A lifelong champion of human rights, Dorothy Binstock, of Oakland, made a career out of volunteering her time to promote justice, both locally and internationally.
Binstock died Monday, May 24, at Shadyside Hospital after relatively sudden complications from heart disease. She was 92.
“She had a good run,” said her niece Mildred Myers. “She was 92 years old and functional right up until the end.”
Born in Pittsburgh, Binstock graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in social work “at a time when women who graduated from college did not work,” Myers said. Instead, for the last 65 years, Binstock devoted her time as a volunteer for organizations that promoted human rights across genders, religions and races.
Binstock served as president of Jewish Women International (formerly
B’nai B’rith Women), and was an honorary national vice chair of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith. Locally, she served as a member of the Mayor’s Commission on Human Relations (now the Pittsburgh Commission on Human Relations), and was selected by the Jewish Association on Aging in 2003 as one of it’s “Eight over 80” honorees.
During the Nixon presidency, she was appointed to the federal Women’s Advisory Council of the Office of Equal Economic Opportunity. And in the early 1990s, she organized the first citywide meeting about domestic violence in Pittsburgh.
“The walls and shelves of her apartment are overflowing with the awards she had gotten,” Myers said.
Binstock married her first cousin, Isadore Binstock, when she was 19. They were married for almost 50 years when he died in 1987.
“She and Uncle Iz had a pact,” recalled Myers. “No matter how much traveling she had to do, she wouldn’t leave him alone for more than three nights in a row. If her trip was longer than three nights, he would go with her.”
“My Uncle Iz was tremendously proud of her,” Myers continued. “She was very proud of her own accomplishments, too.”
Though an early feminist, Myers said her aunt was traditional enough to “not respond positively to the word ‘feminist.’ ”
“She would have thought that ‘feminists’ referred to women who put their careers ahead of their families,” Myers said. “But she didn’t. She managed to do both.”
Binstock is survived by her daughter, Marjorie B. Ugent of Miami, and grandson Bradley A. Ugent, also of Miami, and by many nieces, nephews and cousins, including nephew Michael Melnick, who looked after her for many years.
Funeral services were held on Wednesday, May 26, at Congregation Shaare Torah, with interment at B’nai Israel Cemetery.
Memorial contributions may be sent to The Children’s Home in Israel, c/o Jewish Women International, 2000 M Street, NW, Suite 720, Washington, DC 20036, or the Anti-Defamation League, Department RL, P. O. Box 96226, Washington, DC 20090.
(Toby Tabachnick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)