Monday, April 2, 2007


From Andrea Stern's Inheritance
I saw the cover of this book I didn’t know that the very alluring cover girl in pink was someone I knew. That and the title, “Inheritance” intrigued. “Inheritance.” You think…money, don’t you? And pretty in pink, right? I wondered. I didn’t connect the author’s name with the Andrea Stern that I’ve met. And then last week we ran a series of party pictures from reception for the book and the photojournalist. I’d met Andrea Stern before. She is the daughter of Leonard Stern, the New York businessman who’s been on these pages many times.

Click cover to order Inheritance.
Still, I didn’t know what the book was about. What that meant, “Inheritance.” And the lady with the pink fanny. And then I looked.

This is the photographer’s tribute to her family. Her father and mother’s family, her brothers’ families, her own family. Family photos, snapshots, portraits are the personal chronicles of all of us, however disorganized, makeshift or even corny. They always tell you something about the individuals, even if you don’t know them. Even if what the photographs are telling you isn’t so. You think it’s so because you can relate. Family photographs have their own category. Ms. Stern’s family photographs are very relatable and they draw you into your own consciousness of those moments in the experience of families together.

Andrea Stern’s family is not just any family, although ... Her grandfather, so goes the legend which is evidently true despite all the makings of the apocryphal, came to this country in the early 20th century from Germany with some canaries, some birdseed and a dream of a better life. And he made a better life: those canaries and that birdseed were the genesis of a household-name business that Mr. Stern created and built: Hartz Mountain, the petfood (and birdseed) company. Mr. Stern died a very wealthy and very successful American businessman. His son, Leonard, took his father’s legacy and turned it into a billion-dollar fortune.

The Sterns are a dynamic family and very prominent businessmen in the world. Leonard Stern and his wife Allison (stepmother of the book’s author), have also been a driving force for the Wildlife Conservation Society and the Bronx Zoo, as well as other philanthropic interests, and they are a very popular couple on the New York social scene. Leonard’s first wife, Judy Peck and the mother of his children, is also a very active and popular New Yorker.
JH raising the mother of the bride at the wedding of Ariel Lindenbaum and Albert Sebag.
That said, Ms. Stern invites into that family providing an intimate perspective on family events – weddings, bar mitzvahs, funerals; we go to the visit to the grandmother, to the Shabbos lunch and weekend trips. There’s even a picture four years ago of NYSD’s JH, one of the participants in a horah (raising of the mother of the groom in this case) at the wedding of Ariel Lindenbaum and Albert Sebag.

We included just a few of Andrea Stern’s photographs although the entire composition takes you in completely to a world that’s not yours but is.

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