Attorney, Former ADL Board Chair and longtime ADL Board Member Mark Finkelstein received the Southwest Region’s Centennial Milton S. Popkin Award at the region’s October board meeting, amidst high praise from friends, colleagues, and family.
The Popkin Award recognizes individuals and institutions who have made a unique contribution toward furthering the mission of ADL, and toward translating our country’s ideals into a way of life for all Americans and toward promoting intergroup relations. It was named in honor of the late Milton Popkin whose distinguished ADL service included serving as a National Commissioner and chair of the regional board.
As those honoring would tell you, Finkelstein is deserving of the award, many times over. Fellow attorney, ADL National Commissioner, and former board chair Marvin D. Nathan spoke of Finkelstein’s dedication to ADL and its ideals. “Volunteer time is priceless, and no one exemplifies this more than Mark… Not only has he achieved every reasonable expectation as a volunteer, he has exceeded them,” Nathan said.
Fellow attorney Scott Newar quoted Proverbs when he spoke about the meaning of Mark’s name: “A good name is preferable to great riches,” Newar read. He said the name Finkelstein could be translated as “sparkle stone,” and said the name was fitting because Mark was the “sparkling bedrock of ADL.”
Mark’s sister, Laurie Charsinsky, who flew in from Australia to help honor him, interjected some humor as she spoke of his generosity and deference. “Mark is the most decent, kind, resourceful person I know. He will give you the shirt off his back. Of course, he’ll give it to you washed, folded, and hermetically sealed.” She said she was “proud beyond words” of him and what he had done.
Congregation Beth Israel Cantor Daniel Mutlu dedicated and sang two songs to Mark: God Bless America, and Lo Alecha, which he explained meant “ We don’t have to finish the job, but together we can make a start.”
Milton Popkin’s grandson, Jonathan Paine, who also is an ADL board member, gave the award presentation even more meaning by talking about his grandfather as a “deeply principled man,” who was very dedicated to ADL and its ideals.
In a moving acceptance speech, Finkelstein likened himself to the turtle in the saying, “If you see a turtle on a fencepost, you know it didn’t get there by itself. He thanked his extended family and friends for what they had done for him, his wife, for encouraging him, supporting him, speaking her mind, and “keeping him on the fencepost,” those who paid tribute to him and ended his acceptance encouraging young people in the audience to “lean forward, stand up, be active, be generous with your time and your pocketbook,” and to get involved in ADL.
Finkelstein’s involvement in ADL includes an extended term as board chair (because the dates of ADL’s fiscal year changed during his tenure,) service as a National Commissioner, chair of several national committees including the National Executive Committee, and co-authoring and editing countless amicus briefs on behalf of ADL.