Ralph Snyder; lawyer aided Jewish charities

Ralph S. Snyder
Ralph S. Snyder
Posted: April 10, 2014

Ralph S. Snyder, 91, of Bala Cynwyd, a Philadelphia lawyer, volunteer worker for Jewish charities, and master storyteller, died Monday, April 7, of congestive heart failure at his home.

Born and raised in Harrisburg, Mr. Snyder graduated from Pennsylvania State University and, in 1948, the Dickinson Law School. He served as an Army weatherman in Reykjavik, Iceland, during World War II.

Mr. Snyder worked in Harrisburg as a deputy attorney general from 1949 to 1963, when he was invited to join the Philadelphia law firm Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis. He was a partner until leaving in the early 2000s. Following his exit from corporate law, Mr. Snyder worked in a state-sponsored securities-fraud unit for five years.

His professional achievements drew accolades from colleagues. He was recognized by the Pennsylvania Bar Institute for leadership, and honored for many years of service by the Pennsylvania Bar Association.

Mr. Snyder was best known, however, for his volunteer work on behalf of Jewish agencies and causes. He served as chairman of the Federation of Jewish Agencies United Jewish Appeal campaign; he helped lead the Project Renewal effort for Israel; and he was a board member of the Jewish Education Committee of the federation.

In 2000, Mr. Snyder received the federation's Community Award for Achievement, a major honor.

The federation's interim CEO, Alex Stroker, said: "Ralph's passing represents an end of an era. I have personally known Ralph for over 18 years, and I quickly learned that, when it came to helping the federation and the community, Ralph was always there to lend a hand. He was a true leader and a shining example for us all."

Mr. Snyder was the past president of Har Zion Temple in Penn Valley. In his later years, even as his health began to fail, he served on Har Zion's board, and would lead services from a sit-down walker placed at the front of the congregation, said his friend Elliot Rosen.

His public speaking had another side: Mr. Snyder was an engaging storyteller and toastmaster. He presided over many award dinners, telling jokes in a variety of dialects.

He and his wife, Janet, had the performance down to a science. During 66 years of marriage, she cataloged all his jokes. She would call out a line, and he would tell the designated story.

Mr. Snyder was an avid reader of history and a Civil War buff. He pursued Jewish studies all his life. He traveled the world with his wife, and delighted in making friends in different countries.

"Ralph was a rare superman who loved people and loved life. He truly lived it to the fullest," said his sister, Esther Gushner.

Besides his wife, he is survived by a daughter, Randy Maged; two grandchildren; a great-grandchild, and another sister.

A Funeral Service will be held at 1 p.m. Wednesday, April 9, at Har Zion Temple, 1500 Hagys Ford Rd., Penn Valley, Pa. 19072. Interment will be in Haym Salomon Memorial Park, Frazer.

Contributions may be made to the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, by linking to www.jewishphilly.org or to Har Zion Temple at the address above.



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