Rita P. Herman
September 21, 2021
Rita Perelman Herman devoted herself to family, community, and children’s education
Rita P. Herman was known for her love of children and flowers, for her generous spirit, and for her devotion to family and to friends from all walks of life.
“She stayed in touch with everyone,” said her son, Rabbi Aaron Herman. “All of her cousins, friends from grade school, from college, and all her neighbors. There was nothing she wouldn’t do if it could benefit the people and the causes that she cared about.”
Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Rita attended Peabody High School and graduated with honors from the University of Pittsburgh, where she met her husband, Emil W. Herman, ob”m. They married in 1957. Rita taught at Falk School, and later in Penn Hills, becoming a master first grade teacher. “She could teach anyone to read,” recalls her daughter, Dina Rosenfeld, “a deaf child, kids with dyslexia, students who spoke no English at home… She taught them all to read. "That was her super power.”
Mrs. Herman, together with her husband, committed themselves to Orthodox Judaism in the early 1970s, when they enrolled their oldest two children in Yeshiva Schools and began attending the Lubavitch Center. “Rabbi Posner brought my grandparents to meet the Lubavitcher Rebbe,” explains Rabbi Eli Rosenfeld, Chabad emissary in Portugal. “In a private audience, the Rebbe charged them with the mission of influencing others to connect with their Judaism, and that became my grandmother’s compass in life.”
Rita and her husband went on to become pillars of the Lubavitch community. Under the leadership of Rabbi Sholom Posner and Mrs. Keny Deren, z”l, she worked tirelessly to enhance the English department of Yeshiva Schools. Rita had a unique vision for a reading center, and brought students and artists in to paint the walls and decorate the space. Then she partnered with the University of Pittsburgh to implement a state-of-the-art individualized reading and math program, unlike any in the city.
“My mother was a visionary and a powerhouse,” said her son Rabbi Pinchas Herman. “When my mom tackled a project, like planning a Yeshiva dinner, or building the Lubavitch Center on Wightman Street, or providing flowers from her garden for a wedding, there was no stopping her.”
After retiring from teaching, Rita’s creativity in children’s education led her to create a computer program to teach keyboard typing to elementary school students. Within the last year, she published her first children’s book, Be Like the Sun.
Mrs. Herman died of pneumonia on Tuesday at Mercy Hospital. She was 85.
Rita was preceded in death by her husband Emil Herman. She is survived by a daughter, Devorah Leah Rosenfeld of Brooklyn, N.Y.; and two sons, Rabbi Pinchas Herman of Miami, FL, and Rabbi Aaron Herman, of Pittsburgh, many grandchildren and great-grandchildren, as well as nieces and nephews who loved her deeply.
Graveside Services were held on Thursday at Cneseth Israel Cemetery in Reserve Township, with her son, Rabbi Pinchas Herman, officiating.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Rita P. Herman Jewish Education Fund, and sent to the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, 2000 Technology Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15219. Arrangements entrusted to Ralph Schugar Chapel, Inc., family owned and operated. www.schugar.com