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Philanthropist Erica Jesselson dies

Erica Jesselson, a major philanthropist for Jewish causes, died at 86.

Jesselson died Wednesday at her home in New York City.

Born in Vienna in 1922, she escaped to England on the Kindertransport.

Jesselson and her late husband, Ludwig, were major benefactors of Yeshiva University in New York City, founding and endowing the university museum. Jesselson served as its board chair from 1973 until her death.

“Erica was quite simply a magnificent woman of extraordinary intellect and unwavering devotion who was involved in every phase of Jewish education, art and culture throughout the United States and Israel,” said Yeshiva University President Richard Joel. “The university has lost a cherished friend and matriarch.”

The Jesselsons’ philanthropy extended well beyond Yeshiva University. Among other causes, the couple helped build Shaare Zedek hospital in Jerusalem, endowed a chair of mathematics at The Hebrew University, and were major supporters of the Israel Museum and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra.

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