A Tribute to Harriet Perl


On Friday, March 1 morning, our dear friend and BCC member, Harriet Perl, was laid to rest. (May her memory be a blessing.) In the evening, after Shabbat services, there was an oneg in celebration of Harriet’s life, sponsored by BCC members, Davi Cheng and Bracha Yael.  Prior to reciting Kaddish, Bracha Yael read an excerpt of Harriet’s drash, given on the occasion of Harriet’s 80th birthday. Services are live-streamed.

To watch Shabbat Services live, click on archive.bcc-la.org/worship/bcc-live .  Or, visit our UStream channel, http://www.ustream.tv/channel/bcc-live, where archived BCC recordings can also be found.

On Wednesday, February 27, celebrity host, Ellen DeGeneres, paid a tribute to Harriet on her show. Click here to watch it.

On Tuesday, February 26, an informal gathering of friends and members took place at BCC to share remembrances and stories of Harriet. Watch it below:

9 Comments on “A Tribute to Harriet Perl”

  • Howie Siegel March 6, 2013 am31 10:57 am . Reply

    I remember the short piece she read to our class at Hamilton High in the early 60’s about God that ended, “She’s black”.
    I am still not the same. It changed my conception of God in two fundamental ways.

  • Linda Murphy March 7, 2013 am31 11:47 am . Reply

    Harriet was the best teacher I ever had. She was an inspiration to her students and her fellow staff members. Her influence on our lives is lasting. We carry it with us, and God willing, will pass it on to the students and people we have encountered in our own lives.

  • jeff kaufman March 8, 2013 pm31 4:43 pm . Reply

    Here was a teacher who challenged her students. She did not teach to the mean, but to the best. A distinct memory is being invited to her home, which was most remarkable for the books, shelves and shelves of them. She set a standard i have only rarely encountered since for literacy.

  • Ash March 14, 2013 am31 8:35 am . Reply

    R.I.P. Harriet. I bet everyone cared about her
    Mostly Ellen and portia

  • Marilyn Kass April 6, 2013 pm30 6:58 pm . Reply

    I had Ms. Perl in 10th grade English where she assigned unconventional book reports she called “reading reactions.”. It taught me to think “outside the box,” a little-known concept in 1960. Nothing formulaic, just to read, react, and write it down
    She also told us to be sure and travel abroad while young enough not to complain about little inconveniences
    I did. It was wonderful
    I will never forget this marvelous human being who inspired me.

    Your life was a blessing to us all, Ms. Perl.

  • Kathe Walters April 24, 2013 pm30 5:18 pm . Reply

    God/dess Bless, Harriet. You touched many of us, and taught us more than you knew.

  • George Elsin July 19, 2013 pm31 3:09 pm . Reply

    Miss Perl taught us Julius Caesar in 10th grade honors English. She gave us regular quizzes about what we read. She also taught us The Crucible and Antigone. She would constantly regale the class with anecdotes about her life. I later had her for Advanced Comp in 12th grade. She never let her political opinions interfere with her teaching. I have forgotten most of what happened in high school, but the vivid memories of what Miss Perl did live on. She was an original. Her classes were amazing.

  • Step Refrey September 13, 2013 pm30 3:37 pm . Reply

    Wow, Howie, Miss Perl told our English class at Hamilton the same story in 1969. I had no idea that she told the same story before. She made it seem like it was the first time she told it. She had the ability to do that — to make old, jaded, hackneyed things seem new again. What a loss that she’s gone. Some people can change your life forever. She was the honor society coordinator in the early 1970s at Hamilton. I’ll never forget what she did. She was such a help to her friends. George, she taught us Julius Caesar, too. I’ll never forget her rendition of the “noblest Roman” speech. And when she recited Antony’s funeral oration over Caesar, you could sense that this material was second nature to her — that she not only knew it, but she lived it. It came alive. She was Antony and she was Titus Andronicus and she was Iago. When she read the scene where a man named Casca was killed by the mob because his name happened to be Casca, it became part of my memory forever. She even had us write in stream of consciousness. She once said that if she wrote you a letter of recommendation to get in a college and you got in, you would have to treat her to a chocolate sundae. I never did ask her to write me a letter. I was never sure what she would say. I’m sure, though, that she wrote many letters for many other people. She’s enjoying all those sundaes now. I’ll never forget her, for sure. For Harriet was an honorable woman.

  • Glen Janken November 1, 2013 pm30 9:30 pm . Reply

    I never read for pleasure until I had Ms. Perl. What a gift.

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