Evelyn “Evy” Garfinkel, a devoted connector of family and community, and a longtime director of the Women’s Division of Milwaukee Jewish Federation, died June 18, 2022. She was 92.
It was never about ego for this longtime community advocate. “She did what she did, because she just did it. She wasn’t looking for accolades or appreciation or rewards or gifts,” recalled her daughter, Deb Rosen. “That was just who she was.”
Evy retired from Milwaukee Jewish Federation in 2009 after serving for 33 years as director of the Women’s Division, the predecessor to Women’s Philanthropy. Before that, she started her nonprofit career with Women’s American ORT, a Jewish service, fundraising and educational organization that was a predecessor to today’s ORT America. Evy served Women’s American ORT as a volunteer leader, and later as a national vice president. She started many ORT chapters in the United States and South America.
“Federation was where she put her heart and soul into for the longest amount of time,” said her son, David Garfinkel. “She knew how to connect with people.”
Her work at Federation included travel that helped people connect with Federation work and with one another. “She had been to Israel 33 times, which in and of itself, is amazing,” David said.
“My experiences traveling the Jewish world with Evy, early morning until late at night on missions to Budapest, Kiev and Tel Aviv, were life changing events,” said Women’s Philanthropy President Tanya Arbit. “Evy connected the dots for everyone, between what we saw and the commitments that we made here in Milwaukee.”
“My involvement with Federation really started with Evy,” recalled Joan Lubar, board chair of Milwaukee Jewish Federation. “She invited me in and then pointed me in all the right directions to help build my leadership skills. She had a huge impact on my life, through my engagement with Milwaukee Jewish Federation and ultimately in my volunteer pathway and trajectory. She was, and always will be, a true gem in our community!”
Evy will be remembered for being the modern architect of Women’s Philanthropy in Milwaukee, Arbit said.
“Evy mentored and helped develop many of the best leaders our community has ever known,” Arbit said. “Evy understood women’s empowerment and helped make Milwaukee an exemplar community among the Jewish communities in North America. Her inspiration and indefatigable spirit will live on in all that we do. May her memory continue to strengthen and bless all who knew and loved her.”
Evy loved family. “She made sure we went to all our cousins’ bar and bat mitzvahs around the country, and weddings, and always encouraged us to connect with family members if we happened to be in the same city. It’s all about connecting and honoring your roots,” Rosen said.
Evy was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut and lived in Wilmington, Delaware until age 14, when her family relocated to Milwaukee. The family moved to Milwaukee when her father became the rabbi for Congregation Anshai Lebowitz.
Evy attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She loved spending time and celebrating special occasions with her family, traveling and playing bridge.
Beloved wife for 54 years of Marvin Garfinkel, of blessed memory. Cherished mother of David (Jan) Garfinkel of Bogart, GA; Richard (Susan) Garfinkel of New Berlin, WI and Deborah Rosen of Mequon, WI. Loving grandmother (Grandma Evy) of Amanda (Nate) Young, Emily (Steve) Winicki, Elizabeth (Nick) Garfinkel, Zach Rosen and Mollie (James) Waters. Further survived by great-grandchildren, Nathan, Jr. and Sam Young and Sophie and Charlie Winicki as well as nieces, nephews, great-nieces and nephews, and many dear friends. Preceded in death by her parents, Rabbi Solomon and Minnie Schulson; brothers, Hyman and Solomon Schulson; and sister, Florence Mayer.
The family would like to thank her private caregivers, Cora, Carmen, Cyrah and Vanessa, plus Horizon Hospice and Stowell/The Key for their outstanding dedication, care and compassion.
Graveside service held June 21, 2022, at Second Home Cemetery, Milwaukee. Rabbi David Cohen officiated. Goodman-Bensman Whitefish Bay Funeral Home assisted the family. Memorial contributions to the Women’s Endowment Fund at the Milwaukee Jewish Federation, Congregation Sinai, The Institute for Global Leadership or the charity of your choice appreciated.