Performing Arts at the J receives gift from lover of music, Leah Wohl*

by | Jun 7, 2012 | Other News

Many years before Leah Wohl passed away she requested that Ina and Moss Friedman become stewards of her estate. In addition to other organizations within the Jewish community, the Friedmans chose to sponsor the Performing Arts at the J for the next three years in her name. Performing Arts at the J will replace the Main Event Series.

Retired as a music teacher in the Norfolk public school system when Beth Sholom Home opened, Wohl became a weekly volunteer, playing the piano and creating the Monday and Wednesday sing-along programs.

“Leah was amazing,” says Leslie Legum, director of community relations at Beth Sholom Home. “She had a lot of energy and she really knew her music. If you wanted to hear something in a different key, she just moved her hands over the keys with such ease…and there it was.”

Several years later, Ina Friedman’s mother became a resident of Beth Sholom. While he visited his ailing wife, Friedman’s father, Dolph Sandler, became a regular participant in the Monday and Wednesday ‘happenings.’ It was through the sing-alongs that Sandler got to know Wohl and after his wife died, the two became a couple.

“They had 10 wonderful years together,” says Friedman “and they made every day count, eating in restaurants, going to performances from the New Spirit to the Opera, and enjoying all that they could do. Everyone should have their last years of life be like that.”

In 1997, Dolph Sandler passed away, and by then, the Friedmans had a strong and close relationship with Wohl, and kept a watchful eye on her and her needs through her healthy years, as well as through her years of declining health.

“Leah was fiercely independent, spunky, an astute judge of character, and game for anything” says Friedman. “A sushi dinner was a great outing for our tiny, 90-year-old Leah.”

Wohl’s life-long mission was to bring the pleasure of her music to her audiences, be they her public school students or her Beth Sholom residents. The Friedmans say they feel confident that she would feel good about having the community come together for the shared pleasure of live musical performances at the Simon Family JCC.

Leah Wohl died a year ago at age 98. She was a selfless woman who enjoyed enriching the lives of others and this gift is a fitting one by which to remember her.

*of blessed memory.

by Leslie Shroyer and Ina Friedman

The Simon Family JCC is a constituent agency of United Jewish Federation of Tidewater.