Bais Yaakov to rename school

The Bais Yaakov High School of St. Louis announced it will rename the school in honor of the late Esther Miller. The school welcomes the community to attend a celebration of Miller’s life, and the dedication of the “Esther Miller Bais Yaakov” at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 13. Bais Yaakov of St. Louis is located on the premises of U.City Shul (Beth Hamedrosh Hagodol Sha’arei Chesed Shul), 700 North and South Road in University City.

Judaic Studies Principal Tova Greenblatt said the renaming of the school comes on the heels of a sizable gift in her memory from her children’s families, Yale and Gail Miller, Rabbi Nachman and Zehava Klein and Joseph B. and Geri Miller. “[This is] a remarkable bequest commemorating the life of a remarkable woman,” Greenblatt said.


Born in St. Louis in 1910, the fourth daughter of Ely and Ethel Bryna Waldman, Esther was part of a small cadre of families in St. Louis who struggled to keep their businesses alive while staying strong in their observance of Shabbos. Although the family could not afford expensive toys — her family recalls that her mother made her own doll from a sock — they scraped together enough money to hire a melamed (private teacher) to provide a Jewish education for Esther and her sisters. Those early years laid the foundation for a lifetime of dedication to Jewish learning.

Although Miller was legally blind, she would spend hours each week going over the weekly parsha with a large print English Bible from the Jewish Braille Society and a magnifying viewing machine, her family recalled.

“Perseverance and determination really sums up her personality,” recalls her son, Yale Miller. “If Mom wanted to accomplish something, she would make it part of her routine and would not deviate.” Gail Miller said each morning, her mother-in-law would would recite psalms while the coffee was brewing, and she would say morning blessings and shema even during times of extreme illness and fatigue.

Together with her husband, Hy C. Miller, Esther was among the original founders of the Young Israel of St. Louis in the early 1930s, as well as the H.F. Epstein Hebrew Academy in the mid 1940s. Over the years, Esther remained involved in working for the school and planning their Annual Dinners, which historically would draw 1,000 people to the Chase Park Plaza.

Miller left behind a legacy that includes three children, seven grandchildren, 33 great-grandchildren and two great-great grandchildren.

For more information on the Bais Yaakov High School event, contact Rabbi Hillel Anton (314) 863-9230 or email [email protected]