At the corner of Wentworth and Glebe streets near the College of Charleston President’s House, sits a building that bears the name Sylvia Vlosky Yaschik Jewish Studies Center, home to the College’s Yaschik/Arnold Jewish Studies Program, which also holds Arnold Hall. Henry and Sylvia Vlosky Yaschik started the program with a donation in 1984, and in 1994, Norman and Gerry Sue Arnold matched the donation with an endowment.
Norman Arnold was a proud Jewish man who shared his faith and served his country and community as a philanthropic and civic leader. The Charleston native was a naval officer for four years during the Korean conflict and president and CEO of the Ben and Arnold Company. He and his wife, Gerry Sue, were members of many boards and committees, including the Boys’ Club in Columbia, the Preventative Medicine Research Institute, the South Carolina Research Authority and the Governor James B. Edwards’ Board of Medical Education and Cancer Advisory Committee.
Though the couple lived in Columbia later in life, they never forgot Norman’s roots in Charleston.
In 1991, the College’s Jewish Studies Program formed an advisory board. The late Martin Perlmutter, then director of the Jewish Studies Program, reached out to the Arnolds because of their statewide influence and philanthropic history. Gerry Sue answered the call, excited to create a permanent place for the Jewish community on campus and in Charleston. A lifetime member of the advisory board, Gerry Sue has served on the board for more than 30 years.
Gerry Sue, with support from Norman who did not join the board, donated more than $500,000 to help get the program off its feet.
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“The overarching vision was to promote Jewish education to Jewish and non-Jewish students,” Perlmutter previously said. “They wanted the ideas and culture to be promoted and have a place in Charleston. The Arnolds were a large part in making the program a reality in Charleston.”
“They also provided funding to bring foreign professors and scholars to teach students,” adds Yaron Ayalon, associate professor and current director of the Yaschik/Arnold Jewish Studies Program.
In addition, the Arnolds were instrumental in the formation of Marty’s Place, a kosher dining option located next door to the Jewish studies building. Named in Perlmutter’s honor, Marty’s Place caters to vegans and vegetarians.
Today the College’s Jewish Studies Program educates hundreds of students every semester and is the largest Jewish studies program in South Carolina. Though Norman passed away in 2016 at 86, Gerry Sue continues to be an active member of the community. In addition to spending time with family, she continues her support of the College’s Jewish Studies Program and is known for her past work with the Hadassah, a woman’s support group for Israel’s medical initiative. And the Arnolds’ continue to impact students’ lives through the Norman J. and Gerry Sue Arnold Foundation.
“The support from the Arnold family and their foundation has been instrumental in reaching out to students and the community,” says Ayalon.
Michael Stein, a student in the Honors College majoring in English and double-minoring in Jewish Studies and medical humanities, is one of the many who have benefitted from the Arnolds’ generosity.
“Support from the Arnold Foundation has been absolutely invaluable to my college experience,” says Stein. “It has given me two vital pieces to my success: support from the Jewish community and the ability to pursue internships with real-world experience.”