Tuesday, April 13th 2021   |

JCRS virtual gala on April 11 to spotlight Marlene Trestman, new book


When the fundraising committee of the Jewish Children’s Regional Service (JCRS) was brainstorming ideas for its 2021 virtual gala, it didn’t take long for the group to look to one of its own.

Marlene Trestman, author of a new volume on the Jewish Orphans’ Home. (Photo by Alan Smason)


Lawyer and author Marlene Trestman is not only a JCRS “success story,” having received aid from the agency when she was orphaned at 11 years old, but she was in the process of writing a book on the history of the Jewish Orphans’ Home in New Orleans, the predecessor of JCRS.

Although her book “The Fortunate Unfortunates: New Orleans’s Jewish Orphans’ Home, 1855-1946” is still a few months away from publication by LSU Press, Trestman will share some of the nuggets of her research as the keynote speaker at the Jewish Roots Jubilee: Celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the Modern-Day JCRS Sunday, April 11 at 6 p.m.

An online auction focused on once-in-a-lifetime vacations and experiences will round out the evening. Sponsorships and tickets are available at www.jcrs.org or by calling 800-729-5277.

Orphaned at age 11, Trestman grew up in New Orleans as a JCRS recipient, using that assistance to attend Isidore Newman School under the spirit of its founding charter to educate Jewish orphans. She later attended Gaucher College and George Washington University Law School and began her career as a public lawyer.

Trestman is a former special assistant to the Maryland Attorney General, where she started her thirty-year legal career in 1982, and has taught law at Loyola University of Maryland’s Sellinger School of Business & Management, where she earned her MBA. Trestman twice received the Attorney General’s Exceptional Service Award and in 2004 was named Isidore Newman School’s Distinguished Alumnus.

She is also the author of “Fair Labor Lawyer: The Remarkable Life of New Deal Attorney and Supreme Court Advocate Bessie Margolin,” also published by LSU Press.  It was through her research on Margolin, one of the Jewish Orphans’ Home’s most accomplished alumni, that her curiosity about the home deepened.

Upcoming book cover from LSU Press.

“For as long as I can remember, I have been fascinated by the rich history of the Jewish Orphan’s Home,” Trestman writes on her web site. “I am also keenly aware that had the Home remained open for about two more decades — I would have lived there.”

“I am thrilled that Marlene Trestman, one of JCRS’s ‘Success Stories’ and such a talented and honored author, has chosen to write and speak about the history of our wonderful organization,” said Carole Neff, who is co-chair for the event with Barbara Kaplinksy.

 “Marlene Trestman, like the many hundreds of JCRS’ “success stories’ from around the country, is a testament to the amazing work JCRS does in supporting Jewish children in building their Jewish identity, becoming educated and overcoming obstacles,” added Kaplinsky.

Trestman’s talk will be followed by a series of questions and answers.

The “Success Story Ensemble,” from left, Josh Sadinsky, Caroline Samuels, Basil Alter, Joshua Dolney and Bruce Miller. (Photo courtesy JCRS)

Sprinkled throughout the program will be performances by JCRS “Success Story Ensemble,” former educational scholarship recipients who are currently pursining advanced degrees in musical performance. These include instrumentalists Joshua Dolney of Deer Park, Texas; Josh Sadinsky of Fayetteville, Arkansas; Basil Alter of Memphis; and Caroline Samuels of Baton Rouge. JCRS volunteer and drummer Bruce Miller is also part of the group.

All of the musicians indicated they are thrilled to be lending their talents for the second consecutive year. “JCRS has provided so many opportunities to me throughout the years; and it is my pleasure to give back to the organization that has given me so much,” Samuels said.

“I am thankful to the JCRS for their generosity in supporting my education, and for their support and encouragement throughout the year,” Alter added.



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