Every family has its story and a defining moment in its timeline that forever impacts the generations to follow. For Arthur and David Gurwitz, the defining moment was in the 1940s, during the Second World War.
They weren’t in the War. They weren’t even born until the 1950s. However, for all intents and purposes, they might as well have been.
They never met their paternal grandfather Abraham Gurwitz, who was murdered in the War. He was a fairly wealthy man, who co-founded the free-loan (interest free) society in Rakov, Poland, near Vilna.
Avraham Gurwitz was a man with a great desire to help others.
He bought a car in the late 1930s – when there were very few roads and cars – in order to bring food to poor people in and around his village in Poland. What happened from that act of kindness was the defining moment in their lives.
Their father Harry, Abraham’s son, was extremely mechanical, and was always tinkering with the car. That act of kindness in buying a car solely to feed poor people, enabled his son – their father – to learn about cars.
In 1939, their father joined the Partisans. After living in the woods for a year became too difficult, many members of the under-fed, under-armed Partisans joined the Russian army, which had many trucks that needed drivers and repair personnel. Their father correctly surmised that driving a truck – which he did not yet know how to do – would keep him in the back lines, away from the direct fighting.
So, given his background and familiarity with cars due to what his father did, he learned to drive a truck and drove for several years for the Russian Army.
Their father was the only one in his family to survive the war. He used his knowledge of cars to become an auto-mechanic and support their family in New York, in the Brox, near Yankee Stadium.
He had very little means but tried when he could to help others. There was a time, for example, when the family was driving on the New York State Thruway, returning to their Bronx apartment, and they passed a young family whose car had broken down and was stranded on the side of the road.
Harry Gurwitz pulled over, helped them collect their belongings which had been strewn all over, and got their car started again.
This trait of giving was also a main part of their maternal grandfather.
When Samuel Goldstein was in his 70s, he volunteered to read stories to patients at Bronx Lebanon Hospital, which at the time was located across the street from their apartment.
Arthur and David carried this mantle of giving from the prior generations.
Among the many things David did and continues to do is to mentor people. He loves to teach –math, science, sports, music, etc.
When he was a young father, David befriended a young man named Oliver Taylor. Oliver was an awesome basketball player, eventually making it to the professional level in Europe. David and Oliver bonded when they met. David provided the support and mentoring that helped Oliver realize and develop his academic talents, as well as his athletic talents. Together, they made a fairly unusual team – David is an Orthodox Jew and Oliver is a black man from an inner city community in Queens.
They have a blog: www.oliverscourt.com, discussing all things related to sports and mentoring.
Let’s fast forward almost three decades.
David, who still loves education, has three degrees (a law degree, MBA and CPA), a wonderful family, lots of grandchildren, and a successful business career. In addition, he is an accomplished, recognized musician; he has become one heck of a pianist and songwriter. He has performed benefit concerts for Special Olympics and Homeless organizations (www.davidgurwitz.com).
Oliver is now deputy sheriff at a school outside of Atlanta, overseeing 1400 kids.
Arthur also has a wonderful family, and has managed a large international law firm for nearly three decades. He has travelled extensively all over the world, and in his spare time built a custom Spanish acoustic guitar.
He is very proud of the work done by his organization “Art of Men” (www.artofmen.org) which provides a platform for men to share ideas, enlighten each other, and engage in projects that help others live better lives by utilizing their skills, expertise, wisdom and experience on both an individual and collective basis, via a number of national initiatives toward alleviating hunger (Everybody Eats), mentoring (Art of Mentoring), and animal rights (Art of Men and Man’s Best Friend).