Frankel, 94, was former BSKI president


Maurice J. Frankel, a retired businessman and shopping center developer, and a past president of Congregation Brith Sholom Kneseth Israel, died Sunday, Nov. 8, 2009, after a long illness. He was 94 and a longtime resident of St. Louis. Mr. Frankel was remembered by his rabbi, family and friends for his work ethic, love of exercise and learning and his many years of active membership and support of BSKI.

Mr. Frankel was born Feb. 12, 1915 in New York City, and grew up in Brooklyn. He graduated from the New Utrecht High School and attended the City College of New York. He later did a semester at St. John’s School of Law in Brooklyn, but had to drop out due to economic reasons.

Mr. Frankel worked for the National Shirt Company for a number of years before meeting his wife, the former Sylvia Molasky of St. Louis, in South Beach, Fla. in 1941. They were married June 7, 1942 at the Coronado Hotel in St. Louis. Mr. Frankel returned to work at Food Centre, for his father-in-law, A. J. Molasky in St. Louis. He worked at Food Centre until it sold out to National Food Stores in 1954.

Mr. Frankel later purchased a 100-acre site in East St. Louis with A. J. Molasky, which he developed into a shopping center with a medical building. After the center closed, he retired from that business in 1983, when he was in his early 60s.

The Frankel children were given their Jewish education at Congregation B’nai Amoona. Rabbi Mordecai Miller of BSKI, pointed out that “because of Maurice’s in-laws, the young family first became members of BSKI. Maurice loved to walk. He could walk for miles no matter what the weather. When his parents passed away, he started to walk to BSKI to say Kaddish.”

Rabbi Miller added, “Maurice became reconnected with BSKI again and rejoined in the early 1970s,” and would serve as the congregation’s vice president, and became one of the few people to serve as president for two terms. During the 10 years he served as treasurer, he worked as a team with fellow longtime congregant Marcia Sterneck, who would step in when the Frankels were out of town.

In order to be closer to family members, Maurice and Sylvia Frankel bought a condo in the Adventura development in North Miami.

“Throughout their lives the family would spend Shabbat dinners all together and they continued to do this both in St. Louis and Florida,” Rabbi Miller said. “Maurice loved to sit in the Miami sun and brag to the cold St. Louisans about the nicer weather.”

Rabbi Miller also noted Mr. Frankel’s charitable support of the synagogue and other community needs. He was very proud of his donation to the synagogue of the choir robes for the Junior Congregation because he felt it was the best way to continue the religion by teaching them to daven when they were young. After Sylvia died in 1996, he made a personal commitment to donate to the food pantry in her memory every week when the food baskets were not spoken for, which he did almost weekly until last year.”

He also bought the mantles used to cover the Torah in Sylvia’s memory, Miller said.

In the 1960s, Frankel recorded Talking Books for the Blind that helped children with their school texts. “He was also a voracious reader, especially biographies and books about Judaism,” Rabbi Miller said.

Mr. Frankel’s daughter, Helene Frankel, in her remarks at his funeral service at BSKI said, “My father was a complicated man…For a man who read constantly, he wasn’t good at verbalizing his thoughts and feelings…For a man who attended shul regularly, he never talked to me about religion or his concept of God. For a man who loved to give massages, he rarely received one…Therefore, to know my father, I must describe his actions. They say actions speak louder than words, but sometimes you miss the hidden message of love.”

Speaking of Mr. Frankel’s long association with BSKI, Helene Frankel said: “His devotion to BSKI is unquestionable. His long years of service as officer and board member spanned decades. He never seemed to burn out, attending his last meeting at 93 just before he left for Miami for his last trip.”

In addition to his daughter Helene (George Boniface), survivors include two other daughters Leslie Simon (Murray) and Judith Frankel (Elliot Miller) and a son, Harlie Frankel, five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Following the funeral service at BSKI, where Rabbi Miller officiated, burial was at Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in University City.

Memorial contributions are preferred to Brith Sholom Kneseth Israel synagogue, 1107 Linden Avenue, St. Louis, Mo. 63117 or the Harvey Kornblum Jewish Food Pantry, 10950 Schuetz Road, St. Louis, Mo. 63146.