Joel Joseph, 91, Scranton, died Friday in Moses Taylor Hospital in Scranton. He and his wife, the former Miriam "Mim" Brook, celebrated their 68th wedding anniversary on Sept. 1.
Born in Scranton, he was the son of the late Philip and Hannah Mittleman Joseph. An accomplished furrier and pattern-maker, Joel served under his father and took advanced courses in New York to refine his skills. He was a principal in Joseph the Furrier with his late brother, Harold. Joseph the Furrier was established in 1892 by their grandfather, Julius Joseph, and their father, Philip Joseph, continued the tradition until his death in 1957. The firm was a prominent downtown retailer specializing in designer furs and clothing until it closed in 1991.
A United States Army veteran, Joel was stationed at Fort Hood, Texas, for two years as a company supply sergeant in the First Armored Division during the Korean conflict. A registered member of the Boy Scouts for more than 25 years, he served in many leadership positions and was a member of the council advancement committee and board of directors. In recognition of his many years of service, Joel was presented the Silver Beaver, scouting's highest award, in 1971.
A lifetime affiliate of Temple Israel, Joel was a devoted attendee of their morning minyan since 1987, and served as chairman of the temple's highly successful Diamond Jubilee in 1996. He was elected president of the congregation for a two-year term in 1999, and was honored for his leadership and dedication to the synagogue with the coveted Hatan Bereshit Award in 2001. He continued to serve on the executive committee and board of directors.
At the time of his retirement in 1991, Joel began to tutor Russian emigres from the former Soviet Union. These lessons lasted eight years and during that period, he taught students on an individual basis. The following two years, he taught basics of citizenship classes at the JCC under the auspices of the Jewish Federation and the Jewish Family Service. With the aid of material provided by the Hebrew Immigration Aid Society of New York, the instruction was successful and all of the students, regardless of their language skills, became citizens within a few years.
In 2002, Joel was given the prestigious Yitzchak Rabin Award for distinguished community service from the Jewish Federation. In 1992, he joined the Jewish Family Service, one of his favorite organizations. He served as treasurer for two years and president from 1994 to 1996. Joel continued on as a member of the executive committee and board of directors to the present time. In May 2008, Joel was honored by the Jewish Family Service for more than 50 years of service to our community.
Joel studied sculpture from 1992 to 1996 at Keystone College, and in June 1997 hosted a "one man show" of his work at the JCC. A past board member of the Jewish Home, he volunteered for more than 500 hours in the Community Medical Center mail room, at the United Way, Progressive Center and their NAACP. He peeled potatoes for Sister Adrian's Thanksgiving dinner for 15 years and was a regular reader to the blind over the Pell Radio Reading Service until 2006. He played tennis for 35 years until 2005, and always was ready for a good Bridge game.
Mim and Joel had a wonderful, loving closely-knit marriage. They met on a blind date that went uphill to their marriage on Sept. 1, 1951, until now.
Other survivors are Stephen Joseph and his husband, Shameer Khan; Cathy Simms and her husband, Solatha Simms; and Patricia Cirotti; grandchildren, Jemimah Simms and partner, James Walther; Leah and Joe Losavich, Micah and Jackie Simms, Philip Cirotti and Drew Cirotti; great-granddaughter, Norah June Simms; great-grandson, Bennett George Joseph Simms; brothers-in-law, Sam Green and Joseph Ehrlich; nieces and nephews.
He was also preceded in death by his sister, Jane Green; his brother, Harold Joseph and wife, Frankie Joseph; and sister-in-law, Joann Ehrlich.
Family and friends are invited to his graveside funeral service Sunday at 1 p.m. in Temple Israel Cemetery, Dunmore, by Cantor Vladimir Aronzon. Please observe COVID-19 guidelines.
Due to the pandemic, a private shiva will be observed.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be sent to Temple Israel Daily Minyan, 918 E. Gibson St., Scranton, PA 18510; or Jewish Family Service, 615 Jefferson Ave., Scranton, PA 18510.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Joel Joseph, please visit our floral store.
Temple Israel Daily Minyan
918 East Gibson Street, Scranton PA 18510
Jewish Family Service
615 Jefferson Avenue, Scranton PA 18510