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University of Judaism Librarian Closes the Books on Long Career

July 11, 1993|CHRISTINA V. GODBEY

Bella Hess has served as the resident authority on music, art and linguistics for more than three decades at the University of Judaism's library.

Last week, Hess retired from her duties after a lengthy career that began on a converted basketball court in the old Hollywood Athletic Club. In the late 1950s, she worked in the library's cramped quarters before it moved to its present location atop Mulholland Drive in Los Angeles.

"I wasn't a big shot," said the North Hollywood resident. "I stuck around there because I loved it."

During her tenure, Hess assisted scholars and students with finding information. At one time, she said, she could recall every book and author that the library housed on its shelves. That was before the library grew from 12,000 volumes to more than 100,000 volumes.

"I have most enjoyed being involved in the library," she said. "I love books."

Her qualifications for such work are unique. To begin with, she is fluent in several languages, including German, Hebrew, Yiddish and Russian.

Born in Lithuania, Hess said her grandparents and parents devoted a great deal of time and effort to her education. They not only fostered her intellectual interests but also attracted her to the idea of studying linguistics. "I owe my education to my parents and grandparents," she said. "At the dining table, we discussed all sorts of world and Jewish matters and I was kept in the conversation so I had to keep up even as a child."

When World War II broke out, Hess was studying linguistics at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel. She left her studies to work for the Tel Aviv Port Authority.

Hess followed her parents to the United States and settled in Los Angeles after the war ended. Shortly thereafter, she began working at the library and has never regretted it.

Now that retirement is upon her, Hess said she is looking forward to spending more time with her husband and family but might still volunteer a few times a week at the library.

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Century Southwest Cable Television has awarded its "Century Cable Care Community Scholarship" to Elizabeth Aptekar.

Aptekar, a recent graduate of Santa Monica High School, received a $1,000 scholarship for the 1993-94 school year. She was selected for her outstanding academic performance and community service.

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Brandeis University bestowed an honorary doctor of humane letters degree to actor and entertainer George Burns at a special ceremony June 24 at the Fours Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills.

The 97-year-old Beverly Hills resident was recognized for his significant contributions and achievements to the entertainment industry during his lifetime.

The event marked the first time that Brandeis University conducted a degree ceremony outside of its Waltham, Mass., campus.

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Sabrina Francis took first place in the final auditions of the 45th annual Artists of the Future Voice Competition for young classical vocalists.

The UCLA student received a $2,000 cash prize. She will also perform in concert with the Santa Cecilia Opera Orchestra later this year.

The event was sponsored by the Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department for non-professional vocalists ages 17 to 25.

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David Manzoor of Westwood was named a "Hometown Hero Kid" by the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services.

Manzoor, a student at Fairburn Avenue Elementary School, was nominated for his piano composition "The Playground Suite" and his efforts to spread the message of the importance of world peace.

His piece also won national grand prizes from the Yamaha Music Foundation and the National PTA Reflections contest.

Mail items to People Column, Suite 200, 1717 4th St., Santa Monica, Calif. 90401.

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