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Sandra Weiner: A Living Legacy

Sandra Weiner

Being a part of the founding of the Museum is Sandra Goldfine Weiner's proudest accomplishment.

Anyone who has met Sandra Goldfine Weiner knows she has been a force for good, a beacon for change, and most definitely, a woman of action who gets things done. Time after time, in Houston and around the world, she has been a leader who makes important things happen.

Born in 1933 in Duluth, Minnesota, Sandra had a warm Jewish upbringing as one of Abe and Fannie Goldfine's three children. She was involved in Young Judea, becoming a dedicated Zionist as a teenager. She attended the University of Colorado at Boulder, where her roommate from Houston fixed her up with Leon Weiner. "We met in April and were married in August," she recalls. "He said, 'marry me or something,' and I responded, 'marry me or nothing.' The couple moved to Houston, where Leon managed operations for his father's Weiner's Department Stores. Over the course of their 60-year marriage, they raised four children, and today, the family includes 14 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren, who are the light and life of their beloved matriarch.

Leon and Sandra became active and dedicated members of the Jewish community on the local, national and international level. One of the ten founding members of Congregation Brith Shalom, Sandra became the first female president of a local synagogue. At the Jewish Federation, she served as Board Member for many years before assuming the role of the first female Campaign Chair and President, and at the national level served as the first woman Major Gifts Chair, raising over $250 million for the annual appeal. She served as the Chairman for the Advisory Council to the National Conference on Soviet Jewry and as Co-Chairman for the March on Washington for Soviet Jews in 1987. The couple was instrumental in the growth and support of the Emery/Weiner School.

Additionally, Sandra served as both President and Chairman of the Board of the National Foundation for Jewish Culture and a Board member of the Jewish Museum of New York. Over the years, she received the American Jewish Committee's Max Nathan Human Relations Award, the Jewish Community Center's David H. White Memorial Award, the Jewish National Fund's Woman of Valor, the State of Israel Bonds Eleanor Roosevelt Centennial Celebration Award, and the American Jewish Committee's Woman of Achievement. She and Leon established the Weiner Fellowship at The Kinkaid School, the Sandra and Leon Weiner Philanthropy Award at the National Foundation for Jewish Culture and the Leon Weiner Employment Fund at Jewish Family Service Houston.

In 2014, Sandra fulfilled a lifelong dream and became a Bat Mitzvah at Congregation Brith Shalom, which in turn, honored her impact on the community during its 60th anniversary celebration in 2017.

Sandra's roots with Holocaust Museum Houston are powerful and deep. She first learned of the Holocaust as a teenager. "I always felt guilty that I could not save the six million who perished, so I decided to work to make Israel strong, so Jews would have a safe haven to return to after the war," she explains. "I gave business to survivors when I could, and always tried to show my empathy and compassion."

In 1981, when local Holocaust survivor Siegi Izakson approached her with the idea of a Holocaust education center and memorial in Houston, Sandra used her considerable influence as president of the Houston Jewish Federation to invigorate the project and help establish the Holocaust Education Foundation and Memorial Museum. In 1992, Sandra and the Center leaders organized The Circle of Tolerance to raise funds for a new museum, and in 1996, 13 years after Izakson's first dreamt of the idea, Holocaust Museum Houston officially opened.

"The Museum quickly became a second home to survivors," Sandra recalls. "We raised the money for the building and exhibits without any government funding. Our local community is outstanding, and I'm so proud we stood up for the right thing," she adds. "I am so grateful to the many young people who continue to grow the Museum's important mission. I believe the next generation should keep their ideas in the right place so I wanted to leave a bequest to demonstrate that it's important to help good causes while you're still alive. Also, it's very important to die the way you lived, leaving what you have to causes that matter most."

"Humankind must learn to live together in peace and harmony, and the Museum fosters Holocaust remembrance, understanding and education. It stands as a symbol of hope that people will not forget the atrocities. We now have a place to preserve the memory of those who perished and the stories of those who survived." A member of the Museum's Generation to Generation Legacy Society, Sandra received the institution's prestigious Guardian of the Human Spirit Award in 2006.

"Being a part of founding the museum is one of my proudest achievements. I think it will contribute to our community for decades to come."

Learn how you, like Sandra, can support the Museum for many years in the future. Contact Stephanie Dugan, CAP® at or 713-527-1629 to get started.

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A charitable bequest is one or two sentences in your will or living trust that leave to Holocaust Museum Houston a specific item, an amount of money, a gift contingent upon certain events or a percentage of your estate.

an individual or organization designated to receive benefits or funds under a will or other contract, such as an insurance policy, trust or retirement plan

"I give to Holocaust Museum Houston, a nonprofit corporation currently located at 5401 Caroline St., Houston, TX 77004, or its successor thereto, ______________* [written amount or percentage of the estate or description of property] for its unrestricted use and purpose."

able to be changed or cancelled

A revocable living trust is set up during your lifetime and can be revoked at any time before death. They allow assets held in the trust to pass directly to beneficiaries without probate court proceedings and can also reduce federal estate taxes.

cannot be changed or cancelled

tax on gifts generally paid by the person making the gift rather than the recipient

the original value of an asset, such as stock, before its appreciation or depreciation

the growth in value of an asset like stock or real estate since the original purchase

the price a willing buyer and willing seller can agree on

The person receiving the gift annuity payments.

the part of an estate left after debts, taxes and specific bequests have been paid

a written and properly witnessed legal change to a will

the person named in a will to manage the estate, collect the property, pay any debt, and distribute property according to the will

A donor advised fund is an account that you set up but which is managed by a nonprofit organization. You contribute to the account, which grows tax-free. You can recommend how much (and how often) you want to distribute money from that fund to HMH or other charities. You cannot direct the gifts.

An endowed gift can create a new endowment or add to an existing endowment. The principal of the endowment is invested and a portion of the principal’s earnings are used each year to support our mission.

Tax on the growth in value of an asset—such as real estate or stock—since its original purchase.

Securities, real estate or any other property having a fair market value greater than its original purchase price.

Real estate can be a personal residence, vacation home, timeshare property, farm, commercial property or undeveloped land.

A charitable remainder trust provides you or other named individuals income each year for life or a period not exceeding 20 years from assets you give to the trust you create.

You give assets to a trust that pays our organization set payments for a number of years, which you choose. The longer the length of time, the better the potential tax savings to you. When the term is up, the remaining trust assets go to you, your family or other beneficiaries you select. This is an excellent way to transfer property to family members at a minimal cost.

You fund this type of trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. You can also make additional gifts; each one also qualifies for a tax deduction. The trust pays you, each year, a variable amount based on a fixed percentage of the fair market value of the trust assets. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to HMH as a lump sum.

You fund this trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. Each year the trust pays you or another named individual the same dollar amount you choose at the start. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to HMH as a lump sum.

A beneficiary designation clearly identifies how specific assets will be distributed after your death.

A charitable gift annuity involves a simple contract between you and HMH where you agree to make a gift to HMH and we, in return, agree to pay you (and someone else, if you choose) a fixed amount each year for the rest of your life.

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