Norman P. Zarwin grew up in Philadelphia during the Great Depression. Synagogue membership and religious training were unaffordable for his family. However, his mother and father ingrained in him a deep appreciation for Jewish values, culture and tradition. "Being Jewish was always a part of my soul," he said. Likewise, Marlene grew up with similar traditions.
Later, Norman's aunt and uncle became very involved in Jewish and Israeli communal life and, together with Norman's parents, served as role models for him.
Indeed, he has followed in their footsteps for more than 40 years, holding positions of leadership with Federation and Golden Slipper Club & Charities, where he served as president of the Club & Charities, president of its Health and Rehab Center and chairman of Slipper's Center for Seniors, both of the latter of which he was instrumental in establishing. Norman received Slipper's Gold Medallion award and numerous other awards, and helped establish a Golden Slipper Club Scholarship Program. His charitable and civic involvement also includes service as president of the Jewish National Fund Council of Philadelphia and University Lodge of B'nai B'rith. His commitment to education is evidenced by his involvement as chairman of the Scholarship Foundation of the Union League.
Norman was recently honored by the American Friends of Magen David Adom with the Organization's 2009 Lifeline Award. The agency supports the life-saving efforts of Israel's only government-mandated ambulance and emergency medical-response organization.
Marlene has served as president of the Henrietta Szold Group of Hadassah, is a Lion of Judah and is involved with Women of Vision.
Norman, a longtime Federation trustee, has served as a chairman of numerous Federation committees. He and his wife just joined the ranks of Federation's prestigious Legacy Society, a group of philanthropic individuals and families who make permanent endowed gifts of $100,000 or more. The couple made their gift of an insurance policy to the Federation Endowments Corporation to ensure that Federation will always be able to provide for Jews in need.
"As long as there are Jews in need, there will always be a Federation, and our gift will help to make sure that Federation will be there to care for them," she said.
The couple cares deeply about all of the populations Federation has targeted as funding priorities: individuals and families facing hunger or food insecurity, older adults and the citizens of Israel.
However, caring for our community's elders truly resonates with the Zarwins. "People are living longer, often outliving their financial resources," explained Norman Zarwin. "It is important that Federation exists to provide the services and support needed to help older adults live in comfort and with dignity."
The Zarwins are inspired by the words of Rabbi Akiba Ben Joseph, who wrote: "Love your neighbor as yourself, this is the Torah's great principle."
They interpret these teachings to mean "be fair and treat people with respect and justice." This is the guiding principle behind the 50-year-old law firm of Zarwin Baum DeVito Kaplan Schaer & Toddy, P.C., of which Norman Zarwin is a founding shareholder.
Rabbi Akiba's words have also guided him in his role as husband, father and grandfather. He and Marlene are the parents of Amy Steinberg and her husband, Gary; Stephen Zarwin and his wife, Dawn; and Deborah Rose and her husband, James.
The couple count their 10 grandchildren as their most precious assets.