The 102-year-old former Longboat Key resident died Dec. 14.
Gerry Daniel wasn’t one to stand on the sidelines of philanthropy.
“He could see small problems on a large scale, and he could see large problems on a smaller scale, so that he was really able to understand how to approach the causes which he espoused,” said Rabbi Michael Eisenstat, who met Daniel at Temple Beth Israel.
The former Longboat Key resident, 102, died Dec. 14.
Though Daniel was considered a pillar in the Sarasota community, his philanthropic efforts reached far beyond Florida.
Without the vision of Daniel, and his wife, Ruth, and the creation of the Daniel Centers for Progressive Judaism in two Israeli cities, Reform Judaism would not be as strong in Israel as it is today, Rabbi Meir Azari wrote in a statement from the Daniel Centers for Progressive Judaism.
Daniel was born in Hamburg, Germany, and immigrated to Palestine. In 1947, he, Ruth and their two children came to the United States and established a business manufacturing high-tech filters.
“Gerry was a pioneer,” Azari said in a telephone interview from Israel. “He was not just a pioneer. (He was ) a visionary, and this is not just about giving money. It’s about the spirit …”
In 1980, Daniel was elected president of the World Union for Progressive Judaism.
“It was important to him because his family escaped from the Holocaust, and he knew what happened to Jewish communities, and he wanted to make sure every Jewish community felt secure and would therefore be able to continue the good work that he did,” said Ina Rae Snyder, a close friend.
Daniel was honored as one of the “8 Over 80” by the Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee in 2013. Daniel served on the boards of several organizations. He also was a donor to Children First and All Faiths Food Bank.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Ruth.