Though they led disparate lives, 38 individuals who passed away in the Jewish year 5765 also remembered the Jewish community in their wills via the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia by leaving bequests totaling over $3 million. Their lives and their commitment will be remembered at a Memorial Service on Monday, Oct. 10, at 3:30 p.m. at the Jewish Community Services Building, 2100 Arch St.
“These individuals shared their love and devotion and desire to support Jewish causes,” said Clifford D. Schlesinger, president of the Federation Endowments Corporation. “Some of them were very involved in the Jewish community and others were not,” he said. “But all of their bequests represent their desire to make a lasting impact on the Jewish community.”
Among them was Essie Belkin, a woman who cared about her family and her community, said her son, David Belkin. Her bequest was made through a charitable gift annuity. The mother of two, grandmother of four, and great-grandmother of two, “she would hop on Amtrak in Philadelphia with a Pesach sponge cake and treats at other times when she visited us in Washington, D.C.,” he said. “She cared deeply about family and spending time together.”
A retired school secretary, Essie Belkin loved living independently, taking herself to the theater and the orchestra at the Kimmel Center. She volunteered at Pennsylvania Hospital in the pediatrics ward and was a member of Deborah Heart and Lung center in N.J.
On the other hand, Edward Larner was a “man who kept to himself,” according to his attorney Sigmund Morowski. Larner’s bequest created the Harry and Elizabeth Larner Fund, which is named for his parents. The fund provides for people who are ill and cannot afford transportation to get medical care.
“He was a postal worker at 30th Street Station,” said Morowski, “and lived with his parents in Northeast Philadelphia. Edward was divorced, had no children and was pre-deceased in death by his brother.
“In the late 1970s, he developed cancer, and spent the remainder of his years at home,” Morowski continued. Unbeknownst to anyone was the fact that Larner became a savvy, self-taught investor who made purchases from five different brokers — mostly tax-free municipal bonds — and managed his portfolio himself.
“He had Federation in mind and put it in his will,” the attorney continued. “As he became more debilitated, he had sought advice for his care from the organization and received it.”
However, Larner remained in his home. “He cared too much about his privacy,” said Morowski, “and showed his concern for others in his will.”
Energetic, Fun Couples
Dolly Cantor, who grew up in the Logan Section of Philadelphia, “enjoyed parties and was always inviting people to her home,” said her son Richard.
“She and my father were an energetic, fun couple who enjoyed each others’ company,” he continued. “She was a people person, and together they had a large circle of friends from their synagogue and from Federation, where they were active volunteers in the various campaign divisions.”
Dolly Cantor attended Temple University where she met her husband Leonard. They graduated in 1941 and married in Oct. 1942. She was the mother of two sons, 6 grandchildren and 1 great- grandchild.
Dolly Cantor, a long-time volunteer with what is now Federation’s Women’s Philanthropy, established a Lion of Judah Endowment, meaning her annual gift to the campaign will be perpetuated. She and her husband are members of the Federation Endowments Corporation’s Legacy Society— for those who have made an endowment gift of $100,000 or more.
Married for 56 years, Arthur S. and Evelyn L. Learner were a very sociable couple, with no children, who resided at The Philadelphian in Center City “where his fellow residents referred to Arthur as the “mayor,” said their attorney Malcolm Blumberg. “The couple lived up to their name,” he continued, “leading a life of learning, of travel and entertaining. They died within weeks of one another.”
Theirs was also a life of charitable deeds and they “did for others,” said Blumberg, including chairing the Harvest Ball of Albert Einstein’s Healthcare Network, as well as volunteering in the community. The couple’s bequest created the Learner/Levin Scholarship Fund.
Concern for Children
“An unusually bright woman” is the way Murray Shusterman described his wife, Judith, to whom he was married for almost 65 years. The couple are parents of three sons, 9 grandchildren and two great grandchildren. Judith Shusterman received an undergraduate degree from Temple University and a masters from the University of Pennsylvania. She also earned 30 credits towards her Ph.D.
After her sons were grown, she became a counselor at Olney High School, “and was so well-liked by her students that parents called her at home to thank her,” said her husband. One of Shusterman’s greatest concerns was for children. She was a board member of Jewish Family and Children’s Service and the couple was honored by the agency at their annual gala in 2002.
She was also active on the Board of Ben-Gurion University in Beersheva where she established a cancer wing and a garden. She was making plans to travel there with her husband 10 days before she died.
The Shustermans are members of the Federation’s Legacy Society. Said her husband: “Judith was a generous, caring woman.”
For more information about making a bequest or other gifts through an estate plan, call Rachel Gross at 215-832-0572.