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Kass: The Rabbi and the Oracle

At the time, Dorothy Kripke had developed a brain disorder and was usually bedridden. Once every week, Susie Buffett would take Dorothy to physical therapy. When she was well enough, the Buffetts and the Kripkes would play bridge together at their houses.

In time, the couples became closer, and the Buffetts began to host the Kripkes (with some other friends) at their house for Thanksgiving dinner. The Kripkes were kosher, and it became a tradition that Susie would serve the Kripkes tuna salad for the holiday and turkey for the other guests.

At the time, Warren had accumulated some wealth but nothing monumental. He was managing several partnerships for a small cadre of investors (mostly his family), and few had heard of him -- he was not yet been crowned The Oracle of Omaha.

Rabbi Kripke never earned more than $35,000 in any year, but the Kripkes had been saving their money and, combined with an inheritance, had accumulated nearly $70,000. Myer Kripke's wife Dorothy implored him to "invest the money with your friend Warren." Three years later, he got the courage to ask Warren to invest his worldly savings, and Warren accepted the money into his partnership. When Warren closed his partnership, he suggested that the rabbi roll his investment into Berkshire Hathaway's shares, which he did.

In 1976 Rabbi Kripke retired from his Congregation in Omaha and began to teach at a Jesuit school, Creighton University. He also began to write for a Jewish newspaper.

Fast forward 30 years after the time Rabbi Kripke invested in Warren's partnership and in Berkshire Hathaway -- his original investment of about $70,000 was now worth almost $25 million!

"Dorothy once asked me, 'Wouldn't you like to buy a better car?' I said, 'There's nothing wrong with a Chevrolet.'"

-- Rabbi Myer Kripke

The Kripkes, despite their enormous worth, were never big spenders. They never owned any real estate and lived in an apartment in Omaha that they rented for less than $1,000 a month.

By the mid-1990s, the rabbi's (now almost 85 years old) wife's health had deteriorated, and she was moved to a nursing home.

Rabbi Kripke felt he had a debt to the Jewish Theological Seminary, and, in 1996, he called Rabbi Carol Davidson, the Director of Planned Giving at the Seminary to make a gift of $100,000. At a meeting at Rabbi Kripke's house in Omaha, Rabbi Davidson suggested that Myer donate the money to help fix the Seminary's high tower -- it housed the library where Myer studied decades ago -- that was almost destroyed by a fire 30 years earlier (ironically, the same year that Myer gave his life savings to Warren).

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