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A wish come true in Brazil

Date: Monday, January 4, 2021

Four years ago, the Brazilian Friends of WIS received an unusual message. Dona Honória Botelho Waidenfeld, a widow of 33 years at the time, determined to fulfill the wish of her late husband, Simão Waidenfeld, to donate an apartment in Rio de Janeiro to the Weizmann Institute of Science.

Simão, born in Israel in 1905, immigrated to Brazil as a young man and settled in the small town of Itajubá, Minas Gerais, which is 180 km from São Paulo. There, he married Honória and became a successful businessman, and a man who who never forgot his origins. On many occasions, he indicated his wishes to donate his apartment in Rio de Janeiro to the Weizmann Institute of Science following his passing.

In 2020, amidst the many uncertainties presented by the coronavirus pandemic, Dona Honória had no uncertainties about carrying out this task; she felt that time had come. At 94, Dona Honoria became acquainted with the Weizmann Institute, and meaningfulness of the contribution.

Executing the gift was a process that lasted a few months—a period of intense connection with Dona Honória, her nephew Joaquim Maria Botelho, and the family lawyer Dr. José Raimundo da Silva. The link with Weizmann, which had begun years before in the form of a wish, took shape.

In September, the gift was finalized as Dona Honória signed the documentation seated at a park bench in the open air of the city's public square. The emotion of the moment was palpable: Dona Honoria, who has never been to Israel, felt that she had been connected to Weizmann for a lifetime, and was moved by the fact that her husband’s wish had materialized.

Pictured, L to R: Claudia Issler Faiguenboim, Director of the Brazilian Association of Friends, receiving the keys of the Rio apartment Dona Honória.