Myra Kraft a"hMyra Kraft, the 68-year old wife of the owner of Israel's football team (the New England Patriots) died in Boston on Monday morning after a long battle with cancer. Myra Kraft was involved with just about every worthwhile charitable endeavor imaginable in the Boston area and in Israel.
The numerous awards Mrs. Kraft received for her charitable work included a Camille O. Cosby World of Children Award, presented by the Judge Baker Children’s Center in Boston. Causes involving her Jewish heritage always have been key among Mrs. Kraft’s priorities, and she often traveled to Israel a few times a year.But what most impressed me about Bob and Myra Kraft was something that was not really charitable work:
Mrs. Kraft inherited her passion for philanthropy early from her father, Jacob Hiatt, who escaped the rise of Nazism by emigrating from Lithuania in the mid-1930s.
His parents, sisters, and brother perished in Nazi concentration camps. The wealthy owner of a packaging company, Hiatt was one of Worcester’s greatest patrons of education, the arts, and religious causes, and Mrs. Kraft was emulating him in 1948 when she made her first foray into charitable work.
She was only 5 when her father visited European camps for those displaced by World War II, then traveled to Palestine, which was on the cusp of becoming Israel.
While he was away on his journey, she wanted to help at home.
“One morning I got up, took a bag, and decided to go out to the neighborhood to raise money for the poor children in Europe and Palestine,” she told the Jerusalem Post in 2008. “I went door to door. My mother was getting frantic because I was late and she had no idea where I was. I came in dragging this sack of money.”
By the time Mrs. Kraft was an adult, she measured contributions in the millions.
Since marrying in 1963, Mrs. Kraft and her husband have given away more than $100 million to a spectrum of organizations involved in everything from changing lives in Israel to helping those hobbled by urban blight in Boston and Worcester.
I want to stop there and add something. Whenever the Krafts come to Israel, they sponsor a get-together for all the Bostonians who are here on youth programs. That's what the kids tell me. I envy them. No one did that for us when I was in yeshiva here.Sometimes, if you help people out before they fall, they manage to stay on their feet. The Krafts obviously understood that.
May God comfort Bob Kraft and his sons among all mourners for Zion and Jerusalem, may the family know of no more sorrow, and may God give Bob Kraft the strength to continue his and his wife's life's work.