"Here you can find 25.5
fascinating facts about the recently departed father of my dear friend Marco Katz Montiel,"
writes Lucas Crawford. "If it weren't enough to meet
Marilyn Monroe, Roberta Flack, and Sartre; have Anna Meara babysit your kid;
star in movies with Al Pacino, Sophia Loren, and Gene Hackman; survive a
plane crash in WWII; get a PhD in Education from Columbia; be the cover image
for the paperback version of the controversial book The Nazarene (as
Jesus!); act in a play directed by Orsen Welles;
AND eat an Alice B. Toklas weed brownie at one of her parties, he moved to
Chengdu at the age of 72, and then to Shanghai, where he mentored many young
people and was an active leader in the local Jewish community."
Lucas Crawford, University of New Brunswick
THE SHANGHAI JEWISH LIGHT “A
Celebration of Jewish Cultural Life and the Living Tradition of Judaism in
Shanghai” Vol. 2 No. 20 Shanghai, China Thursday February 5, 2015
Happy 90th Birthday to Sheldon Katz Dr.
Sheldon F. Katz has been for many years a permanent fixture at the Pudong Jewish Center as well as the Shanghai Jewish
Center and is our beloved, in-house Kohen. Monday February 9, 201 5 will be
Sheldon's 90th birthday (his Jewish birthday was on Tu
B'Shevet). Soft spoken, mild mannered Sheldon is
one of the brightest, kindest, sweetest guys you will ever meet. What some
people may not know is that Sheldon has done more than a few fascinating
things in his colorful life - and those are the ones we know about! See
"25.5 things you may not know about Sheldon Katz" on Page 11
The Shanghai Jewish Light Thursday February 5,
25.5 things you may not know about Sheldon
Katz by his buddy Pinchas Eliyahu
One: Sheldon is a movie star. He starred in
many popular movies from the 1950's to the 1970's. He was Jewish Lucky in the
Academy Award winning film The French Connection (1971) with Gene Hackman.
Sheldon was in the original version of The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974).
He also appeared in The Panic In Needle Park (1 971) with Al Pacino (It was
Pacino’ s second film appearance and Sheldon met Pacino before he became a
superstar). He also starred with Sophia Loren in That Kind of Woman (1959) and
with Martin Balsam and Lee Grant in Middle of the Night (1959).
Two: Sheldon is a television star. He was a
regular on many live 1950's and 1960's television shows like the classic Sid
Caesar's Your Show of Shows. On his first live television appearance Sheldon
actually beat someone to death with a baseball bat - it was a hilarious
comedy sketch and no one actually got hurt. He was also on Studio One, Climax
and the Robert Montgomery Playhouse.
Three: Sheldon once jumped out of a plane.
During World War II he was in the Air Force. Once, as a navigator on a
training mission, the plane suddenly developed mechanical problems and the
crew was forced to quickly jump out. Sheldon was praying to God right up
until the moment his parachute opened up. Later he said he was glad that the
guy who folded the parachutes that morning was sober and did a good job.
Four: Sheldon is still a member of the Screen Actor's Guild, which is the union for actors. However
back in the 50's, 60's and 70's his stage name was Kip Gaylor. He met many
popular stars such as Sidney Lumet, Elizabeth Montgomery, Julie Harris, Tony
Randall and Ira Wallack.
Five: Sheldon was born in Hartford,
Connecticut on Tu B'Shevat
in 1925. He first came to China 18 years ago - when he was 72 years young!
Long before he lived in Shanghai, Sheldon lived in Chengdu. If there is a
Chinese Tony Bennett who sings, “I Left My Heart in Chengdu,” he may be
singing it for Sheldon. When the Pudong Jewish
Community started in the summer of 2006, Sheldon was one of the frequent
early congregants of Rabbi Abraham and Nechamie
Greenberg's Friday night
Six: Sheldon attended New York University and
has a PhD in education from Columbia University. He was an English teacher in
the East Ramapo School District in Rockland County, New York.
Seven: Sheldon took a photograph with starlet
Sophia Loren and her baby. They were on set together and everyone was
instructed not to bother Ms. Loren and her baby – but that didn't stop
Sheldon. He charmed Ms. Loren and asked if he could have his photo taken with
her and her baby and she graciously accommodated his request.
Eight: Sheldon shook hands with starlet
Marilyn Monroe – and since then he hasn't washed his hands.
Nine: Sheldon is a scholar and a poet. He has
written several textbooks on the proper use of English and a few books of
Ten: Sheldon is a vegetarian. He may have
originated the joke, “I'm not a vegetarian because I love animals, I'm
a vegetarian because I hate vegetables!” When he was young Sheldon was
told if he ate carrots he would never need glasses - his brother and sister
took the advice and wear glasses. Sheldon avoided carrots and never needed
Eleven: Sheldon is a regular at Haya's Mediterranean
Cafe. He makes a weekly Sunday
visit and usually orders pumpkin soup, an omelet, a bagel with Haya's special
cheese, lox and olive oil.
Twelve: Sheldon has a son Marco who lives in
Canada and is an accomplished trombonist. He son and his daughter-in-law have
a daughter - making Sheldon a proud grandfather.
Thirteen: Sheldon is the face of JC to
millions of Americans. Sheldon and his wife once spent the entire night in
the hospital with his son Marco, who was extremely ill. In the morning, when
his son was out of danger, the doctor's gave Sheldon the okay to leave. That
day he had a model shoot in which he was scheduled to appear as a soldier.
The photographer took one look at a tired and bedraggled Sheldon and
suggested a different role. Sheldon ended up as JC on the cover of the
classic paperback edition of the controversial novel The Nazarene (1939) by Sholem Asch.
Fourteen: Roberta Flack once sang an entire
concert to Sheldon. After her concert Sheldon went backstage and met Ms.
Flack and told her he knew a secret - that she was singing her songs only to
him! She told him he was one 100% correct - she was singing just to him.
Fifteen: Sheldon lived in Paris. He met Jean
Paul Sartre and saw his play entitled, “Le Diable
et Le Bon Dieu.” While in Paris he acted in a
play produced and directed by Orsen Welles.
Sixteen: Sheldon's favorite color is Royal
Seventeen: Sheldon is a real mensch. In
addition to being a mentor to many young Chinese people he is a mentor and
dear friend to me and my three children. He often epitomizes the saying from Pirke Avos, “In a place
where there are no men, be a mensch!”
Eighteen: Sheldon has a great sense of humor.
In fact, you might call it a wicked sense of humor. He knows the best humor is
self deprecating humor and that timing is
everything. L'Chaim Sheldon!
Nineteen: Sheldon once attended a party by
Alice B. Toklas and actually ate an Alice B. Toklas brownie, “a mixture
of fruit, nuts, spices, and cannabis (marijuana).
Twenty: Sheldon used to live in Monsey, New
York. In fact Sheldon, Me, the Shotzer Rebbe of Ashdod David Moskowitz and Ari Lauber all lived practically on the same street near
Blueberry Hill. However, we were separated by time and never actually knew
each other until we all met in Shanghai.
Twenty-One: Sheldon may be the all time record holder for aliyahs
or getting called up to read the Torah at the Shanghai Jewish Center. Because
he is often the only Kohain present, he typically
gets called up first on Shabbat.
Twenty-Two: Sheldon and his wife were very
good friends with comedy duo Stiller and Meara (Jerry Stiller and Anne
Meara). Before they gave birth to their son, comic genius and popular movie
Ben Stiller, they often babysat for Sheldon's son Marco.
Twenty-Three: When Sheldon was a young man he
liked to play the drums.
Twenty-four: Sheldon is proficient in Tai Chi
and has mastered the Sword forms.
Twenty-Five: Sheldon is a kind and humble
person. For over one year he has told the Rabbi Raizell
Bas Brucha Malka's name after the weekly Shabbat
Torah reading so that HaShem may grant her a quick
and speedy recovery. What makes this even more remarkable is that Sheldon
never actually met Raizy in person.
25.5: The F in Sheldon F Katz stands for that
and just that - the letter F.
His view of the Hudson River, Peekskill, NY
Ginny and Kip Gaylor in Paris, 1950
Sheldon and Phyllis, 2017
Sheldon & Maria, Croton-on-Hudson, NY
Mr. Katz was my 8th grade English teacher in 1970 in Kakiat Junior High School. He was the most powerful
teacher I ever had. We never had a "regular" class. Everything was
determined by the students and their mood and interests, on any particular
day. He encouraged us to think differently and not allow ourselves to be put
into a box-and to always be true to ourselves- a lesson I always carried to
He never wanted work that was conventional- he always
wanted us to use different media and methods- art, video (he had video and
recording taping equipment), music. I am honored that he once asked
permission to use a book report I did in a presentation he made to a
teacher's seminar. He copied it onto slides and showed it to them.
We decorated and painted our classroom. The conservative
school principal would purposely turn his head away when passing Mr. Katz's
classroom. It really was a wild classroom.
I loved Mr. Katz and I am very sorry that he is gone. He
taught me to take responsibility for my actions and especially- not to act
like an idiot to get attention!
He also directed our school plays. He was great. After
reading about his background (of which I had no idea), I now understand why.
I will never forget him.
I am so glad that he connected to the Jewish community in
China and become a central person there. I am sure they benefited from his
Memories of Sheldon F Katz, my dear Ye Ye
by Fan Jing 樊 静
I met Sheldon in 1997, when I was a college student at
Sichuan University, Chengdu. At that time, Sheldon needed a Chinese tutor,
and I was very lucky to be connected with Sheldon by a friend of mine and
became his Chinese tutor. In the following two years, twice a week in each
semester, I went to his house to help him learn Chinese. In fact, he was very
intelligent and diligent in learning Chinese, so he made great progress and
could communicate with the locals around him. Gradually, we became friends
and he took me as his granddaughter, for he was the same age as my
grandfather. Since then, I called him Ye Ye
(grandpa in Chinese). In my mind, Sheldon was a humorous, straightforward and
For all these years, Sheldon never ceased to love me and
my family as well. He even wrote an email to his friend Lynn in N. Y. and
told her to collect clothes and shoes in her neighborhood to send to China to
bless those who needed, including my family. He supported me financially, for
many times, in my studies and life. He sent greetings and love on each Spring
Festival to me and my family. My parents and grandparents, though they never
met Sheldon, all appreciate his goodness.
China and blessed many Chinese people by his humanity, generosity, and faith.
I am keenly missing him while I am writing the memories; however, I am also
very grateful that he is now enjoying the peace and joys in heaven with
angels around. Though I lost a dear person in life, I gain more hope and
courage in life to be a better person like Sheldon, my dear Ye Ye. His whole life indeed inspires and encourages me
"Sheldon was a dear friend and one of the first
people I knew in Shanghai. His kindness, humble and nobility were clear in
all his actions. He was a kind person that everybody loved. I taught him the Kohanim blessing and being the only Kohen in Shanghai, he
used to bless us in Yom Tov. He enjoyed that much. It's a great loss and I
have often thought about how was he doing after he left China to go back to
Sharon Ruben, Montréal, Quebec
"I admired, respected, and cared more about your
father than words can convey. Why? He showed an extraordinary depth of
character when he gave up his seat on the Drum Hill Residents' Council with
the caveat that I remain as chairperson,which I had
been for a number of years. It was a monumental forsaking of something that
had meant so much to him, that he enjoyed, and that had helped him to be more
accepting of himself, to believe in his intrinsic value as an exceptional
person. However, he was adamant about doing it although Kathy Herrmann and I
tried our best to talk him out of it. He insisted he was doing it because it
supported his increasing efforts (valiant, indeed) to be a better person. His
other argument spoke to my core belief that, wherever we are life, we must do
our best to leave it a better place than we found it.
Your father isn't just a loss to those who knew him and loved him, he is a
loss to humanity. How true, 'when we die, we take with us that which we have
given.' That he has done and I shall keep remembering him as a fragile soul
who crossed my life's path and I am richer for it.
I lit a memorial candle when I learned of his passing and,for
as many years as I am able, one will be lit every year in memory of him.
Yes, Sheldon, you are that better person you wanted to be."
Margaret M. Vaccaro, Peekskill, New York, United States
"Thank you so much for sending me an e-mail about
your father's passing and the link to his beautiful memorial website. Even
though I knew that Sheldon had already reached an age that not everybody
gets to reach, the news came as a shock. Your father was a wonderful
man. I worked with him for many years in Telfort in
Shanghai and when we were not working at the same place anymore I met
up him regularly to have a cup of tea and to chat. I got to know him as
a very interesting, generous, funny and caring man who wanted to be part of
this world in a positive way and contribute to it for as long as he could.
Even after we both left China we kept in touch.
I am also still in touch with many of the people that Sheldon worked
with in Shanghai and I have been talking to a some of them yesterday as I
shared this news. They all have memories of Sheldon being kind to them,
always asking them how they were doing and giving them little gifts and
prayers in time of need. I will be sending them the links that you sent me.
Your dad will be missed and remembered by many people all over the
"Dear, dear Sheldon,
I came back to Drum Hill from Florida thinking we could pick up our
friendship where we left off when I moved to Florida. I can never
forget how you brought me back to life after my dear husband Morty passed. You were a good friend to both of us
and your wonderful sense of humor made me realize that I was still alive and Morty would want me to be happy. And that’s
what you did for me––made me happy.
But now I am sad again. Alone again, naturally. Someday I will join you
Phyllis Tamres, Peekskill, New York, United States
"I am very sorry to learn that my good old friend
Sheldon passed away. We tried to save the world very hard ! while sitting
face to face in Shanghai Telford Buss. Inst. But we couldn't, unfortunately.
He was such an intelligent, caring person with full of wonderful memories and
a golden heart.
I am so sad. Please accept my deepest condolences. His memories will
live with me to the end."
"I have many fond memories of Dr. Katz.
Once upon a time, he shared his thought about the color yellow....'it's not
yellow, its Jin Huang …' It was the first time… I
heard him speaking lovely Chinese.
I am sure he is in better place now. Rest in peace Dr. Katz."
Tomohisa (Stan) Sutani,
"I just learned of the passing of your father, Sheldon.
The news was so very sad since we have become very fond of him. My mother
moved to Drum Hill about three years ago. Sheldon became a very familiar face
at her table. His warm manner and intelligent conversation was always
welcome, particularly as it became clear that my mom was suffering from
Alzheimer's. Sheldon was always so kind, frequently encouraging my mom to
participate in writing classes and other creative ventures. And as her
condition has progressed, leaving her short term memory foggy, Sheldon's
patience with her has been truly appreciated. There were even a few occasions
that your dad called me to let me know that my mom was not at dinner. He was
very thoughtful. I travel a lot for business, but whenever I visited my mom,
I would be sure to check in on Sheldon as well. I know my siblings also made
a point of checking in on him, especially after we learned he was not feeling
well. Marco, your dad surrounded himself with lively conversation, frequently
table-hopping during meal time. Everyone seemed to score his company. He
really bright a bit of fun to those who had the privilege of knowing him. And
he seemed to take nothing for granted. I fondly remember how very grateful he
seemed whenever I brought him home-made cookies or other treats. In fact,
last month my mom and I delivered a fresh Challah to him for Passover. It was
only then that I learned he wasn't feeling well. He never complained. He will
be missed by many at Drum Hill, particularly the Ladies who were drawn to his
charisma and charm. He was a remarkable man.
Rest In Peace, Sheldon
On behalf of our entire family, we wish you and yours comfort in the memories
you will always share. Please accept our deepest sympathy."
Carolyn Fielding and Family
Cathy and Dan Towers Family
Rosemarie and Frank Muscolo Family
Elaine Zuccardo and Family
Thomas Fielding and Family
"My dear Sheldon,
As a junior high school student, you were always Mr. Katz. We became
good friends during those days and through my high school years. About
17 years ago we reconnected and you became my dear friend, Sheldon.
You are already so very missed. Thank you for being you. Marco,
thank you for sharing your Dad."
Kathy Snediker Abrams, Monroe, New York, United
“Sheldon Katz, known in theatre and acting circles
as Kip Gaylor, has passed away. To many of us, he was a great English teacher
from Kakiat junior high school, who was largely
responsible for helping develop in us an interest in books and movies.
Sincerest condolences to his son Marco, and all of his friends and family.”
Jay Dorfman, Kuala Lumpur, Maylasia
“God Bless the long-lived and dearly-loved, Kip
Arthur Trupp, Asheville, North Carolina, United
“Please let me extend a salute to your father. He
is a nice and terrific guy! When I was a Ph.D
student in Nanjing Forestry University, your father gave me financial support
in his age, and as a foreign 'old grandpa'. I am very moved and touched by
this for many years.
Oh, God bless your father!!”
Ren-E Huang, Beijing, China
“I am really sorry and shocked to hear that your
father, my teacher Dr. Sheldon F. Katz passed away. I offer my condolences
and would like to thank you very much for notifying me.”
“Queridos amigos Betsy y
Marco, mi esposa Lucy, mi hijo
Ernesto y yo, sentimos
mucho el fallecimiento del señor
Kip Gaylor, padre de Marco, paz para su alma. Un afectuoso abrazo para ustedes y toda su familia.”
Jairo Grijalba Ruiz, Popayán,
“We are saddened to learn of your father's death.
Losing a Dad is a painful time and we are sorry you are experiencing the
loss. We always had high regards for your father. He was so kind, very
thoughtful and forgiving. We will miss the occasional communications from our
former brother-in-law. We send our deepest condolence to you both as you
mourn the loss of your father.”
Phil and Jo Ann Tullar, Arizona, United States
“Condoléances mon cher Marco.”
Rémy Rodriguez, Lyons, France
“Un enorme abrazo para ti y tu familia en
estos momentos difíciles.”
Adonay Guerrero, Toronto, Canada
“I'm so sorry to hear about your loss, Marco.
Deepest sympathies to you and your family.”
Sally Fattah, New York City, United States
“So sorry for your loss, Marco. My deepest
Feisal Mohamed, New York City, United States
“Lo siento estimado Marco, vaya mi pésame a ti y familia. Desde Chile un abrazo.”
Santiago de Chile