Alumni Spotlight - Stanley Kugelmass & Margery Hecht-Kugelmass

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Stanley Kugelmass & Margery Hecht-Kugelmass

Stanley Kugelmass & Margery Hecht-KugelmassStan and Margery: Love and Rockets

When were you at Hebrew University?
We were both there in the 1970-71 school year.

How did you meet?
We met on the flight there. I’m from New Jersey and Stan is from Montreal. I was sitting in front of him. I asked if I could lean my chair back and he said sure. I thought he was pretty cute.
Stan: I thought she was hot!

Describe your first few months in Israel.
We both went directly to Ulpan, which was at a teachers college right there on the Kinneret. That is when we started dating. It was like being in camp. There was a small group of students from North America and we were all together there. It was kind of like being in camp.
Stan: At the time, the PLO was active in Jordan. Rockets were coming in from Jordan and Israeli warplanes were dropping bombs there. Most afternoons, we would go swimming then sit and watch the hostilities from a distance. I remember watching all this while eating cookies and drinking juice. It was surreal. It was like watching a movie. We woke up one morning and most of the Israeli staff members had left because they had been called up; the Jordanian king had thrown the PLO out of Jordan.
Margery: The Ulpan lasted two months. After that, we went to a kibbutz for a week and picked fruit. From there, we went to Jerusalem.

What are your most vivid memories of the school year?
After the PLO was thrown out of Jordan there seemed to be complete quiet. It was peaceful and we were able to travel around without a problem. We went to Mount Sinai and visited the West Bank. I remember interacting with the people who lived there and finding them quite friendly.
Margery: Believe it or not, Stan appeared in a movie funded by the Jewish Agency. It was about North American students in Israel. He met David Ben Gurion.
Stan: Meeting him was a great experience. He was pleasant and very approachable. He commented on my hair, which was quite long at the time. In response, I said, “Your hair isn’t too bad either!”
Margery: The movie is in the archives at Hebrew U.

What did you do when the school year ended?
That summer, Stan and two of his friends hopped on motorcycles and headed to Europe. I travelled separately with friends. The two groups would meet up in every city. It was great. And after that?
Margery: Stan returned to Montreal to finish his undergraduate degree, and I went to Ohio to do the same thing. But believe it or not, we continued dating for another two years. We got married in 1973 and lived together in Windsor, where he was attending law school. I attended school in Detroit to do my masters degree in social work. At that time, time zones were different in Canada and the United States. So, for our first year of marriage, my clock had a different time than his. If you can survive that, you can survive anything!

When did you settle down in Toronto?
We moved to Toronto in 1975 and started a family six years later. We now have four kids -- Rachel (32), Jordanna, (30), Gabriel (27) and Davida (24).
Stan: Rachel went to Hebrew U too. She was there for the second intifada and the 9/11 terrorist attacks. It was really tough for her.

Have you been back to Israel?
We took our children to a Hebrew U reunion in 2001. Life was so different than it had been when we were students there. We had no cell phones or computers - no way to be in constant communication with our families at home. That’s why we developed such close bonds with our fellow students. We only had each other.
Margery: We’ve been back to Israel many other times, too. The last time we were there, we spoke at a conference there.
Stan: It’s very important that we maintain our ties to Hebrew University and to Israel overall.

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