Cover photo for Gerald Kraft's Obituary
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1931 Gerald 2024

Gerald Kraft

December 26, 1931 — January 11, 2024


Gerald Kraft, age 92, passed away on Thursday, January 11, 2024. He was born in Indianapolis, Indiana on December 26, 1931 to the late Philip and Bessie (Bauer) Kraft. He was a 1949 graduate of Shortridge High School before attending Michigan University and Indiana University. Following his graduation, he served a two-year tour of duty as a first lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force.

Gerald married Adele “Cookie” (Tamler) Kraft on June 28, 1953. They enjoyed 67 years together, spending winters in Boca Raton, Florida. They traveled extensively from 1982 through 1986 when he was elected the International President of B'nai B'rith. Kraft visited over 50 communities during his 28 trips to countries on six continents--including a number of state visits. In this capacity, he met with 24 heads of state dealing with a variety of issues. One of the major events of his term was in 1984 when, at the request of the Israeli Government, Kraft went to Ethiopia for the initial air lift of Ethiopian Jews from the Sudan to Israel. He was intimately involved in subsequent air lift operations to complete the mission. Another major event occurred in 1986 when he was instrumental in getting the U.S. Senate to ratify and the president to sign the Genocide Treaty after a delay of some 37 years.

He is a past president of the Jewish Community Center and Congregation Beth-El Zedeck. In 2018, he was named a Hoosier Jewish Legend by the Indiana Jewish Historical Society. For his contributions/volunteerism locally and throughout the state, Kraft was also awarded the Sagamore of the Wabash by the Governor of Indiana.

Professionally, Kraft grew up working at his father's bakery (Kraft Baking Company & Deluxe Cake & Pastry Shops). He later left the family business to become a realtor, casualty insurance agent and certified property manager. In 1966, Kraft joined Melvin Simon & Associates as Executive Vice President. Over the next 24 years, he joined Mr. Simon in their pursuit of a number of diverse businesses. He retired from the firm in 1990.

Gerald is survived by his daughters Karen Yoffie of St. Louis, MO and Leslie Katz of Indianapolis, his son Paul (Sherri) Kraft of Indianapolis, his grandchildren Lauren Yoffie, Dr. Benjamin (Lili) Katz, Kyle (Carrie) Katz, DPT, Meredith Katz, Ariana Katz, Melissa Kraft and Valerie Kraft, and great-grandsons Avi Katz and Asher Katz. In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his beloved wife “Cookie” Kraft, his sisters Mildred Ashkenaz and Leanora Asrow, and his granddaughter Julie Yoffie.

Funeral services will be held at Congregation Beth-El Zedeck, 600 W. 70th St, Indianapolis, on Sunday, January 14th at 11:00 a.m.  To view the service remotely via livestream click HERE with the burial to follow at Beth-El Zedeck Cemetery North.

The family will be observing Shiva following the funeral services at 1826 Fairmount Street, Carmel, from 4:00 – 7:00 p.m. and on Monday from 4:00 – 7:00 p.m.

Memorial contributions may be made to Kraft Commons Assisted Living, 7001 Hoover Road, Indianapolis, IN 46260. Friends may share a memory or condolence at

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Gerald Kraft, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Sunday, January 14, 2024

Starts at 11:00 am (Eastern time)

Congregation Beth - El Zedeck, Indianapolis

600 West 70th Street, Indianapolis, IN 46260


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