Born Erica Pappenheim in Vienna on March 1, 1922, Mrs. Jesselson was a daughter of Adolph and Paula Pappenheim. When World War II broke out, she and her sister, Lucy, were among 10,000 Jewish children evacuated to England on Kindertransport trains. In 1940, they were reunited with their parents, who had escaped to the United States and found a home in Brooklyn.Erica Jesselson purchased the First Nuremberg Haggadah at auction for more than $1,000,000 in 2001; she donated the rare manuscript to the Israel Museum. With her husband Ludwig, she had also purchased and contributed the Trent Manuscript and other important artifacts to the Yeshiva University Museum.
The Yeshiva University's obituary mentions many more of the couple's achievements, including the financing of a synagogue at the Haifa Technion, the founding of a religious school for girls in Jerusalem, the endowment of a chair of mathematics at The Hebrew University, the endowment of a program for rabbinic scholarship at Bar-Ilan University, and the planning and building of Jerusalem's Shaare Zedek hospital, for which Erica Jesselson served as national president of the American Friends of Shaare Zedek Hospital. Jesselson, who was highly involved with Yeshiva University, a vice chairman of the Center for Jewish History, and a co-founder of PEJE (Partnership in Excellence in Jewish Education), also served on the International Board of Bar-Ilan University and the boards of the Haifa Technion, the Israel Museum, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, and the UJA Federation of New York.
Erica Jesselson is survived by her sister, Lucy Lang, as well as three sons and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.