Presenting a major donation to her late husband Morton’s alma mater, the New Jersey Institute of Technology, in 1998, Lilyan Kreitchman said, “Our philosophy always was that if you’ve been a little lucky in this life, you have to make it a little better for this world.”
Kreitchman, 89, a longtime South Orange resident who passed away on Oct. 31, two days after a traumatic choking incident, taught that attitude to her three daughters and their families. She practiced it herself to the end, with the Jewish community’s needs always taking priority.
“You’ve got to protect your own people,” she said in a 2008 interview with Speak EZ, the newsletter of what is now the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ. “If we didn’t, there are poor Jews all over the world who would be suffering more than they are right now. No one else is going to do it for us.”
Kreitchman’s daughter Lori Klinghoffer, president of the Greater MetroWest federation and past chair of its UJA campaign, said of her mother’s charitable work, “It gave her a purpose for living. My mom was an incredibly strong person. Without design or really thinking about it, she was a trailblazer. Her strength and dignity were my inspiration.”
Born in Newark, Kreitchman lived her entire life in Essex County, with some time spent in Boca Raton, Fla. After her husband’s death in 1987, she headed up the board of his company, Valcor Engineering Corp. in Newark. The Kreitchmans were married for 43 years. “They made each other whole,” Klinghoffer said. “They were the love of each other’s lives, and he never left her heart.”
Max Kleinman, executive vice president/CEO of the Greater MetroWest federation, said Kreitchman “was a pillar of our community whose philanthropic support for UJA was at the highest level. She instilled a love of Israel and Jewish community in her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. I will miss our get-togethers where we exchanged our viewpoints on world affairs. She was a grand lady. I extend my condolences to her wonderful family.”
Maxine Murnick, president of the federation’s Women’s Philanthropy, said, “Communal work today rests upon the shoulders of those trailblazers who set up the paths for us to journey. Lilyan Kreitchman was one of those trailblazers, especially for women, and we will miss her dearly.”
In addition to Klinghoffer and her husband, Steven, of Short Hills, Kreitchman is survived by her daughters Robin Walters (Leigh) of Mountainside and Jody Friedman (Bruce) of Watchung; her brother, Dr. Leonard Goldman of Shreveport, La.; her seven grandchildren, Jessica Gribbon, Alexis Cohen, Lisa Buber, Rachel Klinghoffer, and Scott, Monica, and Glenn Friedman; and six great-grandchildren.
The funeral was held Nov. 3 at Temple B’nai Abraham, Livingston. The burial was at B’nai Abraham Memorial Park, Union.