Jerome W. Sandweiss, 88; helped win landmark Temple Israel case

Jerome W. Sandweiss

BY ROBERT A. COHN, Editor-in-Chief Emeritus

Jerome W. Sandweiss, an attorney who helped win the landmark case in which the Missouri Supreme Court upheld the right of Temple Israel to construct a synagogue in Creve Coeur, died at his Clayton home on Monday, July 16.  He was 88 and had been in declining health due to long-term ailments, family members said.

“Dad was a well-traveled, curious and worldly man, as his friends  knew him to  be,”  his son, Eric Sandweiss, told the Jewish Light.  “He lived most of his life happily within a three-mile radius that encompassed the Central West End, University City and Clayton.”

Jerome Wesley Sandweiss was born at the Jewish Hospital in St. Louis (now Barnes-Jewish) on Aug. 17, 1924, the son of Sam and Molly Bierman Sandweiss.  He married Joy Glik on July 6, 1952.  They had three children.

After graduating from University City High School in 1942, he attended the University of Chicago, where he was a student of political science. His mentors included the Fabian Socialist Herman Finer and the renowned sociologist David Riesman.  

Mr. Sandweiss received his undergraduate degree in 1947, a master’s degree in political science in 1948 and a law degree in 1950.

Mr. Sandweiss enlisted in the Army in 1943, and rose to the rank of staff sergeant in the Counter-Intelligence Corps.  He served in the Philippines and was at the Japanese surrender at Tokyo’s Sugamo Prison, where he guarded Gestapo chief Josf Meisnger, called “The Butcher of Warsaw,” who was later hanged on his return to Germany. Mr. Sandweiss also took depositions from Jose Lauel, the occupation-era president of the Philippines.

After the war, Mr. Sandweiss returned to the University of Chicago, first to complete his M.A. thesis on the new Japanese Constitution, and then to enroll in the university’s law school, where he served as a managing editor of the Law Review and found time to author an original musical production, “Noah’s Lark.”

On his return to St. Louis, Mr. Sandweiss’s many community activities including service on the boards of the University City Public Library, COCA, the United Way, the Jewish Community Relations Council and the Jewish Light

Board of Trustees, where he was an active member of its news and editorial committee.  He served a term as president of the Jewish Family and Children’s Service and was a member of the Jewish Federation of St. Louis Board of Directors.

He also served for 36 years as a member of the board of directors of Sigma Aldrich Corporation.

In all of his activities, Mr. Sandweiss was admired for his keen intellect, quiet demeanor and insights into the events of the day. 

Mr. Sandweiss was considered a “natural teacher,” and taught at the religious school at Temple Emanuel as well as new citizens at the International Institute. He also taught political philosophy courses at Washington University’s University College.

Mr. Sandweiss was one of four attorneys representing Temple Israel on behalf of the law firm of Lewis Rice.  In what is considered a landmark case, the Missouri Supreme Court upheld the right of Temple Israel to build its temple building at Ladue and Spoede roads, overturning Creve Coeur’s efforts to exclude the congregation from the city limits in 1959, and establishing new guarantees against religious discrimination in zoning codes.

Local attorney Michael Newmark said Mr.  Sandweiss was a trusted colleague in the legal profession and in his lay leadership in the Jewish community.

“Jerry was a brilliant lawyer with excellent judgment. While we never practiced law together, we would often consult with each other on difficult legal issues,” Newmark said. “I valued his wisdom, his legal analysis and his good judgment. I worked closely with him when he was President of the Jewish Family and Children’s Service and he gave our community great leadership.”

Asked to name his proudest accomplishment, Mr. Sandweiss always answered, “My family.”

He is survived by his wife of 61 years, Joy Glik Sandweiss; three children, Martha (Marni) of Princeton, N.J.; Katherine (Gerald Richman) of Minneapolis, and Eric (Lee Ann) Sandweiss, of  Bloomington, Ind.; and six grandchildren.

A private internment at New Mount Sinai Cemetery was followed by a memorial service at Temple Emanuel last Thursday, where Senior Rabbi Elizabeth Hersh and Rabbi Emeritus Joseph R. Rosenbloom officiated.  The family asks that contributions be directed to the Scholarship Foundation, the Jewish Family and Children’s Service or the charity of the donor’s choice.