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ings Point businessman

and philanthropist Stanley

Silverstein, who died on

Thursday, October 20 just shy of 92

years of age, was hailed as “a giant

among men,” someone who was

always there to help others, and

particularly to express his love for

the Jewish faith by ensuring that

there would be a place for all

youngsters seeking to learn about


Funeral services for Stanley Sil-

verstein were held on October 20 at

the Chabad in Great Neck.

To the world at large, Silverstein

was known as the highly successful

co-founder of the very fashionable

and popular Nina Shoes (named for

his daughter Nina) and the children’s

clothing chain The Children’s Place.


ut the Jewish community knew

him best as the man who, with

his wife, Raine, were the founders

and chief benefactors of the Silver-

stein Hebrew Academy of Great

Neck (SHA), built in 1998 to ac-

commodate students from nursery

through middle school. Silverstein

had long felt that Great Neck was in

need of an institution that would

provide a superior education in

both secular and Judaic studies,

and, according to his family, the

academy’s success was “an ongo-

ing source of pride” for him.

About SHA Silverstein himself

said, as this newspaper reported last

June, “We want to ensure that the

Jewish chilren of Nassau County

would have a day school education

available to them.” And to “equip

our students with a first-rate secular

education while also grounding

them in Torah-driven values and

connecting them to their Jewish

identity and heritage.”


hose who worked with Silver-

stein universally praised him

as a person of great character who

was singularly devoted to helping

his fellow Jews. Rabbi Yoseph Y.

Geisinsky, director of the Chabad

of Great Neck, home to the upper

grades of the SHA, spoke of Sil-

verstein’s fierce commitment to

the perpetuation of the Jewish peo-

ple and of his faith in Israel. Rabbi

Geisinky recalled that Silverstein

would step in personally to assist

families in need, making it possi-

ble for them to send their children

to SHA.

“I met Mr. Silverstein around 15

years ago in Puerto Rico during

Passover,” said Rabbi Michael

Schudrich, chief rabbi of the Jewish

community of Poland. “He was sur-

rounded by his extended family —

three generations around the Seder


Silverstein, said Schudrich, was

born in 1924 to a Jewish family in

Vilna (then Poland), which fled to

Cuba and then came to America.

“His success in business was the

product of ingenuity and dedica-

tion. But it was his [commitment]

to the Jewish people that deeply

moved me. He transcended all [de-

nominational] barriers to support

anyone who was enriching Jewish


Great Neck resident Alan Stein-

berg made the same point — that

Silverstein helped all Jews, all

Jewish children, working hard to

see that they attended yeshiva, and

not just at SHA. “I knew Stanley

Silverstein for 15 years,” said Stein-

berg, “He helped me raise needed

funds for Yeshiva Har Torah in

Little Neck. ... “It was his way of

thanking God.”

Silverstein’s unqualified love for

the Jewish people was clear at his

funeral. Because he died during

Chol Hamoed, the intermediate

days of Sukkot, eulogies were not

given, although his eldest daughter

Nina Miner did deliver a heartfelt

appreciation on behalf of the fami-

ly. Along with a full sanctuary of

attendees were Great Neck Reform

rabbis: Rabbi Robert Widom and

Rabbi Meir Feldman, Conservative

rabbi: Rabbi Howard A. Stecker

(Temple Israel of Great Neck) and

others. Orthodox rabbis: Rabbi

Dale Polakoff (Great Neck Syna-

gogue) and Chabad’s Yoseph Gei-

sinsky and other rabbis read

psalms. Presiding over the service

was Rabbi Raphael Butler, former

executive vice president of the

Orthodox Union of America and a

friend of the deceased.

The building that houses SHA’s

pre-school children is in the Village

of Great Neck Plaza, whose mayor,

Jean Celender, knew Silverstein for

more than 15 years. She described

him as “a brilliant man and a vi-

sionary who always sought to make

Great Neck a better place, to im-

prove the lives of children through

Jewish education and to support the

arts and culture. He has enriched

our community immeasurably.”


tanley and Raine Silverstein

met in Havana, Cuba, and were

married there, before eventually

moving to the United States. Mr.

Silverstein’s good friend Rabbi

Marvin Tokayer, the founding rabbi

of the Cherry Lane Minyan in

Kings Point, spoke of how the two

men would converse in Yiddish, a

language each loved and venerated.

“I just lost a piece of me,” Rabbi

Tokayer told this newspaper.

For all the profound joy and sat-

isfaction Silverstein derived from

the part he played in building SHA,

he was equally proud of the Stanley

Silverstein Family Foundation,

which supports other charitable

ventures with gifts, grants or loans.

Said New York State Comptroller

and resident of Great Neck Thomas

P. DiNapoli: “Knowing Stanley was

a blessing to everyone whose life he

touched. His generosity to the larg-

er community and Jewish institu-

tions was extraordinary. We have

lost a giant.”

Stanley and Raine Silverstein

were blessed with a large and loving

family, including four daughters and

numerous grandchildren and great-

grandchildren. At the funeral serv-

ice at the Chabad of Great Neck,

Nina Miner recalled that Silverstein

often spoke of his sons-in-law,

George and Ezra, as his two sons.


orth Hempstead Town Super-

visor Judi Bosworth, also of

Great Neck, told this newspaper

that “The world is less bright with

Stanley not in it.” Supervisor Bos-

worth called Mr. Silverstein “a true

renaissance man” and said that

there is a “special place” in her

heart for her “extraordinary friend

and mentor.”

Long-time friend Rabbi Robert

S. Widom, senior rabbi of Temple

Emanuel of Great Neck, said that

Mr. Silverstein “leaves all of his

loved ones and a multitude of

friends with a great heritage: a trea-

sure of memories that will never

lose their luster, recollections of

him that will deepen and mellow as

the years go by.” And, added Rabbi

Widom, Silverstein was a man who

“always spoke his mind without

sham or pretense.”

Temple Beth-El senior rabbi,

Rabbi Meir Feldman, found

Stanley Silverstein to be “a soul

who was beautifully serious about

his search for the ideal Jew and

Judaism ... a man who was bold

enough to ask any question, express

any doubt, and live with an absolute

devotion to the Jewish people.”

Rabbi Feldman spoke of their

“shared passion for Jews of all

kinds to share space” and that, said

Rabbi Feldman, is the “foundation

of the wonderful relationship

between the Silverstein Hebrew

Academy and Temple Beth-El.”

Nassau County 10th Legislative

District Legislator Ellen Birnbaum,

who represents Great Neck, spoke

of Stanley Silverstein’s “passion”

in discussing the community and its


Stanley Silverstein’s memory

will live on in the minds and hearts

of his family and friends, and in the

lives of all of the youngsters who

receive their education at the Sil-

verstein Hebrew Academy, “where

children are educated with an open

mind and an open heart.”

In a statement, the SHA said of

Silverstein: “He was an artist who

imagined potential and then forged

ahead and created the canvas upon

which that potential could become

a reality. The Silverstein Hebrew

Academy is a perfect example. He

imagined a place where Jewish

children could learn, thrive and

contribute to the enrichment of

their Jewish and secular communi-

ties ... and then he went ahead and

built the Academy to bring that

vision, that potential, to fruition.

His legacy will reach far and wide,

shining upon all those communities

his philanthropy and kindness

touched; and especially the hun-

dreds of children who have and will

pass through the Silverstein He-

brew Academy doors for genera-

tions to come.”

Wendy Kreitzman is a reporter

covering Long Island.


JEWISH WORLD • OCT. 28-NOV. 3, 2016

Stanley Silverstein




Stanley Silverstein


He imagined a place where Jewish

children could learn, thrive and

contribute to the enrichment of their

Jewish and secular communities...

‘…a man who was bold enough

to ask any question, express any

doubt, and live with an absolute

devotion to the Jewish people.’

Knowing Stanley

was a blessing to

everyone whose

life he touched.