Listen To The Rebbitsen

May 15th, 2014 § 0 comments

Okay. For those unacquainted with yiddish, the rebbitsen is the rabbi’s wife. Convinced that women were smarter than men, HG’s Mom often said: “Listen to the rebbitsen.” The presumption was that rabbis were lost in a haze of spiritual, legalistic and other “of the Book” concerns. Rebbitsens, on the other hand, were sound on earthly matters. A recent New York Times obituary of Omaha Rabbi Myer Kripke (died age 100) brought this to mind. Midwest synagogues did not lavish money on their spiritual leaders but Kripke, through inheritance and frugality, managed to accumulate about $65,000 in the early 1960s. Rabbi Kripke and his wife Dorothy, an author of religious books for children, became friends with another Omaha couple, Mr. and Mrs. Warren Buffet. Buffet was achieving a local reputation as an astute money manager. Dorothy Kripke suggested that they turn over their money to Buffet to manage. Kripke demurred. Buffet was only accepting investors who put up $150,000-$250,000. Dorothy (a traditional noodge) kept insisting that Kripke approach Buffet. It took three years but Kripke finally gave in. Buffet, who liked Kripke, made an exception and accepted the money. By the early 90’s that modest sum grew to $25,000,000. Didn’t change the Kripkes. They continued to live modestly and used their wealth for a variety of philanthropic causes. They were guests at the Buffets’ annual Thanksgiving dinners. Knowing their kosher dietary strictures, Mrs Buffet hired an eminent caterer to prepare tuna salads for the the Kripkes.

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