Some may say that tzedakah and tikkun olam are integral parts of Ronald Perilstein's DNA. When Perilstein steps up to the podium at the National Museum of American Jewish History on June 16 to receive the 2011 Golden Slipper Club & Charities Gold Medallion Award, he will become the fourth member of his family to be recognized by the 89-year-old organization for his commitment to "outstanding community service."
Perilstein's maternal grandfather, George I. Sall, a past president of Golden Slipper, began this cycle of l'dor v'dor in 1962. Ronald's father, William Perilstein, a permanent member of Golden Slipper's Board of Governors, received the medallion in 1989. Six years later, his uncle, Leonard S. Malmud, like Sall, an organization past president, received his own recognition.
He expresses great pride in being honored by an organization with a rich history of charitable involvement. Golden Slipper's founding members in 1922 were a group of Jewish Masons who gathered regularly to socialize and play cards. They divided up their winnings and distributed them to families in need of money for food, coal and other essentials.
These acts of kindness continue today. Golden Slipper's nearly 1,000 members support scores of people in need throughout the Delaware Valley through a summer camp program in the Pocono Mountains, two senior centers, an annual Passover seder for some 600 senior adults who might otherwise not celebrate the holiday, college scholarship assistance for deserving students and emergency grants to help support families who are experiencing financial hardships or crises.
Perilstein says he is "humbled" to be part of a family with "a powerful legacy of compassion and concern for others." He emphasizes that the family's charitable involvement -- in such diverse community organizations as Golden Slipper, the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, Federation Early Learning Services, the Mitzvah Food Project, the Jewish Theological Seminary, the Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy, Albert Einstein Healthcare Network and the Madlyn and Leonard Abramson Center for Jewish Life -- is a time-honored tradition.
Mother's Selfless Example
He credits his mother, Cookie Perilstein, a longtime volunteer with Federation's Mitzvah Food Pantry at the Kaiserman JCC in Wynnewood, with placing the needs of others above her own. He recalls her selfless decision to mark a recent birthday with a low-key family party replete with birthday cake, but no presents.
"Mom asked that, in lieu of gifts, money be donated to the Mitzvah Food Project. She told us that while Dad and she are able to afford and buy anything they need, this is not the case for those served by the Mitzvah Food Project."
Synagogue leadership is also a family hallmark. Perilstein's great-grandfather, Harry S. Cohen, founded Har Zion Temple and served as its first president -- a position he held for 25 years. William Perilstein also was a past president of Har Zion, and Ron, the fourth generation to worship at the Penn Valley synagogue, is a former treasurer and an incoming vice president.
His paternal grandfather, Nathan Perilstein, founded Congregation B'nai Aaron in Wynnefield, now a part of Suburban Jewish Community Center-B'nai Aaron in Havertown, and was a co-founder of an area yeshiva.
"My parents and grandparents have instilled deep within me a passion for involvement in the Jewish community," he enthuses, explaining that they inspired him to "make his own mark" at an early age. He became involved with Federation after college, participating in the 1987 Zachor Mission to Israel and holding key leadership positions within Federation's Young Leadership Council. He is a former member of its Young Men's Cabinet, and he received Federation's Young Leadership Award in 1998.
Following in 'Large Footsteps'
Ronald Perilstein's current charitable and professional accomplishments indicate that he is following in his family's rather large footsteps. An insurance professional since 1990, he is the founder of The Arjay Group, Inc. in Narberth. He puts his business expertise to use on the executive committee of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia's Endowments Corporation, where he chairs the subcommittee on life insurance. A former member of Federation's Board of Trustees, he currently serves on the executive committee of its Business & Professional Services affinity group.
He recently completed a three-year term as chairman of the board of Federation Early Learning Services, which provides early childhood education to more than 1,000 children throughout the Philadelphia area. He is also a member of the board of directors of the Madlyn and Leonard Abramson Center for Jewish Life where he serves on the Human Resources and Retirement Planning Committees.
Ronald and his wife, Jayne, a vice president of Federation's Women's Philanthropy affinity group and a member of the Trustees Council of Penn Women, are gratified that their daughter, Julie, has started her community service in a national leadership role with yPenn, the University of Pennsylvania's official young alumni organization. They are confident that their son, Alex, who recently graduated from Cornell University, will also have an impact on the Philadelphia community in the years ahead.
For more information about the Golden Slipper Club and Charities Gala dinner, which provides revenues in support of key organization programs and activities, call 610-660-0510, or go to: www.goldenslipperclub.org .