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Experienced Moms Exult in Glory of Motherhood

May 10, 1999|ART MARROQUIN

With live music, jugglers and a visit from the Pink Panther, hundreds of mothers from the Los Angeles Jewish Home for the Aging were honored Sunday at what organizers called the fifth annual "Largest Mother's Day Celebration in the World."

The sun shone on the 1,400 people who ate lunch under umbrellas and reminisced about special family vacations, outings and holidays.

Some of the mothers, such as Marilyn Balkan, imparted nuggets of wisdom and vast experience on raising a good child. She said honesty was the key element in raising her four children, three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

"You should be a friend to your children," said Balkan, 83. "You have to talk about everything. Don't ever hide anything."

Balkan's daughter, Ruthann Levison, said her mother's outgoing personality always kept the family laughing.

"She used to work for me in a manufacturing company and she always kept our employees in stitches with the dirty jokes she would tell," said Levison, 61, of Canyon Country.

Officials with the Los Angeles Jewish Home for the Aging held a citywide essay contest for students titled "Why My Mom Is the Best." Winners in the contest's three divisions read excerpts from their essays.

"I wrote about how my mom cares for foster children and how much she loves me," said Clare Snodgrass, 9, the winner in her division and a third-grader at Lincoln E. Howe Elementary School in Culver City. "She also makes Yorkshire pudding better than any other mom."

Other essay winners, who also brought their mothers to the event, were Ruby Robinson, 7, from Vintage Magnet School in North Hills and Chucky Woolhouse, 9, from West Valley Hebrew Academy in Woodland Hills.

Centenarian Sylvia Harmatz spent the day eating lunch with her 104-year-old husband, Louis. The couple, married for 78 years, said they are proud of the family they raised--two children, who brought them five grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.

"There's no greater joy than being a mother," Harmatz said. "The feeling you get from having a child and watching it grow is like no other in the world."

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