December 14, 2018

Stephen Reinhardt, Outspoken Judge and Jew, Dies at 87

Screenshot from Twitter.

Judge Stephen Reinhardt, dubbed the “liberal lion” of American jurisprudence and as outspoken on Jewish as on legal issues, died March 29. He was 87.

He died of a heart attack during a visit to a Los Angeles dermatologist, according to a spokesman for the 9th U.S. Circuit of Appeals, on which Reinhardt served from his appointment by President Jimmy Carter in 1980 until his death.

“Reinhardt was deeply principled, fiercely passionate about the law and fearless in his decisions. He will be remembered as one of the giants of the federal bench,” Chief Judge Sidney K. Thomas of the 9th U.S. Circuit — whose jurisdiction includes the Western United States, Alaska and Hawaii — told the Los Angeles Times.

His rulings were frequently overturned by a more conservative U.S. Supreme Court, to which Reinhardt responded that he was not about to help the Supreme Court take away the rights of citizens.

Among his more controversial decisions was that the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance were unconstitutional, as were bans on same-sex marriage and physician-assisted suicide.

Reinhardt was born in March 27, 1931, in New York as Stephen Shapiro, but changed his name when his mother divorced his father and married Gottfried Reinhardt, screenwriter, director and producer (“The Red Badge of Courage,” “Town Without Pity”), who introduced the boy to the Hollywood community.

Stephen Reinhardt’s even more famous grandfather was Max Reinhardt, who revolutionized the German stage and then created Hollywood Bowl spectacles after fleeing Hitler’s Germany.

“Reinhardt was deeply principled, fiercely passionate about the law and fearless in his decisions.” — Sidney K. Thomas

This trauma also deeply affected Stephen Reinhardt and he spoke passionately about Jewish issues, unusual for a judge and a man of his standing.

His first wife, Maureen Kindel, told Citizen Magazine in an interview that her husband “thinks about his Jewish heritage a lot, very much so. He also thinks about the discrimination against Jews that he suffered when he was younger. I’m sure that has formulated his views about being protective of people’s rights.”

In 1990, in an address to the City Club of Los Angeles — which was labeled “provocative” by the media — Reinhardt maintained that Jews were drastically underrepresented on the U.S. Supreme Court, adding that if some were added “the result would be a better, kinder and gentler nation.”

Reinhardt is survived by his wife, Ramona Ripston, longtime former head of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Southern California; three adult children, Mark Reinhardt, a political science professor; Justin Reinhardt, a musician; and Dana Reinhardt, a novelist; and seven grandchildren.

The family asks that donations in Reinhardt’s memory be made to the ACLU.

SF Mayor Dies Unexpectedly

FILE PHOTO: San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee speaks at his election day party in San Francisco, California November 8, 2011. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith/File Photo

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee died unexpectedly early Tuesday morning from a heart attack at the age of 65.

Lee reportedly collapsed while shopping at a local Safeway at around 10 pm; he passed away at San Francisco General Hospital at 1:11 am.

Various California politicians issued statements offering condolences to Lee’s family.

“On behalf of all Californians, Anne and I extend our deepest condolences to Mayor Lee’s family, his many friends and the entire City of San Francisco,” said Gov. Jerry Brown (D) in a statement. “Ed was a true champion for working people and epitomized the California spirit. He’ll truly be missed.”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) said in a statement, “Ed was an excellent mayor of a great but sometimes challenging city. His equanimity and quiet management style was effective and allowed him to solve problems as they occurred.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) also chimed in.

“All who knew Mayor Lee understood him as a true gentleman of great warmth, positivity and kindness,” said Pelosi. “His passing is not only a tragic official loss for our city but also a profound personal loss for all who were fortunate enough to call him friend.”

Lee was first elected as mayor of San Francisco in 2011 after he reluctantly agreed to run, making him the first Asian mayor in the history of the city. Lee was able revitalize San Francisco’s economy through what was known as the “Twitter tax break,” incentivizing tech companies to produce jobs at the city’s Mid-Market area through payroll tax cuts. Lee was also able to accomplish “pension reform and a shift in the way business taxes are levied away from a company’s payroll to its gross receipts,” according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Despite the improved economic growth, San Francisco still faces a myriad of challenges, including homelessness and soaring housing rents. Lee also doubled down on San Francisco’s sanctuary city policy, which came under scrutiny following the death of Kate Steinle.

Prior to his tenure as mayor, Lee served as a civil rights attorney and held various positions within the city government. He leaves behind his wife Anita and two daughter Brianna and Tania.

Shimon Peres suffers mild heart attack

Former Israeli President Shimon Peres reportedly was feeling well after suffering a mild heart attack.

Peres, 92, was taken to the hospital Thursday morning after feeling chest pains. He underwent a cardiac angioplasty at the Heart Institute of Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer to open a blocked artery, according to reports.

Peres will remain under observation in the hospital for several days.

Two weeks ago, social media was flooded with rumors that Peres had died, leading him to take to Facebook to declare that rumors of his demise were greatly exaggerated.

“I wish to thank the citizens of Israel for the support, concern and interest, and wish to clarify that the rumors are false,” Peres said in a Facebook post. “I’m continuing with my daily schedule as usual to do whatever I can to assist The State of Israel and its citizens.”

Peres retired as president of Israel in 2014 after more than half a century in public life.

In an interview last week with JTA, Peres said he is busier than ever, including his work with the Peres Center for Peace. On a typical day, he is up at 4:30 a.m. to read and walks on his treadmill, he said. By 8:30 he is at his office, and he often works until 11 p.m.

Man freed in killing of rabbi suffers heart attack

A man whose sentence was overturned after serving 23 years for the killing of a Brooklyn rabbi had a massive heart attack a day after being freed.

David Ranta, 58, had a heart attack last Friday. A New York State Supreme Court judge in Brooklyn had released him from jail the previous day.

No physical evidence had linked Ranta, an unemployed drug addict, to the fatal February 1990 shooting of Rabbi Chaskel Werzberger in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn.

A jury found Ranta guilty in May 1991 based on witness testimony and circumstantial evidence. He was sentenced to 37 1/2 years in prison.

Ranta was released following a new probe in which witnesses recanted and evidence suggested another man who died in a car accident months after the shooting was the shooter.

Leaving the court on March 21, Ranta said, “I'm overwhelmed. I feel like I'm under water, swimming,” AP reported. “Like I said from the beginning, I had nothing to do with this case.”

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il dead

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il died of a heart attack while on a train trip, state media reported on Monday, sparking immediate concern over who is in control of the reclusive state and its nuclear program.

A tearful television announcer dressed in black said the 69-year old had died on Saturday of physical and mental over-work on his way to give “field guidance.”

Kim Jong-un, Kim Jong-il’s youngest son, is seen as the leader-in-waiting after he was appointed to senior political and military posts in 2010.

North Korea’s official KCNA news agency said the elder Kim died at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday (6:30 p.m. EST on Friday) after “an advanced acute myocardial infarction, complicated with a serious heart shock.” Kim had suffered a stroke in 2008, but had appeared to have recovered from that ailment.

South Korea, still technically at war with the North, placed its troops and all government workers on emergency alert, Yonhap news agency reported. But Seoul’s Defense Ministry said there were no signs of any unusual North Korean troop movements.

“Up until tonight, if anybody had asked you what would be the most likely scenario under which the North Korean regime could collapse, the answer would be the sudden death of Kim Jong-il,” said Victor Cha, a Korea expert with the Center for Strategic and International Studies think-tank in Washington.

“And so I think right now we’re in that scenario and we don’t know how it’s going to turn out.”

The White House said President Barack Obama had been notified of the reports of Kim’s death and it was closely monitoring and in touch with South Korea and Japan.

The United States was committed to stability on the Korean peninsula as well as to its allies, the White House press secretary said.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda told ministers at a special security meeting to prepare for the unexpected, including on border affairs, Japan’s top government spokesman said.

China, North Korea’s only major ally, has yet to comment.

Market players and regional powers will be on edge over what might happen next in the isolated state, whose collapsing economy and bid to become a nuclear weapons power pose major threats to northeast Asia.

Asian stocks and U.S. index futures fell, with South Korean shares tumbling as much as 5 percent, and the dollar gained after the announcement. The Korean won fell 1.8 percent.

Kim Jong-un was at the head of a long list of officials making up the funeral committee, indicating he would lead it, and a key sign that he had taken, or been given, charge.

But there will be enormous questions over how much credibility the younger Kim has, since he is only in his late 20s and has had little time to prepare for the role.

“Kim Jong-un is not yet the official heir, but the regime will move in the direction of Kim Jong-un taking center stage,” said Chung Young-Tae at the Korea Institute of National Unification. “There is a big possibility that a power struggle may happen.

“It’s likely the military will support Kim Jong-un,” he added. “Right now there will be control wielded over the people to keep them from descending into chaos in this tumultuous time.”


Kim Jong-il’s sister and her husband have also been promoted to important political and military posts, creating a powerful triumvirate ready to take over the family dynasty that has ruled North Korea since its founding after World War Two.

Experts say Jong-un has the intelligence and leadership skills that would make him suitable to succeed his father. He is also reported to have a ruthless streak that analysts say he would need to rule the country.

There is likely to be an enormous outpouring of emotion over Kim’s death in North Korea, where the country’s propaganda machine turned him into a demi-god. His funeral will be held on December 28.

Kim was the unchallenged head of a communist state whose economy fell deep into poverty during his 17 years in power as he vexed the world by developing a nuclear arms program and missiles aimed at neighbors Japan and South Korea.

North Korea, which tested a nuclear device in 2006 and again in May 2009, is seen as one of the greatest threats to regional security.

In 2010, the secretive North unveiled a uranium enrichment facility, giving it a second route to make an atomic bomb along with its plutonium program.

Cha said communication between China, the United States and South Korea was vital.

“Because these are the three key players when it comes to instability in North Korea. And the Chinese have been reluctant to have any conversations on this,” he said.

“Now the situation really calls for it. It will be interesting to see how much the Chinese will be willing to have some sort of discussion.”

The North has repeatedly threatened to destroy the conservative government of South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, who ended a decade of free-flowing aid to the North after taking office in February 2008.

It also has a reputation for provocative external action in response to various internal pressures.

“Often in times like this, the regime will do something to demonstrate that it is still viable, powerful, still a threat,” said Dane Chamorro, a regional director at the Global Risks consultancy.

“It might be a missile test, some type of aggression or conflict.”

Known at home as “the Dear Leader,” Kim took over the reins of North Korea in 1994 when his father and founder of the reclusive state, Kim Il-sung, known as the Great Leader, died.

Tension between the two Koreas spiked to its highest level in nearly two decades in 2010 when 50 South Koreans were killed in two separate attacks on the peninsula, but relations have improved this year due to pressure from Beijing and Washington.

Palestinian Authority prime minister suffers heart attack

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad suffered a heart attack while in Texas for his son’s college education, his spokesman told the Associated Press.

Fayyad felt chest pains Sunday and went to an Austin hospital, where he had a heart attack, AP reported. He underwent catheterization to open a blocked artery and likely will be released from the Seton Medical Center in two days, according to the spokesman.

An American-educated economist, Fayyad has enjoyed good relations with the United States and other Western countries.

The Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram, citing unnamed sources, reported last week that Fayyad will not be allowed to stay on as prime minister in a new Palestinian unity government. There have been reports that he could serve in the next government as finance minister, a post he had held in previous Palestinian governments.

Report: Mubarak suffered heart attack during corruption questioning

Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was taken to an intensive care unit after suffering a heart attack during questioning over corruption charges, AFP reported on Tuesday.

The 82-year-old former president was deposed Feb. 11 after 18 days of popular protests and has been under house arrest in the Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh for the last two months.

He was reportedly undergoing questioning over the killing of protesters and embezzling of public funds, when he suffered heart pains and was taken to a Sharm El-Sheikh hospital.


A Knight’s Tale

Philanthropist and art benefactor Sir Arthur Gilbert died at his Beverly Hills home Sunday of a heart attack. He was 88 and had struggled with cancer and diabetes. The Journal had slated the following profile of Gilbert, a leading philanthropist, art collector and businessman, to run in this issue. Anita Chabria met with him last week.

Sir Arthur Gilbert was one of Los Angeles’ few resident knights, having been honored by the Queen of England two years ago, but he was best-known here as a philanthropist and real estate entrepreneur who helped shape his adopted city.

Born Arthur Bernstein in 1913, Gilbert came to the United States from London in 1949. Early in life, he and his first wife, Rosalinde, who passed away in 1995 from Alzheimer’s disease, ran an exclusive evening wear manufacturing company that catered to London’s post-war wealthy. But Gilbert felt that taxes were too high in his homeland, and longed for better weather. He found it in Los Angeles.

Most of Gilbert’s fortune came from real estate. He had dabbled in commercial real estate with his older brother while living in London, but it wasn’t until his immigration to the States that land deals became a focus.

In 1955, he purchased 100 acres in the then-barren City of Commerce. Since then, he had been involved in scores of projects, including the coup of bringing Barney’s New York to Beverly Hills in a long-term lease at his building in a prime strip of Wilshire Boulevard. Other projects include the Union Bank building at the corner of Beverly and Wilshire and Gibraltar Square in Beverly Hills. When buying real estate, Gilbert always felt that location was the most important feature. His motto was “always buy the best you can,” says longtime friend Richard Ziman.

Despite the numerous projects he created, Gilbert once told a newspaper reporter that the only one of his buildings he ever liked was the modern home he built for himself on a bluff in Coldwater Canyon.

Gilbert was also a philanthropist with a list of pet projects that spanned the globe. He was a founder of the Music Center, and a major supporter of Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, from which he received the Albert Einstein Award in 1978.

In 1999 he received an Honorary Doctorate of Philosophy by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem for his long-term support, including a $25 million donation to the Hebrew University’s Rothberg International School. He had attended the university’s opening in 1925, when he was 12 years old.

Gilbert’s father, one of England’s most prominent furriers, was very religious and lived six months of each year in Israel. Although Gilbert remained in boarding school in London during most of those family excursions, the deep commitment he had toward Israel and Jewish causes can be seen in his long legacy of giving.

Aside from philanthropy and real estate, Gilbert was known for two personal passions: playing tennis and collecting art.

Gilbert was more often found in workout clothes than business suits, according to friends, and made it a point to play tennis every day when in good health. He even refused to work on Wednesdays, instead dubbing it his “holy day” and spending it at his tennis club, says wife Marjorie Gilbert.

“Arthur never wore long pants before 6 o’clock,” said Ziman, who added that Gilbert was most often found in trademark yellow shorts.

But it was Gilbert’s second passion — art collecting — that created a legacy worthy of a knighthood.

He began collecting silver and gold pieces solely to furnish his Coldwater Canyon home in 1960. Within 15 years, he had amassed a collection significant enough to warrant an exhibit in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

“He bought everything he saw,” says Jeanette Hanisee Gabriel, private curator of Gilbert’s collections.

He originally intended to give his silver and mosaic collections to LACMA, but had increasingly tense relations with the museum over where and how the collections would be displayed. By 1996, Gilbert was on poor terms with the L.A. museum, and instead gave the pieces to the Somerset House in England. The recently redone museum on the Thames River will use the silver collection as its centerpiece, giving his contributions 25,000 square feet of exhibition space. The decorative arts collection on display contains more than 800 pieces of gold and silver. He also amassed one of the most significant collections of Italian mosaics in the world, matched only by the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia.

For donating those collections, valued at more than $125 million, Queen Elizabeth II gave Gilbert a knighthood in 1999.

“He wanted the public to enjoy his art,” says Marjorie Gilbert. “From Day One, Arthur never built the collection for himself.”

Services for Gilbert will be held Fri., September 7 at 12 noon at Hillside Mortuary.

Gilbert is survived by Lady Marjorie Gilbert, her daughter Susan and granddaughter Ashley; by his son Colin, granddaughter Windy (Terry) Gallagher; great-grandsons Patrick, Keelan, Colin and his sister Mathilda Barnett.

Donations may be sent to the American Diabetes Association, 6300 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, 90048.

The Kubrick Legacy

The news of director Stanley Kubrick’s death in England is a premature finis to an unprecedented career in film.

To legions of fans and wannabe filmmakers, the 70-year-old filmmaker was a master. More than Welles, Hitchcock, Ford, Lean or Kurosawa, all of who received the Director’s Guild Lifetime Achievement nod, he was in sole control of his world both on and offscreen — unheard of then and definitely unheard of now.

For an actor, a summons to work with Kubrick was the imprimatur on a career.

Tom Cruise, at the height of his Hollywood bankability, and his wife, actress Nicole Kidman, were supposedly ecstatic to give almost two years and a relocation to London for the making “Eyes Wide Shut.” A reputed slave driver on the set, Kubrick’s death from a heart attack instantly gives “Eyes” event film status.

If the film, shot with Kubrick’s customary obsessiveness, rises to the level of “Spartacus,” “2001, a Space Odyssey” and “A Clockwork Orange,” his reputation will be safe.

Kubrick would never have been accused of being a warm person. He viewed the world with a sardonic, even cruel detachment.

The son of a Jewish doctor, the Bronx-raised Kubrick moved in what was virtually an all-Jewish circle. Many Jewish kids during that time wanted nothing more than to belong to the mainstream, to become a “real American.” Kubrick wasn’t interested. He didn’t join any school clubs, or show up for football games. He wasn’t even academically driven.

On the occasion of his being honored by the Director’s Guild with its D.W. Griffiths Lifetime Achievement Award, Kubrick, the man Oscar-nominated a dozen times, joked, “Anyone who has ever been privileged to direct a film knows that, although it can be like trying to write ‘War and Peace’ in a bumper car in an amusement park, when you finally get it right, there are not many joys in life that can equal the feeling.”

After working as a photographer for Look Magazine in the late 1940s, Kubrick made his film directorial debut with a 16-minute boxing documentary “Day of the Fight.”

His first feature film, “Fear and Desire,” was made in 1953 for a meager $100,000. He followed up his debut with noir classics like “The Killer’s Kiss” and “The Killing.”

In 1960, Kubrick made “Spartacus,” starring Kirk Douglas. Originally intended for director Anthony Mann, the Hollywood epic wasn’t really Kubrick’s style, and he complained about its “pretty dumb script.” But under his direction, “Spartacus” proved that a historical epic could involve real emotions and believable human beings.

In 1961, Kubrick went to England to make “Lolita,” and decided to stay. Fear of flying restricted Kubrick’s movements and, by the late 1960s, kept him isolated in a walled mansion outside of London, where he found sanctuary and anonymity. But his anxieties didn’t limit his artistic courage. From that time on, he made his films according to his own set of rules: No studio interference.

From his empire outside London, Kubrick crafted some of his most important films, including “Dr. Strangelove,” and “A Clockwork Orange,” in which he anticipated an urban future of violent youth.

Whether dubbed a success or failure, every Kubrick film was different. From 1980’s “The Shining,” with its dark claustrophobic hotel and Jack Nicholson’s disturbing star turn, to 1987’s “Full Metal Jacket,” a Vietnam horror story, Kubrick illustrated a leap inconceivable to any other director.

Kubrick’s relationship to World War II and the Holocaust was complicated. After marrying two Jewish women — the first his high school sweetheart, the second an Austrian refugee ballerina — he wed German actress Christiane Harlan, whom he met when he cast her as a young German girl in “Paths of Glory.” The daughter of two opera singers and third generation of a family of musicians and artists, Harlan had also been a member of Hitler Youth, and her uncle made the infamous Nazi propaganda film “Jew Suss.”

Nevertheless, Kubrick was proceeding with his film project on the Nazi conquest of Europe. He acquired a suitable property — Louis Begley’s 1991 novel “Wartime Lies,” set in Poland. He was to have begun shooting in Denmark in 1994 when Steven Spielberg’s “Schindler’s List” pre-empted him — just as Oliver Stone’s “Platoon” had stolen “Full Metal Jacket’s” thunder.

The project was dropped and Kubrick moved on to “Eyes Wide Shut.” According to Warner Bros. executives who viewed the final cut just a few weeks ago, Kubrick deemed the film complete. Early obituaries have quoted Kubrick as being ecstatic over the film, considering it his best. Nothing better characterized Kubrick than the hoary old Hollywood joke that gets updated for each generation of young filmmakers:

“Steven Spielberg dies and goes to heaven. Greeted by St. Peter, he spots a man with a thick beard, thinning hair and glasses pedaling a bicycle.

Spielberg: Isn’t that Stanley Kubrick?

St. Peter: No that’s God. He only thinks he’s Stanley Kubrick.”

Ivor Davis, who writes a weekly column distributed worldwide by The New York Times Syndicate, has covered the entertainment industry for more than 25 years.

f.y.i. / local report Good Hearts

Steven S. Cohen was a hard-working businessman, a good friend and the father of two young girls, ages 2 and 5, when he suffered a massive heart attack during a game of weekend basketball and died. He was 35.

His friends channeled their shock and grief into helping to discover how and why such a young, healthy man could die so suddenly, and without warning.

Cohen, who, at 5 feet 10 and 210 pounds, was a vigorous and powerful weekend athlete, had had a complete physical just two months before he died on Dec. 7, 1995. His blood-cholesterol level had been normal — 200 — and he had no family history of heart attack or stroke. But an autopsy revealed that Cohen had 90-percent occlusion in two arteries. So the good friend and loving husband became a statistic, one of some 250,000 Americans under 40 who die of sudden cardiac arrest.

A bypass could have saved Cohen, but the stress test that would have disclosed the occlusion is not routinely given to people his age. “Who, at 35, thinks they’re going to die of a heart attack?” asked his closest friend, Mark Litman.

Cohen ran a successful diamond business but quit after being held up at gunpoint and pistol-whipped outside a Beverly Hills jewelry store. “We always said he had nine lives,” Litman said.

Cohen then became a part owner of Doheny Travel in Beverly Hills. In his free time, he played basketball twice each week at the Mid Valley Athletic Club. “He worked hard and he played hard,” Litman said.

Just prior to collapsing, Cohen complained of a tingling in his arm and asked friends to call 911. By the time paramedics arrived, he had died.

Now painfully aware that such things happen, Cohen’s friends have created the Steven S. Cohen Heart Fund to support and promote Cedar-Sinai Medical Center’s ongoing research into the detection and prevention of early heart disease in adults, ages 20 to 40.

Supported by a charitable networking group of 15 San Fernando Valley businessmen, named the Boardroom Associates — to which Cohen belonged — the fund is underwriting the research directed by P.K. Shah, M.D., who is exploring ways of uncovering and treating early heart disease.

One promising development is the ultrafast CT scan, which uses MRI-like technology to take a cross-section view of the arteries. Another project is studying the presence of calcium deposits in coronary arteries as a marker of the early stages of heart disease.

Neither the research nor its fruits comes cheaply (Litman said that a superfast CT scan machine costs $2 million), but the Boardroom Associates have taken on the task to raise whatever is needed.

The Steven S. Cohen Heart Fund’s first annual fund-raiser will be held on May 10 at the Grand Ballroom of the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Los Angeles Clippers stars Jerome “Pooh” Richardson and Darrick Martin, the Indiana Pacers’ Mark Jackson and the Portland Trail Blazers’ Mitchell Butler are expected to attend. The $175-per-plate dinner will also feature a silent auction.

“It’s going to be an upbeat and fun event,” Litman said.

And that, he said, goes a long way toward describing Cohen himself. — Robert Eshman, Associate Editor

For more information on the Steven S. Cohen Heart Fund and its first annual fund-raiser, call

(818) 225-8783

The House of Lehman

It would be fair to say that German historian and newspaper editor Roland Flade has more than a passing interest in European Jewish history, particularly that of Jews in his native Bavaria. Flade, a Catholic, wrote two dissertations on the subject. The second work, published in 1987, caught the attention of U.S. Ambassador John L. Loeb Jr., who bought it in a Hamburg bookshop. Loeb was surprised to find no mention of his prominent Jewish family, so he telephoned Flade to inquire if there was a way to uncover his ancestors’ early German history.

That inquiry resulted in Flade’s newest book, “The Lehmans” (Königshausen & Neumann), an absorbing tale that begins in a Bavarian village prior to the French Revolution and concludes in the glittering stone canyons of Wall Street. What lies in between are the various fortunes and dramas of the legendary Lehmann banking family, whose members — whether through blood or marriage — read like a who’s who of finance, government and philanthropy. Occupying places on the family tree are Seagram’s CEO Edgar M. Bronfman Jr., New York County District Attorney Robert Morgenthau and former New York Governor and Senator Herbert Lehmann, who managed to save dozens of relatives and others from the Holocaust.

Born in 1785, Abraham Lehmann lived in the village of Rimpar, but his sons left to seek their futures in America. After they emigrated to Montgomery, Ala., in the mid-19th century, they founded the Lehmann Brothers banking firm. As real estate investors, cotton merchants and advisers to the burgeoning retail world of department stores, Lehmann Brothers was already a force to be reckoned with by the early 20th century. The firm took a leading role in financing and advising retail giants Sears & Roebuck and F.W. Woolworth Co., as well as Jewish-owned outfits such as R.H. Macy & Co. and Gimbel Brothers.

Today, the family name graces everything from a wing of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art to a high school in Dimona, Israel. What’s striking about this book is that although the Lehmanns move in a rarefied and affluent world of rainmakers, in important respects, their trials and successes mirror the larger European-Jewish immigrant experience in all its forms — merchants, victims, immigrant peddlers and, ultimately, pillars of the American establishment. –Diane Arieff Zaga, Arts Editor

Copies of “The Lehmans” may be ordered from the Madison Avenue Bookshop at 800-535-4912.


Lost and Found

Hanna and Walter Kohner had one of the few Holocaust stories that ended happily. The two were childhood sweethearts in Czechoslovakia before the war, with big plans for the future. But, as Hitler’s armies closed in, Walter managed to get to the States, where he had brothers. Hanna was captured and survived internment in four concentration camps, including Auschwitz.

After the war, Walter heard that Hanna was alive from an American sergeant who helped liberate her (52 years ago this May 5). The couple reunited and settled in Los Angeles, where Walter became a theatrical agent. Hanna wrote their amazing story in a book, “Hanna and Walter, A Love Story” (Berkley, $5.99), which has been recently re-released.

Their daughter, Julie, 41, carries on their legacy by telling the Kohner story to school and community groups throughout the Southland. Her presentation, “Voices of the Generation,” has won raves from rabbis and educators. Julie recounts the story, shows a video about her parents that originally aired as an episode of “This Is Your Life” in 1953, and answers questions about her parents and the Holocaust. “What I’m doing,” she says, “is carrying on their legacy.”– R.E.

For more information on “Voices of the Generations,” call (310) 472-9283

The Grapevine

This week’s news off the grapevine is that Rabbi David Wolpe has been offered the post of senior rabbi at Sinai Temple. Wolpe, author, lecturer, and recently new father, will head west from his current post at the Jewish Theological Seminary…. And Sari Goodman has replaced Shaun Herschel as director of the Temple Isaiah Day School.

Wachtler Returns

I’ve never been a brilliant, drug-addicted judge with exacerbated manic depression, so I wasn’t sure what to make of the first chapter of Sol Wachtler’s memoir, “After the Madness” (Random House, $24). In it, the former chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals in New York describes the uppers, downers and depression that led him to stalk a former lover. Do the drugs and disorder excuse his crime? No, Wachtler makes clear; he accepts all the blame and offers sincere apologies for his actions.

Wachtler served 13 months’ hard time in a medium-security federal prison for his offenses. The heart of this book is his diary of prison life. It is disturbing, shocking, revealing, painful, frightening and frustrating. Wachtler, whom Alan Dershowitz once described as the nation’s finest judge, lived in the hell he had, without remorse, consigned others to. That near-fantastic turnaround gives him insights into a system that, he now believes, locks up far too many people with little benefit and at great expense. Not for nothing does Wachtler, who grew up as a beleaguered Jewish kid in mostly rural American towns, begin his book with a quote from the great sage Hillel: “Do not judge a person until you have been in his position — you do not understand even yourself until the day of your death.”– R.E.