Hannah Kamin, a woman well known throughout Pittsburgh and Palm Beach, Fla., for her philanthropy, as well as her talent for getting others to give, passed away on April 7 after a long condition of frontal temporal lobe dementia. She was 82.
Her husband of 59 years, Marvin Kamin, a real estate developer, predeceased her by 18 days.
Kamin, the daughter of Helen Weiss Honig and Alex Honig, was a graduate of Chatham University. She was energetic, intelligent and charismatic, and used those talents to help shape her communities, according to her daughter, Amy Kamin.
“She was ahead of her time,” said Kamin. “If times had been different, she would’ve had a real career. She probably would have been the head of some corporation.”
Instead, Kamin’s mother fell naturally into a lifestyle devoted to her family and the causes important to her.
The list of her philanthropic efforts is exhaustive and includes Chatham University, where she led very successful capital campaigns, the American Jewish Committee and the executive committee of the Jewish Association on Aging. She served on the executive and grant assessment committee of the Jewish Healthcare Foundation and as president of the Ladies Hospital Aid Society of Western Pennsylvania.
She was devoted to her Pittsburgh congregation, Rodef Shalom, where she was an officer and a trustee, and chaired the congregation’s philanthropic fund. She left a lasting mark on the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, having served as its women’s division president and establishing the Lion of Judah in Pittsburgh, whose annual luncheon is endowed by her family in her honor.
“Hannah Kamin was a leader of our Federation in the true sense of the word,” said Jeff Finkelstein, the Federation’s president and CEO. “It was her will and passion that helped bring the Lion of Judah program, one of the most successful fundraising initiatives in modern philanthropic history, to our Federation.”
As the Federation’s campaign chair, he added, Kamin raised “a record amount of money and did so by speaking publicly and individually with donors and not yet donors about her love of our community and the role Federation plays in sustaining it. She was, above all, a good friend and I will miss her terribly.”
Kamin was also active at the Winchester Thurston School, the National Council of Jewish Women and NA’AMAT USA Pittsburgh Council.
“She was motivated,” said her daughter. “There was not a lazy bone in her body. She was sweet, bubbly and social, but very smart. She had insight into people.”
Those qualities propelled her as a fundraiser.
“Not only would she call, but she would explain why you should give so that you could never say ‘no’ to her,” Kamin said, adding that the amount of money her mother raised for any campaign consistently exceeded the goal.
She was known as a first-class entertainer, and never failed to go the extra mile to make sure her parties and other events were accomplished in “perfect style,” said her daughter. “When she was hosting a UJF [Federation] event, she would have Zabar’s in New York overnight fresh croissants at her own expense, because you couldn’t get those in Pittsburgh.”
There was not a lazy bone in her body. She was sweet, bubbly and social, but very smart. She had insight into people.
The Palm Beach community also benefited from Kamin’s knack for fundraising, and she held leadership positions there in several organizations, including the American Lung Association, Ballet Florida, the Jewish National Fund and the Jewish Guild for the Blind.
She also held many leadership positions on a national level, including as a member of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, The Millennium Committee to Save American Treasures, and the Women’s Leadership Forum of the Democratic National Committee.
Above all, she was a dedicated mother and wife, said Amy Kamin.
“My sister and I had a great relationship with our parents,” she said. “We never had a day of problems with them. And they led by example. They supported everything we did, letting us take the lead and make our own choices.”
Marvin and Hannah Kamin were also “devoted to each other,” their daughter said. “They had a great life together. They traveled, and they had great friends.”
In addition to her daughter Amy, Kamin is survived by daughter Margie Feitler (Richard) of Chicago; and grandchildren Sydney Kamin Sadick, Mitchell Kamin Sozio, and Abigail, Nicole, Alexander and Kyle Feitler.
Interment was at West View Cemetery of Rodef Shalom Congregation. Contributions may be made to the Hannah Kamin Lion of Judah Fund of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh. PJC
Toby Tabachnick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.