Two Unmarried Sisters
Nearly $300K to Federation for Seniors
Two St. Louis elderly sisters, both of whom are deceased, left behind a remarkable legacy to the St. Louis Jewish community. They bequeathed nearly $300,000 to the Jewish Federation of St. Louis establishing an Endowment for Independent Vulnerable Jewish Elderly in St. Louis.
These gray-haired sisters had a modest lifestyle that belied their accumulated wealth. Neither ever married. “They used their earnings to support themselves, to care for their aging parents, and to take in less fortunate relatives during the Depression and long after,” said a niece.
The sisters were always together. They took a few vacations, loved to eat
out, dressed impeccably and volunteered for a wide variety of organizations. The
two would often visit elderly Jews who were isolated and needed companionship.
Although not outwardly religious, they spokeYiddish, cooked Kosher meals for
others and knitted sweaters and other articles of clothing, which they donated.
They were, as those who knew them remarked, good, kind sisters who were devoted
to each other and to helping others.
The sisters’ attorney Phil Kaiser, who met them in 1992 to do their estate planning, sheds some light on what they were like. He said, “The two would come into my office and banter back and forth. They were like the odd couple with their totally different personalities. Sometimes they’d clash, but it was in a funny way. By the end of the day, they were best friends again.”
When Kaiser first met them, he figured the two sweet and smart elderly ladies were living on their tiny savings and Social Security. “I was wrong. Apparently, they had taken accumulations of their earnings and put them in the bank in low- risk savings. They were pretty frugal and saved money by living together, taking care of their own needs on their salaries and not spending excessively on extras.” They also made modest gifts to Jewish Federation and other organizations.
The sisters felt fortunate they had sufficient resources to take of their own needs, Kaiser said. “At one point they wanted to leave their money to certain individuals, but realized it would have more impact if they left a portion to the Jewish community. The two had always been concerned about elderly Jews who were who not as fortunate as they were. One day I suggested they should leave a bequest to Jewish Federation of St. Louis which could distribute the money among the elderly in our community who needed it most.”
The sisters drafted a living trust that stipulated when the first sister died, the other would be beneficiary of her estate. Each wanted to make sure the other was cared for. One died in 2008, and her estate went to her sister, who passed away in 2010. The remainder of their estate then passed to relatives and to Jewish Federation.
Their gift will provide food and security, assistance with shopping, medication organization and transportation, retro fitting of living spaces, opportunities for socialization to combat loneliness and isolation and more to meet the most critical and vital needs of vulnerable Jewish elderly at any given time. “Because the sisters cared about the elderly during their lifetimes, they wanted to make sure this commitment was carried on after they were gone,” Kaiser explained.
Ruth Lederman, Federation associate executive vice president and development director, said, “We deeply appreciate the sisters for their generosity, support and concern for a vitally important and highly-vulnerable population.”
Federation’s Jewish Community Foundation has established “Create a Jewish
This effort enables donors to leave a bequest to the Jewish organizations, day schools and congregations they care most about to ensure the continuity of our community for future generations.
For more information on the “Create a Jewish Legacy” program or how to set up a bequest to our community, contact Wendy Rosenblum at 314-442-3816 or email@example.com or Kastner at 314-442-3869 or firstname.lastname@example.org . Also, learn more about planned giving at www.jewishinstlouis.org/jcf