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Harriet Kupferberg, QCC donor, dies at 83

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Kupferberg sat on the fund board at QCC for 36 years Ð a body that is responsible for raising and managing donations made to the college Ð and most recently served as the chairwoman of the Holocaust Center's fund-raising committee.The center, expected to be completed by spring 2009, was named the Harriet and Kenneth Kupferberg Holocaust Resource Center and Archives last year after she gave a $1 million donation. Kenneth, her late husband, died in 1993.Her son, Mark Kupferberg, said his mother handled her philanthropy privately and "it took a lot of arm twisting" to get her name on the building."She was very reluctant to get any kind of recognition for her philanthropic activities," he said, noting his mother was finally convinced after she was told having her name on the center would make it easier to raise funds for an endowment. "She only did it because she felt it would complete the project."Kupferberg may have seen the need to fund a Holocaust center based on her parents' example.When her father was the president of the Free Synagogue of Flushing in the 1930s, he learned Adolf Hitler's plan to persecute Jews in Germany was accelerating.He and other community members started a fund-raising campaign run out of his dining room to help Jews leave Germany. The money was used to bribe officials to allow Jews to escape to France through secret exit routes, Mark Kupferberg said."This was the beginning of (Harriet Kupferberg's) awareness and it continued throughout her life," he said, noting that his mother believed that there were other atrocities around the world that needed to be documented.When Kupferberg's mother died in the 1970s, she discovered while cleaning out her desk a letter written by Albert Einstein in 1939 congratulating her father for helping out German Jews. Ironically, Kupferberg's husband and his two brothers began working on the Manhattan Project, which led to the building of the atomic bomb, in Los Alamos, N.M. four years after Einstein wrote the letter. Einstein had written to President Franklin D. Roosevelt warning that the Germans were attempting to develop the bomb and urged Roosevelt to begin his own nuclear bomb program.Kupferberg was active in the organizations she funded, he said, which included Temple Beth Sholom in Flushing Ð a synagogue she helped found Ð the American Red Cross, Queens College and New York University."She really got her hands into whatever she was supporting," he said. "She didn't just write a check to a charity. She knew she had to do more than just give money."It was not known how much money she has donated over the years, her son said."Philanthropy was always a special portion of her life," her son said. Eduardo Mart’, the president of QCC, said Kupferberg "was more than a funder. She was a mover."He said she was interested in the specifics of the Holocaust Center project, noting she would meet with the architect and, with a "gentle but persistent insistence," suggested that the building's walls be made of Jerusalem stone. "My only regret after all these years is that she won't see (the center) completed," Mart’ said. He credited Kupferberg with transforming the college's foundation from what she called a "mom and pop operation" to "the big leagues."It was really with Mrs. Kupferberg's enthusiasm and energy that we were able to move the foundation," he said.Kupferberg attended PS 20, Bayside High School, New York University Ð where she received a degree in education Ð and Queens College, where she earned her master's in education.She was also a former president of the Flushing Council's Women Association and the Long Island Federation of Women's Clubs.Kupferberg was the secretary to Flushing Hospital's community advisory board and became involved in restoring the John Bowne House in Flushing.She was a teacher at the Horace Mann Lincoln School and Great Neck public schools while volunteering with various organizations. She is survived by her son Mark, daughters Anne Kupferberg Pepper and Sarah Kupferberg and eight grandchildren Ð Robert, Lily, Leah, Hillary, Kara, Kaila, Kenny and Josh.Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 173.

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