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Ralph Nesson, a philanthropist and longtime member of the Jewish community in Northwest Arkansas, died Monday.

Nesson, 72, founded the Single Parent Scholarship Fund of Washington County, now the Single Parent Scholarship Fund of Northwest Arkansas, in 1984 and co-founded the Arkansas Single Parent Scholarship Fund in 1990. Nesson most recently began a nonprofit dedicated to literacy in families, Northwest Arkansas Books for Kids.

"Ralph was a passionate advocate for families ... May his memory be a blessing," said former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a tweet on Wednesday.

He played a pivotal role in the creation of Northwest Arkansas' first Jewish house of worship, Temple Shalom in Fayetteville, in brokering a meeting between the congregation and contractor Fadil Bayyari, a Muslim and fellow Rotary Club member, who built the house of worship for the congregation at cost.

"He's responsible, in a way, for us having our building," said Rabbi Jacob Adler, a leader of Temple Shalom. "Words just [aren't] enough to describe him. He would connect almost instantly with anyone, and ... that was the most unique thing about him."

Community members gathered for a memorial service for Nesson on Wednesday at Temple Shalom.

-- Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Religion on 01/11/2020

Print Headline: Jewish community mourns member

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