The word “No” isn’t in Lawrence Steingold’s vocabulary. He just can’t bring himself to utter it. A Certified Public Accountant and Virginia Beach resident, Steingold’s demeanor is easy-going and friendly. His eyes sparkle with warmth and curiosity, but his head tilts a bit when greeting people, as if waiting for the question to come his way: “Will you…?”
A perfect example occurred this past April. Steingold was on his way to a meeting in the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater’s boardroom when Terri Sarfan, the incoming president of the Simon Family Jewish Community Center, stopped him.
“I asked him to be on my board next year, and he said yes, just as he always does,” Sarfan says. “Those of us who have worked with Lawrence before know that when he says yes, he actually follows through and does things.”
Steingold is passionate when speaking about the variety of art, community and Jewish organizations in which he has been involved, but becomes modest when speaking about himself. Quietly, he ticks off his current commitments: Vice-president and treasurer of Jewish Family Service of Tidewater; treasurer of Ohef Sholom Temple; audit and finance committee chair of the Tidewater Jewish Foundation; vice-chair of Hospice & Palliative Care of Tidewater, a member of the UJFT finance committee; and now, a board member of the Simon Family JCC.
“I truly believe that everyone can help in some meaningful way,” says Steingold. “I started off in all of the organizations I’ve volunteered with wondering what I had to contribute. But I found out once I got involved, there are things I could contribute to each endeavor.” He has a long history of volunteering with arts organizations such as Young Audiences, Virginia Opera and Lyric Opera Virginia, as well as with Beth Sholom, JFS, OST, JCC, Gordon Hospice of Tidewater and TJF.
“The big theme in all of this is, ‘because they asked’,” says Steingold, a knowing grin crossing his face. “That’s how all of these things came about for me. Whether it’s for volunteering or making a financial contribution, a simple request is generally all that anyone needs. Most everything that I’ve been involved with was through someone asking, ‘Will you help us out?’ There are plenty of opportunities for anyone wanting to get involved – don’t wait. The volunteer world is full of these opportunities, using whatever skills you might have.”
A Norfolk native and Norfolk Academy graduate, Steingold says his parents, Maurice* (of blessed memory) and Thelma Steingold, were role models for himself and his brothers Ira, Joe and Sam. “My parents were very involved in the arts, sports and other organizations in Tidewater,” he says. “They constantly stressed the importance of education.”
A close-knit family, Steingold works daily with brothers Joe and Sam in the family real estate business, Woodway Management, seeking Ira’s input on a regular basis. The family gathers frequently and, with the recent merger of two temples, are now all members of Ohef Sholom.
The Jewish value of Kavod—respecting others’ rights, dignity and feelings—runs deep among the Steingold family. Steingold notes that his brothers are also communityminded, volunteering with a number of local organizations including Virginia Beach CASA, The Dwelling Place, Temple Sinai and the H.E.R. Shelter.
Steingold is inspired by his family and by his first-hand knowledge of how much the organizations in which he is involved help the Jewish and greater communities. By following the guiding principles of Tikkun Olam (repairing the world), Kavod and Kol Yisrael Arevim Zeh Bazeh (communal responsibility), he has created a Restricted Fund through the Tidewater Jewish Foundation.
“I had an investment that grew exponentially in value and so I decided I would start the fund with that. It took me all of about five minutes to set it up—it was a simple two-page document. Later I decided to add a life insurance policy to the fund and again they made it so easy,” he says. Steingold’s fund is unnamed, reflecting his wishes to be impactful and selfless simultaneously and benefits multiple local Jewish organizations.
“My philosophy on work, on volunteering, on philanthropy, is all the same: Let’s not dwell on what’s wrong, but determine what the goal is and get started to see how we can get there,” he emphasizes. “My legacy will be the same, to quietly help as many people in as many ways as there is time, energy and resources—whatever they may be.”
by Laine M. Rutherford