Bert Silver

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Courtesy of the Silver family.

Bert Silver died on Jan. 25. Bert is survived by his wife of 66 years, Nancy C. Silver (nee Tenenbaum). He was a devoted father to Stephen Silver (Sandra Grant), David Silver (Reli), and Karen Silver, and an adoring grandfather to Derek, Jordan, Allyson and Adam Silver. He is predeceased by his brother Floyd, his mother Stella, and his father Irving.

Bert was born on June 30, 1931, in Scranton, PA, where he grew up. He graduated from Penn State University in 1953 with a B.A. in political science. He enlisted and served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War. After discharge from the Army, he completed an M.A. in public administration at the University of Minnesota where he met his future wife.

Bert moved back to the East Coast to work for the State of New York in Albany and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg. He launched his federal government career in Washington, D.C., at the U.S. Department of Labor. He served as the Deputy Director of the Office of Administrative Services at the U.S. Department of Commerce and rounded out his career as Director of the Office of Management at the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. Bert was a charter member in 1979 of the U.S. Senior Executive Service and received the Senior Executive Association’s Ted Kern Award for exemplary contributions to the advancement of the mission of the association through his leadership.

Bert had a unique ability to bring people from diverse backgrounds together to work on shared objectives. As president of the Jewish Community Council of Greater Washington, he was an active promoter of interfaith activities and played a significant role in the Interfaith Council of the D.C. area. Bert served as a board member of the Washington Committee for Soviet Jewry and was a leader at the daily vigil outside the Soviet Embassy on 16th Street. It was his leadership that established the basis for the extraordinary communitywide effort to “Let Our People Go.” He connected leaders of the NAACP and faith organizations to the Freedom for Soviet Jewry effort. In 1980, he traveled to the former Soviet Union with a Protestant minister and a Catholic priest to meet and aid refuseniks. These same reciprocal relationships helped set the groundwork for the development of N Street Village, the program serving homeless women in Washington, D.C.

Bert served as an officer of the NAACP locally and was recognized for his contributions with a national life membership to the organization. Bert rallied for farm workers’ rights and was personally committed to many social justice and civil rights causes throughout his life including his work as a board member of the American Association for Ethiopian Jews. The AAEJ successfully organized to settle Ethiopian Jews in Israel. He served on the boards of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, the Interfaith Community of Washington and ProJeCt (the Protestant, Jewish, Catholic Coalition). Bert was a very active congregant at B’nai Israel Congregation in Rockville, where he served on the board of governors, the board of education, in the men’s club leadership positions and as the social action chairperson. It was stated in one of his eulogies that, “Bert was not a flamboyant leader. He used his unique talents, network, and commitment to work effectively behind the scenes. His modesty was only surpassed by his accomplishments.”

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to American Friends of Magen David Adom (afmda.org), Hillel International (hillel.org), or the charity of your choice.

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