Gloria (Teles) Pushker (1927–) Biography
Personal, Career, Member, Writings, Sidelights
Born 1927, in New Orleans, LA; Education: Loyola University, B.A., 1982; University of New Orleans, M.Ed., 1987.
Storyteller, based in New Orleans, LA, beginning 1983. Also worked variously as a retail store manager, fashion coordinator, and Sunday school teacher.
National Association for the Preservation and Perpetuation of Storytelling, Coalition for the Advancement of Jewish Education.
Toby Belfer Never Had a Christmas Tree, Pelican (Gretna, LA), 1990.
Toby Belfer's Seder: A Passover Story Retold, Pelican (Gretna, LA), 1994.
A Belfer Bar Mitzvah, Pelican (Gretna, LA), 1995.
Toby Belfer and the High Holy Days, Pelican (Gretna, LA), 2001.
Toby Belfer Visits Ellis Island, Pelican (Gretna, LA), 2003.
Author and educator Gloria Pushker is the author of a children's book series focusing on a girl named Toby Belfer that seeks to educate children on the Jewish faith. In Toby Belfer and the High Holy Days Toby surprises her friend Donna when she apologizes for any wrongs she may have committed against her. At first confused, Donna later understands why Toby is apologizing after Toby explains that during the High Holy Days it is the time in the Jewish faith when people must reflect on their actions and make amends for their wrongs. Ilene Cooper commented in Booklist that "Toby often sounds more like she's giving a speech than having a conversation with a friend, but the story does get across the meaning of these Jewish holidays and the requisite introspection that accompanies them."
In Toby Belfer Visits Ellis Island young readers are once again educated regarding the Jewish heritage, this time with an immigration story. Toby is told the story of her family's immigration by her great-grandmother, who explains how she and her own family escaped the soldiers in her small Polish village and made the flight to safety in America. After safely arriving in New York City, the new immigrants were faced with the daunting and intrusive inspections and tests at Ellis Island before they were able to successfully enter their new country. Hazel Rochman, writing in Booklist, stated that Pushker's "account of a contemporary child's visit to the museum makes this a useful first book for young readers wanting to trace their own European immigrant roots."
Pushker once told Something about the Author: "In 1971, I had a conversation with my sister about people who were jealous. She added that I don't have a jealous bone in my body. My reply was 'Yes, I have. I sincerely wish I had a master's degree and a flat tummy.' Her reply was, 'If you wanted either one badly enough you could have them both!' I heard an ad on the radio the same day about continuing education for women at Loyola University in New Orleans. I thought that must be some kind of omen, so I registered the very next day for one course in English with the understanding that if I passed, I would continue. I was forty-four years old." Pushker has since earned her B.A. from Loyola with a concentration in psychology and sociology, and a master's degree in education from the University of New Orleans with a concentration in children's literature, and also pursued postgraduate work in children's literature and a teaching career.
Pushker dedicated her first book to "my 'magnificent seven' grandchildren, my major professor, and one of my sisters." "I have had great fun being a storytellerauthor," she added, "my goal being to make storytellers out of my audiences. My repertoire includes stories from literature, Southern classics, Jewish tales, as well as original poems and stories." Pushker has served as a guest speaker at many book fairs, from San Diego, California to the Cayman Islands. "I love to tell stories, my own and others," she explained to SATA, noting her enjoyment in performing before audiences at schools, churches, and synagogues.
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, October 1, 2001, Ilene Cooper, review of Toby Belfer and the High Holy Days, p. 338; January 1, 2004, Hazel Rochaman, review of Toby Belfer Visits Ellis Island, p. 880.
School Library Journal, January, 2002, Amy Kellman, review of Toby Belfer and the High Holy Days, p. 108.
Loyola University Web site, http://www.loyno.edu/ (June 11, 2005).
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