November 14, 2018

Herb Brin

Herb Brin, one of the most colorful writers and editors inthe annals of Los Angeles Jewish journalism, died of congestive heart failureon Feb. 6 at the Jewish Home for the Aging in Reseda.

His death came 11 days before his 88th birthday and shortlyafter he completed his autobiography, pecked out, like countless exposes,features and editorials, with two fingers on a manual typewriter. For some 45years, from the mid-1950s to the end of the 20th century, Brin was theeditor-publisher of the Heritage weeklies in Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego and the Central Valley.

He “was the last of the old-time Front Page newspapermen,absolutely committed to every cause he felt just,” said his youngest son,Daniel J. Brin, who worked at his father’s side for 25 years, succeeded him aseditor and, with his brothers, supplied most of the material for this obituary.

Amidst deadlines, soliciting ads and even printing hisweeklies, Brin authored six books of poetry and two books on post-Holocaust Germany,based on his frequent travels.

In some respects, Brin was a throwback to the mid-19thcentury editors of the Wild West, whose newspapers were an extension of theirpersonal passions and prejudices, and who settled differences of opinion withhorsewhips and six-shooters.

His overriding passion was for Israel, which he visitedcountless times, and in whose capital city he was buried earlier this week. Hebattled real — and sometimes perceived — enemies, or even lukewarm supporters,of Israel and the Jewish people, with every fiber of his being and applied thesame passion, and often blunt language, to a long list of causes, from civilrights to conservancy of the Santa Monica Mountains.

Never a very astute businessman, he fought bitterly againstThe Jewish Federation and the realities of a corporate society to maintain hischain of community papers, but, at his death, only the San Diego Heritage,under different ownership, has survived. Brin was born in Chicago of immigrantparents and cut his journalistic teeth at his birthplace’s fabled City NewsBureau, immortalized in Ben Hecht’s “The Front Page.”

After World War II Army service, Brin moved to Los Angelesand found his niche as a lively feature writer of oddball human intereststories at the Los Angeles Times.

In 1954, with a wife and three small sons, Brin quit TheTimes, mortgaged his home and started the Los Angeles Heritage as a 12-pageweekly.

He continued to write occasionally for his old paper andcovered the Eichmann trial in Jerusalem for the Los Angeles Times. Throughoutthe years, Heritage published his investigations of white supremacy andneo-Nazi organizations, his early meetings with Soviet Jews, and his picketingof the 1979 Oscar ceremonies to protest an award to British actress VanessaRedgrave, a PLO sympathizer.

Elie Wiesel, who learned of Brin’s death while traveling in Europe,said, “Herb and I were very close. He was a great editor and a superb poet. Allthose who knew him will miss him.”

Brin was married and divorced three times. He is survived byhis sons, Stan, a business reporter; David, a bestselling author of sciencefiction novels; and Daniel, an editor; and six grandchildren.

On Sunday, a memorial service at the Jewish Home for theAging, with Rabbis Louis Felman and William Kramer officiating, honored Brin’slife and work.

To learn more about Herb Brin, sample his autobiography,or to offer condolences, visit www.davidbrin.com/herbbrin.html .