Jeffrey David Youdelman
Jeffrey David Youdelman was born in New York on February 15, 1944. His parents were Edwin J. and Rose Youdelman. Jeff died January 1, 2001, in Sarasota, Florida, after a long and valiant fight. In-between, he led a life of activism and intellectual thought. Jeff acquired a B.A from City College of New York in 1968, then a Master of Arts from Stanford in 1971. While working towards his M.A., he also served as a teaching assistant. Doris said that they met when she was a student in one of his classes. Their relationship persisted after the class, ending in marriage.
Jeff’s activism was present during his academic career at Stanford. He became a member of Venceremos, a Maoist revolutionary organization intent on improving the lives of the proletariat of Palo Alto and East Palo Alto. He and a group of others were charged with the disruption of Henry Cabot Lodge’s speech in 1971. During their subsequent trial, sophomores Gerry Foote, Mike Holman and graduate student Janet Weiss were so disruptive of the proceedings that Jeff felt ignored. “It was then that Youdelman, who had been trying to gain the floor during the preceding exchanges, began asking Williams why he was being ignored. After several entreaties by Williams for Youdelman to remain silent, Williams cited Youdelman for contempt. "I find you in contempt of the peoples of the world, Fascist pig," responded Youdelman to cheers and shouts from the gallery.” (SJC Hearing Lyman Suspends 4 for contempt, Stanford Daily, 1Feb71) Jeff, Gerry, Mike and Janet were suspended for the duration of their hearing. No information was found regarding final results of the hearing, although Jeff did subsequently graduate.
After graduation, Jeff was appointed an instructor at Stanford. Jeff also taught at the Mid-Peninsula Free University (MFU) during this period. The MFU was a progressive institution of learning, one of the largest and most successful of the free universities that arose as a result of the Free Speech Movement era. Instructors paid a fee of $10.00 to teach a course of their choice.
Jeff often attended Palo Alto city council and school board meetings as an interested citizen. He was known for his verboseness, shouting down board members, something they were unaccustomed to. He also presented the city council with petitions about various subjects.
One was an initiative petition to give $50,000 in city funds to help rebuild Bach Mai Hospital in North Vietnam. Bach Mai had been damaged by U.S. bombing attacks. Jeff worked with Doug Mattern of the Palo Alto Peace Union to coordinate the collection of signatures from 2300 Palo Alto citizens to qualify the initiative for the ballot. City Attorney Peter Stone advised the council that such a gift might be illegal and that placing the issue on a ballot would also be illegal.
Following on this rebuff, in 1973, Jeff, under a slate known as the Community Coalition (including Mattern; Carol Peterson, an advocate of child care services; and Stanford student John Philo, of the Palo Alto Tenants Union and a student member of the Trustee Committee on Land and Buildings), ran unsuccessfully for the city council. Their platform was ‘People not Profits’. Carol recalls later running into Jeff a couple of times on Isla Mujeres, ‘where he went alone every year on personal sabbatical in the winter for about 3 weeks to smoke dope and enjoy the sun.’
Jeff and Doris moved back to the East Coast where he served as an instructor at the Fashion Institute of Technology (1977), Rutgers University, Newark, New Jersey (1978-1982); as a specialist writing at Bronx Community College (1975 – 1977); and as director of the writing program at the College of New Rochelle (1982 – 1989). In 1980, he became a private practice consultant. He’s listed as a contributor to over 50 magazine articles. An excerpt from one of these articles, Spielberg and Scorsese Do History: Analysis of Amistad (Spielberg) and Kundun (Scorsese) 1997 (eserver_clogic), perhaps explains his motivating force:
Maybe they were moved, on some gut level, as someone my age was affected watching the intense and committed Paul Muni fighting for truth and justice in old '30s movies shown on TV in the 1950s. Substitute any other set of hypothetical viewers and the impact on audience consciousness varies greatly.
Historical films are so rare that, sometimes, even the introduction to our consciousness of a person, event or period has a positive effect. As a child, I first learned of John Brown, portrayed by Raymond Massey as a righteous figure, though a raving megalomaniac, in an old film shown on TV. Through the years I learned other things about Brown and the whole Abolitionist movement, and occasionally I wondered what ever happened to that old "John Brown movie." Decades later, while channel surfing, I discovered there was no "John Brown movie." Massey's cameo was actually tucked inside a trashy cavalry yarn (Santa Fe Trail) glorifying the exploits of Brown pursuer Jeb Stuart (Errol Flynn) and Gen. Custer (Ronald Reagan).
Although Jeff and Doris eventually divorced, they remained best friends. They had one daughter, Corina.