Dr. Harold Fluss YUHS ’74, YC ’77 and Dr. Sharon Kaplowitz ’75 YUHS have made a generous donation to Yeshiva University High School for Boys. This gift will fund two annual graduation awards in memory of their beloved parents: The Hersh and Fannie Fluss Memorial Award for Excellence in Nach and the Hersh and Fannie Fluss Memorial Award for Excellence in Hebrew Literature. These awards will first be presented in June 2013. Each year, up to two students each in Nach and in Hebrew Literature will be selected for their overall accomplishments or improvement to receive these awards.
Mr. And Mrs. Fluss were born in Poland. Mr. Fluss grew up in Rozwadow and Mrs. Fluss (nee Kinderman) in Oswiecim, later known as Auschwitz. Since Rozwadow was in the area of Poland under Russian control, Mr. Fluss and his family were exiled to Siberia. Mrs. Fluss survived a series of German work camps until she was liberated. They met at a Displaced Persons camp in Germany, were married in 1949, and immigrated to the United States in 1951. They settled in Brooklyn before moving to Inwood, right near the Washington Heights community. Mr. Fluss worked as a bookkeeper in the Garment Center and eventually as a nursing home administrator. Mrs. Fluss was a homemaker, and when her children were older, worked as the supervisor of housekeeping in the nursing home. “Our parents were very dedicated to one another and had a very solid, loving marriage,” said Dr. Fluss.
Dr. Fluss and Dr. Kaplowitz wanted to create an association between their alma mater and their parents a”h. Most importantly, they want to establish the awards for Jewish learning, particularly Nach and Hebrew Literature.
“Our father was a lifelong student of both subjects,” noted Dr. Fluss. “He learned when he was a young child in cheder, where the breadth of a Jewish education was more expansive than today. Children didn’t only learn gemarah, but also Nach, Hebrew literature and poetry, as Zionism was in the air at the time. After he immigrated to America, our father took every opportunity to learn and always had a sefer in his hands.”
Dr. Fluss continued, “These awards are a perfect way to honor our parents, who truly valued Jewish education, and our father’s love and scholarship of these subjects.”
“Our father was a scholar in all areas,” added Dr. Kaplowitz. “He and my mother came to America with little knowledge of the language and culture, but he mastered English quickly, reading The New York Times daily. Nevertheless, our parents retained the rich traditions of the ‘alta haim,’ the old world, and Jewish learning.”
As an example of Mr. Fluss’s Torah erudition, Dr. Kaplowitz related that when her father attended the shiurim of Rabbi Jonathan Rosenblatt of the Riverdale Jewish Center, the rabbi made sure he was seated at his side, as Mr. Fluss could be counted on to supply a quick citation or reference.
Despite such demonstration of Jewish knowledge, Mr. Fluss’s innate modesty was recalled by Dr. Kaplowitz. She said, “I’m sure he would be perplexed to learn that any kind of honor associated with Torah learning would bear his name. He was all passion with no conceit. I’m also sure my mother would have urged him to accept it. She was his strongest source of support and encouragement.”
Mrs. Fluss passed away in 2009, while Mr. Fluss passed away in 2012, after suffering from Alzheimer’s dementia for several years.
“I truly believe our father, at his core, was pure yiddishkeit,” said Dr. Kaplowitz. “When he was failing in the latter stages of the disease, he often sat at the table with his talis, tefillin, and siddur, and davened most of the day. Whenever we came to visit, he would greet us with ‘Gut Shabbos’ or ‘Gut Yom Tov,’ no matter the actual day. “
Dr. Fluss and Dr. Kaplowitz highlight their parents’ devotion to their grandchildren. Dr. Fluss and his wife Donna have two children, Josh YC ’13 and Gabriella (Gavi), a freshman at the University of Maryland. Dr. Kaplowitz and her husband, Michael AE ’89, are the parents of Elianna, a junior at Barnard College, and Zev, who is learning in Yeshivat Lev HaTorah in Israel this year.