Posts from March 2013

The Kellermans and Passover

Posted by Carole Stuart on March 25, 2013 | (0) Comments

With Passover approaching I was thinking about the remarkable Kellermans and how much coincidence affects the direction of our lives.

Some years ago a young man, very self-confident, came to our office that was then on Fifth Avenue and 20th Street in Manhattan.  He wanted a job. There was no job. But he was insistent that he could be an important part of the still young Barricade Books.  His name was Sam Kellerman.

Sam was quite a fellow. With all of his youthful confidence he talked himself into a job. And Lyle took him under his wing.  Sam was given the sort of tasks that interns and new hires are given – whatever needed to be done, he did.  He was eager and very smart.  He also did copyediting on various books.

Sam told us about his family.  He was one of four sons of Henry and Linda and grew up on Fifth Avenue in Greenwich Village.  The four brothers, Sam, Max, Harry and Jack were all quite remarkable. All talented, and very close.
While not particularly observant Jews, they celebrated Jewish holidays Like Chanukah and Passover, and every summer they all went to Yiddish camp where they learned the language.  

Henry is fluent in Yiddish and appeared in Yiddish theater as a young man. His performance archive is housed at the National Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, MA, as well as at YIVO in New York City and will be available at DOROT, the Yiddish/Jewish division of the New York Public Library.

As Passover was approaching, Sam invited us to their family Seder. Knowing that Lyle was an atheist, Sam nevertheless was persistent. “This is not a regular Seder. It is a Seder with interesting people who will be sharing their stories. There will be more stimulating stories than ritual.  Promise.”

We accepted.

Sam described the Seder as secular, not religious. The focus would be on universal themes derived from the Passover story.  He promised this would be fast, with good conversation and good food.
We arrived and the table was set for the Passover meal. On each plate was a Haggadah.  I learned later that it was the personal Haggadah written by Henry Kellerman.

I picked one up and flipped through the pages.  A lot of pages.  “Hmmm” I thought, “this is going to be a long night.”

And it was. And it was very special. The guests around the table were, as promised, fascinating people and the conversation was lively.  

The night of that Seder we met Henry Kellerman, a psychoanalyst, the head of the family and his wife Linda, a talented artist. 

We also met the other Kellerman sons: Max, Jack, and Harry.  They are all accomplished in their fields of endeavor.  Max has a popular radio show In Los Angeles, “Max and Marcellus” on ESPN radio covering sports and everything else. Harry is a screenwriter, actor, director whose first script will soon be produced and he’ll be directing it.  Jack has his own company and writes, edits and produces videos for TV streaming and other venues and is straddling his business with the movie industry.  They all live in and around Los Angeles.

Dear Sam, who set in motion this scenario, died tragically, as a young man.

The world of publishing is a small world but has a certain allure.  Once you say you are a publisher, everyone has a book they are writing.

And so it was that Sam’s father, Henry, was not only a respected psychoanalyst, he was a writer of professional books. Henry also had a talent for popular writing and now you know where this is going.  

We became friends and have been publishing some of Henry’s books – two are non-fiction: “Hollywood Movies On the Couch: A Psychoanalyst Examines 15 Famous Films” and “Greedy, Cowardly and Weak, Hollywood’s Jewish Stereotypes.”  The most recent is a novel, a psychological thriller, “The Making of Ghosts” with a psychologist as the main character. 


So, here’s my advice: If you receive an invitation to a Seder…at the home of a new friend…go. You never know who you’ll meet or what will happen. 


Happy Passover.


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