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Sunday, August 28, 2016

How a Holocaust survivor and a 39-year-old fell in love

Jack Garfein, 86, and Natalia Repolovsky, 39, in their Upper West Side apartment.

Holocaust survivor Jack Garfein celebrated his 86th birthday on July 2 in his Upper West Side apartment surrounded by friends, eating chocolate cake, sipping champagne — and getting engaged to his 39–year-old girlfriend.
“I just told her ‘I can’t live without you. Will you marry me?’ ” Garfein told The Post. “She said, ‘Of course I will. What took you so long to ask?’ ”
When Natalia Repolovsky first met the charismatic acting coach at a Manhattan social gathering on April 28, 2012 — shortly after she arrived in the United States from Russia — she was instantly smitten.
“He gave me one of those overly firm handshakes,” Repolovsky ­recalled. “I thought ‘This guy has some nerve.’ ”
But she also felt oddly possessive of him.
“There was a lot of actors and actresses there who knew each other — a very flirtatious crowd,” Repolovsky recalled. 
Garfein, an Auschwitz survivor and part-time Paris resident, was equally taken with her.
“My first impression of Natalia was what a beautiful girl,” said Garfein. “I am a man.”
The pair exchanged phone numbers and agreed to go to dinner the following week.
“When I got home that night I said, ‘God, I can’t believe you sent me an 82-year-old man to fall in love with. I’m only 36,’ ” said Repolovsky, a technical writer for a software firm.
She feared “people [were] going to look at me so differently when I’m with him . . . I called my friend in Moscow who said, ‘The way you feel now, you should take all of it and enjoy every minute. If it lasts a day, enjoy it. If it lasts a month, enjoy it. Who cares what people think?’ ”
Five days later the pair met at Frankie & Johnnie’s Steakhouse in Midtown for a dinner of filet mignon and calf’s liver.
“In the taxi ride home after our first date, I talked about very personal, intimate things,” remembered Garfein. “I immediately thought ‘This is a person who gets me.’ I just felt a closeness that I’ve never felt in my life. I felt a connection. I felt at home.”
And it didn’t stop there.
“We kissed,” Garfein added. “I would call it an explosion.”
“I thought, ‘How dare she?’ ”
Garfein, an Auschwitz survivor and part-time Paris resident, was equally taken with her.
“My first impression of Natalia was what a beautiful girl,” said Garfein. “I am a man.”
The pair exchanged phone numbers and agreed to go to dinner the following week.
“When I got home that night I said, ‘God, I can’t believe you sent me an 82-year-old man to fall in love with. I’m only 36,’ ” said Repolovsky, a technical writer for a software firm.
She feared “people [were] going to look at me so differently when I’m with him . . . I called my friend in Moscow who said, ‘The way you feel now, you should take all of it and enjoy every minute. If it lasts a day, enjoy it. If it lasts a month, enjoy it. Who cares what people think?’ ”
Five days later the pair met at Frankie & Johnnie’s Steakhouse in Midtown for a dinner of filet mignon and calf’s liver.
“In the taxi ride home after our first date, I talked about very personal, intimate things,” remembered Garfein. “I immediately thought ‘This is a person who gets me.’ I just felt a closeness that I’ve never felt in my life. I felt a connection. I felt at home.”
And it didn’t stop there.
“We kissed,” Garfein added. “I would call it an explosion.”
Having seen so much suffering in his life, he certainly knows to appreciate sheer joy.
Garfein was born in then-Czechoslovakia to a well-off Jewish family who owned a lumber yard. His mother, sister and father perished in Nazi gas chambers, but he managed to survive 11 concentration camps, including Auschwitz.
When the English army liberated Bergen-Belsen death camp in northern Germany on April 15, 1945, Garfein weighed 48 pounds.
He arrived in the United States a year later and eventually became a central figure in the Actors Studio.
Garfein collaborated with Marlon Brando, Marilyn Monroe, Paul Newman, Elia Kazan and James Dean, and is credited with discovering actors Ben Gazzara, Steve McQueen and George Peppard. He also directed two movies: 1957’s “The Strange One,” starring Gazzara and the 1961 Carroll Baker drama “Something Wild.”
These days, when Garfein, twice divorced and the father of four, isn’t teaching acting in London or Paris, he and Repolovsky spend weekends taking long walks through Central Park and enjoying leisurely breakfasts in bed.
The couple plan to wed next month. Repolovsky has no problem getting married in City Hall but Garfein wants no part of a quickie wedding.
“I want a real wedding. I belong to the Fifth Avenue Synagogue,” said Garfein. “It’s going to be a big party!”

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

He must have a lot of gelt

Oy vey said...

"Five days later the pair met at Frankie & Johnnie’s Steakhouse in Midtown for a dinner of filet mignon and calf’s liver."

Who gives the hechsher on Frankie And Johnnie's? The Cardinal of NY? A bishop? Stam a chazer fresser?

Anonymous said...

Well it's either for reasons of 'nurse or purse'. But good luck to them anyhow.

Anonymous said...

Who gives the hechsher? The chazir fresser of this antisemitic blog