White families jointly contribute to begin endowment fund at Temple Israel

by | May 4, 2012 | Uncategorized

When Sam White passed away in February at age 89, he left behind four children, six grandchildren and a wife who has a treasure trove of great memories of life with a man who made his mark on his family, his community and his temple.

“We were there at the beginning of Temple Israel, with the other founders,” says Harriet White. Indeed they were, he a native of southside Virginia, she a Bronx girl who had never belonged to a synagogue. At Temple Israel, they found not just a place to pray but also to play.

“We socialized there, with the Bresanoffs and the Goldmans, the Steins and the Sandlers, the Tavss and the Leavitts. It was really fun,” she recalls. And, a little work at times. Harriet, who would later teach math for more than 25 years at TCC, taught Sunday school for four years and was the Sisterhood Kiddish chair for one. “I remember waiting every Friday for the cakes to show up so we could put them on the plates. I never was one for boards though,” she says. “But Sam was.”

In fact, Sam, who built a successful law practice, made organization service practically a second career. “Sam was everywhere all the time.” In fact he was at the airport when the nominating committee for Temple Israel called asking him to make a decision, “will you be President?”

“He looked at me and I said ‘just do it and get it over with.’” Her husband’s term will always be remembered for one substantial act, the hiring of Michael Panitz as rabbi. Harriet has one regret, though, from that period. “As the wife of the president, I should have entertained him at our home when he was being interviewed. I didn’t, and it still bothers me.”

For the Panitzes, and everyone else at Temple Israel, there is no need to apologize. The White family has done its share and then some for the synagogue, including the establishment by Harriet and sons Adam, Matt and Eric of a $100,000 fund over five years within the Temple Israel Endowment. The fund is managed by the Tidewater Jewish Foundation. “We are all very proud to do this,” says Harriet. “Temple Israel has certainly been a big part of all of our lives for many, many years.”

Now it will be for many more families, thanks to the generosity and foresight of the White’s children. For more information on how to Create a Jewish Legacy, contact Philip S. Rovner 965-6109, psrovner@ujft.org at the Tidewater Jewish Foundation.
*of blessed memory

by Joel Rubin