By Sam Seifman
But, in the 1970s, programming work was drying up. Richard worked for a defense contractor, hired by the U.S. government, but its contract wasn’t renewed. So, instead, the couple returned to Amherst to pursue postgraduate education.
This time, Emily obtained a doctorate in economics, and Richard completed all but his doctoral dissertation in agricultural engineering. After moving around over the next few years, the couple eventually settled in Kalamazoo, Mich., her hometown, in 1981.
Emily got a job at Western Michigan University teaching economics. When they moved to Kalamazoo, Richard left his position at the Education Testing Service in Princeton, N.J. to become a part time physics professor, at the same school. In 1983, Richard had to retire at age 45 as a result of deteriorating health. Emily lovingly served as Richard’s caretaker until he passed away in 2008.
Before his death, the couple was very involved in the Kalamazoo Jewish community. They were especially active in a local conservative synagogue, the Congregation of Moses, in which Emily continues to be active today.
Emily has always been strongly connected to her Jewish heritage. Her mother was active in the Jewish community and involved with a number of Jewish organizations at the time. She had even taught at the Hebrew school Emily attended.
Her father owned his own business, creating customized furniture for interior designers and, later, individual customers.
“I thought my mother didn’t work,” Hoffman said. “It turns out she really did, as the bookkeeper for my father’s business.”
Hoffman credits her mother with instilling in her a love of numbers and economics, which would set the course for her professional life.
Ever since they met that Friday night all those years ago, Hoffman and her husband have supported B’nai B’rith International. They cared deeply about the Jewish identity of the organization and B’nai B’rith’s focus on assisting and educating Jewish students across the country. Hoffman is still active today, and attends annual B’nai B’rith Scholarship dinners in Kalamazoo.
“We liked B’nai B’rith because they took care of students and provided scholarships,” Hoffman said. “Both Richard and I received scholarships, and academia and education were very important to us.”
Every year, B’nai B’rith’s Great Lakes Region helps pay the college tuition of 22 of the area’s top student athletes.
Last year, Hoffman contacted Marna Schoen at B’nai B’rith, to inform her that she and Mr. Hoffman had named the organization as beneficiary of a bequest in their will.
“I was thrilled to receive Mrs. Hoffman’s call,” said Schoen. “It’s always a pleasure to be able to connect with these special donors, who are making a commitment to a Jewish future, and supporting our important programs for years to come. Mrs. Hoffman immediately became a member of our esteemed 1843 Society, a group of friends and supporters who believe in B'nai B'rith and its mission. It has been so nice to get to know her, and to hear about the values she shared with her husband, of blessed memory.”
Hoffman had since remarried to David Rosenberg, a Holocaust survivor, who unfortunately passed away in October.