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The impact of Rappaport Fellows’ work can be felt in every facet of government, medicine and the arts.

1927 – 2021

Jerry Rappaport’s life was one of tireless activism that continues to live on through the Rappaport Foundation.

Since founding the Harvard Law School Forum at 19, Jerry Rappaport’s impact as a political activist, attorney, real estate developer and one of Boston’s most influential philanthropists spanned nine decades.

Now under the active leadership of Phyllis Rappaport, Jerry’s vision for the city of Boston and the Rappaport Foundation’s mission of catalyzing new generations of collaborative leaders will continue for generations to come.


The Man Who Reshaped Modern Boston
Nantucket Magazine
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Jerome Rappaport, Philanthropist and Civic Leader who Shaped Boston and its Institutions, Dies at 94
Boston Globe
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Jerome ‘Jerry’ Rappaport Dies at 94
Boston Herald
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Harvard Mourns the Passing of Jerry Rappaport
Harvard Kennedy School News
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Honoring the Rappaport Center for Law and Public Policy’s Beloved Founder Jerome Lyle Rappaport
Boston College Law News
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Gil Smart publishes a piece in TCPalm about Jerry and his “His secret trip to Cuba helped pave way for Obama.”… read more


Jerry auctions off the last of his Holsteins at “The Celebration of Lylehaven” in East Montpelier, Vermont. The cows are deemed “130 head of the finest Holsteins ever bred at Lylehaven” by event organizers… read more

At Jerry Rappaport’s 88th birthday celebration, Boston City Council declares that August 15 will be known as “Jerry Rappaport Day.”


Boston Magazine names the Rappaport family Boston’s seventh most influential family and Jerry Rappaport the 45th wealthiest Bostonian.


Jerry celebrates his 75th birthday with family and friends.


Jerry and Phyllis Rappaport establish the Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston at Harvard’s Kennedy School, The Rappaport Center for Law and Public Policy at Suffolk University Law School and the Rappaport Art Prize at the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum.

The Boston Business Journal features Jerry in an article, “End of an era in old West End,” noting his selling off of the last of the Charles River Park buildings, Charles River Plaza.


Jerry and Phyllis establish the Rappaport Fellows Program at Smith College.

Jerry is named one of “Boston’s 100 most influential people and top-five most influential real estate and development figures of the 20th Century” by the Boston Business Journal.


Jerry receives an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Suffolk University for his “career of outstanding accomplishments and public service and for his role in reshaping the city’s West End neighborhood.”


Jerry establishes and funds the Jerome Lyle Rappaport Charitable Foundation.


Jerry funds the establishment of Temple Beit HaYam’s new synagogue and children’s educational center in Stuart, Florida… read more


Jerry receives the Greater Boston Rental Housing Association’s “Industry Excellence Award” for exemplifying excellence in rental housing through community and civic involvement and professionalism in all aspects of multi-family development, ownership, and management.

With his wife Phyllis, Jerry establishes the Rappaport Honors Fellowship Endowment Fund at Simmons College Graduate School of Management, given to a person whom the school believes might be lost to another institution if not for the fellowship.


Jerry establishes the Jerome Lyle Rappaport Faculty Recognition Award at Hampshire College, given to a faculty member who encourages or enlists student participation in meaningful research projects.

Boston College Professor, Thomas O’Connor publishes a piece in Boston College Magazine about Charles River Park, “Thirty-five years ago, the city of Boston destroyed a neighborhood in order to save it. A BC historian charts the forces that created a textbook example of how not to accomplish urban renewal.”



In honor of his mother Cora and in partnership with Massachusetts General Hospital, Jerry funds a new medical research scholar’s program, Rappaport Research Scholar in Neuroscience. The program is designed to support the recipient’s research toward finding a cure for Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, schizophrenia, and improvements in the fields of neurology, neurobiology, or psychiatry.


Jerry, as Chairman of the Board, and his two sons, Jerry Rappaport Jr. and Jim Rappaport, create New Boston Fund, Inc., to take advantage of opportunities created by the then-depressed real estate market.


Jerry is honored by the American Jewish Committee as the 1989 recipient of its Community Service Award for what the board calls “40 years of progress” regarding the development of Charles River Park.


Jerry and Phyllis establish the “Virginia Wing Annual Award,” given to an outstanding teacher at the Winsor School, where Rappaport’s four daughters attended.

Jerry is described in the Boston Globe as the “14th City Councilor” (there are 13 official members) because, as the late local political legend Chris lannella said, he “sometimes has more influence than the Mayor of Boston.”


Jerry’s multimillion-dollar Holstein cow herd is distinguished as the “premier exhibitor” for the second year in a row at the Royal Winter Fair in Toronto, Ontario.


Jerry establishes the Rappaport Scholars Program, in partnership with Harvard University and Brigham & Women’s Hospital, given to support Alzheimer’s research at Brigham & Women’s Center for Neurological Disease.

Gentleman Farmer magazine recognizes Jerry for his “desire to breed the perfect Holstein.”


Jerry funds the Rappaport Boston Urban Fellowship at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, by which one elected official and one non-elected government employee receive a full year’s tuition to the Kennedy School’s Master of Public Administration program… read more


Jerry transfers his home and accompanying land of 26 years to the Roxbury Latin High School in West Roxbury, which was attended by Rappaport’s children.


Jerry accepts an invitation from Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor Thomas O’Neil III to become a special envoy to Cuba, in order to explore opportunities to further democratize the country.


Jim Dobbins presents Jerry with another cartoon featured in Boston Traveller.


Charles River Park is cited by the Boston Redevelopment Authority for successfully attracting middle- and upper-income residents back to the city.


Jerry writes essays on the work and ideas of world-renowned architect I.M. Pei for WGBH.


Charles River Park is cited positively in the New York Times as a “Symbol of Boston’s Winding Rebuilding.”

Jerry publishes a paper in Realtor Magazine, “Realtors and Eminent Domain.”… read more


The Boston Globe highlights Jerry’s involvement in the Revere Beach Parkway renovation… read more


Jim Dobbins presents Jerry with the drawing of the West End Project featured in the newspaper, Boston Traveller.

Fidel Castro speaks at the Harvard Law School Forum, joining a list of notable speakers that would, over the years, include John Ehrlichman, Whoopi Goldberg, Peter Jennings, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Henry Kissinger, Eugene McCarthy, Carl Sagan, Benjamin Spock, Barbara Walters, and Caspar Weinberger… read more

Charles River Park, designed by world-renowned architect Victor Gruen, receives a Second Place Award Citation from Progressive Architecture magazine.


Jerry and future Charles River Park development partners, Pete Bonan and Ted Shoolman, are awarded the West End Project by the City of Boston .


Jerry serves as Chief Justice during qualifying rounds of Harvard University Law School’s Ames Moot Court Competition.


Jerry debates Boston political legend James Michael Curley on the topic “Politics and Corruption” at the Harvard Law School Forum.

Jerry is featured in “A Young Crusader Cleans Up Boston,” in the July issue of Coronet magazine… read more


Jerry founds and becomes Executive Director of the Greater Boston Area Council, which promotes metropolitan regional planning. Jerry and the organization would later be publicly thanked by Ralph Lowell for supporting the creation of Boston’s public television station, WGBH.

In the inaugural year of the honor, Jerry is named as one of the “Ten Outstanding Young Men in Greater Boston,” an award which would later be earned by such notable recipients as John F. Kennedy, John Bailey, and Edward Kennedy… read more

Jerry receives national attention after being featured in a Reader’s Digest and Redbook magazine story, “A Young, Fresh Wind Blows in Boston Town.”… read more

Congressman John F. Kennedy and Congressman Franklin D. Roosevelt Jr. of New York pose with Jerry during a Democratic Party fundraiser at the home of Boston newspaper publisher Harry Harwich… read more


The New Boston Committee is featured in Time magazine after nearly sweeping the primaries in Boston’s first-ever “Plan A” election. New Boston Committee-endorsed candidates would go on to capture six of the nine spots on the Boston City Council, and all five School Committee positions.


Jerry is admitted to the Massachusetts Bar Association

Jerry establishes a private law practice that starts as a humble, “free space in exchange for services” partnership with Ed Masterman, which would evolve through several incarnations before later becoming Rappaport, Aserkoff & Rappaport. In addition to creating this boutique law office for his real estate and political interests and endeavors, Jerry goes on to distinguish himself in the areas of tax abatement, zoning and eminent domain.

Jerry founds and becomes First Executive Secretary of the New Boston Committee, a broad-based and non-partisan committee with a threefold mission of education, lobbying and political action, created to encourage and support candidates for the City Council and School Committee. Many believe it to be the most successful political reform movement in Boston during the 20th Century.


Jerry graduates with a Juris Doctor degree from Harvard University Law School.


Jerry creates the New England Radio Group, whose weekly broadcasts dramatize the “social, political and economic problems of the six-state region.” One of his self-composed broadcasts, “Prejudice,” is nominated for a Peabody Award.


The American Bar Association Journal includes a feature on Jerry and the development and execution of the Harvard Law School Forum: “A Stimulating Adjunct to Law School Studies.”

Jerry graduates with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from Harvard University.


Jerry enters Harvard Law School before turning 18.

Jerry establishes and becomes President of Harvard Law School Forum, a speaker series designed to engage the school’s students in current events. The forum is dedicated to the memory of Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. and 102 other Harvard Law School graduates and former students who had died in World War II. The Forum remains in existence today.

Jerry is awarded the Joseph Eveleth Scholarship by Harvard University.

On March 8, in the midst of the Nuremberg trials, the Harvard Law School Forum hosts its inaugural meeting on a timely topic, “War Crimes: Revolution in Legal Theory or Law Enforcement?” It is the first of seven events this year.

The Harvard Law School Forum opens its 1946-47 season in the Sanders Theatre with “Domestic sources of Russian foreign policy.”… read more


At 16, Jerry graduates as valedictorian from William Howard Taft High School in the Bronx. He would soon enter Harvard University’s special wartime program.


At the age of 12, Jerry begins working at his father’s clothing store, “Rappaport’s,” earning minimum wage. Employees vote to strike during a wage dispute, and because the vote is unanimous, his father discovers, to his dismay, that Jerry supported the strike.


Representing Public School 166, Jerry is a multiple winner on the weekly radio show, “Kid Wizards,” hosted by the New York-based WHN radio.


Jerome Lyle Rappaport is born in Bronx, New York, on August 17, 1927.

(top to bottom, left to right)

  1. Official Resolution
  2. From Left to right: Sandy Sommer (Jerry’s sister) Arthur Rappaport (Jerry’s father) Carmela Abrams (first recipient) Jim Rappaport, Jerry Rappaport and Dennis Selko.
  3. Brochure covering the first 9 years.
  4. Jerry Rappaport is the second student from the right.