September 16, 2019

Denver Shul Honors Ex-Angeleno

Oscar (Osi) Sladek and his wife Selma, both former Angelenos, were recently honored by Denver’s Temple Sinai with is annual Cultural Arts Award. A child Holocaust survivor from Czechoslovakia, Osi broadened his musical career after World War II, first in Israel and then in Los Angeles, were he became a popular entertainer at the Ash Grove and other Hollywood venues.

After moving to Denver in the 1960s, both Osi and Selma, a talented pianist, became heavily involved, as professionals and volunteers, in the Jewish community, particularly in the Jewish Community Center and became pillars of its musical programs.

As a further contribution, Osi drew on his own wartime experiences to become a sought-after speaker on Holocaust themes, addressing audiences in Colorado, California and Canada. In addition, he founded the Negba Dance Group, while Selma excelled as music composer and lyricist.

In 1977, the Temple Sinai named Osi as its first full-time executive director and, over the next two decades, he worked alongside Rabbi Raymond A. Zwerin to build the new shul into a full-fledged community synagogue. In the late 1980s, the Sladeks moved to Newport Beach, but ultimately returned to Denver to be closer to their children and grandchildren and immediately resumed their previous community involvement.

The couple’s talents have also been recognized on a wider stage, including a tribute concert in late 2016 by the Israel Association of Composers and Musicians, while the University of Denver’s Lamont School of Music premiered  “Far Beyond Rubies,” a stage musical composed by Osi, with lyrics by Selma and the late Lynn Ochman.

Sharing in the community’s pride in Osi’s and Selma’s past and continuing achievements are the couple’s four children — Ron, Adena, Daniel (a film producer who supplied the material for this report) and Michael, together with their spouses, six  grandchildren— and a brand new great-granddaughter.