Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

‘Warren Buffett’s Rabbi,’ Myer Kripke, Dies at 100

May 4, 2014 2:38 pm 1 comment

Selling Chametz to the 'Sage of Omaha,' in 2012. From left: Beth Cohen, Rabbi Jonathan Gross, Rabbi Myer Kripke, Warren Buffett, and Yossie Stern, Rabbi Kripke's son-in-law. Photo: Orthodox Union.

Selling Chametz to the 'Sage of Omaha,' in 2012. From left: Beth Cohen, Rabbi Jonathan Gross, Rabbi Myer Kripke, Warren Buffett, and Yossie Stern, Rabbi Kripke's son-in-law. Photo: Orthodox Union.

Rabbi Myer Kripke, known as “Warren Buffett’s rabbi” because of his 50-year friendship with the famed investor, passed away on April 11 at 100 years old, according to an extensive obituary in The New York Times on Saturday.

In 2012, Kripke helped Rabbi Jonathan Gross, of the Orthodox Union member Beth Israel Synagogue, in Omaha, sell the congregation’s chametz to Buffett, as part of the Passover tradition.

The Times featured the rabbi in 1997, when he told their reporter the story of how his small inheritance ended up being managed by the “Sage of Omaha,” beginning in the late-1960s, when both men belonged to the same Rotary Club and lived a few blocks from each other in the Happy Hollow neighborhood of Omaha, Nebraska.

Within 25 years or so, the Kripke nest egg of $67,000 was worth about $25 million.

“It mushroomed like an atomic bomb,” Rabbi Kripke told The Philadelphia Inquirer in 1997.

Rather than luxuries, like the Buffetts, the Kripkes lived in the same home they always had, “as content in their three-bedroom, $900-a-month apartment as Mr. Buffett has famously been in the modest house he bought there in the 1950s,” The Times wrote.

The two families became friendlier over the years, as the Buffetts invited the Kripkes over for Thanksgiving, where they always ate a gourmet tuna fish salad because the turkey was not kosher.

Kripke met his wife, Dorothy Karp, at New York’s Jewish Theological Seminary of America, where they were married, in 1937, in the courtyard beneath the campus tower, at Broadway and 122nd Street. Chancellor Louis Finkelstein waived the fee for the newlyweds, but asked if they could ever reimburse the seminary, it would be appreciated, and the Kripkes came through, eventually.

In 1966, a fire destroyed the tower, and 30 years later, the Kripkes gave the seminary $7 million toward the $11 million cost of restoring it, and the tower was renamed for them. They also gave $8 million more to the school, to be bestowed after their deaths. Kripke’s wife died in 2000, The Times said.

The newspaper wrote: “Rabbi Kripke and Mr. Buffett shared a passion for ideas. In the oral history interview, Rabbi Kripke told of the time Mr. Buffett met his son, Saul Kripke, a Princeton scholar who has been called the world’s greatest living philosopher. They plunged into conversation.”

Daughter Madeline Kripke is known for her extraordinary collection of some 20,000 dictionaries, stored in her Greenwich Village apartment and three warehouses. (Kripke got her started by giving her a Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary when she was in fifth grade.)

The newspaper said: “Myer Samuel Kripke was born on Jan. 21, 1914, in Toledo, Ohio. His father bought and sold containers like bottles and barrels, and the Kripkes had a middle-class life. Rabbi Kripke told the Nebraska Jewish Historical Society in 2002 that he had decided to become a rabbi while in high school.”

The Times said that Buffett told them “that he relished the rabbi’s sense of humor and appreciated his sincerity.” The investor showed up at Kripke’s 90th birthday party, greatly impressing other guests.

“It made me very important,” Rabbi Kripke told The Times.


1 Comment

  • Howard Hoffer

    My sincere to condolences to the family fo Rabbi Kripke. My connection to the Rabbi goes back to the time of my living in Omaha, Neb. in the early 1960’s, prior to my first marriage, at which time Rabbi Kripke helped my first wife in a conversion to Judaism. Rabbi Kripke at that time was very much against converting non Jews, but he said that after meeting my future wife, he felt comfortable continuing with it. He then officiated at my marriage and I always remembered him for his understanding and wonderfully caring, comforting, attitude. It comes with great sadness that I learn of his passing today as I reflect back on those days.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture First English-Language Trailer Debuts for Natalie Portman’s Hebrew Film ‘A Tale of Love and Darkness,’ Based on Amos Oz’s Memoir (VIDEO)

    First English-Language Trailer Debuts for Natalie Portman’s Hebrew Film ‘A Tale of Love and Darkness,’ Based on Amos Oz’s Memoir (VIDEO)

    The first English-language trailer for Natalie Portman’s directorial debut — A Tale of Love and Darkness — based on Israeli author Amos Oz’s memoir, was released on Thursday. The movie, originally filmed in Hebrew, tells the story of Oz’s childhood in Jerusalem at the end of the British Mandate and the early years of Israel’s independence. Portman, who was born in Israel and speaks fluent Hebrew, plays the lead role of Fania, the author’s mother. She struggles to raise her son as she deals with inner demons, a […]

    Read more →
  • Features As Berlin Prices Rise, Israelis Turn East for German Real-Estate Bargains

    As Berlin Prices Rise, Israelis Turn East for German Real-Estate Bargains

    JNS.org – Sonnenallee, a street in Berlin’s Neukölln district, looks like it comes straight out of an Arab city — so much so that it goes by the nickname “Gaza Strip.” Kebab and bakery shops are advertised in Arabic; men sit in men-only coffee shops; and bridal shop windows showcase glittery, not-so-stylish gowns. But take a random turn, and you’ll find a swath of bars, burger joints, and Indian restaurants where hip Berliners announce that they have arrived to urban coolness. […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Israeli Actress Gal Gadot Slays in ‘Wonder Woman’ Trailer (VIDEO)

    Israeli Actress Gal Gadot Slays in ‘Wonder Woman’ Trailer (VIDEO)

    Israeli actress Gal Gadot engages in fierce action sequences in the new Wonder Woman trailer, which Warner Bros. premiered during the San Diego Comic-Con on Saturday. The nearly 3-minute trailer, the first to debut for the superhero film, shows scenes of Diana, princess of the Amazons, fighting alongside men in the battle against the world’s toughest enemies. The first shot of the video shows Wonder Woman discovering a man, Steve Trevor (played by actor Chris Pine), washed ashore. The clip then takes viewers to the all-female island where Wonder Woman was born. […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture A Theatrical Look at Diplomacy and the Oslo Accords (REVIEW)

    A Theatrical Look at Diplomacy and the Oslo Accords (REVIEW)

    Is diplomacy worthwhile, even if the end result isn’t what we hoped for? That is the question, among many others, posed by the new play Oslo, by J.T. Rogers. Making its New York debut at Lincoln Center, the play examines the secret diplomatic process that led to the historic 1993 peace accords. The character of Shimon Peres makes an appearance onstage — and he, along with Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat, tower over the proceedings. But they mainly do so in absentia. Instead, […]

    Read more →
  • Spirituality/Tradition Sports Israeli Trailblazer Dean Kremer Brings Jewish Values to Nascent Pro Baseball Career

    Israeli Trailblazer Dean Kremer Brings Jewish Values to Nascent Pro Baseball Career

    JNS.org – Other than being part of the Los Angeles Dodgers organization, Sandy Koufax and Dean Kremer have something else in common: a respect for Jewish tradition. Koufax — who was recently ranked by ESPN as the best left-handed pitcher in Major League Baseball (MLB) history — decided not to pitch Game 1 of the 1965 World Series because the game fell on Yom Kippur. “I would do the same,” Kremer said in an interview. Last month, the 20-year-old Kremer became […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Lead Guitarist of British Rock Band Queen Asks Adam Lambert to Sing in Hebrew During Upcoming Israel Concert

    Lead Guitarist of British Rock Band Queen Asks Adam Lambert to Sing in Hebrew During Upcoming Israel Concert

    The famed lead guitarist of British rock band Queen, Brian May, encouraged Jewish singer-songwriter Adam Lambert to perform in Hebrew during their upcoming joint concert in Israel, an entertainment industry advocacy organization reported on Tuesday. During a recent interview with Israeli television personality Assi Azar, May was played a 2005 video of Lambert singing the popular song Shir L’Shalom, (Song for Peace). May was so impressed by Lambert’s singing of the Hebrew track that he told the American singer, “We have to do that. Let’s […]

    Read more →
  • Sports Kenyan Marathoner to Compete for Israel in Rio Olympics

    Kenyan Marathoner to Compete for Israel in Rio Olympics

    JNS.org – Kenyan-born marathoner Lonah Chemtai is expected to compete for Israel at the Olympics Games in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil next month after gaining a last minute approval. “I am very proud [to represent Israel] and I hope to achieve a new personal best time,” Chemtai told Reuters. Chemtai, who grew up a rural village in western Kenya, first came to Israel in 2009 to care of the children of her country’s ambassador to Israel. The 27-year-old runner recently gained […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish Identity Will Laughs Lead to Love on Show About Orthodox Dating?

    Will Laughs Lead to Love on Show About Orthodox Dating?

    To date or not to date? That is not the question for most Modern Orthodox singles in New York. The question is when will they find their future spouses, and when will their families stop nagging them about having babies? Inspired by the success of the Israeli show “Srugim,” Leah Gottfried, 25, decided she would create and star in her own show, “Soon By You.” “Dating is so serious already,” Gottfried said. “We wanted to take a lighter approach and laugh at the […]

    Read more →