Arnie and Adrien Gefsky have endowed the adult Jewish learning scholar position through a planned gift at the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh’s Jewish Community Foundation that will cover the costs of the position in perpetuity. The resident scholar will become the H. Arnold and Adrien B. Gefsky Community Scholar.
“We are immensely grateful for this generous gift that will ensure our ability to strengthen Jewish life in Pittsburgh far into the future by bringing real meaning to people’s lives through their understanding of and relationship to Judaism,” said Jewish Federation President and CEO Jeff Finkelstein.
Arnie Gefsky said he and his wife decided to create the endowment because Jewish education plays such a vital role in enhancing people’s understanding of their own Judaism. “It is important to me that this concept continues in our community for generations, which is why we are creating an endowment,” he said. “Adult Jewish learning leads to the understanding of why being Jewish is so important and so meaningful to our lives.”
Gefsky Community Scholar Rabbi Danny Schiff, the Federation’s current resident scholar, has formed a close relationship with Arnie Gefsky through the many classes that Gefsky has attended. Schiff commented, “I am deeply honored to have my position named in recognition of my friends, Arnie and Adrien Gefsky. For decades, Arnie and I have together studied Torah and the significance of Jewish ideas.”
Schiff added, “There are very few cities that have established a role like mine that is devoted to stimulating substantive Torah learning broadly. The Gefskys’ decision to endow the Community Scholar position is an articulation of their vision that the Jewish future is dependent upon building a community of knowledgeable Jewish adults who are committed to engaging seriously with our heritage and to living by the teachings of Judaism.”
The Jewish Federation will officially launch the Gefsky Community Scholar at a celebration honoring the Gefskys’ gift on Sept. 19 at the Federation, 2000 Technology Drive. The event will include food, drinks and thoughts by Rabbi Schiff as well as a reunion of past participants in the Florence Melton School of Adult Jewish Learning.
The Federation took over some Jewish learning responsibilities from the former Agency for Jewish Learning in 2015. Since that time, Schiff has engaged more than 1,500 students in classes and seminars held both in person and online. The new series of classes will start in the fall immediately following the kickoff event.
Paraphrasing from a passage in Biblical portion of Isaiah, Gefsky commented, “The mandate from a moral standpoint is to be a light among the nations.”