Mirowitz remembered for community service

BY ROBERT A. COHN, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF EMERITUS

Hundreds of prominent leaders and members of the St. Louis Jewish community celebrated the life and numerous accomplishments of Saul Mirowitz at his funeral service Tuesday, Jan. 6, at Traditional Congregation, which he helped establish in the 1960s. Mr. Mirowitz, co-founder of Delmar Financial Company, died two days prior (Jan. 4), at the age of 82, from complications following a long illness.

In his remarks, Rabbi Seth Gordon of Traditional Congregation said, “We have come together to share our deep sorrow and our memories of Saul, but also to share his wondrous life. Saul Mirowitz was a man of extraordinary accomplishment, a man who served his nation in the Navy, an extremely generous donor to numerous causes and a beloved husband, father of four and grandfather (of 16).”

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Pointing out that he had arrived at Traditional two years ago, Rabbi Gordon noted that Mr. Mirowitz was already ill from having suffered a stroke and no longer a hard-driving businessman.

“What I saw was a face that was very sweet, as it always was in his home,” Rabbi Gordon recalled. “While Saul had strong opinions and great knowledge, he encouraged his daughters at home to challenge him. The Mirowitz home was a place of learning. Saul was a voracious reader of such publications as The New Republic, Commentary and National Review.”

Mr. Mirowitz and his late brother, Carl, founded Delmar Financial Company in 1966. The company became one of the area’s first and largest providers of loans backed by the federal government, helping first-time buyers and military veterans buy homes. Today, the Creve Coeur-based business is run by Mr. Mirowitz’s grandson, Matt Levison, and his partner, Keith Maddox.

Mr. Mirowitz was involved in many Jewish and human rights organizations, and received several awards for his service. He was active for more than 30 years in the St. Louis Chapter of the American Jewish Committee, was a past president of the chapter and a member of the AJC national board.

Rosalyn Borg, former executive director of the St. Louis Chapter of the American Jewish Committee, recalled Mr. Mirowitz as a person of great integrity and high standards. “His vision in helping to launch, and his generous support of the Saul Mirowitz Day School-Reform Jewish Academy, is a major part of his legacy to our community,” she said, referring to the Jewish day school in Frontenac that was named in his honor in 2002.

Although Mr. Mirowitz was a Modern Orthodox Jew, he felt so strongly that every Jewish child should have a quality Jewish education that he provided the major start-up and sustaining funds to establish the school. He later served on the school’s board of directors.

Cheryl Mayaan, Head of School at SMDS-RJA, said the school “carries forth Saul’s vision every day and continues to honor his values, his ideals and his name. We have lost a leader and a friend.”

She told the crowd gathered that the students started their week hearing about Mr. Mirowitz’s values. “They learned that the place of their childhood memories — the Saul Mirowitz Day School — is also the embodiment of a great man’s vision. We remain inspired and touched by his life,” she added.

Mr. Mirowitz and his wife established the Saul and Barbara Mirowitz Center for Central and East European Jewry, housed in the New York-based American Jewish Committee office. The center sought to promote a better understanding of Judaism in the region after the collapse of Communism. One of its actions was sending Jewish scholars to teach in Catholic seminaries in Poland.

In addition to his American Jewish Committee activities, Mr. Mirowitz was president of his B’nai B’rith Lodge and of the St. Louis Chapter of the American Society for Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. He also was an active member and supporter of the Missouri-Southern Illinois Regional Advisory Board of the Anti-Defamation League as well as a former member and vice chair of the Missouri Commission on Human Rights.

In a joint statement, Karen Aroesty, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League and John Wallach, board chair, praised Mr. Mirowitz’s service to ADL. “We applaud leaders like Saul Mirowitz as exemplars, and at ADL we are fortunate to stand on their shoulders — from the past, in the present and most important as we develop them for the future. We cannot underestimate that impact of leaders like Saul, community influencers from whom we must learn as we take on the challenges for the Jewish world yet to come.”

Mr. Mirowitz was a longtime member of the ADL board. After serving for many years as a member of ADL’s National Executive Committee, he became an honorary life member.

Memorial contributions can be sent to the Saul Mirowitz Day School-Reform Jewish Academy, 1411 North Forty Drive, St. Louis, Mo. 63131, or Traditional Congregation, 12437 Ladue Road, St. Louis, Mo. 63141.