Jewish Journal names new president, publisher


David Suissa, a marketing guru, writer and community leader, has joined TRIBE Media Corp. as president of TRIBE and The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles.

Rob Eshman, current editor-in-chief, will become publisher and editor-in-chief.

“David Suissa is a dream partner,” Eshman said. “He combines a deep marketing background with a passion for Judaism, our community and our mission.”

“Rob Eshman and I will join with a great staff to reinvent the community paper as the most comprehensive, far-reaching and efficient Jewish voice in Los Angeles and, digitally, in the world,” Suissa said. “There’s no more important cause in my book than the spread of Jewish values and ideas, and the most natural vehicle for that is a high-quality, independent community paper like The Jewish Journal and its Web site, JewishJournal.com.”

Suissa founded and ran SuissaMiller, a $300 million marketing firm named “Agency of the Year” by USA Today, with clients including Heinz, Dole, McDonald’s, Princess Cruises, Charles Schwab and Acura. Suissa sold the agency in 2005 to devote more time to the Jewish world.

For the past five years Suissa has written a popular weekly column in The Journal called “Live in the Hood.” His new book, “Don’t Get Me Started: A Collection of Columns on Life, Israel and the Jewish World,” will be released next month.

Eshman joined The Journal staff in 1994 and was named editor-in-chief in 2000. He has overseen its growth from a local community paper to a multiplatform media company.

TRIBE Media Corp., a California-based nonprofit, publishes The Jewish Journal, the only Jewish newspaper serving the 600,000-strong Jewish community of Los Angeles, as well as JewishJournal.com, the largest Jewish news Web site in North America, and TRIBE magazine, serving the West San Fernando Valley, Conejo, Simi, Malibu, Ventura and Santa Barbara areas. This fall, TRIBE Media Corp. will introduce JewishJournal, the world’s first Jewish news app for the iPad.

Hiring Suissa is the latest bold step the 25-year-old community newsweekly has undertaken to meet the challenges facing community newspapers. A new group of philanthropists led by Peter Lowy, joint CEO of The Westfield Group, and Art Bilger, managing member of Shelter Capital Partners, has embarked on a new growth plan that includes fundraising, new revenue streams and strategic investment.

“David’s expertise will only increase The Jewish Journal’s ability to help businesses and organizations reach our great readership,” Lowy said.

The Many Lives of Lev Nussimbaum


 

“The Orientalist: Solving the Mystery of a Strange and Dangerous Life” (Random House, $25.95).

Lev Nussimbaum lived as though life were theater, inventing an identity, dressing the part, shifting scenes, seeking audiences everywhere. He thought he could keep rewriting the ending, believed he could talk his way out of anything including his Jewish past, but ultimately he could not.

Nussimbaum was born in Baku in 1905, the son of a Russian Jewish émigré who made a fortune in the oil business. In a case of hiding in plain sight, he later on became known as Essad Bey, a well-known writer of books on Islam and global politics, and then Kurban Said, a novelist whose best-known work, “Ali and Nino,” published in 1937, is still in print.

Tom Reiss spent seven years trying to untangle the threads of this most unusual life. His new book is a richly detailed biography that’s also a memoir of his quest and an uncommon view into the Holocaust era. “The Orientalist: Solving the Mystery of a Strange and Dangerous Life” (Random House) makes for fascinating reading.

From childhood, Nussimbaum daydreamed of the East, of Turkish warriors, Persian princesses and Arabic architecture. After the Russian Revolution, he and his father fled from Baku to Turkestan and then across the desert in a 50-camel caravan, finally arriving in Constantinople and then Paris. They moved to Berlin, where he secretly attended high school and university simultaneously, “cramming his head full of the mysteries of the East,” as Reiss writes.

At a time when many European Jews were interested in Orientalism, Nussimbaum went a step further and converted to Islam. He enjoyed dressing in full regalia, and was celebrated in literary and intellectual circles for his work, publishing 16 books — including biographies of Lenin and Stalin — before the age of 30. As Essad Bey, he married a Jewish heiress, and when their marriage fell apart in the late 1930s, the story was reported in tabloid newspapers around the world.

He died in Positano, Italy in 1942 at age 36, while under house arrest; although the courtly gentleman was known by townspeople as the Muslim, his Jewish identity was suspect. He was impoverished, unable to collect royalties due on his books. One of the remaining mysteries of his life is why he went to Italy — and offered to write a biography of Mussolini — and then chose to stay there, when he might have had a chance of escaping to the United States or elsewhere. He’s buried in a cliffside cemetery in Positano, the tombstone set to face Mecca.

It’s no surprise that researching a life as unusual as this one would entail remarkable adventures. Reiss, who was dogged in his research and reporting, traveled to 10 countries, interviewing a range of relatives, publishers, aged childhood friends of his subject in Baku, others who claimed to know another author of “Ali and Nino.” Doors seemed to open to Reiss at unexpected moments, yielding gifts.

Reiss found the woman who took over the publishing company (after the Jewish owners were expelled) that published much of Nussimbaum’s work in Vienna. She had gone to see Lev in Positano, and returned with six small leather notebooks in which he had handwritten his final and unpublished work, “The Man Who Knew Nothing About Love.” She kept them in a closet for more than 50 years and presented them to Reiss, who was then able to fill in many gaps in the story. Another great discovery was a box of letters, recording a correspondence between Nussimbaum and Pima Andreae, an influential Italian salon hostess who tried to help him in Positano. Nussimbaum was a man who never wrote a boring letter. Theirs was an intellectual love affair, and she was his last link to the outside world. He reveals his deep sadness that in the end he could no longer protect his father, who ultimately died in Treblinka.

Reiss was drawn to Nussimbaum’s story during a trip to Baku in 1998, on assignment for a travel piece. A friend recommended “Ali and Nino” as a useful guide to the city. The author named on the cover was Kurban Said, and Reiss learned there was some disagreement as to Said’s true identity. At the same time, he happened to pick up one of Essad Bey’s early books in his hotel, a memoir and history titled “Blood and Oil in the Orient,” and he immediately saw connections between the two works.

As he got more involved in tracking down the truth about Nussimbaum, the 40-year-old Reiss came to see his subject as a character he had been waiting his whole life to meet, as he said. Reiss is the grandson of German Jews who left in the 1930s, although many relatives remained trapped in Europe; his mother came to the United States in 1948 as a French Jewish war orphan. In his early childhood years, Reiss lived among relatives in Washington Heights before his family moved to Texas and then Massachusetts. The book is dedicated in part to his late great-uncle Lolek, an émigré who would have been Nussimbaum’s contemporary and regaled him with stories of his adventures.

Offhandedly, Reiss refers to himself as a novelist.

“That’s how I write,” he said, “through the experiences of individuals. I think of myself as a novelist who must write the truth.”

He added that he has been obsessed with facts since childhood.

If there has been a theme to Reiss’s books and articles — he wrote about neo-Nazis in Dresden for The Wall Street Journal, a book called “Fuhrer-Ex” on the neo-Nazi movement in Europe — it has been “trying to find the back door into the Jewish experience in Nazi Europe,” he said. “I’ve always tried to find a way of seeing it that pulled me away from the clichés of the era.”

“In some ways, I’m very attracted to the assimilated Jews of Europe,” he said. Reiss has come to see assimilation as a profoundly creative act, particularly in Nussimbaum’s case.

“He was a Jew being forced to become anything else but a Jew,” he said. “Forced to assimilate all the other cultures of the world as a way of running away from being Jewish.”

In talking about his subject’s capacity for self-invention, Reiss sees Nussimbaum “as an unusually American character for a European Jew.”

Over the years, in his different guises, he rewrote his autobiography several times, another quality that strikes Reiss as American.

The multicultural Nussimbaum didn’t write directly about Zionism but one of his last published works, “Allah is Great: The Decline and Rise of the Islamic World,” published in 1936, was co-written with Wolfgang von Wiesl, a leading Zionist who was Vladimir Jabotinsky’s right-hand man. In Weimar Berlin, Nussimbaum found a number of other Jewish writers who “sought refuge from the new political realities in esoteric vistas on sympathetic Orientalism.” They saw the Jews as mediators between East and West.

Working on this project has influenced the author’s view of history.

“It made me see the whole early 20th century as one continuous tragedy beginning in 1905 and ending in 1945,” he said. “It was a disaster that began in Czarist Russia, for Jews and for everyone else.”

Did Reiss like his subject?

“I grew very attached to Lev, as often happens with a biographer,” he said. “I grew defensive of him in an odd way and went through stages of being disturbed by his disguises and choice of friends. Over time I grew to not exactly admire him, I grew deeply sympathetic. I guess that means I like him.”

“He feels like a friend who you would want to shake, to come to his senses,” he added. “But what does it mean to come to one’s senses if living in Nazi Europe. If he was crazy in behavior, most people were much crazier. There’s something inspiring in him — he’s someone who creates ways of escape even if in the end it’s just imaginative.”

Reiss, who lives on the Upper East Side of Manhattan with his wife and two daughters, still has the last notebooks and correspondence. His hope is to find an institution, perhaps in the United States or Israel, interested in creating a collection. He could see the letters published as “one of the most interesting 20th-century correspondences.”

To Andreae’s practical questions, Lev would often respond with fantastical tales, drawn from the invented life he lived.

“Up until his last letter,” Reiss said, “he thought he could save himself.”

 

Katherine Myer Graham


Even before she died July 17, if you entered Katherine Graham’s name into an Internet search engine, you would have ended up with a few articles describing her role as publisher of the Washington Post and many more sites attacking Jewish control of the media.

The fact that Graham was the daughter of a prominent Jewish businessman and the descendant of a long and illustrious line of rabbis was something that few people, outside of rabid anti-Semites, seemed to be aware of.

In fact, Graham’s roots go back almost to the beginning of Los Angeles’ Jewish community.

Her grandfather, Eugene Meyer, immigrated to Los Angeles from Strasbourg, France, in 1861, when the L.A. pueblo had a population of about 3,000. He became a clerk, bookkeeper, and eventually a successful merchant. The city was even rougher then: Meyer often slept in his store with a gun, to protect his merchandise.

In 1867, Meyer married 16-year-old Harriet Newmark, the daughter of Joseph Newmark, who founded the Los Angeles Hebrew Benevolent Society — the city’s first charitable institution and the precursor of all its Jewish ones.

Meyer and Harriet’s son, Eugene Isaac Meyer, was born here in 1875. He moved to San Francisco, then New York, became a wealthy investor and married Agnes Ernst, the daughter of a Lutheran minister.

Their daughter Katherine, before and after she married Phillip Graham, faced occasional bouts of anti-Semitism. In her autobiography, "Personal History" (Vintage, 1997), Graham describes these incidents with detached surprise. She had been baptized at age 10, along with her siblings, and religion, along with sex and money, remained off-limits for discussion in the Meyer household.

Graham’s life was extraordinary and effective. Those anti-Semites eager to find evidence of her Jewishness in her control of the Post will be disappointed, as will, no doubt, some Jews.

But in her social conscience, it’s easy to see the hand of Joseph Newmark. And in her toughness during Watergate and other times when basic American principles were on the line, you can discern the ghost of Eugene Meyer, asleep in his dry goods shop, protecting the store.

One Rabbi’s Book Tour


I am watching my wife with Matt Lauer. She is on “The Today Show,” sitting across from the handsome host, both of them locked on each other’s eyes the way beautiful people lock eyes on, well, television.

It’s a strange thing, sitting on our couch alone watching Matt Lauer with my wife. I am rooting for him to become visibly awestruck by her. I want him to express his awe on air, to tell the world how wonderful she is.

Why? Mostly because it’s true. And also because it sells books.

My wife, Rabbi Naomi Levy, was in the first leg of a 14-city national book tour that took her from home for most of last November and, intermittently, many other days during the year. Even as I write this, she has embarked on Book Tour II, a 12-city, 22-day tour to promote the just-released soft back edition of her non-fiction book, “To Begin Again: The Journey Toward Comfort, Strength and Faith in Difficult Times” (Ballantine). Not surprisingly, most of the touring takes place in November. That’s Jewish Book Month, when communities across the country hold book festivals (see page 12), and Jewish authors race from one reading to another.

Most authors, especially first-timers, need to go on the road to give their book a chance to break out of the pack. From the start, Naomi’s publisher believed her message would touch not just Jews, but everyone. Fortunately, Random House is one of the few publishers that still has a first class touring apparatus in place: publicists in major cities set up interviews and signings, media escorts cart the author around. There’s even a media consultant who spent a day on the other side of a video camera, coaching Naomi to answer all questions with a moving personal anecdote (The Hook), a positive suggestion (The Advice), and the title of her book. All in the space of 30-seconds. And don’t forget to smile.

One of the first appearances of her book tour career would be on “The Today Show.” Seventeen million viewers, and she had a week to prepare. And remember, said the media consultant, “Nobody wants heavy at 7 a.m.”

From the start, it seemed that Naomi, her book, and the nineties media blitz would be a strange fit. Naomi’s father was murdered when she was 15. Her subsequent journey toward healing and understanding culminated in her becoming a Conservative rabbi, and helping others face pain in their own lives. The book tells Naomi’s story and those of her congregants at Temple Mishkon Tephilo in Venice, where she served for seven years. But how do you turn tragedy into a sound bite? How do you tell the most painful story of your life over and over without cheapening it? Moreover, the advice in her book is powerful precisely because it isn’t snappy and self-helpy. It is rooted in her deep beliefs about the power of faith and community. If people wanted advice without context, there were always fortune cookies. Or, of course, talk shows.

Along with that, my wife, who spent a year in sweat pants and T-shirts writing the book while raising our two children, bucked at the smart suits and fancy makeup that would become her attire on and off for a year.

Balance all these downsides against this fact: She poured her heart and soul into this book, and she felt its message would bring great comfort to a broad audience. If she wanted to reach people, she had to hit the road.

So off she went — from Boca Raton to Seattle, from San Diego to Boston. You’d have to run for president to rack up more frequent flier miles. I was back in L.A., sometimes finding myself interviewing other authors on their leg of the Great Book Circuit, staring into their sleepless eyes and wondering if my wife, somewhere in America, looked even half as bad.

Every weekend, or every other weekend, she came back bearing small gifts for the children, and more and more remarkable stories for me. In Dayton or Cleveland– she no longer remembered which– a black cab driver was thrilled to find out his passenger was a rabbi. As they approached the airport, he looked up in the rear view mirror. “On behalf of all black people,” the cabby said. “I want to apologize for Louis Farrakhan.” He explained that his father was one of the liberators of a concentration camp. “He taught me to fight hate wherever I see it, because he saw what happens if you don’t.” As the cab pulled away from the white zone, Naomi stood stunned, overwhelmed by the sudden exchange.

Another cab driver beseached her for the reason why bad things happen to good people. Her book maintains that we will never know why, but we can learn how to heal and experience joy again after sorrow strikes. When Naomi asked what provoked his questions, he said his sister, a good woman, lost their mother and her daughter on the very same day.

Nor was that story unusual. As Naomi traveled, cabbies, audience members, book store owners, media escorts, even interviewers took her message as an opportunity to open up. At a time when so many people feel alienated by religion and cut off from their faith, here was a listening ear and honest, thoughtful advice for dealing with life’s tragedies. One media escort broke down on the way to a book signing. Why, she asked Naomi, had her brother had to die so painfully and at such a young age from pancreatic cancer?” A car ride became a counseling session.

But along with the moments of intimacy and depth came the shallow frustrations. Media escorts who got lost on the way to appearances. Reading to a standing-room-only crowd at a bookstore, whose manager had forgotten to order books to sell. Interviewers who hadn’t a clue what she had written. One Jewish journalist admitted as much to her, then switched on his tape recorder and said, “I know, why don’t you ask yourself the questions I should ask you, then answer them?” (I apologized to Naomi on behalf of all Jewish journalists).

The touring brought Naomi within reach of book promotion’s brass ring: a date with Oprah, the Book Goddess herself. Oprah’s people were impressed that Parade magazine had excerpted a chapter of “To Begin Again.” And that Naomi had gone six minutes solid with Matt Lauer, and he liked her, and she looked beautiful. And though her book touches on death and heartache, she knew to focus on its powerful message of hope and healing.

Oprah’s people pre-interviewed her. They re-pre-interviewed her. She flew to Chicago. She kept her expectations low. Her first date with Matt Lauer had been delayed when home-run king Mark McGuire strutted into the studio and bumped her appearance back a week. She was upset, but only because she didn’t have a baseball for him to sign.

Then, before she knew it, there she was, face to face with Oprah, talking about the healing ritual of Shabbat. Naomi stressed that one way to find the time for introspection that recovery demands is to turn off the television. A stage scowl from Oprah. A burst of laughter from the crowd. “Sorry, Oprah,” Naomi smiled.

It’s a strange thing, Naomi told me. When you’re a pulpit rabbi, people tend to judge your success by how big your congregation is. And when you’re an author, they all want to know how many books you’ve sold. “To Begin Again” did become a national bestseller. But there’s no New York Times’ tally for how many lives you’ve touched. A Catholic priest told Naomi he copied the prayers she had written in her book and said them with his novenas. A woman in Minneapolis told Naomi she taped the prayers to her bedroom mirror.

Not long ago, Naomi flew off to Boston to be the keynote speaker at a conference on healing at the Harvard School of Public Health. Among the hundreds who came to hear her were parents of children killed in the massacre at Columbine High School. As Naomi spoke of healing, of facing grief, they broke down and cried. They came up to her afterwards and thanked her. They told her she had brought them a level of comfort that no one else had. They embraced.

It was better than Matt, better than Oprah, and worth it all.

ArtsThe Year’s Best Jewish Children’s Books


Last month,the Association of Jewish Libraries announced the winners of its Sydney Taylor Award for this year’s most distinguished contributions to Jewish children’s literature. AJL’s award committee chose a holiday story and a mesmerizing collection of legends as the finest of the 70 books submitted by Jewish and secular publishers in the 1997 publishing season. Winners are the picture book, “When Zaydeh Danced on Eldridge Street” in the younger reader division and the anthology, “The Mysterious Visitor” in the older reader division. Honor books are “When Jessie Came Across the Sea” and “I Have Lived A Thousand Years”. Author Barbara Diamond Goldin won the Body of Work award.

The annual awards include a cash prize from the estate of popular children’s author Sydney Taylor of All-of-a-kind-Family series fame. Publishers add a gold foil winner’s seal to the book jacket. Winning authors and illustrators will receive their awards on June 23rd in Philadelphia at AJL’s national convention banquet.

“When Zaydeh Danced On Eldridge Street,” written by Elsa Rael, illustrated by Marjorie Priceman, is a Simchat Torah story about the tension between a bright little girl and her fearsomely stern grandfather.

“The Mysterious Visitor: Stories of the Prophet Elijah” by Nina Jaffe, illustrated by Elivia Savadier, Jaffe chose Elijah legends from a wide range of geographical origins. Her charming versions brim with the oral quality expected in folklore.

Two honors reflect the diversity in Jewish children’s literature. “When Jessie Came Across the Sea,” by Amy Hest, illustrated by P.J. Lynch and published by Candlewick Press, recounts how a Jewish orphan maid makes her way in the wide world from shtetl to America.

The older reader’s honor book is “I Have Lived A Thousand Years: Growing Up in the Holocaust” by Livia Bitton-Jackson, published by Simon & Schuster. Vivid laughter describes a searing personal experience during the gory final year of the Holocaust when Bitton-Jackson, a Czechoslovakian Jew, was sent to concentration camps.

Barbara Diamond Goldin won the Body of Work Award for significant contribution to Jewish juvenile literature. Her primary picture books include original holiday tales which range from humorous to bittersweet and her older children’s books encourage understanding of observance and ethics. She won a 1991 Sydney Taylor Award for her Purim picture book, “Cakes and Miracles.” Goldin’s consistently commendable and recommendable books combine talented writing, solid research, personal commitment and deep caring about young Jewish readers.

These books are available at your synagogue, religious or day school libraries. For more information, contact Awards Chair Ellen Cole at Temple Isaiah’s Levine Library or Abigail Yasgur, director of the Jewish Community Library. — Staff Report

When Zaydeh Danced On Eldridge Street, written by Elsa Rael and illustrated by Marjorie Priceman, is the winner of the Sydney Taylor Award in the younger reader division.


Stanley Hirsh Elected New Publisher


Stanley Hirsh, a founding member of The Jewish Journal’s Board ofDirectors, was elected publisher of this newspaper by a unanimousvote of the Board last week. He succeeds the late Edwin Brennglass,who died October 23.

Hirsh, who is owner of the Cooper Building and a former chair ofLos Angeles’ Community Redevelopment Agency, is active in Jewishphilanthropy, national politics and local government. He is a formerpresident of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles and aformer General Campaign Chair of the United Jewish Fund, serving twoterms (1984 and 1985).

“I feel the Journal has become the largest disseminator of Jewishinformation in L.A. about what’s happening in the Jewish world,” hesaid. “Because of that fact,” he added, “we want to increase ourcirculation both within Los Angeles and the Valley. Ultimately, ofcourse, our aim is to reach all segments of L.A.’s large, pluralisticJewish community –so that, at the very least, we are able to sustaina continuing dialogue among ourselves and share a common set ofvalues and assumptions.”


Stay tuned to this feature for more information behind the scenes atThe Jewish Journal

Other VoicesIn Memory of Edwin N. Brennglass:


From President Bill Clinton

Hillary and I were saddened to learn of your husband’s death, andwe extend our deepest sympathy. We hope that the love and support ofyour family and friends will sustain and comfort you during thisdifficult time. You are in our thoughts and prayers.

From Los Angeles Mayor Richard J. Riordan

Los Angeles will miss Ed. His integrity and creativity are a modelfor all of us.

From Ben Zion Leuchter of Key Biscayne, Fla.

Ed Brennglass richly deserved tributes to him as a Jewishnewspaper publisher and a compassionate human being.

It’s fascinating that this hard-bitten businessman would haveinstinctively understood and put into practice principles ofjournalistic freedom. Having assumed the role of “first among equals”(the 10 pillars of the Los Angeles Jewish community who made itpossible for the Journal to pay off its creditors and take on a newlife), Brennglass installed business discipline while the newspaperslowly crept out of the loss side of the ledger.

He had a vision that the Journal could publish in the black, so tospeak, while at the same time helping the Jewish Federation. One ofthe ways he did this was to give editorial freedom to the Journal’seditor-in-chief. How do I know this? Because we were colleagues in anumber of international Jewish enterprises, including HIAS, and wetraveled abroad together. He knew that I was a retired dailynewspaper editor; I subscribed to the Jewish Journal and found itinteresting reading even 3,000 miles away. He would discussstrategies for increasing the newspaper’s income, and he understoodthat criticism of the Journal and/or the Los Angeles JewishFederation wasn’t necessarily bad either for the newspaper or thefederation. It was a sign that the newspaper was being read, that itwasn’t a federation house organ. The best gift an Anglo-Jewishnewspaper can make to its community federation is for Jews to lookforward to reading it.

Ed Brennglass wasn’t born with a silver spoon in his mouth. He wasproud of his success in business, and he put his creative mind to useon behalf of the Jewish world. He was a good listener and a straighttalker. But behind his growl, I always knew he was a marshmallow.

My wife Magda and I will miss him.

From Judge Joseph A. Wapner

Brandeis Bardin Institute

Even as we mourn the loss of Ed Brennglass, we at Brandeis BardinInstitute consider it an honor to do homage to one of the true gentlegiants of our own BBI family and of our larger community.

In his founding and rescue of the Jewish Journal, he provided aplatform where all aspects of Jewish life in our community could beboth critically examined and applauded.

It was as if Ed Brennglass’s vision in life and for the Jewishpeople coincided with our own at Brandeis Bradin:

To place education at the centerpiece of Jewish life.

To honor our people’s continuity….

To put arts and culture into the mix with study to help young Jewsfind their voices as Jews.

He studied with us on many occasions….

It was here that he and Marjorie chose to be married.

And it was here where he showed us his innate modesty: while weasked him many times to let us honor him, he always refused.

We will miss him, his presence, his quiet strength, his beguilingsmile and the twinkle in his eye. But we will always honor his memoryas a partner in building our institution.

From Avraham Burg, chairman of the Executive, World ZionistOrganization

I can’t think of any letter that is more difficult to write, forwhat words can be offered, what letter can be written that could inany way express my sorrow and condolences over the loss of Ed

Our condolences are sent from the Executives and the staff of theWorld Zionist Organization and the Jewish Agency — we all share inyour grief.

Ed was a true example of commitment to the Jewish people as awhole and we shall truly miss his presence. His work at the LosAngeles Federation, the Board of Governors and the numeroussub-committees are just a small example of his diligence towardsachieving his goal.

Please know that our thoughts are with you in this time of sorrow.

May his memory be a blessing, and may the Almighty comfort youamong the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.

From Richard A. Siegel, executive director,

National Foundation for Jewish Culture

I was deeply saddened to hear that Ed had passed away. He was sucha vibrant and passionate man, who cared so deeply for his family, hiscommunity, and the Jewish people….

Ed will be deeply missed. We at the NFJC join with his family andfriends, his community and all those whose lives he touched, inmourning his loss. May his memory be a blessing.

From Jonathan W. Kolker, president, and Michael Schneider,executive vice president,

The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee,Inc.

The board of directors and the staff of The American Jewish JointDistribution Committee note with great sadness the death of ourdevoted fellow board member and friend, Edwin N. Brennglass.

Ed was a great American Jewish leader. A dynamic man, he was anarticulate advocate for Jews in need across the world. Who can everforget his travels to distant places of JDC even during time ofpersonal or physical distress.

Ed played a significant role in establishing policy and providedvaluable leadership at JDC during a very exciting time when JDCconducted heroic rescue efforts from Ethiopia, Sarajevo, Syria andYemen: provided relief to hundreds of thousands in need, and nurturedthe reconstruction of Jewish life in the former Communist countries,as well as in many other places around the world.

He had a passionate belief in social justice and JDC’s role inpursuing that ideal. We shall miss this extraordinary man who caredso deeply about the Jewish people.

The entire JDC family extends our condolences to Ed’s wife,Marjorie, to his daughter, Cookie, and to his son, Gary.

From Nira Lerner, museum manager, Gedera Museum and EliahuRediya, mayor, Gedera, Israel

On a beautiful spring day in May 1983, Edwin and DorothyBrennglass turned up on our doorstep looking for “Uncle Moses'”previous home. They had finally come because their Aunt HelenMienarzevitch had begged them for years to come and see what hadhappened to it.

At that time Gedera was preparing to celebrate its 100thbirthday. The municipality decided to turn the place into a museumdepicting Gedera’s history.

Moses Mintz was a leading member of the “Bilu” movement,founded in Kharkov in Russia after the 1881-83 pogroms. Theirmovement took its place in Jewish history as the first ideologicalmovement to plan and execute the idea of renewing sovereignty over”Eretz Israel” (then Turkish-ruled Palestine). In 1883, because ofstrong ideological differences of opinion within the group, MosesMintz left and joined his family in the U.S. On retirement, hereturned to Gedera where he built the house which served partially ashis private home and partially as the Community Cultural Center, andthis was what Aunt Helen had referred to. When they came, the house,which had stood empty for about 10 years, was in a bad state ofdisrepair. I, at the time, was in the process of planning therenovation of the building and was responsible for preparing a masterplan for the future museum which was to be an education establishmentaimed at educating towards the Zionism practiced by the “Biluim”founders of Gedera.

All the time I kept wondering what miracle would occur to payfor it all when, out of the blue that sunny day, the miraculousappearance of Edwin and Dorothy occurred to save the day. Theircontribution both morally and financially helped fulfill Gedera’simportant main goal: the preservation of its precious history. Themuseum was dedicated to the memories of Moses Mintz and his sisterDora Brennglass, Edwin’s mother.

Since then, the relationship between us prospered and became asincere friendship with Eddie’s continuing support. The terrible newsof his departure from our lives has hit us sorely. He will be missedand remembered not only by his children Carole Spinner and GaryBrennglass, but also by the community here in Gedera as long as themuseum he helped establish stands in what became the first street inGedera.