August 12, 2016
Minneapolis, MN – Steve Hunegs, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas (JCRC), issued the following statement mourning the death of Joseph Wilf, z''l:
"As the Shiva period ends, The Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas (JCRC) mourns the passing of Joseph Wilf, z''l.
"Joseph Wilf's impact on the global Jewish community is immeasurable. Mr. Wilf was a Holocaust survivor who immigrated to the United States in 1950. According to the New Jersey State Association of Jewish Federations, 'Joseph, his brother Harry, and their families translated business successes into a legacy of being passionate voices for building the strength, unity, and longtime viability of Jewish communities throughout the world. The Wilf's engagement at all levels of community life reinforced our bonds to each other, our traditions, culture, and heritage and to our future as one people.'
"According to his obituary, 'Joseph was born January 10, 1925, in Jaroslaw, Poland. When World War II broke out, Joseph, his brother Harry, together with their parents, Oscar and Ella Wilf, were deported by the Russians from their home in Jaroslaw to a Siberian labor camp. All survived, except for his sister Bella who perished in the Warsaw Ghetto. The end of the war found them physically and mentally exhausted. While the Wilfs were determined to return to Jaroslaw following the liberation, the pogroms which erupted in Poland in 1946 caused them to flee to the American occupied zone of Germany where Joseph met his future wife, Elizabeth Fisch (known as Suzie).'
"Joseph Wilf was 'a well-respected leader, benefactor, and board member in countless organizations. He, along with his brother Harry, was a benefactor and board member of the Wilf campus of Yeshiva University. He was among the original founders of the American Society for Yad Vashem and a lead donor to their Holocaust museum building. Joseph also served as President of Jewish Federation of Central NJ and Board Chair of the JEC in Elizabeth, NJ. He was a board member and longtime benefactor of United Jewish Appeal, Israel Bonds, Jewish Family Service, Jewish Community Center, YMHA, the Jewish Museum, Park East Synagogue, Jewish Agency for Israel, the Joint Distribution Committee, and the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany. Joseph also was a long-time trustee of Kean University, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum founder, United Way benefactor, and involved with numerous other philanthropic efforts.'
"Mr. Wilf's philanthropic vision extends to the Twin Cities where his sons, Zygi and Mark Wilf, and the Minnesota Vikings generously support many important causes and organizations.
"May Joseph Wilf's memory be for a blessing."
As the public affairs voice of the Jewish community, the JCRC fights anti-Semitism and prejudice, advocates for Israel, provides Holocaust education, promotes tolerance and social justice, and builds bridges across the Jewish and broader communities.