Donald Daniel Weisman passed away at age 86 on Oct. 26. He was the beloved husband of 64 years of Shulamith Weisman, devoted father of Dr. Lois Weisman and Rabbi Tobie Weisman, loving grandfather of Rebecca Cohen, Aaron Cohen and Navah Liora Fried.
He was born in Baltimore and graduated from the Talmudical Academy. He simultaneously received degrees from Baltimore Hebrew College and Johns Hopkins University. He served as weekend cantor/teacher and prayer leader in Fredrick to pay for his college education. During his college years, he was national vice president of the Intercollegiate Zionist Federation of America, an organization whose goal was to further the cause of a Jewish state in Palestine.
After obtaining a master’s degree in social group work at the University of Pennsylvania, he decided his career would be focused on strengthening the Jewish community in the U.S. and Israel. He was the director of adult activities at the Newark YMHA, and the director of the Schenectady Federation, and the federation in Springfield, Mass. In 1968, he came to the Washington-area UJA (later known as Federation) where he served as assistant director for 10 years. In that capacity, he led a study to determine the future needs of the Jewish elderly in the Washington area. This study led to the creation of the Jewish Council for the Aging. Many of the current leaders of area synagogues and Jewish organizations received their inspiration and training from leadership sessions led by Don.
He was raising funds for B’nai B’rith Youth programs when the Hanafi Muslim group took over the B’nai B’rith building downtown and kept the personnel hostage for 39 hours. He was the regional director of the Seaboard Region of United Synagogue of America.
While leading the aforementioned Jewish organizations, he also loved leading area congregations as a cantor. On Shabbat and holidays, he served as cantor at Mishkan Torah Synagogue, Congregation Beth El of Montgomery County in Bethesda and B’nai Shalom of Olney. Later, in retirement, he was a cantor in Pocomoke, Md., on the same bima as his daughter, Rabbi Tobie Weisman. Two days before he passed away, he was still singing with gusto in the JCC choral group. He was a friend and mentor to a multitude of people and was loved by all who knew him.