It all started with tennis racquets. In the 1960s, Floridians Irene Bookman and Shirley Knappe were in Israel and visited ALYN Hospital. While there, they saw children playing wheelchair tennis. They were so impressed that they immediately returned to their hotel, got their own racquets and donated them to the children. Back in Florida, they set up a series of parlor meetings to share with the Jewish community the magic of ALYN, and that is how the Miami Friends of ALYN Chapter was born. In the early 1970s, Beverly became President of the chapter, which at its height had over 250 members.
Beverly visited the hospital twice with her husband David, the first time in 1998. In the words of Brenda Hirsch, Director of Resource Development at ALYN Hospital: “I believe the deep all-encompassing love that Bev has for our children and our work stemmed from that first visit which she made with her beloved David in 1998 and has never waned but only grew stronger and deeper with the years.”
When asked what moved her most on that first visit to the hospital, Bev replied, “You walk in, there is no crying, every child is happy. I was so impressed seeing the Arab children alongside the Jewish children. It was unheard of in those days.”
Over the past 50 years, Bev has run countless fundraising events - Bingo nights, bridge parties, fundraisers at the racetrack, events for families at her synagogue (Beth El of Hollywood), beautiful dinner galas and informative parlor meetings. She was creative and persistent in her attempts to raise awareness about ALYN Hospital and Israel. The most recent (pre-pandemic) event was a bridge party in February 2020 with a number of AFAH staff and board members in attendance.
Beverly is celebrating this milestone with her family: two children, five grandchildren and six great grandchildren. Her children, Jude and Daniel, share their parents' love for ALYN and have been integral in supporting Beverly in the Miami events over the years.
In a moving tribute to Beverly, Brenda Hirsch expressed it best: “With my hand on my heart, I can honestly say that if you had not taken on the Presidency of the Miami Friends of ALYN when you did, it would have ceased to exist many a decade ago. It was only thanks to your love of and dedication and devotion to our children and tireless energy which gave such vital exposure to ALYN Hospital: our children and work in Miami and beyond.
To our children’s ‘Saintly Savta Bev’ know that we love you dearly and we wish you the happiest of happiest 99th birthdays. There are not sufficient words to thank you enough for all that you have given of yourself to raise such vitally needed funds over the decades to help us to ensure that generation upon generation of children undergoing rehabilitation in ALYN have reached their maximum potential and returned home to be contributing participants in their families, schools, and communities to the greatest extent possible.”
Beverly, from all of us at American Friends of ALYN and the entire ALYN community, we say, “Thank you for all you have done for ALYN. You are a role model and an inspiration to us all. May you live 'ad meah v'esrim' – ‘until 120. '. Happy, happy 99th birthday!”