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Meet Flora Atkin

Meet Flora Atkin
"Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel once said 'The test of a people is how it behaves toward the old.' Since the Ten Commandments say: 'Honor thy Father and Mother,' there is no better way to accomplish this, than to take care of all of the elderly. This is our faith. This is our responsibility."
– Flora Atkin

Photo 2010 Jonathan Atkin

Native Washingtonians Flora and the late Maury Atkin grew up ensconced in the local Jewish community. Flora's great-grandfather was a founding member of Adas Israel Congregation and her father's bar-mitzvah was the last to be held at the original synagogue at 3rd and G streets in 1906. Maury's bar-mitzvah was held at the original 6th and I synagogue in 1930.

The Atkins met at a 1938 dance at University of Maryland where Maury was studying economics as a graduate student. At the time, Flora, an undergraduate at George Washington University, was about to transfer to Syracuse University. During the dance, Maury told Flora that he was going to marry her, and three and a half years later, he did. They were married more than sixty-five years and have three children, two grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

From 1938 until 1948, Maury was an economist in the US Department of Agriculture. In 1946, after an inspirational speech given by US High Commissioner to Palestine James MacDonald, he decided to get involved in the settlement of Jews in Palestine. In 1948, he resigned from the USDA to become the executive officer and agricultural advisor for the new Israeli Mission, later the Embassy of Israel. During the "tsena" (scarcity) period, he was responsible, through a Hadassah program, for establishing a pipeline to ship US surplus foods to Israel to feed the arriving immigrants. Then in 1951, he joined the international economic consulting firm, Robert R. Nathan Associates and retired as senior vice president in 1987. Maury Atkin's work on behalf of the State of Israel was paramount to its survival.

A forty-one year volunteer for the US Coast Guard Auxiliary and active member and commodore of the Selby Bay Yacht Club in Annapolis, he was also a life member of the board for the Jewish Council for Aging and treasurer of the Foundation for Jewish Studies. His memoir, Life's Voyage: Dedicated to Making a Difference, was published in 2005.

Flora earned her bachelor's degree in education, English and music and did graduate work in dance and drama. She taught dance and music at area schools and was director of the Recreational Arts Department of the DCJCC at 16th and Q. In 1942, she created and directed the first Jewish day camp in Washington there.

Flora was the original director and playwright for the In-School Players of Adventure Theatre. She has written and published ten award-winning plays for youth, several of which are based on Jewish folklore. These plays have been produced by colleges, children's theatre groups, and community centers in virtually every state and six foreign countries. Flora was awarded the Charlotte Chorpenning Cup in playwriting and is listed in Who's Who of America. In retirement, she volunteered for children's theatre, for the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington, and for Adas Israel Congregation's sisterhood. "I do what I feel I want to do: for children, for Israel, for Jews, and for our community, " she says.

Their ties to the Hebrew Home run as deep as their roots in the Washington, DC area. At age 81, Maury's grandmother volunteered to mend clothes for residents at our former Spring Road location. Maury's late mother lived in the Wasserman Residence. Her children remember fondly how Mrs. Atkin was treated with the utmost respect while a resident. Since that time, Maury and Flora Atkin generously supported the Home, having established two charitable gift annuities. For this, they were both members of the Builders of the Future Society. Flora would often declare, "Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel once said 'The test of a people is how it behaves toward the old.' Since the Ten Commandments say: 'Honor thy Father and Mother,' there is no better way to accomplish this, than to take care of all of the elderly. This is our faith. This is our responsibility."

Maury died in 2012, and Flora now resides at the Weinberg Senior Living Community in Deerfield, Illinois, near her son, Joseph.

To learn more about making a planned gift to benefit CESLC residents, click here to email us at your convenience.


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