The two greatest people I ever knew were my maternal grandparents, Emil and Rozalia Berla. They both survived the Holocaust, both surviving their parents and siblings. My grandfather lost his first wife and young daughter; the Americans at Buchenwald liberated him. My grandmother was liberated from the concentration camp by the Soviets and they left her to die because she suffered from typhoid. The Soviet soldiers were surprised to see her still alive three days later because my grandmother had a will to live like no one else.
They were truly an inspiration to me; they both survived one of the most horrific and barbaric events in human history to live fairly normal lives, full of love and selflessness. As a father, I try to pay that love and selflessness forward.
One of my favorite places on Earth is Stony Brook University or as I still call it, the State University of New York at Stony Brook where I proudly graduated in 1994. The place sort of reminds me of my grandparents in the sense that the place did a lot for me and taught me lessons that I carry to this day (meeting the right friends there helped as well) and never asked for anything it returned. Like my grandparents, Stony Brook never made itself out to be more than what it was, it allowed me the freedom to grow and let my voice to be heard.
So what better way than paying back the debt I owed to my grandparents and Stony Brook (which I never will fully repay) by combining the people I love with the place I love?
So I started The Rozalia and Emil Berla Memorial Scholarship Fund that will benefit a Stony Brook undergraduate who has shown excellence in history, primarily the history about the Holocaust. The first year for the scholarship is fully funded, but I’d like to raise more money so that the fund can grow and continue into the future.
What’s the point? I’m not the guy who is going to hit you up for golf outings, charity events, etc. This is the one cause I am going to solicit money for. I’m going to be Man of the Year somewhere where I’m co-sponsoring the event (sorry, Lois) and begging you all to attend.
So if my articles helped you in anyway or got you a client or my free phone call of advice benefited you or if I made a connection that benefited you or made a speech at your event, I only ask that you consider giving something to this tax-deductible scholarship fund. Not asking for $1,000 or even a $100, a $5, $10, or $20 donation would suffice.
They are working for an on-line donation link. Until that’s up, make checks payable to Stony Brook Foundation. The Berla Scholarship should be noted on the memo line.
Send to Jane McArthur c/o College of Arts & Sciences, E3320 Melville Library, Stony Brook, New York 11794-3391. All gifts will be noted with a tax receipt.
If you make a donation, please let me know because the University won’t let me know (their privacy guidelines). I truly appreciate the consideration.