November 1, 2021

Co-Chairperson Sharon Tobin Kestenbaum is the First Woman to Lead NMAJH’s Board

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. (November 1, 2021) – The National Museum of American Jewish History (NMAJH) welcomes the new Co-Chairpersons of its Board of Trustees: Sharon Tobin Kestenbaum and Joseph S. Zuritsky.

“Having worked closely with Sharon and Joe, I know this dynamic duo will steward NMAJH into further stability and success,” said Dr. Misha Galperin, NMAJH CEO. “Under their leadership, we expect NMAJH to thrive, particularly in the key areas of fundraising, board development, and future planning.”

Ms. Kestenbaum is the first woman Chair or Co-Chair of the NMAJH Board, on which she has served since 2011. She is President of Bala Properties Group, Inc., an investment and management company in regional real estate. She co-chairs the Museum’s Strategic Advancement and Development Committees and chaired the Museum’s highly successful 2020 Only in America Gala & Auction Honoring David Copperfield and Harry Houdini. Ms. Kestenbaum is currently the Vice Chair of the Board of Directors at Children’s Crisis Treatment Center and is nominated to become the Chair beginning January 2022.

In addition, her philanthropic endeavors include The Wistar Institute, Har Zion Temple, and the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia. Kestenbaum previously worked for Raytheon Company in Andover, MA in their Missiles System Division and for Chemical Bank in New York in the lending, workout, and investment banking groups. Kestenbaum has a BS in economics from the University of Pennsylvania and an MBA from The Wharton School. She lives in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania with her husband, Joseph; their five children, David, Matthew, Eli, Sara, and Jacob; and their dogs, Simba and Beau.

“I’m excited to take on this expanded NMAJH leadership role. Everyone at the Museum knows I like to roll up my sleeves and dig in and I am eager to get started,” Kestenbaum said. “And I’m thrilled to help guide the Museum into a new era in partnership with my co-chair Joe Zuritsky. He is a strong, business-minded leader (not to mention a mensch), who cares as much about the Museum as I do. At a time when so many issues divide us as Americans, this Museum can be a welcoming beacon for all visitors to explore and celebrate how Jews and our nation’s diverse communities have contributed to our country. ”

Among the Museum’s longest serving Trustees, Mr. Zuritsky has been a NMAJH Board member since 1993. He and his late wife Renée Zuritsky z”l were honored at the Museum’s 2018 Only in America Gala. Mr. Zuritsky is Chairman and CEO of Parkway Corporation and has largely been responsible for the growth realized by Parkway Corporation over the last 50+ years. He’s served on the Boards of the Philadelphia African American Museum, the American Jewish Committee, the Philadelphia-Israel Chamber of Commerce, the National Liberty Museum, the Japan America Society of Greater Philadelphia, the American Technion Society, and the Philadelphia Parking Association. He is the past president and chairman of the National Parking Association, past president of the Jewish National Fund, founder and former chairman of the Center City District, and a supporter of the Jewish National Fund, the United Way, and many other civic and charitable organizations. Mr. Zuritsky earned a BS in Business Administration and a JD from Temple University. He lives in Center City Philadelphia.

“The Museum is such an important institution for Philadelphia and our country,” Zuritsky said. “The way we engage visitors with the stories of American Jewish life is a powerful tool for mitigating bigotry and hate. These are our stories collectively; this is our shared history. I have always been proud to serve on the Board and I take this new responsibility seriously, and with a lot of joy,” Zuritsky continued. “I have a great partner in my Co-Chair Sharon Tobin Kestenbaum. She represents the new generation of NMAJH leadership that will carry us forward.”

After nine years, first as Co-Chair with Ron Rubin z’l and later as Chair, Phil Darivoff has become Chairperson Emeritus & Trustee.  Mr. Darivoff led the Museum through its challenging debt issues and the pandemic and steps down from the Chairperson role with the Museum poised for a bright new future.

“I am incredibly grateful to Phil Darivoff for his steadfast guidance and leadership through what has been one of the most challenging times in our Museum’s history,” Dr. Galperin said. “His guidance and effort have been crucial. I look forward to his continued involvement and friendship.”

As of September 17, NMAJH officially exited Chapter 11 status with its debt eliminated, thanks to generous contributions from its Trustees and supporters. The only museum in the nation dedicated exclusively to exploring and interpreting the American Jewish experience is poised to continue and build upon its important work for generations to come.

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Established in 1976, and situated on Philadelphia’s Independence Mall, the National Museum of American Jewish History is the only museum in the nation dedicated exclusively to exploring and interpreting the American Jewish experience. NMAJH presents educational programs and experiences that preserve, explore, and celebrate the history of Jews in America. Its purpose is to connect Jews more closely to their heritage and to inspire in people of all backgrounds a greater appreciation for the diversity of the American Jewish experience and the freedoms to which Americans aspire.


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