Sylvia Hassenfeld, Jewish Philanthropist and Pioneer, Dies At 93

Sylvia Hassenfeld, a major Jewish philanthropist and the first female president of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, has died.

Hassenfeld, of Palm Beach, Fla., died Friday. She was 93.

She served as the JDC chair from 1988 to 1992, representing the organization in the then newly disbanded Soviet Union, and overseeing significant Jewish outreach in Central and Eastern Europe. Hassenfeld also presided over significant JDC operations in Africa.

Hassenfeld led the Hassenfeld Foundation, which supported Jewish and non-Jewish causes around the world.

Her philanthropy was directed at the United Jewish Appeal, Brandeis University, the Jewish Agency for Israel and other Jewish and non-Jewish organizations.“Sylvia Hassenfeld was a remarkable woman who dedicated her life to improving the human condition by protecting the rights of all and promoting religious freedom,” Brandeis President Frederick Lawrence said.

Hassenfeld’s Jewish activism was inspired by the family involvement of her husband, Merrill, the chairman of the Hasbro company before his death in 1980, in the religious and Jewish communal life of Providence, R.I. She would go on to lead the Providence Jewish Federation.

She was a major force behind the Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at New York University that is scheduled to open a new facility in 2017.


Your Comments

The Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. All readers can browse the comments, and all Forward subscribers can add to the conversation. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Forward requires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not and will be deleted. Egregious commenters or repeat offenders will be banned from commenting. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and the Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

Recommend this article

Sylvia Hassenfeld, Jewish Philanthropist and Pioneer, Dies At 93

Thank you!

This article has been sent!