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Herbert S. Wander, longtime community leader and philanthropist

Community leader Herbert S. Wander dedicated his life to serving the Jewish people and championing social justice.

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The former JUF Board Chair and Chair of the JUF Annual Campaign, Wander died May 23 at age 86.

In 1993, Wander chaired the JUF Annual Campaign, raising $53.7 million - and another $17 million for Operation Exodus II, aimed at the continued rescue and resettlement of Jews from behind the fallen Iron Curtain.

Prior to chairing the JUF Annual Campaign, Wander chaired the JUF board of directors from 1981-1983 and the Jewish Community Relations Council from 1984-1986. Over the decades, he served on multiple committees, working on issues from youth services to city-wide budgeting.

"Herb Wander was a dear friend and role model to many," said Dr. Steven B. Nasatir, JUF Executive Vice Chairman. "His wise leadership and direct involvement in the great events and issues of Jewish life set a high standard. He will be remembered always with great fondness and respect."

Wander was a leader in the national Jewish community as well. In 1970, he was tapped to be the Regional Chair of the National Young Leadership Cabinet of what is now the Jewish Federations of North America. In 1985, he joined the Executive Committee of the National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council and became Chair of its Anti-Apartheid Committee in 1987, leading a mission to South Africa during the years when Nelson Mandela was imprisoned.

Caring for the people of Israel was a major focus for Wander, as early as his high-school years. "I can remember everyone meeting at the JCC, seeing some pictures of displaced persons living in tents in terrible conditions in Israel; the community was alerted that they were going to be personally solicited for UJA at that time," he said in an interview for JUF's Oral History Project. "That's my earliest awareness of Israel-it had an indelible effect on me."

He led many missions to Israel over the years-including a trip with Senator Mark Kirk-but said his proudest trip was taking his grandchildren there.

Passionate about meeting the healthcare needs of underserved people of all faiths, in 1991, Wander became a trustee and Vice Chair of the Michael Reese Health Trust. He also served as the Vice President of the Board of Jewish Education.

His outstanding service to the community was recognized throughout the years, from receiving JUF's Young Leadership Award in 1973 to the Shofar Award in 1993 to JUF's highest honor, the Julius Rosenwald Award, in 1996.

"Herb may have been small in stature, but he was a giant of a man," said JUF President Lonnie Nasatir.

A partner in the Corporate Law Department of Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP, Wander was very active in the American Bar Association, chairing its Business Law Section and serving on its Corporate Laws Committee; its task force regarding attorney-client privilege; and its Task Force Committee, which wrote the influential third and fourth editions of the Corporate Director's Guidebook.

Wander's work had a national impact. In 2001, he was one of two lawyers to make a presentation at the SEC's Regulation FD Roundtable. And in 2004, he served on the SEC's Government Business Forum on Small Business Capital Formation and was appointed co-chair of the Advisory Committee to the SEC examining the impact of the anti-fraud Sarbanes-Oxley Act on smaller public companies.

Born in Cincinnati, Wander graduated from the University of Michigan. He earned his law degree at Yale Law School and, from 1982-1986, served on the executive committee of the Yale Law School Association.

Wander is survived by his wife, Karen H. Wander (nee Kart), and predeceased by wife Ruth Wander (nee Fell). He also leaves behind his children, Daniel (Ruth Freedman) Wander, Susan (Richard) Sorkin and Lois Wander, step-children Brian Aronson and Julie (Darin) Muehling, and eight grandchildren. He was the dear brother of Arden (Irene) Wander.
Herb Wander was a Golden Giver to the JUF Annual Campaign. Memorials may be made to The Herbert S. Wander Fund at the Michael Reese Health Trust, or to JUF. Arrangements were made by Chicago Jewish Funerals.

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