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Gift to Jewish Foundation Featured in the Wall Street Journal | 05-Jul-2012

 

  

Wall Street Journal   July 3, 2012

A Philanthropic Legacy in Connecticut

By Melanie Grayce West

In the decades after World War II, brothers Sidney and Arthur Eder together built a wholesale liquor business in Connecticut and a philanthropic legacy. Both live on today in the form of a family business and in grants from the Jewish Foundation of Greater New Haven.

Sidney Eder entered the liquor business shortly after the repeal of Prohibition. In the late 1940s, he bought out his partners and brought in his brother, Arthur. Sidney maintained the warehouse in Greenwich, Conn., and Arthur a warehouse in New Haven. The business continues today under Sidney's son, Andrew Eder, 63 years old and president of Eder Brothers.

The two worked hard to build a successful business and, in 1954, established an independent foundation to support causes in Stamford and New Haven. Generally, says Mr. Eder, Jewish causes were top priorities for his father and uncle, including the Anti-Defamation League and the Jewish Federation of Greater New Haven. The two also supported the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, various scholarships and hospitals.

But each man made smaller donations as well. Arthur Eder, for example, sent a few hundred dollars every year to the Arts Council of Greater New Haven to support a prize at the New Haven Paint & Clay Club. Mr. Eder says that he discovered over time that both men helped people directly in a way that was never made public. Some institutions received anonymous gifts.

"Every once in a while someone says, 'You can't believe what your father did for me,'" says Mr. Eder. "They were just really good people at helping others. They had a very public face to that and a very private face."

Like many children, Mr. Eder and his cousin, Jill Eder (Arthur's daughter), were left with a philanthropic legacy and a foundation to carry forward. Sidney died in 1986 and Arthur in 2006. Mr. Eder says that he and his cousin, who have their own philanthropic interests, wanted a way to take the assets of their fathers' foundation and preserve "the things that were most important to them."

Last year, the cousins gave $4.5 million to the Jewish Foundation of Greater New Haven to create an endowment to their fathers. It was a move to preserve the assets of their family foundation and acknowledge Arthur Eder's work to found the foundation in New Haven. Recently, the Eder endowment awarded roughly $163,000 in grants to support the federation's work, the Anti-Defamation League of Connecticut and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International.

Also on the list of recipients: the New Haven Paint & Clay Club. The brothers gave a tiny gift for almost 40 years, said Mr. Eder, and he didn't feel it appropriate to second guess the contribution. However, he did increase the gift amount.

"I said, 'This is ridiculous!' It's been $200 dollars forever and we increased it to $300," says Mr. Eder with a laugh. "You would have thought we'd given them $10 million bucks."

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