Zelma Rivin - 1921-2016
Our Loss is the Loss of the Entire Tidewater Community
Zelma Rivin, a native of Portsmouth, VA., was involved in Southeastern Virginia's educational and cultural life for most of her adult years.
She was a graduate of Northwestern University, where she majored in English, Speech, and Drama. After a career in her family business, " The Famous," she obtained a Master degree in Urban Planning form Old Dominion University.
In the late 1990's, Zelma was helping to lead a bus tour of Jewish sites in Portsmouth when she noticed that Chevra T'helim Synagogue building on Effingham Street was deteriorated and neglected. She formed a group called " The Friends of Chevra T'helim," which later became the owners, rescuers, and rehabilitators of the building. She served as the founding President of this organization for 15 years and presided over the rebirth of the historic structure as a museum and cultural center. It opened to the public in 2008.
Zelma, anxious to interest the local community in this historic gem, also started a " Wonderful Wednesdays" Summer Music Series, to provide a musical attraction for evenings when little was available on the cultural calendar in Hampton Roads. This program has continued to be our major fundraiser through the years.