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Ex-homeless woman leaves $150,000 to Hebrew University

  • Story Highlights
  • Woman died two years ago; estate's executor asks that she remain anonymous
  • Holocaust survivor lived on New York streets until accountant befriended her
  • University spokesman: "This was a special story and a special gift"
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(CNN) -- A Jewish Holocaust survivor who later lived on the streets of New York City has left half of her $300,000 estate to Hebrew University, the school said Monday.

"It moved us very much," university spokesman Yefet Ozery said in a telephone interview from Jerusalem, where the school is based.

"Hebrew University has many, many donors and benefactors and supporters and many people remember us in their will, but I haven't come across such a person that lived actually as a poor woman who would give half of her bequest to Hebrew University," Ozery said.

The woman, who died two years ago in her 90s, has not been identified publicly at the request of her estate's executor, he said.

"He didn't want her name to be remembered as a homeless" person, Ozery said.

The woman, who had no known relatives, survived a concentration camp and was living on the streets of New York's Upper West Side several years ago when a Jewish accountant befriended her, Ozery said.

"He and his wife adopted her pretty much to their home and supplied her with basic needs," which included finding her public housing, he said.

In return, the woman moved the couple's car from one side of the street to the other so that it would not be ticketed, he said.

At the time, they had no clue to her net worth, Ozery said.

"When the woman told him and his wife that she would be leaving a will, they thought to themselves that there would be nothing there because they knew her as owning nothing," he said.

It was only when the woman died that the couple learned of her wealth, which she had kept in a bank.

"They were very surprised to find out that she left this amount and that half of it went to Hebrew University," Ozery said.

How she accumulated the money, the balance of which went to other causes and to her friends, is not known, he said.

Her executor -- the accountant who befriended her -- told school officials of the gift three months ago, but they did not learn the circumstances behind it until last week, Ozery said. There was no obvious connection between her and the school.

A friend of the accountant took the first check to the school last week and told administrators the story behind it.

"Everybody was moved and excited," Ozery said. "This was a special story and a special gift."

In keeping with the woman's wishes, the money is to be spent on medical research and scholarships for researchers, he said.

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