First lady of New England, Israel football passes away

Myra Kraft held key positions in numerous charitable and community organizations.

July 20, 2011 23:42
2 minute read.
Myra Kraft

MYRA KRAFT311. (photo credit: Keren Freeman)


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Myra Kraft, the wife of New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and a long-time philanthropist, died on Wednesday morning at the age of 68.

The NFL team said in a statement on its website that Myra Hiatt Kraft passed away after a battle with cancer. The statement said “we are all heartbroken” and added that the philanthropic community has “suffered a great loss.”

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Myra Kraft held key positions in numerous charitable and community organizations and was a board member of several Jewish organizations including the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC).

"Kraft was a senior member of the JDC Board of Directors, and for years chaired their Israel area committee, visiting Israel often and promoting new and innovative social programs for the well-being of Israelis,” said JDC CEO Steve Schwager.

Sources at the Jewish relief group said Kraft chaired a committee that was directly involved in clandestine efforts to rescue Jews from danger around the world.

She managed the Robert and Myra Kraft Family Foundation and was president of the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation, which has contributed millions of dollars to charities in the United States and Israel.

She also served as chairwoman of the Combined Jewish Philanthropies and was on the board of directors of the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, the Boys and Girls Clubs, and Brandeis, among others.

Partly at Myra’s insistence, every Patriots player has a clause in their contract to take part in 10 charitable events per year.

She held the Israeli football community that she and her husband helped cultivate very close to her heart.

American Football in Israel president Steve Leibowitz expressed the following sentiments on Wednesday: “Over the past 12 years, Myra gave her love and support to the many thousands of people in Jerusalem and elsewhere in Israel who have been able to enjoy Kraft Family Stadium.

Myra nurtured and adopted the Israeli women’s football program, and without her willing assistance, WAFI would have been hard pressed to reach its current level of success.”

“So many people in Israel and in Jewish communities around the world have benefited from her generous philanthropy.

But to us at Kraft Family Stadium, she was a family member.

“She was loved and gave love in return. She will be mourned for a long time, and she will remain in our hearts forever.”

Kraft's funeral will be held Friday morning at Temple Emmanuel in Newton Centre, Massachusetts.

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