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Volunteers

Dorothy Wittenberg

A tireless and loyal volunteer for Jewish causes and Sisterhood, Dorothy Wittenberg initiated and planned, prepared and served the Ida Weinstein Luncheon at Council House for over 25 years. Born in Denver, Colorado, Dorothy grew up in one of the only Jewish families in Tacoma, Washington. After her father’s death in 1933, when she was 17, she and her mother moved to Richmond, California where they sold retail clothes and cosmetics in an uncle’s department store and Dorothy attended UC Berkeley.

Reva Ketzlach Twersky

A medical social worker and community service volunteer, Reva Twersky works for both Jewish and secular organizations to serve those in need. Born and raised in Seattle, Reva’s grandparents and parents, leaders within the Ashkenazic Orthodox community, instilled a love of family and community in her. Reva received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Sociology in 1945 and a Masters of Social Work Degree in 1968. For many years Reva worked at the University of Washington’s Medical Center as a Social Worker, Clinical Faculty Member, and Assistant Professor. With her boundless energy, Reva also volunteered for numerous Jewish and civic organizations. She and Meyer Twersky married in 1946 and had three children. Although she is officially “retired,” Reva continues to be a very committed and active volunteer.

Bernice Stern

A native Seattleite born in 1916, Bernice Stern was the youngest National Council of Jewish Women officer elected at the national level, and first woman elected to the King County Council. She attended the University of Washington from 1932–1935, leaving to marry Edward Stern. Mother to two young boys, Bernice began volunteering at home, working on behalf of the blind, and on John F. Kennedy’s Women’s Conference on Civil Rights in 1961, and served on the Washington State Women’s Civil Rights Committee in 1963. She was named Outstanding Public Official in 1979 by the Municipal League of King County. Bernice Stern died on June 29, 2007.

Missode Israel Piha

Born in Tishmay near the Isle of Rhodes, Greece where she was raised, Missode Piha spent her childhood in a tight-knit Sephardic family of which her father was Hazzan [cantor]. In 1928, she met and married her husband, Sam, an American visiting his family in Rhodes, and leaving her family behind, moved to the United States with him. First settling in Atlanta, Georgia, they moved to Seattle in 1932 where they raised four children and Missode became a beloved volunteer and member of Seattle’s Sephardic community and Congregation Ezra Bessaroth. Missode Piha died on October 17, 2003.

Magda Altman Schaloum

Holocaust survivor Magda Altman Schaloum speaks out on behalf of all Holocaust survivors and their families. Born and raised in Hungary, she endured acts of antisemitism throughout her childhood, and in 1944 and 1945 Magda was sent to several concentration camps. She lost both her parents and her brother. Magda met her husband, Isaac Schaloum, in a Displaced Persons Camp in Germany. Isaac was from Salonika, Greece. They emigrated to Seattle in 1950, where Isaac became a tailor and businessman, and they raised three children. Although of Hungarian descent, Magda became an active and beloved member of Seattle’s Sephardic community. She volunteers for many Jewish organizations, including the Washington State Holocaust Education Resource Center, and continues to bear witness to the horrors of hatred and antisemitism.

Ann Lustig Nieder

An energetic social reformer, Ann Lustig Nieder worked for both Jewish and secular organizations throughout her life. Born to Ashkenazic parents, Ann grew up on Capitol Hill in Seattle. In 1945, she received a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Washington in Nursing. She married Lawrence Nieder, a businessman, in 1946. They had four children. Once her children were school age, Ann devoted a large part of her life to volunteer activities in the Seattle community, serving as President of Temple De Hirsch Sinai Sisterhood, Brandeis Women’s Committee, National Council of Jewish Women, and the Washington State Jewish Historical Society. Volunteer work helps define Ann’s life, and currently she provides guidance on committees for the University of Washington.

Dorothy Franco Muscatel

A vibrant social organizer, Dorothy Franco Muscatel was born in Seattle in 1917 to parents who, in 1910, were among the first Sephardic Jews to immigrate to Seattle from Rhodes, Greece. Her parents and grandmother were instrumental in creating important Seattle Jewish institutions, including the Sephardic cemetery. Dorothy learned from their example. Her achievements include helping form Seattle chapters for The City of Hope and Guide Dogs for the Blind; and service as president of the Seattle Sephardic Sisterhood and Sephardic Bikur Holim Ladies' Auxiliary. Married to Jack Muscatel and mother of three, Dorothy continued to shine the light of her family and herself on Seattle’s Jewish and secular communities until her death on December 26, 2003.

Leni LaMarche

A gifted student, teacher, and comedienne, Leni LaMarche has shared her love of Sephardic culture with Seattle’s Sephardic community for over sixty years. Born in Seattle to immigrants from the island of Rhodes, Greece, Leni has lived most of her life in Seattle. She has one daughter from a first marriage, and after several challenging years as a single mother during the early 1940s, Leni remarried and had three sons. While raising her family, Leni engaged in a variety of paid and volunteer work. Leni also writes a column entitled Bavajadas de Benadam [people’s foolish little words] for her synagogue’s newsletter. Leni is a fountain of knowledge when it comes to Sephardic history, language, and customs, and laces her wisdom and stories with delightful humor.

Ventura Franco Israel

A native of Seattle, Ventura Israel was
born in 1915, two years after her parents immigrated from Turkey. Forged as a strong woman by the deaths of men in her family-her father’s in 1928, her first husband’s in 1970, and her second husband’s in 1989-she helped support her family during the Depression, and as a twenty-five year employee of Union Federal Savings and Loan. Both her first husband, Maurice Franco, and her second husband, Morris Israel, were born in Rhodes, Greece, and Ventura spent her religious life in Seattle’s Sephardic community. The mother of two, and a vibrant community member, Ventura currently volunteers at the Caroline Kline Galland home and at her synagogue, Congregation Ezra Bessaroth.

Esther Eggleston

Widowed at age 36, Esther Eggleston managed single motherhood and work as the first female executive administrator of Temple de Hirsch Sinai, serving three rabbis and a growing membership of almost 1,000 families during her 23 years of service. Born in St. Louis in 1905, Esther’s family moved to Seattle in 1912. In her working life she felt useful and accomplished, underappreciated and unacknowledged-the tangle of rewards and disappointments experienced by working women in mid-century. Devoted to her daughter and her volunteer causes, Esther received the first Esther Eggleston Outstanding Service Award from Women’s American ORT in 1993, now awarded annually in her honor.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Volunteers." (Viewed on September 19, 2014) <http://jwa.org/topics/volunteers>.

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