August Heckscher, prominent New York philanthropist who recently startled the public with his proposal to provide better housing facilities on New York’s East Side, is of Jewish origin.
The opinion that the Heckscher family is of Jewish origin was expressed by Peter Wiernick, editor of the “Jewish Morning Journal,” in an article published in that paper and quoted by the “Jewish Daily Bulletin.” In a communication to the “Bulletin” Mr. Heckscher stated:
“There is not the slightest doubt that my family are of Jewish descent. How far back I cannot tell you at the moment but I should be delighted if only it were possible to welcome the famous rabbi of whom your “Bulletin” speaks into the family circle.
“My grandfather was a wealthy banker in Hamburg-said to be the second richest man in Europe next to Baron Stieglitz in St. Petersburg. Unfortunately, not a great deal of the wealth which at one time he was able to amass has descended to his grandchildren.”
Mr. Wiernick in his editorial stated that “Rabbi Ephraim ben Shmuel Zanwill Heckscher, of Altuna, near Hamburg, was the head of the Kehillah in that city in the beginning of the eighteenth century. He was a great Jewish scholar and in the “Treasure of Books” mention is made of three volumes of which he was the author and which were published in the year 1703. We have heard the opinion or assumption that he was the great grandfather of the New York philanthropist, August Heckscher. We are not certain whether the present Mr. Heckscher is aware or whether he admits he is of Jewish descent.”