Pearl Pearlson Skolnik, '56

Yearbook image of Pearl Skolnik
Current image of Pearl Skolnik

Pearl began school in Alabama's two-room school, graduating OACS in 1956 at the age of 16. Pearl's parents sent her to study and work in a kibbutz in Israel for one year after which she used her NYS scholarship to study at the University of Buffalo, where she earned a BA in History and Government, graduating Magna Cum Laude. Pearl taught Hebrew at local synagogues and organized a socialist Zionist youth movement in Buffalo at the same time. In 1961 she moved to NYC where she organized the same movement in that city, and worked in the advertising department of a publishing company.

Pearl married Fred Skolnik in 1962. She worked that year as a teacher at a school in Brooklyn. In 1963 Pearl and Fred moved to Israel, living in Jerusalem, where they worked for Israel Program for Scientific Translations translating and editing technical books from Russian to English for the United States Government.

From 1964 to 1965 Pearl pursued a Master's Degree with graduate studies in Jewish History at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. In 1974 Pearl helped organize the 50 year Jubilee at the Technion in Haifa (Israel Institute of Technology) where she helped set up the Samuel Neaman Institute of Advanced Studies. She continued her education with graduate studies in History of the Jewish People at Haifa University in Haifa from 1976 through 1978.

While Pearl and Fred raised three children, she formed Pearl Skolnik Realty acting as CEO until illness forced her to pass the management to her nephew. She assisted thousands of Jews to make their aliya to Israel from England and the United States, including four of her sisters. "Her highest standards of ethics and morality made her a most trusted leader in the real estate world of Jerusalem and Beit Shemesh. Her desire to help people move to the Holy Land was so altruistic that clients ranged from dignitaries and celebrities to religious leaders to newlyweds starting out on their own." Pearl did not just sell a property she mentored her clients to find an appropriate community where they would be successful in their move. Pearl lived the life of a minority in our community and was often the brunt of physical and verbal insults. She drew on the strength she developed from this to assist her multi-national clients to assimilate into a new culture.

When Pearl moved to Israel she did not turn her back on America, but turned her face toward the developing nation that was to become her new home. She had been raised to love America because her father and his sisters were saved when they were able to leave Russian Poland. More than 300 members of her father's family were murdered by the Nazis because they could not leave Poland.

Pearl is remembered for contributing in her own way to the building of the country of Israel which was but a few years old when she began her Zionist work. There is a street named after her in one of the new neighborhoods in Jerusalem .She felt great fulfillment in living in Israel, and being part of this historical moment in the Jewish saga of survival.

She was also an activist for scores of unrecognized causes, often doing mitzvahs (secret kindnesses and charitable acts). She organized and financed a support group for those suffering from depression that served both Arabs and Jews. With her family she helped organize and finance the Yad Gedaliah agency which provides support programs for at-risk youth, financial help for soldiers to obtain education, personal needs for soldiers' families and offers programs to assist bereaved military families and broken families in crisis.

Pearl died in 2006, just days before her 50th OA high school reunion which she was planning to attend and had helped plan. Pearl is remembered as a Pioneer, Scholar and Mentor.