Honoring Michael D. Schuman

The Schuman family wearing Green Bay Packers gear sit on couch

Following Michael D. Schuman’s death, Sharon, his wife of over 50 years, was clearing out the office of his law practice. She came upon some of Michael’s old files that had never been billed. When Sharon asked her son Mark what to do with them, he answered, “Nothing. It was all his friends. He never took a dollar from a single one of his friends. He knew that being a friend meant doing things like this and never charging and never asking. Just giving.”

Michael’s son Mark and his wife Julie, along with Mark’s siblings Aimee and Daniel, have continued Michael’s legacy of generosity at Washington Hebrew Congregation with the establishment of the Michael D. Schuman Fund. If you were a Jew in his hometown of Milwaukee, Michael Schuman was someone you recognized and admired. Michael was a passionate lawyer, a caretaker of the Jewish cemetery, and above all else, a family man. For Michael, people always came first.

Michael was committed to his Milwaukee Jewish community. Whether at services or B’nai B’rith’s Spring Hill Cemetery, where he served as steward for over 40 years, Michael made sure that every Jew had someone who cared about them. As Mark shared, “He never let a Jew get buried alone; he would go to funerals by himself” to honor those who did not have someone present to say kaddish for them. The vision of the Schuman Fund is to ensure that members of our congregation always have a community that knows them, cares for them, and as Michael was for his hometown, is there for them. The Schuman Fund will make it possible for our congregation to care for each other in deeper and more impactful ways than ever before. 

Anyone who has been to Friday night services has seen the kind of community the Schuman Fund has already created. As Washington Hebrew President Lewis Weiner recently shared, “We have excellent food and a great bar each Friday night at WHC, but you can get a drink anywhere. Shabbat@WHC is now about finding your people. It’s about finding your community week in and week out.” Community and shared Jewish experiences were important to Michael Schuman and this is what the Schuman Fund provides for our congregants.”

Less than a year into the establishment of the Schuman Fund, the results have been transformational. Rabbi Aaron Miller said, “Shabbat attendance has soared. People are coming to Washington Hebrew from all over the region. Congregants arrive early to connect with each other and stay as late as possible because they enjoy being together.”

The Schuman Fund is not solely about financial contributions; it symbolizes a collective effort to continue Michael Schuman’s legacy of inclusivity and compassion and creating a space where everyone feels valued and cherished. As Mark said, “These are lessons I can teach to my kids, that generosity is disinterested, and kindness is more than money. It’s providing services, intelligence, help, and listening. Life is not just tit for tat, not with those that you care about.”

To make a donation to the Michael D. Schuman Fund, visit whctemple.org/give. On the donation form, it is listed as one of the main funds.