Celia Finkel, caterer to Israeli prime ministers
Celia Finkel, a mother of six children who was a nursery school teacher and caterer, died on April 6. The longtime Silver Spring resident was 87. Finkel, the first teacher at the Young Israel Shomrei Emunah Nursery School, was raised in Brooklyn and moved as a teenager to Washington with her husband, Yankel Finkel.
“She was my nursery school teacher,” recalled family friend Ellen (Bart) Krischer. She marveled at how Finkel “very much cared about how the kids could explore who they were. It was all about what the kids wanted to say, in their own voice, and also celebrating that voice.”
“All of her grandchildren would tell you how wonderful she was,” her daughter Renee Bienenstock said. “All in the community would say how special she was.”
After years as a nursery school teacher, in 1967 Finkel began catering in Silver Spring, and often at weddings, b’nai mitzvah and circumcisions. She became a lead member of Shomrei Emunah’s kiddush committee. She also helped cater Jewish food at the White House, and there were members of Congress who requested her services. If an Israeli prime minister was in Washington, Finkel would cater those events, Bienenstock said.
“When it came to her catering, she was very trustworthy about kashrut, and she prepared everything fresh. She understood what she had to do with the kashrut rules, but the most important thing was to have the family enjoy the simcha. She had a high level of modesty, and giving of herself.”
She earned the trust of Rabbi Gedaliah Anemer of the Rabbinical Council of Greater Washington, who often supervised the kashrut of the food she catered, Krischer said.
“She was very outgoing, personable and trustworthy,” added Bienenstock.
Finkel’s beneficence was cherished by her daughter. “When we were younger, she would be given packages for the needy, like food and clothing,” Bienenstock said. “She would take them directly to people. She often said that she was rich because she had healthy children. Survivors include her husband, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.”
Bernard S. Schreft
Of North Bethesda, and formerly of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and Boston, Bernard Schreft died on May 5 at the age of 88. He was the beloved husband of Janice Schreft; devoted father of Stacey Schreft and Tracey Norwitz (Scott); adored “Papa” of Josh and Matthew Norwitz; and loving brother of Joyce Lodgen.
He was a native Bostonian and earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Boston University. He began his career as a journalist, serving as editor and feature writer for Fairchild Publications’ Women’s Wear Daily in New York City. He met his wife during that period. They were married for 58 years.
After relocating to south Florida, he became a partner and president of Gross Greenman Advertising, helping to build the firm into the Greenman Group, which, during its existence, was the nation’s leading provider of residential marketing services to builders, developers and lenders. He was a widely sought after public speaker on topics related to the homebuilding industry, a regular columnist for Builder magazine and the author of two books on marketing.
He was a founding member of Temple Solel in Hollywood, Fla., and active in many religious, civic and philanthropic organizations throughout his life. He was a talented piano player who, without formal training, could play any song he heard by ear. In retirement, he enjoyed taking piano lessons and could often be found playing his beloved baby grand. Genealogy became another hobby of his and he painstakingly tracked down his family tree, making contacts globally to do so.
He will be remembered for his love of family and friends, his tireless work ethic, his dry sense of humor, quick wit, and his passion for life and learning.
Service and interment are private. Memorial contributions may be made to the charity of one’s choice.
Arrangements by Sagel Bloomfield Danzansky Goldberg Funeral Care.