Bella Heppenheimer considers herself “one of the lucky ones” and, to her, remembering the Holocaust is vital.
Born in 1912 in the small German town of Hopstadten, Bella became a seamstress and later married Manfred Heppenheimer. Facing increasing persecution, they fled Nazi Germany in 1938, but many of Bella’s relatives were unable to escape and perished in the Holocaust.
Manfred and Bella settled in Pittsburgh, where they became active in the German Jewish refugee community. Manfred found work in a scrap yard and later became a bookkeeper. Bella opened a dressmaking shop, catering to many of Pittsburgh’s well-known women. And although she retired at 65, today—at age 93—she continues to knit scarves for people in homeless shelters and hats for patients undergoing chemotherapy.
She is deeply committed to tikkun olam, having been active with Hadassah, the National Council of Jewish Women, and the Holocaust Center of Greater Pittsburgh. She is a charter member of the Museum and recently established a substantial charitable gift annuity to memorialize her family members who perished and her late husband, Manfred, who passed away nine years ago. Through her annuity, she receives fixed lifetime payments at a very attractive rate, knowing that the remainder will sustain the Museum in perpetuity as part of its endowment.
Last fall, Bella visited the Museum with members of her synagogue. Together they commemorated Bella’s generous tribute to her family, which is now engraved on the Museum’s Donors Wall.