A Chat With

Two scribes with Bergen ties. These wordsmiths put pen to paper, captivating readers with tales as varied as religion and music.

Ken Schneck

Ken Schneck loves reminiscing about the day he was yanked out of Hebrew School “because I wouldn’t stop asking ‘Why?’ My mom had to come get me!”

The Englewood-born, Montvale-raised 40-year-old, now an author/radio show host, is still asking questions, most notably with his tome Seriously…What Am I Doing Here?: The Adventures of a Wondering and Wandering Gay Jew. And on a recent book tour promoting the publication, which chronicles how Schneck came out to his parents when he was 19 and became a staunch advocate for gay rights, the author returned to the scene of his childhood transgression: Temple Emanuel in Woodcliff Lake. There, during a special reading, he was a bona fide hit.

“He has an amazing sense of humor and kept us on our toes the whole time,” says Alayne Pick, board member and adult education coordinator of the temple, of which Schneck’s parents and sister are still members. “I thought there would be 15 or 20 attendees, but my mother kept saying, ‘You’ll see.’”

The success of Schneck—who now resides in Cleveland—can no doubt be credited partly to the fact that he’s never forgotten his roots.

“It’s imperative that writers embrace their authenticity, particularly if they’ve emerged from a tight-knit community like we have in Bergen County,” he says. “There’s so much shared experience that readers will instantly know if you’re putting up a front, [just] as they’ll jump to celebrate your words when what you write rings true.”

And Schneck, who also serves as producer/host of the award-winning podcast This Show Is So Gay and associate professor of education at Baldwin Wallace University in Berea, Ohio, is certainly still embracing one Bergen tradition.

“You can never go wrong at the Dairy Queen in Montvale getting an old-fashioned vanilla blizzard with Oreo cookies,” he says, just before offering one last life-changing tip. “To spice it up, ask them to add the mint syrup.”

Lawrence Rosen, M.D.

Lawrence Rosen, M.D., wanted to write a book about The Beatles not just because he loves them—but because, more than a half-century since the Fab Four’s debut, their music is still resonating with new listeners.

“It’s amazing that the music has been around for 50 years, but it still has so much appeal to kids today,” says Dr. Rosen, a Ridgewood resident and Oradell-based pediatrician, noting that his own children and young patients enjoy the music and embrace its message.

That’s the basis of All Together Now: Generations Share Their Love of The Beatles, the book Dr. Rosen wrote with friend and fellow fan Stan Friedmann. The twist: They recruited a handful of young artists to help.

“We hatched this idea of doing a children’s book with quotes from kids about the Beatles and children’s drawings depicting their favorite Beatles’ songs,” Dr. Rosen recalls.

Friedmann, who’s a camp director from Dumont and author of The MacMillan Book of Baseball Stories, Heroes of the Games: True Baseball Stories and The Good Guys of Baseball: Sixteen True Sports Stories, interviewed local kids to get the quotes, asking what The Beatles meant to them and why they like their songs. For the drawings, Dr. Rosen asked the art teacher at Willard Elementary School in Ridgewood for help and got 50 drawings from which to choose, plus more from patients in his practice. His sister Deborah R. Glazer of Ridgewood, a graphic designer, oversaw the book’s look.

“We hope it’s something that parents and grandparents will share with their kids and grandkids, focusing on the amazing messages,” says Dr. Rosen, who’ll sign copies of the book with Friedmann and Glazer at the Ridgewood Public Library on Sept. 10 from 2 to 4 p.m. “There’s a reason why the music of The Beatles carries on. The music is amazing, but the messages of family, friendship, teamwork, perseverance, love and creativity come through in the music and is one of the reasons why it’s so universally appealing.”

Ken Schneck (with his father) at his 1990 bar mitzvah at Temple Emanuel

The cover of Schneck’s tome

Schneck at his recent Woodcliff Lake reading

An invite to Dr. Lawrence Rosen’s upcoming book signing

The cover of Dr. Rosen’s new publication

Dr. Rosen with book designer Deborah R. Glazer and cowriter Stan Friedmann.

Categories: Bergen Health & Life