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Gathering at classroom suite dedication in White Hall

A classroom suite in White Hall was dedicated to Israel and Alice Harkavy on April 23. From left: Sarah Harris '17, Sara Elmsaouri '15, Alexis Chu '15, Harriet Harkavy, Dean Gretchen Ritter, Bobbie Freund, Jovan Kemp '17, Jose Guzman '15 and Associate Dean Kathryn Humphreys. The students are just some of the scholarship recipients who are benefiting from the Harkavys' gift to the College of Arts and Sciences. Photo: provided.

Gift honors parents, helps students in need

The reason he left Cornell in 1922 after only two years might have been to study law. Given how fond he was of Cornell, though, it's just as likely that Israel Samuel Harkavy, the youngest of six immigrant children, left the university because he could no longer afford to continue.

Israel Harkavy at law school graduation, NYU

Israel Samuel Harkavy's graduation photo from the New York University School of Law. Photo: provided.

He certainly showed a deep empathy throughout his life for those less fortunate, perhaps because of his early experience. "He helped an awful lot of people," says his daughter, Harriet Harkavy '60.

Harriet and her sister, Bobbie Harkavy Freund, named a classroom suite in White Hall to honor the memory of both their father, Israel, and mother, Alice, in what they called a fitting tribute -- as a College of Arts and Sciences student, their father would have taken classes in the building.

The Harkavys' gift to the College of Arts and Sciences is going toward student financial aid. A dedication was held April 23 in White Hall, with many of the 13 scholarship recipients for the 2013-14 academic year in attendance.

Linguistics major Sarah Harris '17 recalled her dream of going to a prestigious college and how it seemed improbable to many of her teachers and friends in Georgia. Even though she was accepted to Cornell, she didn't have the means to attend.

"I wanted to show it was possible to work hard and achieve even your wildest dreams," said Harris, "but I literally wouldn't have been able to come to Cornell without the Harkavys' scholarship. They have played a huge role in the course of my entire life, and I am very grateful."

Gretchen Ritter, the Harold Tanner Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, also spoke at the dedication: "In this challenging economic climate, financial aid is critical to keeping Cornell accessible to all. These Harkavy scholarship recipients are students from all over the country who will make unique contributions to the Cornell community and who, like Sarah, might not be here if not for the financial aid made possible by Harriet and Bobbie."

While Israel Harkavy's untimely death when the sisters were still children means that there is much they don't know about his time at Cornell, the fact that he loved the school is clear, says Harriet Harkavy. He kept in touch with his Cornell friends and his Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity brothers throughout his life.

Like her father, Harriet is deeply committed to Cornell and a longtime donor. She also followed in her father's footsteps in getting a law degree (hers from Cardozo School of Law; her father's from New York University). And where Israel Harkavy practiced general civil law, Harriet currently has a solo practice in trusts and estates and real estate law. She lives in New York City, while her sister Bobbie makes her home in New Jersey.

Linda B. Glaser is a staff writer for the College of Arts and Sciences.

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