Sylvia Joffe Garfinkle, Simah bat Avraham v’Bluma Raiza, was born on February 28, 1928 (20 Shevat, 5688) and died on May 28, 2021 (17 Sivan, 5781). She grew up in New York with her parents Albert and Blanche Joffe and her sister Elaine.
Sylvia attended Connecticut College, where she was editor of the college newspaper. In 1950, Sylvia married Dr. B. Milton Garfinkle Jr., and soon settled in Great Neck, New York. They raised five children: Terry, Gail, Jill, Nina, and Gregg, encouraging them to be independent while valuing the importance of family and the Jewish traditions that keep families together.
Besides being the matriarch of the family, Sylvia was a gifted artist with an amazing aesthetic. She sculpted in wood, clay, stone, and bronze, designed jewelry, and created works of art from wood bark, fibers, and watercolors. Sylvia loved nature and could often be found outside, pruning, transplanting, and ensuring the landscape was thriving. At their country cabin, Sylvia spent hours swimming, cultivating her moss garden, and enjoying the birds, woods, lake and streams.
Sylvia and Milton loved to travel, seeking out sparsely inhabited Caribbean islands with undisturbed beaches on which to collect shells of all sizes. She also saw to it that her children were well-traveled. Later, Sylvia and Milton moved to Boston to be close to some of their children. After Milton’s passing, Sylvia moved to Brookline.
Sylvia’s mother Blanche was a second generation American while her father Albert emigrated from Sedniv, Chenigev, Russia. Her parents were ardent Zionists and actively supported the formation of the State of Israel, opening their homes to prominent leaders of the day, including David Ben-Gurion, Chaim Herzog, and Eleanor Roosevelt. They were also responsible for the founding of four Orthodox synagogues in the greater New York area.
Sylvia leaves behind a large and loving family: her children Terry, Nina, and Gregg, and son-in-law Jim Greve (her daughters Gail Greve and Jill Toby predeceased her). Her granddaughter Alissa and her husband Jared Zimmel, are parents to her great-grandchildren Jake, Tyler, and Zoey. Her grandson Jesse Garfinkle and his wife Julianna Ginsberg Garfinkle are parents of great-granddaughter Sophie. She is also survived by her beloved nieces and nephew, and their spouses: Janice Atkin, Helen Fox and her husband Moshe, Beth Pfeffer and her husband Uzi, Elisa Goldstein and her husband David, and Daniel Blankstein and his wife Robin, and countless relatives scattered around the globe.
May Sylvia’s memory be for a blessing and may her soul be bound up with the bonds of life.