Pearl H. Glassman may be the perfect example of how anyone can become the embodiment of Tzedakah.  During a laugh-filled conversation and guided tour of her beloved home at Beth Sholom Terrace, the energetic 97-year-old left no question as to her commitment to the ideal of Jewish giving.

Growing up in New York City in the period just before and after World War I, Pearl’s commitment to giving was greatly influenced by her revered parents, Yetta and Harris Hacken.

“My parents taught me and my siblings the practice of Tzedakah.  They migrated from Austria–Hungary.  In my early youth, I remember attending Yiddish Theatre performances to benefit the needy as well as functions to raise funds for a local Workman’s Circle Home.  Though not religious, we maintained and adhered to the principles of Judaism.  My father was always raising money for Jewish causes and the needy.  Though of modest means, I learned from my parents that Tzedakah should be a lifetime commitment!”

Pearl married Bernard Glassman, who worked in accounting for the U.S. Postal Service.  Together, they used Bernard’s vacation time to travel the world, often on tramp steamers.

“I thought I was a world traveler, but read in National Geographic you’re not one until you’ve been to 100 countries.  I’ve only been to 72 other countries, so I guess I’ll never get to be a world traveler.”

Pearl and Bernard moved to Virginia Beach in 1976.  Shortly thereafter, Pearl saw that Temple Emmanuel was hosting an open house, which she decided to attend.

“The people were so hamish.  I felt welcomed and accepted.  It was like finding a second home.  My long-time membership with Temple Emanuel has been an uplifting spiritual and social experience.”

Pearl’s relationship with Temple Emmanuel continues to this day.  Her friends from the Temple hosted a 96th birthday party in her honor last year.  The memory of it remains one of Pearl’s fondest.

Bernard, who passed in 2000, spent his final years at the Beth Sholom Home.  Pearl, who was one of the first people to move into Beth Sholom Terrace when it opened in 2004, is happy to sing the praises of her home.

“I am thankful for the opportunity to live at Beth Sholom Terrace.  The people here are wonderful.  Everyone is caring and there’s so much to do.  I feel very blessed.”

Obviously, so do the people at Beth Sholom Terrace.  As we walk the halls, Pearl greets and is greeted warmly by everyone we meet.  People call Pearl “the dancer,” referring to her love for and ability on the dance floor.  She has also been honored with a plaque on the Beth Sholom Tree of Life.

Through it all, Pearl’s commitment to giving has always been foremost in her mind and heart.  Although of modest means, Pearl has made sure the Jewish community will benefit during and beyond her lifetime.

“I have two Ezra gift annuities established by my brother, Robert Hacken.  Presently, they contribute to my care.  And both Beth Sholom Home and Temple Emanuel will benefit after my demise.  This is very important to me”. 

Were we all to have Pearl H. Glassman’s energy, compassion, good humor and commitment to Judaism, the Jewish people of Tidewater and its organizations would be guaranteed a long healthy life for centuries to come. 

Beth Sholom Village is a participating partner in the Create a Jewish Legacy initiative, raising awareness of planned giving and building its endowments.  Like Pearl you can Create a Jewish Legacy for the charitable organizations that are close to your heart.

For more information about how to Create a Jewish Legacy, please call or email Philip Rovner (757-965-6109,

By: Tanya Marten

Tanya Marten is the Marketing Manager of the Tidewater Jewish Foundation

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