We are happy to announce, that Mira of blessed memory has bequeathed funds in order to support students in the coming years as she so generously did during her lifetime. She touched the lives of students then, and due to her generosity, she will continue to touch the lives of dozens of more students. The Zionist values of Mira Fraenkal continue to live on.
IDC Herzliya bade farewell to dear friend and supporter, Mira Fraenkal z”l, this past January. Mira’s relationship with IDC began on Memorial Day for Israel’s Fallen Soldiers (Yom
Hazikaron) 2013, and she has since become a regular and beloved guest at all types of IDC
Mira was the youngest of 10 children, born to a religious family that came to Palestine from
Iran in 1905. While most girls were not educated then, Mira always had a thirst for learning.
So, at the age of 13, she went to work, in order to pay for her own education.
“We moved to the U.S. in 1956 because my father wanted to complete a Ph.D.,” says Mira’s son Eran Fraenkal. “At first my mom worked menial jobs. Eventually, she decided to get a degree, despite not knowing English. She ultimately got a B.A., an M.A., and a Master’s in Library Science.” When her husband got a teaching job at University of Pittsburgh, Mira began to teach Hebrew at a local Jewish school.
After Mira’s husband passed away from illness in 1970, she began to focus on her career. “She moved four or five times over the next few years, climbing up the career ladder in American Jewish education,” says Eran. Her final position was as the director of
a school in San Mateo, California. She returned to Israel after retiring in 1993.
Mira’s connection with IDC began after she heard a radio interview with Prof. Uriel Reichman, the university’s founder and president. She connected with Reichman’s story and vision, and
called his office the next day. Gili Dinstein, CEO of Friends of IDC, took the call. Mira offered to help or volunteer at the Raphael Recanati International School and after the two met,
they struck up a deep friendship.“I fell for her energy, assertiveness, Zionism, generosity, and the discrepancy between her small physique and her enormous heart.
Though she was in her late eighties, she knew exactly what she wanted to do: give scholarships to children of Israelis who had emigrated to the United States. She hoped that via the scholarships, they would come back to Israel,” says Dinstein. These young students, explains Dinstein, gave meaning to Mira’s life. “There was nothing she loved more than to meet them, to select those she would support that year, to see if they would make aliya .. She would read their resumes carefully, call to ask us for further details, interview them herself, and then stay in touch with them throughout their studies. When one student
created a successful YouTube video honoring Israel, it made her so very happy – almost as if it were her own wedding video.” Eran notes that because Mira did not visit Israel
often during her nearly forty years in the U.S.,she lost contact with most of her siblings. “I only got to know two of her brothers and their children,and only met her father once, very briefly.So, when she returned to Israel, while she had a huge family, she was not in touch with them. I think this was one of the motivations that drove her to fund students at IDC; that, combined with her commitment to education. Awarding scholarships presented her an opportunity for both intellectual and emotional reward.”
When she turned 90, Mira’s friends from IDC, including the students she supported, threw her a birthday party. They were joined by Eran, her granddaughter Sarah, who came to Israel for the celebration, and her dear friends and neighbors, Lori and Moshe Barnes, who cared for her here in Israel. At that celebration, Mira promised we would dance and celebrate
her 100th birthday too. Lori and Moshe remember how very proud Mira was to be
associated with IDC. “Her role allowed her to immerse herself in two things that were very important to her - education and Israel. We spoke often about her work with the university, and these conversations always made her smile. She was satisfied that she was able to help students obtain a first-class education, and truly excited about what the future might hold for them. She felt loved and respected by the IDC community. Mira encouraged us to attend events with her, and we soon understood why she felt the way she did. We miss Mira very much, and are grateful for how much her life was enriched by her relationship with IDC.”
“Mira represented the finest aristocracy of the Yishuv that fought in the War of Independence for the survival of the Jewish State,”says vice president for External Relations and head of the Raphael Recanati International School. “She remained the same Zionist 70 years after the creation of the State. It was always an honor to talk to her. Sometimes, during our conversations, I would picture sitting next to her by a bonfire, as if it was 1948. She was a
great woman.” Mira is survived by her son Eran and granddaughter Sarah. She is mourned and will long be remembered by the many people whose lives she touched.
May her memory be for a blessing!