Throughout the halls of Gesher, you can find many amazing pieces of art and Judaica created by Gary Rosenthal, zl". Gary worked with our students to create our beautiful classroom mezuzah's, as well as the dedication wall when you walk through our front doors. Many of our community members had the opportunity to work with Gary personally and say how truly generous and kind he was was.
May his memory be a blessing.
From The Gary Rosenthal Collection
Gary Rosenthal, DC native, renown sculptor and Judaica artist, dedicated philanthropist, doting husband, and adoring father passed away on May 26th, 2023, at 69 from pancreatic cancer.
Born June 25th, 1953, Gary grew up in Bethesda, Maryland, as the second of three children born to Bob and Ann Rosenthal. He attended Walt Whitman High School and Cornell University, before earning an MBA from the University of Virginia.
A man once thought to have “no artistic talent”, Gary became one of the leading lights of the modern American craft movement, creating beautiful Judaica, used in homes throughout the world for family celebrations and artistic decoration. Learning to weld in his family appliance repair business, Gary turned his skills to sculpture at a young age, capturing the human form in brass, including a line of ballerina figurines for the John F. Kennedy for the Performing Arts. His Jewish background, coupled with his belief that Jewish ritual objects lacked creative variety, led him to concentrate on Judaica as an underserved niche in the American craft market. Through the Gary Rosenthal Collection, he assembled a team of artisans--including refugees fleeing oppression and people with differing abilities—to create Judaica that, today, graces thousands of homes and synagogues.
With an open heart and gracious spirit, Gary seized every opportunity to use his art to help others. He created the Art as a Catalyst Program to support community-based cause marketing. He traveled the country with his Hiddur Mitzvah Project bringing together people from 4 to 104 years of age to make their own artistic creations–often to benefit those in need. And his Glass Ribbon Project raised awareness and funding to support survivors of breast and pancreatic cancer. Gary also partnered with other organizations–Arts on the Block, the Montgomery Arts and Humanities Council, The Theatre Lab, Avodah, and many others–to extend his reach. In a 2009 interview, Gary commented that he wanted to be remembered, “…for my community service and the good deeds I accomplished.” As a result of his commitment to “repairing the world”, Gary is loved and admired by people from New Orleans to California, from Cuba to Uganda.
Gary was supported through his cancer journey and is survived by Marta Goldsmith, his wife and life partner of 41 years, his son Reuben (Anna Reiper), who is continuing his father’s work at the Gary Rosenthal Collection, and his daughter Sophie, who is carrying on his love of giving through the arts as a middle school theater teacher in Arlington County, Virginia. He is lovingly remembered by his sister Dale Rosenthal (Michael Cutler), his sisters-in-laws Ileane Rosenthal (the late Donald), Cory Begner (Alan), Kim Goldsmith (Dave Johnson), and Abby Goldsmith (Dr. Kevin Hendler), many nieces and nephews, and all those whose lives he touched.
Gary’s final months were spent happily traveling the world and spending time with family and friends who cherished him and his optimism. Throughout his life, Gary believed that art brings beauty and beauty brings joy. He leaves behind a world more joyful and beautiful than he found it.
In Gary’s memory, we encourage you to donate to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network and to create art and beauty with the people you love to repair the world.
He will be missed, but never, ever forgotten.