Remembering David Flaum
Updated: Sep 18, 2020
When you walk into the Winnick Hillel Center for Jewish Life, you are immediately greeted with a bright feeling of warmth and life. The David Flaum Atrium has been home to so much of what has made Syracuse Hillel, Syracuse Hillel over the last 17 years. From weekly candle lightings, to Oy Capella rehearsals, to our snack bar, the Flaum Atrium is the embodiment of Jewish life at Syracuse University. Students can walk into Hillel and know immediately that they are home.
“Syracuse Hillel has given me the physical and metaphorical space to laugh, cry, think, learn, and grow into my most authentic self,” says Hillel Jewish Student Union President Ronni Isenberg ‘21. “Everything about my successes at college, from academics to leadership to creating genuine relationships with peers and staff that will last a lifetime, is rooted in Syracuse Hillel and the beautiful building that I can call home at 102 Walnut Place.”
In the late 90’s, Syracuse Hillel was bursting at the seams. There were thousands of Jewish students hungry for opportunities to connect with one another and with their Jewish identity, but not nearly enough space to physically house them. Syracuse Hillel needed a space to call our own that would complement our additional home at Hendricks Chapel in the heart of campus. When it came time to kickoff a capital campaign to build the Winnick Hillel Center, both Marvin Lender ‘63 and David Flaum ‘68 stepped up to the plate. They co-chaired the $6 million campaign that eventually gifted Syracuse Hillel the 16,000 sqft, state of the art facilities.
When reflecting on Marvin’s time on the Syracuse University Board of Trustees, he recalls David’s deep impact. “David Flaum was one of the reasons that my time on the Syracuse University Board of Trustees was so meaningful. David truly understood the role of a trustee and all the responsibilities associated with that position. SU was an important part of his life, and he not only made significant gifts to the university, but he was a person who rolled up his sleeves and was not shy about his active participation which meant a lot to me, as well as the others with whom he worked.
“I specifically appreciated working alongside him in the development of our permanent Hillel building on campus. His commitment to his Jewishness as well as his passion for Syracuse came together at that juncture and helped define him as a person. Syracuse will miss him, and I will as well.”
It is because of passionate alumni like David that Syracuse Hillel has grown into one of the premier Hillel’s in the country. Without the generosity, leadership, and inspiration from David, tens of thousands of Jewish students wouldn’t have the opportunities they have had over the last decade and half. “David Flaum dedicated countless hours and effort in addition to great financial support for Syracuse Hillel,” says Syracuse Hillel Board of Governors President Barbara Kurman G‘78. “We are so very grateful for his legacy and on behalf of all of us at Hillel, may his memory be for a blessing.”