SPRINGFIELD – The Ruth K. Webber Memorial Scholarship Fund will make its first scholarship award this year. Established in July 2012 by her family, daughters Meg Steinberg and Jane Shernow, and the family of her late son Neal Webber, this fund will provide approximately $2,000 annually for scholarships. Awards from the fund will be made by the Springfield Council of Jewish Women Scholarship Committee (SCJW) of the Jewish Endowment Foundation of Western Massachusetts (JEF) of which Ruth was a member for more than 40 years.
The Ruth K. Webber Memorial Scholarship Fund is a fitting tribute to Ruth’s legacy. “Our mother believed very strongly in the value of higher education. She dedicated much of her life’s work to making a college education a reality for hundreds of students in the local community,” according to her daughter Meg.
Ruth was instrumental in establishing two scholarship funds in the 1970s. In 1971, the Benjamin H. Katz Fund was established by Ruth and her brother, David Katz, in memory of their father. The fund name was changed to the Sylvia B. and Benjamin H. Katz Fund when their mother passed away in 1999. Also established during the 1970s was the Bertha B. Kittredge & Alfred H. Webber Fund (Kittredge-Webber), established by the Kittredge-Webber family under Ruth’s guidance. The fund name was changed in 1999 to include Ralph G. Webber, Ruth’s beloved husband. She personally funded, on an annual basis, a scholarship in memory of her son, Neal, who passed away in 2008. The family continues to fund this award since Ruth’s death in 2011.
It became a tradition that each year at the Kittredge-Webber family reunion, Ruth would provide an update to her family about the success of the memorial scholarships, including basic information about the award recipients. Ruth was deeply passionate about the scholarship program and was still an active committee member at the time of her passing.
Ruth served as President of the Springfield Council of Jewish Women and then Chair of the scholarship committee, holding that position until 1998. It was during Ruth’s tenure as Scholarship Chair in 1992, that the SCJW funds were moved to the JEF. At the time, they were worth $253,831. Today SCJW Funds total $849,351, including the new fund.
SCJW originated as a subcommittee of the Springfield Chapter of the National Council of Jewish Women. In 1943 SCJW awarded its first scholarship of $200 to a woman to attend Smith College. Today it provides total awards of around $35,000 to approximately 30 students a year, regardless of race, religion or creed. Over the years, the Committee has awarded more than $1.5 million to financially assist thousands of local students in their pursuit of higher education.
To learn more about creating your own Jewish legacy, contact Scott Kaplan, Endowment Director at (413) 732-9994 or via email to email@example.com.