Shelley Zeiger; worked to build U.S.-Russia ties

Shelley M. Zeiger
Shelley M. Zeiger
Posted: November 13, 2013

In October 1989, Trenton businessman Shelley M. Zeiger helped open what his family said was the first American restaurant in the Soviet Union.

At 21 Komsomolskyi Prospekt in Moscow, TrenMos - named for Trenton and Moscow - opened two years before the ending of the Soviet Union in December 1991.

In April 1992, Mr. Zeiger helped open TrenMos Bistro at 9 Ulitsa Ostozhenka, near the Kremlin. He sold both in 1994.

At home, his family said, Mr. Zeiger brought to Trenton several Soviet and Russian performing groups in the 1980s and 1990s.

All this from a Polish immigrant who, with his family, reached the United States in the year that he turned 14.

On Sunday, Nov. 10, Mr. Zeiger, 78, of Moorestown, chairman of Shelmar Imports Ltd. of Moorestown, an importer of Russian gifts and collectibles, died of a brain aneurysm at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, N.J.

Born in the town of Zborov, now in Ukraine, Mr. Zeiger survived the Holocaust because "he was saved by a neighbor who hid him underground for 21/2 years," son Jeffrey said.

In 1986, Mr. Zeiger brought the Kirov Ballet to the Trenton War Memorial, helping to develop a relationship between the city and Moscow, his son said.

In 1987, he presented the Moscow Ballet at the War Memorial and, in 1988, the Virsk Ukrainian State Dance Company there.

In 1993, he sponsored the Bolshoi Theatre Grigorovich Ballet at the War Memorial and in 1995 he brought members of the Alexandrov Russian Army Song and Dance Ensemble to the Crescent Theater in Trenton.

After Trenton and the Lenin district of Moscow became sister cities in 1987, he was named in 1992 to the board of Sister Cities International.

Mr. Zeiger graduated from Weequahic High School in Newark, attended Seton Hall University in 1953-54, and served two years in the Army.

After further studies at Seton Hall and Upsala College, he graduated from the Academy of Advanced Traffic Management in New York City in 1958.

Mr. Zeiger was board chairman for both Capitol Wine & Spirits and National Wine & Liquors in Trenton from 1970 to 1977, his son said.

He incorporated Fellowship Bank in Burlington County and was a board member from 1975 to 1981.

He was board chairman of the Capitol Plaza Hotel in Trenton from 1981 to 1986, continuing after he sold it in 1985.

Gov. Brendan T. Byrne named him chairman of the New Jersey Higher Education Assistance Authority in 1979 and Gov. Thomas H. Kean continued him in a term which ended in 1987.

Kean also named him to the New Jersey Advisory Council on Holocaust Education in 1982, a position he had held since then.

A member of the board of directors of the Trenton division of the Mercer County Chamber of Commerce, which named him its Citizen of the Year in 1987, he led its international division since 1991.

From 1978 until it disbanded in 1992, he was a member of the U.S.-U.S.S.R. Trade and Economic Council in New York City.

That same year, he became a member of the board of directors of the American-Russian Cultural Cooperation Foundation in Washington.

In 1993, he joined the board of the U.S. Russia Business Council in Washington, a group meant to encourage commercial relations.

With the cooperation foundation, he helped in 1999 to bring an exhibit of 350 objects from the Russian federal archives and the Moscow State Historical Museum to the New Jersey State Museum in Trenton.

He helped open a commodity trade service in Tel Aviv and joined the economic and international trade subcommittee of the New Jersey-Israel Commission.

Besides his son, Mr. Zeiger is survived by his wife, Marion; daughter Jennifer Cameron; a brother; and four grandchildren.

A visitation was set from 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 13, at Platt Memorial Chapels, 2001 Berlin Rd., Cherry Hill, before a funeral service there at 1, with interment in Crescent Memorial Park, Pennsauken.

Donations may be made to the Goodwin Holocaust Museum and Education Center, 1301 Springdale Rd., Cherry Hill, N.J., 08003.

Condolences may be offered to the family at

610-313-8134 @WNaedele

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