As first chair of the Holocaust Education and Memorial Committee of the Jewish Federation of Greater New Bedford, Mary Schwartz (1920-2015) led efforts that created the Holocaust Monument at Buttonwood Park in New Bedford in 1998.
In the words of Rabbi Barry D. Hartman, Mary Schwartz (1920-2015) left “a rich legacy of good deeds.” To make sure that people never forget the Holocaust, Mary worked to form an effective Holocaust committee that created the Holocaust Monument at Buttonwood Park in New Bedford in 1998.
Mary was born in Copenhagen, Denmark to Edward and Lena (Boda) Blum. The family soon moved to New Bedford. Mary graduated from Fairhaven High School and Southeastern Massachusetts University, now the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. Mary was a librarian at Fairhaven’s Millicent Library, where she also reviewed books. She became a freelance writer for The Standard-Times newspaper, from 1958 through 2015, and for the Dartmouth Chronicle and Fairhaven Star. Mary often wrote articles about her native Denmark and her travels to 23 countries around the world.
Mary was a member and past president of the New Bedford Section of the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW). In 1958, she asked its Board to provide seed money to establish a psychiatric clinic at St. Luke’s Hospital in the city. The Board of the New Bedford Section of the NCJW voted to fund a psychiatric clinic with $700, which allowed St. Luke’s Hospital to hire a part-time psychiatric nurse, Lucille Entin, as well as a part-time psychiatrist, who worked two days a week to counsel New Bedford residents free of charge. Eventually St. Luke’s Hospital received funding from other sources to continue these counseling services, and Lucille Entin was hired as a full-time psychiatric nurse. Mary also served as president on the National Board of the NCJW and received the Hannah G. Solomon Award for Devoted Services.
As the first chair of the Holocaust Education and Memorial Committee of the Jewish Federation of Greater New Bedford, Mary encouraged Holocaust survivor Abe Landau to speak about his experiences in 13 concentration camps. She drove Landau to schools to speak to local middle and high school students. In 2016, Yom HaShoah, the Holocaust Day of Remembrance, was observed at the Holocaust Monument at New Bedford’s Buttonwood Park in memory of Mary Schwartz. The sculpted hand that reaches skyward at that Monument – the work of one of her committees – reminds us to never forget.
Mary was also a leader in numerous other organizations. She served on the Board and was president of the Jewish Federation of Greater New Bedford. A lifelong member of Hadassah, Mary also was its vice president. She was on the Boards for the Lewin Scholarship Foundation, the Interfaith Scholarship Foundation, United Way, New Bedford Concert Series, and the New Bedford Jewish Convalescent Home. She was chair of the New Bedford Council for the Arts and the League of Women Voters. Mary also found time to lead the YWCA Investment Club and the Women’s Golf Association at Allendale Country Club.
Wife of the late Herman Schwartz, Mary passed away on November 14, 2015. Services were held at Tifereth Israel Synagogue with burial at Plainville Cemetery. She was survived by her son Daniel and daughter Jessica.
Rachel Levinson and Ann O’Leary
- Hartman, Barry D. “Letter: The Region Lost Two Great People in One Week.” SouthCoast Today, 29 Nov. 2015, http://www.southcoasttoday.com/article/20151129/opinion/151129644.
- “Mary Schwartz.” SouthCoast Today, 15 Nov. 2015, http://www.southcoasttoday.com/article/20151114/OBITUARIES/151119638.
- “New Bedford Yom HaShoah Program Dedicated to Mary Schwartz.” The Jewish Voice, 15 Apr. 2016, http://jvhri.org/stories/new-bedford-yom-hashoah-program-dedicated-to-mary-schwartz,4597.