Hannah Storch, an Orthodox real estate developer and philanthropist who supported many Baltimore Jewish organizations, died Oct. 25 at 98.
“She cared deeply about others and was a true role model of selflessness and altruism,” said her son, Frank Storch, a lifelong Baltimorean. “If her funeral would not have been during this pandemic, thousands would have attended as her warmth touched so many.”
Hannah Storch was originally from Atlanta and studied at New York University, Yeshiva University and Johns Hopkins University’s McCoy College.
She moved to Baltimore to start a family with her husband, M. Leo Storch. After her husband died in 1972, she took over the family real estate business, Frank Storch said, receiving invaluable help for many years from her brother, Eli Hirmes, who is an accountant.
In her spare time, Hannah Storch was highly involved in establishing Jewish organizations with missions that were important to her. According to a Nov. 11 Hamodia article, she launched Jews for Judaism during the 1970s, to counter efforts to entice Jews into other belief systems, and was involved in the creation of Vaad Hakashrus of Baltimore, better known as Star-K Kosher Certification. The organization initially operated from the Storch business offices, with Hannah Storch supporting it and providing a grant in her husband’s memory for Star-K’s quarterly publication, Kashrus Kurrents.
Frank Storch, a member of Bais Haknesses Ohr Hachaim and Suburban Orthodox Congregation Toras Chaim, said that his mother worked to establish Etz Chaim, as well as the Jewish Collegiate Network, and she was involved with Shoresh and Bais Yaakov of Baltimore.
Many important visitors would meet with her, Frank Storch recalled, including Rabbis Yosef Shlomo Kahaneman, Ovadia Yosef and Yaakov Yitzchok Ruderman. She also often hosted parlor meetings for different organizations and to welcome newcomers to the city.
In addition, Hannah Storch took great interest in the legal case of Jonathan Pollard, a former U.S. Navy analyst who was convicted of giving classified American documents to Israeli intelligence, and whose parole was completed in November.
“From the very beginning of his imprisonment, she began direct correspondence with him to give him encouragement and hope,” Frank Storch said.
His mother had an “uncanny ability of making everyone she met feel like they were very special to her,” Frank Storch said. She also had a “regal and refined nature, and the way she carried herself and spoke showed her inherent modesty.
“She played an integral role in helping to establish the many organizations, which are now an essential part of the Baltimore Jewish landscape,” Frank Storch said. “Baltimore will not be the same without her.”
Hannah Storch is survived by children Mindy (Shlomo), Judy (Yaakov Hillel) and Frank Allen (Danielle Sarah) and sibling Eleazar. She was predeceased by husband M. Leo Storch; parents Rabbi Abraham P. Hirmes and Frieda K. Hirmes; and siblings Debbie Oppenheim and Menachem Hirmes.