Some people talk about the need to strengthen the Jewish community; others take the reins and make things happen. It was the latter group to which Anita Kaufman belonged.

A longtime supporter of Chabad-Lubavitch programming, Kaufman—most recently of Boca Raton, Fla., though she retained strong ties to Long Island, N.Y., where she lived for decades—died on Jan. 3. She was 77 years old.

“She loved Chabad,” declares Rabbi Moishe Denburg, co-director of Chabad of Central Boca Raton with his wife, Rivka. “It was exactly what she stood for in her own personal life—Jewish education, giving Jews a strong Jewish identity of Yiddishkeit and making them proud to be Jewish.”

“She was very strong-minded, compassionate and kind,” adds Rabbi Tuvia Teldon, director of the Jewish Academy in Suffolk County on Long Island and co-director of Lubavitch of Long Island in Commack, N.Y., with his wife, Chaya.

A registered nurse, she also had a master’s degree in social work.

Teldon goes on to say that she was tremendously determined in business and in many different areas of her life. She put her time and energy into Chabad; that was her main charity, and she believed very strongly in the message of the Rebbe—Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory. She received a blessing and not one, but two dollars from the Rebbe when she and her husband, Morris Kaufman, first met him decades ago.

“The couple was very involved with the Hebrew Academy of Suffolk County for decades, and they always felt that Jewish education was the key to Jewish continuity, and that’s where they put their efforts,” says Teldon. “Their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren all went, or are going to, Jewish day schools.”

‘Proactive Every Day’

After Morris passed away in 1986, Kaufman continued to support causes she believed in and valued.

In 1989, she helped establish a Jewish school in Lake Grove, Long Island—called the Maimonides Day School—now a cheder attended by children of Chabad emissaries in the area. Later, in 2004, Kaufman helped fund the Jewish Academy of Suffolk County in Commack, N.Y.

“She was responsible for bringing me here on shlichus,” says Denburg, who arrived in Florida in 1989. “She was the one who had an interest in starting a Chabad center in Boca Raton, where she bought a second home after her husband died.”

The Morris & Anita Kaufman Chabad Center on the Helen & Julius Reiter Campus in Boca Raton, Fla.
The Morris & Anita Kaufman Chabad Center on the Helen & Julius Reiter Campus in Boca Raton, Fla.

The Morris & Anita Kaufman Chabad Center on the Helen & Julius Reiter Campus is now a central home for Jews in South Florida.

“There are hundreds and hundreds of potential Anita Kaufmans in the world,” says Denburg. “Yet, there aren’t. She was a visionary, and someone who, every single day, was proactive in changing the environment she found herself in. ... The world lost a very serious, humble activist who, practically, made a difference. She was short in stature, but she was a giant [in life].”

Kaufman was born in 1937 in the Bronx, N.Y. She is survived by her children: Andrew Kaufman; Ivan Kaufman; Stephanie Maza; and Marcia Kaufman; nine grandchildren; five great-grandchildren; and a sister, Betty Schecht, of Tampa, Fla.

Rabbi Rabbi Moishe Denburg, co-director of Chabad of Central Boca Raton with his wife, Rivka, says Anita Kaufman was “a visionary, and someone who, every single day, was proactive in changing the environment she found herself in.”
Rabbi Rabbi Moishe Denburg, co-director of Chabad of Central Boca Raton with his wife, Rivka, says Anita Kaufman was “a visionary, and someone who, every single day, was proactive in changing the environment she found herself in.”