can only salute the special role of the Jewish people in opening up our country to democracy.” Imagine the tears in the eyes of those present upon hearing these words. When Page and Brin spoke, Yossi had the kids all stand up and shout at the top of their lungs “WE LOVE GOOGLE!

After our successful exit with Answers.com in 2011, Yossi suggested I get involved in some of his projects. I attended a graduation ceremony at Bialik Rogozin in June of that year, when Karen Tal was principal. I shot this very short video clip of kids from a dozen countries singing “My Favorite Things” in Tel Aviv in Hebrew.

Yossi-Vardi-Bob-Rosenschein1
with Yossi at Denmark School

Yossi later got me involved as a volunteer at the Denmark School in Jerusalem, where Yonat Kaufman is principal and has done amazing things to breathe new life into a school once known mostly for its tough neighborhood.

When I received the invitation to attend the dedication of the new school library last week, I was not sure if I could make it. I’m pretty busy in my own startup getting ready to launch the next version of Curiyo. Fortunately, I made the time.

The library was being dedicated in honor of Heinz and Ruth Galinski, about whom I knew nothing. There were a few speeches, and students singing Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” and John Lennon’s “Imagine”.

Yonat Kaufmann
Yonat Kaufmann

But the highlight for me was a simple, moving speech by Christian Lange, member of the German Bundestag and Parliamentary State Secretary at the Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection. He was kind enough afterwards to share his remarks:

“Ladies and Gentlemen,

I was delighted when Nathan Gelbart, Chair of Keren Hayesod in Germany, asked me if I would like to open the Heinz and Ruth Galinski Library, in my capacity as Parliamentary State Secretary, here at Denmark High School today.

Christian Lange
Christian Lange

While I have visited Israel on very many occasions as a member of the German Bundestag, being invited to open this library is a very special honor for me as a German parliamentarian.

Heinz Galinski was born on the 28th of November 1912 in Marienburg, West Prussia (now Malbork in Poland). This man stands – like no other – for the revival of Jewish life in Germany after the Shoah.

I would like to say a few words on Heinz Galinski himself.
Heinz Galinski was born into a “classic” German family. His father was a merchant and fought in the First World War. In 1933, Heinz completed his apprenticeship to become a salesman in the textile industry.

After the National Socialists took power, the family set off for Berlin. They believed that anti-Semitism would not be as bad in a major city as it was in Marienburg.

And so, in 1938, Heinz Galinski moved to number 31/32 Schönhauser Allee in the Berlin district of Prenzlauer Berg, which today is marked by a commemorative plaque dedicated to his memory.

After being forced into slave labor in 1940, Galinski was deported by the Nazis to Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in 1943, together with his wife and mother. Later on, he was sent to perform slave labor at I. G. Farben in Auschwitz-Monowitz. His wife and mother were murdered at Auschwitz.

In January 1945, Heinz Galinski was evacuated to Mittelbau concentration camp and, when Mittelbau was evacuated, removed to Bergen-Belsen. Heinz Galinski was liberated from the concentration camp at Bergen-Belsen by British troops in mid-April 1945.
The fact alone that Galinski decided to stay in Germany in order to rebuild Jewish life—despite this terrible fate and despite such brutal experiences—shows just how strong he must have been.

From April 1949 until his death on 19th of July 1992, Heinz Galinski was Chairman of the Jewish Community of Berlin—German’s largest Jewish community organization.
Furthermore, from 1954 to 1963 and from 1988 to 1992, he was President of the Central Council of Jews in Germany.

As you know, Galinski rebuilt Jewish life in Germany, and he did this even in the face of great resistance on the part of Jewish communities around the world. His second wife, Ruth Galinski, whom I had the honor of meeting in Berlin, told me that this was a matter very close to his heart. Otherwise, the Nazis would have achieved their goal after all: a Germany free of Jews.

As a member of the German Bundestag, I feel a great sense of humility when I think of Heinz Galinski’s life, of his courage, of this resolve—without which there would not be a single Jewish community in Germany today.

Heinz Galinski was the voice of Jewish life in Germany after 1945. Moreover, people listened to him. His opinion was well regarded. He was greatly respected and was recognized as a man of high standing in German political circles.

When Heinz Galinski recognized injustice, he opened his mouth: “I did not survive Auschwitz to keep quiet in the face of new injustice”. This was his guiding principle.
In 1987, Heinz Galinski was granted honorary citizenship of the City of Berlin. And, when he died in 1992, thousands of Berliners gathered on the streets as his casket made its way from the Jewish Community Center in Fasanenstraße to the Jewish Cemetery in Heerstraße.

Heinz Galinski believed in a new Germany – even after surviving a letter-bomb attack in 1975, and despite needing round-the-clock personal security. We should also not forget that in 1998 his grave was the target of two bomb attacks which resulted in the almost complete destruction of his gravestone.

Ladies and gentlemen, today, Germany is once again a place where Rabbis are trained. We have Jewish kindergartens, Jewish schools, Jewish faculties, Jewish university groups – there is even a Working Group of Jewish Social Democrats in my party.

Today, several thousand Israelis live in Berlin, where they play an important role in the city’s social and cultural life and in industry.

I am sure that Heinz Galinski would have been very pleased with the way things have turned out.

Heinz-Galinski
Heinz Galinski (1912-1992)

However, despite these positive developments, we should not forget that even today centers of Jewish life – from kindergartens to synagogues – require police protection. We should not accept this as the norm. Instead we must remain active in the fight against all forms of anti-Semitism. We are highly indebted to people such as Heinz Galinski on this front as well.

Heinz Galinski was a passionate Zionist. So was his wife Ruth. They were both regular visitors to Israel, which is why I am delighted that the Heinz and Ruth Galinski library is being opened here today.

I hope that your pupils will take great pleasure in using this library, and I hope they will learn who Heinz Galinski: a great Jewish German, to whom we all owe a great deal.”


Today is Yom HaShoah. Seven decades ago last week, my father ז״ל and mother were expelled from their homes to an unimaginable place in Poland known as Auschwitz. Sixty-nine years ago last week, on Sunday, April 15, 1945, my mother was liberated by British soldiers from the infamous Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany. She lost so many family members that the names don’t fit into the scant five minutes for the Yizkor prayer in synagogue. She is now the last surviving member of her family who remembers their names and faces.

May their memories, and especially the memories of our grandparents, Shaindel & Samuel Bleier and Rivka & Yehoshua Rosenschein, be honored today, as well as a new generation rebuilding Jewish life and Israel — and our friends around the world.

#2: +5 = 5K

MedalThe doctor said walk, walk and walk some more. It reduces stress, waistlines, and LDL. So today,  just five months after my recent heart problems, I ran — well, walked — in the Jerusalem Marathon. Well, maybe just 5 km, but with the walk to and from the Knesset, it was almost 13 km (8 mi). And I received a medal, just like the one Diane always asks me about (“So you want a medal?”)

A lot of credit goes to Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, who is keeping his promise to bring young people back to the city. Besides the vibrant growing Jerusalem startup scene, including our own Curiyo, there are more and more parks, concerts, the new Cinema City, and great cultural activities.

19 HaRav BerlinThe weather was ideal and the walk back and forth was as refreshing as the official route. It was nostalgic walking through varied Jerusalem neighborhoods. I walked past the apartment that I shared with three other Hebrew University 1-year students at 19 Rav Berlin Street. It was here that we heard the sirens go off on Yom Kippur 1973. Many memories from junior year.

Monastery of the crossThe way there was through the Valley of the Cross, named for the Monastery of the Cross built there in the 11th Century. According to legend, it is the site of the tree used to make Christianity’s most famous cross. Two centuries ago, it was the only building in the area, in the countryside near Jerusalem. In 1948, it was a grass airplane landing strip, the only way in or out of besieged Jewish Jerusalem. Today thousands of cars drive by every day, hardly noticing the amazing monastery standing there. BTW the man walking the dog in the picture is my friend Shmuel Browns. We worked together twenty years ago; in fact, he was the first guy to drag me over to see a new program called Mosaic (the first browser) on a NeXT computer.

Monastery doorI have walked around that entire building on foot, and until today never found a door. Realize that during medieval times, too many doors or windows could be hazardous to your health. Well, today, I found it. It’s about 4 feet tall, hidden on the side. I loved the sign beside it, which says in handwritten letters: “Holy Cross Monastery, Entrance Ticket 15 NIS, Holy Place, Coffee, Soft Drinks”, and diagrams indicating no dogs or short pants.

The starting line of the Marathon was crowded (27,000) and energized. Loud music playing. Tons of young people ready to go and anxious to run.

Jerusalem Marathon 2014 starting lineThese four pictures are: (1) observers cheering the runners on the side — the signs say “We’re proud of you” “You can do it”, (2) my friend Sasson, who came to watch his son Barak, (3) three pretty friends walking together and (4) a Hungarian couple sent from their church in Budapest to support Israel.

Group1

Here is a picture of me crossing the finish line — hmmm… I just realized that some of the digits on my sign show two important numbers: 5 and 60. But the picture on the right is much more important. There was a group of maybe twenty or thirty children in wheelchairs being pushed in the Marathon — just inspirational!

Finish line  Wheelchair

The walk home was just as much fun — lots of people on the side of the Yerushalayim streets cheering Kol HaKavod (“way to go!”) I bumped into my good friend Jon Medved, OurCrowd CEO and Curiyo investor and board member (pictured here with granddaughter Hadas). And here’s Rafi, our green-grocer, who made my day by telling me he hasn’t smoked a cigarette in seven days.

Bob with Jon Medved Rafi and BobOne last word for technology — I walked with RunKeeper on my smartphone, and it was interesting to track the routes, calories, distances, and Jerusalem elevations of the walk there, the 5K, and walk back.

IMG_3241 IMG_3242 IMG_3243

IMG_3244 IMG_3245 IMG_3246

Tired, blistered and sore feet, but exhilirated after 16,900 steps, wishing you shabbat shalom שבת שלום, wherever you are!

 

 

#1: Surviving a heart attack

To all of you who sent get-well wishes, thank you from the bottom of my repaired heart!

Upon turning 60 in June, I remember morbidly if briefly wondering to myself whether I was entering the final ⅓, ¼, ⅕ or maybe tenth of my life. Little did I imagine that October 10, 2013, might be my last day.

Logically, most of us conscientiously avoid the thought of what might really happen tomorrow. Without some healthy denial, we’d never make it through the day — or go crazy first. So I’d like to share with you a very personal view of my recent crisis. It’s neither unique nor sad, but one from which I’ve learned to treasure both breathing and loved ones. I’ll leave out the gore and TMI parts, concentrating on what ran through my head and heart.

The Choice

I had come to NY representing Curiyo for a great 3-day Israel to NYC program. We were a 15-startup delegation, meeting with business partners, marketers, and investors, and an event Wednesday evening at the new WTC. Afterward, by Thursday 7:30AM morning, I checked out and ran off to the first two of six meetings before heading to JFK and home to Israel.

But I started feeling strong pains in the middle of my chest.

Now here was the moment of truth. Should I tough it out, get on the plane and deal with it all upon landing home? Or maybe admit the pain and walk into a NY emergency room.
Choice

What would you do?

In a rare smart moment, I took a cab to Beth Israel Medical Center on First Ave. & 16th. The ER doctor did a simple CPK blood test and EKG and said I had suffered a minor heart attack. A catheterization, however, would determine arterial blockage and treatment options: medication, stent, or surgery.

First, call Diane. Cancel my appointments via smartphone email. Cancel the flight via our great travel agent, Mark Feldman and Esther Salomon at Zion Tours (and extend medical insurance!) Our most amazing friend Martha came over to sit with me before the procedure. I gave her my hotel suitcase receipt and a few key passwords. At a moment like this, you find yourself thinking some pretty morbid thoughts and wondering whom you will ever see again. Will my children know how much I loved them?
Dr-H-R

Thursday evening was the “Cath-Lab”. I was treated by the wonderful Dr. Hugo Rosero. When I was awake enough to understand, he said, “Mr. Rosenschein, you must have done something good in your life, because the Lord has given you a second chance to live! It would have been a big mistake to get on that plane. You have 95% blockage in your main arteries and we need to operate on you tomorrow morning.”

Called Diane again: “The good news is that I’m alive! The bad news is that I need surgery in the morning.”

Birthday

They prepped and wheeled me into the operating room by 8AM. The anesthesiologist introduced himself. That’s all I remember.

But poor Diane, besides her sleepless night and long ride to Ben-Gurion, flew 12 hours with no status report. She’s not usually one of those fliers who turns on her cell phone the second the wheels touch down, but made an exception.

DarrylMHMeanwhile, back on the OR, my lifesaving cardiac surgeon Dr. Darryl Hoffman. “harvested” lengths of artery from both arms, opened up my chest, sawed open my sternum, and grafted arterial material to bypass my blocked arteries. Total time = 7.5 hours.

My new 2nd birthday is October 11, 2013, which is my 60th birthday + exactly 128 (2^7) days.

Diane, Martha, Elan, and Adam saw me asleep at my weakest, respirator down my throat, out of it.

I woke up late Friday night in the cardiac ICU. It was very quiet, and I was pretty sure I was alive. I was in pain and couldn’t breathe well, or even make a squeak. The nurses told me I was ok. Fell back asleep.

ICU

Diane arrived and stayed with Martha for the week. She is my strength, and we didn’t even need to talk much. The looks and hands and love were enough. God knows what I looked like!

The first few days after surgery, you may feel thankful to be alive, but they’re also depressing days. You’re really out of it, tubes, wires, and sensors coming out of you in a half-dozen directions. Swollen feet, hands. Pills, blood pressures, blood tests, stomach shots. Beeping monitors. Hard to fill your lungs. Can’t sit, can’t lie there. Everything hurts, because they just did a “reboot” on your body!

But getting the respirator tube out of my throat was cool, as was the very thought I survived, even if not out of the woods yet.

One morning, I asked the nurses if I could sit in a chair, just to move around, thinking I could move back to the bed when I wanted. Hah, what a mistake! They wouldn’t let me, saying it was good to sit for 30-45 minutes. Clears the lungs of fluids. After 45 minutes, they upped it to 2 hours. By the time the doctor did his rounds and said, sure I could go back to bed, it was 2 hours and 34 minutes…

Of course, they were right, and my care was top-notch, warm and pleasant at Beth Israel. I’m just mentioning how you feel when you’re going through it.

Room 28

BalloonsOn Monday, they released me from ICU to the recuperation ward on the 10th floor, to a single room, perfect #28. A whole new set of great professional care, specialized and working 12-hour shifts.

Hospital privacy BTW is an oxymoron; enough said.

I was hallucinating from the painkiller Percocet. In the middle of one night, on an imaginary screen on the wall, I dreamed a killer product. In the morning, I remember thinking, nah. I also changed painkillers and then weaned myself.

Can’t say I was impressed by the 99 channel-TV. First, the political discourse in America has become so shrill over the last decade. Lots of shouting, minimum compromise. Now, living in Israel, you see much polarization, little empathy. But this is America. The other thing is, at least in the middle of the night, it’s half commercials, with those delightful legalisms, “This medicine may help you, if you do not suffer the following 8 side effects…”

Within a few days, I was tubeless and able to put on my own socks and walk around the ward, assisted. And showered (mulțumesc, Drago from Romania)!

Every day I felt stronger, able to breathe, talk and move around better. And I couldn’t get the realization and smile of being alive off my face!

Dr. Hoffman knew how much better I would be released. Thursday morning, they wanted to give me a flu shot and a pneumonia vaccine. I asked if they could do it right before leaving… I didn’t want anything to prevent my release.

At 11:15, one week to the hour after walking in, I left Beth Israel Hospital, grateful and happy. My cousin Rita and Barry drove Diane and me to Harrisburg. I slept most of the way.

Harrisburg

MomVisiting my dear mother, who is 92, has been a delight. Diane and she are sharing the caretaking burden. We have also been doing a lot of resting, walking around the block (the smell of autumn leaves and rain in Pennsylvania), eating heart-healthy, and just gathering our strength.

We had a pleasant surprise Monday night. Our friend Meir was driving from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia and stopped by for dinner and a visit. What the doctor ordered.
Meir-Bob

I’m told my voice and color have improved. I’m breathing much better. I’ve lost 15 pounds (=6.5kg) and Diane 5 (=2kg). Diane calls this the “high-anxiety diet”.

We’ve had a few visitors and many warm wishes from afar.

Conclusion(s)

That you take it all for granted is obvious, normal, but…
DO take a moment to fill your lungs, relishing each breath.
DO slow down, you move too fast.” (Simon & Garfunkel)
DO NOT think this cannot happen to you, whether now or in 10 years. Our health is a hard-to-fathom complex of genetics and environment. Whether stress, diet, sleep or exercise, improve what you can.
DO grasp that your family and loved ones are not the most important thing, they’re your only thing. Tell them you love them, every day, in word and deed.

Tomorrow

So what’s next? Well, we hope to land in Israel Tuesday afternoon, to start to getting back into our lives at home. I know it will be neither immediate nor 100%, but we are ready.

I’m ready to get back to work at Curiyo, too. First, the team, Akiva, Asher, Daniel, Ruthie, Gil, Jay and Liz, have really risen to the occasion, getting everything that needed to be done done. Second, I’m more excited than ever about the publishing platform we are building. With our first big partnership about to launch, we’re in good shape.

Now you might think that this is not the ideal time to raise money, post heart-attack. But I’m encouraged by what two investors told me recently. One said, “Bob, besides your accomplishments, you were broken and now you’re fixed.” The other said it just wouldn’t be smart-investing to bet against me. Thanks, both, I guess it’s not about falling down, but about how you get up.

In short, I’m excited about tomorrow!

Credits

No matter whom I thank, it won’t be enough, and I’ll miss some, but I need to make a few mentions.

To the team and staff of Beth Israel Medical Center, how do you find the words of gratitude to express keeping you alive?

Thank you to Dov & Julia for your visit, to Meir, Akiva, and Avi & Yedida for your calls. And to Tzvi & Adi for those great get-well-Sabba cards and stickers.

Lee, also Amy, thank you for offering to Diane to drop everything and get on the plane with her!

Pamela & Marshall, thank you for offering to open your home to Diane in NY.

Thank you for the balloons (picture above), Amy & Jonathan. And flowers, Cedar Fund (Curiyo investor) and Answers Corp.

Thank you for the visits, Elan, Adam & Shari, Alan & Steven, Nancy, Shiye, Martin, Dinah, Rita & Barry, Eddie & Sherri, Viv & Haim, Freda, Arthur,  Steve & Enid, Bert & Myrna.

And calls: Mom, Stan, Jeff, Lee, Laurel, Lynn, Michael, Amy & Jonathan, Sasson & Tami, Sigi!, Ari, Sara, Rhea, Koby & Dina, Judi & Shmuel, Tsivie, Volvi & Pesi, Leonard & Deanna, Tsivia, Sam, Steve, Cali, Bruce, Faigie & Norm, Donna & Jacob, Martin & Maris, and Serl. And special encouragement: Motti, Mark, Jon, Michael (your post that week, exaggerated though it be, was a kindness I’ll never forget).

Thank you everyone for your cards, e-mails, Facebook messages, and warm thoughts.

Rita & Barry, thank you for taking the time and care to transport us safely to Pennsylvania and cook us several meals and generally take care of us.

Judy, the baskets were enough, the visit was enough, but driving us back to New York next week is over and above.

Martha, we will never forget your taking care of Diane and me that challenging week, opening your home, your schedule and heart, and being there for us.

Mom, you shouldn’t have to nurse your golden-ager son! But you do it with a unique love that we’ll never forget.

Diane, my brown-eyed girl, there are no words! Let’s grow old together, enjoying our families and friends in nachat and good health. You are simply my life.

Diane-Bobby

 

#0: Hello bobr

 

When Dennis Ritchie invented modern software along with Ken Thompson and wrote the immortal “C Programming Language” book with Brian Kernighan, their first pristine example was a program to display two words: “hello world!”

main() {
    printf(“hello world!”);
}

It struck me as a fun start to my blogging experiment, a 5-year mission to explore new worlds and share insights with you about what should be obvious but isn’t.

A word about the name. I am proud of my last name, Rosenschein, but you must admit that it’s tough to spell, unless you live in Vienna (Austria, not Virginia). In high school, 11 letters didn’t quite fit in the SAT forms. Israelis automatically insert a T after the SH sound, and Americans often leave out the S or C.

So, in a simplify-your-life moment, I bought a great four-letter domain: bobr.com. Now I’m @bobr on Twitter, bobr.tumblr.com, and you might guess my email, too. Call me Bob R. or the Yahoo-esque bobr (rhymes with flickr, tumblr, fluttr). Imagine my surprise when I received this email from one Alexey of Moscow. “You may want to be listed on our research site, the largest in Russia devoted to beavers. As you know, the Russian word for beaver is бобр.” [with the O pronounced like the AW in law, the R trilled as in Spanish – listen here] I declined Alexey’s kind offer, but now there are three ways to pronounce my name, probably more.

So hello to you from bobr and welcome to my blog. By all means please tweet, follow or otherwise share me. I look forward to hearing from you!