Pearl Mantell



Pearl Mantell was a trailblazer. Her life story is such an interesting read in fact, one wishes her memoir would never end. So it is fitting that Pearl’s adventure carries on through a fund she created at the Jewish  Foundation of Greater New Haven to benefit a number of Israeli causes that were especially meaningful to her. Pearl’s nephew Charles, who was appointed to manage the estate, remembered his Aunt with great fondness and admiration. “Pearl took great care of me and was a major influence on my life and many others. She was a selfless woman, devoted to family and her many causes.  I can’t remember her ever spending a dime on herself. “

Charles also recounted other aspects of Pearl’s legacy, painting a vivid picture of a life worth the admiration of many. Following some of her siblings, Pearl emigrated from Canada and enjoyed a long, productive life.  Pearl returned to Montreal to look after her sister and her sister’s ill husband and lived there for 30 years until her passing in 2011.  Pearl outlived all her siblings and passed away at age 100. However, longevity seemed to be a family birthright.  Pearl’s mother and sister were also centenarians.

A vegan before it was fashionable, Pearl Mantell believed in natural healing more than traditional medicine. Although, ironically, she worked for a doctor, excelling as a typist and office manager.  Her employment however came with conditions. The biggest of which was there would be no smoking allowed on the premises. Nephew Charles explained. “Aunt Pearl was convinced cigarettes were a cause of cancer and heart disease long before it was a widespread belief. She was among the first crusaders to spread that message and change office smoking policy.”

In addition to her fervor about health, Pearl was equally passionate about creating a better world. She always sought and promoted peace, often taking to pen and paper. She sent letters to Mosques, imploring them to look inward for peaceful solutions after riots followed a speech by Pope Benedict.  Pearl wrote about a perfect world in her “A Vegan Dreams” and “Return to Eden”, the latter being published in 1979 in Dr. Shelton’s Hygenic Review.

Pearl was a dedicated Zionist, in the family tradition.  Her one trip to Israel was a real eye-opener for her and she spoke often of a possible follow-up trip.  Her Zionism led to some correspondence (rather one-sided) with Israel’s prime minister.

Her mother, “Bubbie” Mantell, had a particular interest in the General Israel Orphans Home for Girls, and Pearl continued her concern for Israeli orphans.

Pearl also maintained an interest in Beit Halochem, the worldwide organization that looks after Disabled veterans of the Israel Defense Forces. 

In recent years she was disturbed by reports in the Jewish press of the rising anti-Israel activity on university campuses and that led to her interest in CIJR—the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research. CIJR sponsors, among other things, an effective training program for pro-Israel students on campus and that seems to have struck a chord for her.

Although her life was untraditional by many of today’s measures, Pearl did inspire a tradition of giving back according to her nephew. “She was so frugal that her Trust Fund just continued to grow and grow. As a result it can now make an even greater difference in the lives of others. She taught me a lot by that and helped me realize what is really important. She has honored me by allowing me to manage the estate and ensure her wishes are carried out.”

The Pearl P’nina Mantell Fund at the Jewish Foundation was established by Pearl through her estate. It will continue in her name in perpetuity. Pearl appointed her nephew, Charles, as the donor advisor of this fund and as requested by Pearl, he will recommend distributions from the fund to the causes that were important to her—providing for orphans in Israel, wounded and sick Israeli soldiers, and supporting programs that educate people about Israel and fight anti-Semitism.

Type of Fund/Area of Need: Donor Advised/Philanthropic Funds 

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