Past president of AJCongress chapter dies


Sydney A. Jacobs, past president of the St. Louis Chapter of the American Jewish Congress, and former national vice president of the AJCongress, and a founder of Life Crisis Services, died Tuesday, April 10, 2007. Daughter Diane Jacobs Kopp (Jerry) said, of her father, “Throughout his lifetime, Sydney Jacobs has had an emotional presence with his immediate family and friends. He passes a legacy of strong values: love of family and friends; helping to make the world a better place for all individuals; a thirst for knowledge and a belief in tolerance.”

Mr. Jacobs was the youngest of his siblings, Sadie Epstein, Reba Mintz and Harry Jacobs, and had been the sole survivor among his siblings. In 1915, he was born on 101st Street in Manhattan, N.Y. At the age of 10, with his family, he moved to the Bronx, and at 16, having skipped two grades in elementary school, graduated from the Morris High School. “Throughout his lifetime, he was an avid baseball fan and enjoyed a good game of chess and bridge,” recalls daughter Diane Kopp.

In 1939, Mr. Jacobs graduated from City University of New York with a major in American history. He worked for the WPA as a supervisor, and in 1944, graduated from the Columbia University School of Social Work. He met and married his wife, Syvia, “with whom he shared a lifetime of love,” Kopp continued. “Together, my parents had a family, had and have dear friends, contributed to the community and traveled the world.”

Mr. Jacobs had been involved in numerous professional endeavors as well as having held many positions in local and national Jewish and general community organizations. He was a community organizer for the City Welfare Council in Brooklyn; consultant to the New Orleans-based Jewish Welfare Southeast and Soutwest areas of the United States; worked for the Council of Jewish Federations (now the United Jewish Communities); and was an associate director of the Jewish Federation of St. Louis from 1948-1954.

Mr. Jacobs was also a commercial real estate developer. “His love of social work always remained dear to his heart,” Diane Kopp recalls. Mr. Jacobs was an assistant dean of the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University; adjunct professor of social work at Saint Louis University, and also taught Urban Economics Planning. An area of special interest was the social resonsibility of corporations.

Mr. Jacobs was a past president and active board member of the St. Louis Chapter of the American Jewish Congress, and with his wife Sylvia continued to be a major benefactor of both the local chapter and the national AJCongress, of which he was a past national vice president. He and his family also sponsored the Sydney Jacobs Lecture at Congregation Shaare Emeth through the AJCongress and the congregation, which last year featured an address by Dr. William Danforth and Donn Rubin in favor of embryonic stem cell research.

Over 40 years ago, Mr. Jacobs was one of the founding members of Life Crisis Services, for which he was recently honored. James O. Rice, vice president for marketing and institutional advancement, expressed gratitude to Mr. Jacobs for having helped found the organization 40 years ago, and for serving as its first president. At the 40th anniversary event, it was pointed out that “around 40 years ago, Sydney Jacobs, and his wife, Sylvia, took particular notice of the number of suicides in the St. Louis Metropolitan area.” He worked tirelessly with other key individuals in the community to establish an organization intent on preventing suicides.

Funeral services were held last Sunday at Berger Memorial, where Rabbi Jim Bennett and Rabbi Emeritus Jeffrey Stiffman officiated and offered words of tribute to Mr. Jacobs. Also offering remarks were Mr. Jacobs’ son, Richard Jacobs, daughter Diane Jacobs Kopp (Jerry); grandson Danny Jacobs, and granddaughter Sasha Jacobs.

Mr. Jacobs was also a former chair of the Committee on United Nations Reform of the United Nations Association of St. Louis, and was an elected member of the Mid-East Area Agency on Aging, and received the 1960 Jewish Center for Aged Community Service Merit Award. He was an active member of the St. Louis Council on World Affairs, and was a consultant to the Executive Volunteer Corps, where he matched retired individuals with community organizations to provide consultations free of charge. Because of his intetest of world affairs and history, “it was not unusual to witness him reading an historical book, or entering in a lively political discussion,” recalls daughter Diane Kopp.

Diane Kopp added, “As Sydney Jacobs aptly quoted from the book Tuesdays with Morrie, ‘Death ends a life, not a relationship. His legacy will live on in his wife, children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and members of the community. He remains and will remain in the hearts of everyone he has nurtured and touched.”

Survivors include Mr. Jacobs’ wife, Sylvia Jacobs; a son, Richard Jacobs; a daughter, Diane Jacobs Kopp (Jerry); grandchildren Rob and Danny Jacobs and Sasha Kopp; step-grandchildren Gary Kopp (Susie) and Susan Kopp Townsley (Bill Townsley); and step-great-grandchildren Adam and Annie Kopp and Charlie and Arlo Townsley.

Funeral services were held Sunday, April 15, at the Berger Memorial Chapel. Burial was at the Beth Hamedrosh Hagodol Cemetery, 9125 Ladue Road. Contributions may be made in Mr. Jacobs’ memory to Life Crisis Services, 2650 Olive Street, St. Louis, Mo. 63103.