November 15, 2007
Meet some extraordinary givers
(Page 3 - Previous Page)Later, when she attended USC during the Depression years of the late 1930s, she met and married fellow student Louis Warshaw. The young couple made it a point to invite financially strapped classmates to their apartment for meals. "They would clean out the pantry," she remembers.
On special occasions, the couple took friends to Ollie Hammond's, even though the famed restaurant charged as much as 85 cents for a top sirloin steak.
Over the next decades, as Louis Warshaw prospered as a financial investor, the couple's name became ubiquitous on the donor and leadership rolls of communal and Jewish causes, a tradition Carmen has continued since her husband's death seven years ago.
Millions of dollars have gone to Cedars-Sinai, in part through the endowment of professional chairs, and to the Jewish Federation, Vista del Mar and Anti-Defamation League, as well as the Community Chest, Music Center, LACMA and USC.
The Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem has been a major beneficiary of the Warshaws, who have always maintained close ties with Israel.
"We first went there in 1948, during the fight for independence, and go whenever there's a war," Carmen Warshaw said.
The Journal asked what advice she might give young upcoming philanthropists, especially recent immigrants or their children originating in a different culture.
"You must take care of your Jewish heritage," she said, "but you must also realize your responsibilities to America as a whole."
-- Tom Tugend, Contributing Editor
Sol Teichman remembers sitting under the table in his family's Munkacz, Czechoslovakia home every Saturday night, as his grandfather, father and uncles went over the week's business at Bernard Teichman and Sons, the largest grain and bean distributor in Europe in the 1930s.
"This is what I want to do one day," he remembers thinking to himself. "I want to have my own business."
While his life's path was cruelly altered by the Nazis, he kept both that passion for business and the love for Judaism that he developed in his Chasidic home.
Teichman Enterprises is one of the largest suppliers of store fixtures in the country, outfitting such retailers as Nordstroms, The Gap and Sears with racks and display shelves. And for decades, Teichman and his wife, Ruth, have been primary supporters of Orthodox educational endeavors in Los Angeles.
"Without education, we will lose our Jewish children," he says.
Teichman is 80 years old and stands somewhere around 5 feet tall, yet with a crisp suit and a dignified sweep of silver hair against his tanned face, he is a commanding presence as he walks through his 200,000-square-foot factory and warehouse in Commerce, one of two facilities he owns.
The Teichman family name is on eight centers of learning in Los Angeles, in addition to several in Israel; on a hospital in Netanya; and on a mikvah in Munkacz. He sits on the board of the Simon Weisenthal Center and Artscroll publishing, and for 30 years has been the chairman of the board at Emek Hebrew Academy, which since 1995 has been named The Teichman Family Torah Center, thanks to a lead gift the family gave to build the Sherman Oaks campus.
Teichman was a founder of the school in 1959, even before the first of his three children was old enough to attend. While his nascent business still didn't have a lot of money then -- sometimes he slept at his downtown office for lack of gas money to make it to his Van Nuys home -- he and Ruth did what they could for the school, including helping with janitorial duties, or using the family's grocery money to pay for the school's milk delivery.
The oldest of six children, Teichman was 13 when World War II broke out.
His father was conscripted into the Hungarian labor force, and in 1944 his family was shipped to Auschwitz. Sol, 17, and his 14-year-old brother, Steve, were sent one way. His mother, three brothers and his baby sister were sent the other; he never saw them again.
The brothers survived the Warsaw Ghetto, a two-week death march to Dachau and time in several concentration camps. After being liberated by American soldiers, a search led the brothers to their father in Budapest. But they would soon be separated again, as Sol and Steve were among 200 children that Eleanor Roosevelt sponsored for American citizenship. In July 1946, they arrived in New York.
After a few years, the brothers moved to Los Angeles, where their father, who had remarried, had recently arrived. In Los Angeles and in New York, Sol worked hard to support himself -- making plastic beads in a factory, selling vacuum cleaners door to door, as a shipping clerk for a maternity clothes manufacturer.
In 1951 he was drafted into the American army and was sent to Germany. A Catholic chaplain helped the distraught survivor get transferred to France, where he taught the children of officers, though he only knew a few words of English.
In 1956, with $500 saved, Sol started his business, and in 1959 he met and married Ruth, his stepmother's niece who was visiting from Israel.
Today, they have three children and nine grandchildren, all of them involved in the family business, and all of them involved in giving back to the community.
At 80, Sol has no intention of retiring. He still works 14-hour days and clocks 250,000 miles a year in air travel. An album Ruth shows off includes photos of the couple with everyone from the pope to King Abdullah of Jordan to Steven Spielberg, mostly in travels as a survivor dignitary with the Simon Weisenthal Center.
"I think especially European Jews, survivors, need to do all they can to help their brethren," Teichman said.
"I think not only are we obligated to, but how can we not?" he says, his eyes traveling back through the decades. "How can we not?"
--- Julie Gruenbaum Fax, Education Editor