November 18, 2018

Murray Fromson, war correspondent, 88

Murray Fromson, renowned American war correspondent, university professor and fighter  for press freedom, with close ties to Israel, will be laid to rest Friday, June 15, at Mount Sinai Hollywood Hills in Los Angeles. Services start at 10 a.m.

Fromson died June 9 in his sleep in Los Angeles after suffering from Alzheimer’s disease for several years. He was 88.

Born Sept. 1, 1929, in the Bronx, N.Y., one of his early idols was legendary CBS correspondent Edward R. Murrow. “I was enamored of him,” Fromson recalled in a 2015 Jewish Journal interview. “I’d go to sleep with a pencil under my pillow, pretending I was a microphone.”

His family moved to Los Angeles when Murray was 11 and he celebrated his bar mitzvah at the old Sinai Temple. The start of his journalistic career was as a copy boy and stringer at the Los Angeles Times, followed by an stint in the Army as a reporter for Stars and Stripes. After his discharge, he joined the Associated Press, filing stories from across the United States and Southeast Asia.

In 1960, he followed in Murrow’s footsteps and became a network correspondent, first for NBC and then during a decades-long career with CBS. Abroad, he covered the Vietnam War, including the fall of Saigon, and at home he reported

Murray Fromson

on the Richard Nixon-John F. Kennedy presidential race and the civil rights movement in the South.

Fromson was deeply effected by the brutality he witnessed in Vietnam and the American  South. As an eye witness to so much hatred and devastation, Fromson said, “What can I say, except ‘When will this misery ever stop?’ ”

Fromson entered the struggle for freedom of the press in 1969, when President Nixon vowed to subpoena journalists to force them to reveal the names of anti-war activists.

With Tony Lukas of The New York Times, Fromson established the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, which continues to this day.

During a two-year stint as CBS bureau chief in Moscow in the mid-1970s, Murray and his wife, Dodi, befriended many Soviet Jews who were barred from emigrating to Israel by the Communist government.

The Moscow experience made a strong impression on the two Fromson children, Lisa and Derek. The former, adopting the name of Aliza Ben Tal, studied at Ben Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) and subsequently worked in the president’s office as assistant for international affairs.

The Fromson parents joined their daughter’s effort by sponsoring an annual — and ongoing — Fromson Media Mission to BGU, which has brought the university’s accomplishments to the attention of millions of American readers and viewers.

Fromson joined the faculty of the USC in 1982 and served as director of its communications and journalism school for five years. He founded the university’s Center for International Journalism, which brought foreign journalists, mainly from Latin America, for study on the USC campus.

In a tribute to her predecessor, Willow Bay, current dean of the USC journalism school, told The New York Times, “Not only was professor Fromson one of the great journalists of his time, he was also a an extraordinary teacher and leader, who built the USC international journalism program from the ground up.”

In addition to Dodi, his wife of 57 years, and two children, Fromson is survived by two grandchildren.

Comedy Store’s Mitzi Shore, 87

Mitzi Shore, who for decades ran The Comedy Store, the legendary club on the Sunset Strip, died on April 11 following a long battle with Parkinson’s disease. She was 87.

“It is with great sadness and very heavy hearts that we report the passing of Mitzi Shore yesterday morning,” The Comedy Store said in an April 12 statement. “Mitzi was an extraordinary woman and leader who identified, cultivated and celebrated comedy’s best performers. She helped change the face of comedy and leaves behind an indelible mark and legacy in the entertainment industry and stand-up community. We will all miss her dearly.”

Shore was born Mitzi Lee Saidel on July 25, 1930, in Menominee, Mich., and raised in Green Bay, Wis. She attended the University of Wisconsin but dropped out to marry comedian Sammy Shore, whom she met while working at a Wisconsin resort one summer. In the 1950s, through her marriage, Shore met Rodney Dangerfield, Don Rickles, Shelley Berman and Buddy Hackett, and she became a mother figure to the comedians.

On April 7, 1972, Sammy opened The Comedy Store — Mitzi came up with the name — with comedy writer Rudy De Luca. It was the world’s first all-stand-up-comedy nightclub. Two years later, the Shores divorced and Mitzi received control of the club in their divorce settlement.

According to veteran journalist William Knoedelseder, author of “I’m Dying Up Here,” Shore deserves partial credit for transforming the 1970s into the golden era of comedy. Shore nurtured many talented young comedians, including David Letterman, Jay Leno, Robin Williams, Bob Saget, Richard Lewis, Garry Shandling and Elayne Boosler. Working behind a sign on her desk that read, “It is a Sin to Encourage Mediocre Talent,” Shore pushed those she saw as having that special spark to perform, allowed them on her stage and encouraged authenticity in their comedy.

In 1976, she expanded the 99-seat nightclub to a multistage venue, featuring three rooms: the Original Room, the Main Room and the Belly Room. She operated The Comedy Store as an artists’ colony, where comedians could tinker and work out their material before fellow comedians, comedy lovers and entertainment industry professionals. However, Shore did not pay her comedians until 1979, when performers began picketing outside the club.

“Looking back on my mom’s life, the one word that comes to mind is giver. She gave her heart, her soul, and her stages.” — Pauly Shore

Shore eventually opened additional Comedy Store locations, including in La Jolla, Calif., Las Vegas and Honolulu.

In the late 1990s, Shore’s Parkinson’s became so severe that her hands shook when she wrote the lineup sheets for each evening’s show. Two of her four children, including actor-comedian Pauly Shore, took control over the operation of the club. Shore spent her final days in hospice care.

On Twitter, Pauly said his mother’s legacy was her compassion for her performers.

“Looking back on my mom’s life, the one word that comes to mind is giver,” he wrote. “She gave her heart, her soul, and her stages.”

Saget and other comedians also posted tributes on Twitter.

“Mitzi Shore started my career when I was 21 by believing in me,” Saget wrote. “I will forever be indebted to her and love her and always knew that she loved me.”

The Comedy Store closed on April 11 to honor Shore, only the ninth night in its 46 years that the club closed.

Shore’s funeral was held on April 13. She is survived by her four children — Pauly, Peter, Scott and Sandy.

The Motion Picture & Television Fund’s Comedian’s Assistance Fund is accepting donations in Shore’s memory.

Sol Liber, Uprising Resistance Fighter

Sol Liber, one of the last known members of the Jewish resistance during the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, died on March 21. He was 94. His legacy will live on through his three children, eight grandchildren and the testimony of his harrowing experiences at three concentration camps. His interview was number 50 of 50,000 at the University of Southern California’s Shoah Foundation.

“My father was very focused, primarily on family, work, and the Jewish people,” Liber’s son, Sheldon, said at the funeral on March 23. “He was a great teacher that shared lessons about all three [of these things] with great emphasis on personal integrity, honesty, loyalty and taking the initiative to help others.”

Liber was born in the town of Grojec, Poland, 40 kilometers south of Warsaw. He was thrust into the trauma of World War II at the age of 15 when he was drafted to fight for the Polish Army against the invading Germans. After Poland’s quick surrender, he returned home, but was soon chased out. He eventually landed with his father, mother and four siblings in the Warsaw Ghetto.

Desperate, yet resourceful, Liber would sneak beyond the walls to barter goods for food for his family. When word came the Germans intended to empty the Ghetto and disperse those who survived to death camps, Liber was led blindfolded to meet the head of the secret Resistance, Mordechai Anielewicz. He was enlisted to help smuggle children through the sewers to groups shepherding them to safety. When the Germans mounted their final attack, Liber was assigned to battle them.

“If you have the will to live, you will try anything.” – Sol Liber

After the German army prevailed, Liber and two surviving sisters were shipped on a tightly packed train to Treblinka. Once they arrived, Liber was pulled aside with 500 other men, and watched his two sisters head for the gas chambers.

He was put back on a train and sent to Majdanek. After surviving that inhumane torture camp, Liber was shipped to Buchenwald, where he spent each day in an underground munitions factory. Finally liberated by the Russians in 1945, he returned briefly to his village before making his way to Eggenfelden, a displaced-persons camp.

“My dad was both a simple and complicated man,” his son Rodney said at the funeral. “His school education was cut short at fifth grade when he was placed with a tailor to learn the trade, one he told me several times he never liked. His education on the mean streets of the world however was vast, and he wore that early experience everywhere he went and in everything he did.

“He escaped death many times, if not every day in his late teens and early 20s. He told me of at least a dozen close calls but I’m sure there were many more. He was tough and he instilled at least some of that toughness in me, which I hope has served and will continue to serve me well.”

Liber made his way to Marseilles, France, to start training to fight in Palestine, but was convinced by his cousin that it was not his fight. “You did not survive the atrocities and see your family perish to now put yourself in jeopardy. You must live on!” the cousin said. With that, he traveled to Paris, lived with his cousin and helped support the family by working as a tailor.

Liber later made the journey to Quebec to see his only surviving family member, his brother Jack, in Winnipeg. Eight months later he traveled to Montreal, where he met his future wife Bella and had two children, before moving to Los Angeles.

Years later, when asked how he survived, Liber simply said, “If you have the will to live, you will try anything.”

At his funeral, his eight grandchildren paid their respects, too. “As adults, knowing more now about his history, about the many lives he led long before our time, about the unspeakable ordeals he endured … we are filled with many emotions; pride, reverence, awe, humility,” they said. “We all want so much to honor Grandpa Sol, to repay him for all he gave us, to live up to the standard he set and to continue his legacy.”

Carrie Beth Lutin-Scott, 60

Screenshot from Facebook.

Carrie Beth Lutin-Scott died early on March 14 as the sun was rising over the canyon outside her Pacific Palisades home, where she was surrounded by her family, after a battle with cancer. She was 60.

She is survived by her husband of almost 32 years, Michael B. Scott, and children Rachel, Zachary and Shoshanna, as well as parents Evy and Martin Lutin, and her sister Robin Lutin.

Carrie was born Jan. 15, 1958, and raised in Encino. She often related the stories of how pop singing legend Michael Jackson and his family lived around the corner, and how she met Ringo Starr at a neighborhood party. Lutin-Scott attended Birmingham High School, graduating a semester early in 1976 and matriculating to UC Santa Barbara.

Lutin-Scott transferred to the University of Colorado in Boulder, where she graduated in 1980 with a bachelor’s degree in communications.

Although she loved her college experience, during her junior year, she decided to travel the world on a program called Semester at Sea.

Lutin-Scott told friends and family that when she approached her father to tell him that she wanted to travel the world, he replied, “How much would that cost?” She said, “Oh, I think around $9,000.” Her father paused and told her, “Well, Carrie, if you really want to go, you will have to pay for it yourself.”

So Lutin-Scott went on the game show “The Hollywood Squares” and won not only $15,000 but also a car and trailer. She again approached her father and said, “Dad, as you know, I now have enough money for Semester at Sea. Since you are saving money by not paying for my college tuition this semester, what do you think about giving me some extra money for the trips I want to take along the way?” Her father agreed with the idea and gave her the money.

Lutin-Scott’s negotiating skills served her well during 20 years of selling advertising space in the automotive industry, where after her first year she was the top salesperson on a nationwide sales team of 120.

Lutin-Scott’s husband, Michael, describes their relationship as a “great love affair.” While both were in their late 20s and living in Southern California, fate placed them on the same bus in Washington, D.C., in the spring of 1985. Lutin-Scott and her mother were in the city to lobby for a Jewish mission, and Michael had traveled there to attend a wedding.

During the bus ride, Lutin-Scott turned around in her seat and spotted an attractive young man seated in the back. She got up and walked down the aisle. Michael later described how he looked up from his newspaper to see this woman in a bright blue dress heading his way and thought, “Oh, boy, here comes trouble!” They became engaged three months later and married on June 21, 1986.

They honeymooned in Papua New Guinea and, in 1991, moved to a house in Pacific Palisades, which was soon filled with three children. The couple hosted pool parties, cookouts, birthday parties, prom parties, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts fundraisers, Friday night Shabbat and Sunday night neighborhood dinners.

Lutin-Scott was involved in Kehillat Israel’s early childhood development program, served on the Southern California board of Birthright Israel Foundation, the board of the University of Colorado Parent Fund and chaired the United Jewish Fund Automotive Division.

She volunteered at her children’s schools and drove students on field trips in her GMC Denali, the “big blue bus.” As their children progressed through school, Lutin-Scott supported their sports teams, musical productions and arts programs.

As their children became young adults, she and Michael moved a few blocks away into a home they had built. In the past few years, she played paddle tennis and mahjong. Lutin-Scott was an avid skier, scuba diver, tennis and paddle tennis player, hiker, photographer and traveler.

Donations can be made in Lutin-Scott’s memory to the Team Carrie — Carrie Strong Foundation by visiting givebox.com/1154.

For further information, email Michael B. Scott at mscott@narvidscott.com. 

Educator Emil (Uzi) Jacoby, 94

Emil Jacoby and Leonard Cohen on Grandparents’ Day at Temple Israel of Hollywood Day School on March 31, 2015. Photo courtesy of Jonathan Jacoby

Beloved local Jewish educator Emil (Uzi) Jacoby died on Feb. 15 in Los Angeles. He was 94.

Jacoby was born on Nov. 30, 1923, in Cop, Czechoslovakia. After his bar mitzvah, he went to study in yeshiva, first in Cop and then in Ungvar, which at the time was part of Hungary.

At 16, Jacoby left yeshiva and went to the Gymnasia in Ungvar. He graduated in 1943 and moved to Budapest, Hungary. There, he was trained to become a leader of the then-illegal Bnei Akiva religious Zionist youth movement. It was then he adopted a Hebrew nom de guerre — Menachem Uziel. From that day forward, he was known as Uzi.

During World War II, Uzi helped lead the efforts in Bucharest, Romania, and Budapest to rescue European Jews and bring them to Israel. After the war, Uzi was elected as Bnei Akiva’s director of operations in Hungary and served as the camp director at Lake Balaton’s summer camp. It was there that he met the greatest love of his life, Erika, a Holocaust survivor.

On Nov. 29, 1947, Uzi received his doctorate and also became engaged to Erika, almost a year after they met. It was also the day that the United Nations voted to partition Palestine into two states, one Jewish and the other Arab.

Shortly afterward, Uzi (now called Dr. Emil Jacoby) moved to Paris to work with Yosef Burg in the European office of the Mizrahi political movement. He visited Israel and in August 1949 traveled to New York City, where he reunited with Erika.

Settling in New York, Uzi taught at the Yeshiva University High School for Girls in Brooklyn while simultaneously completing two degrees at the Jewish Theological Seminary, as well as a master’s degree in mathematics at Columbia University’s Teachers College.

Uzi and Erika moved to Los Angeles in July 1953. From 1953 to 1956, Uzi was the director of education at Valley Jewish Community Center/Adat Ari El. From there, he went on to become the associate director, executive director and then accreditation consultant at the Bureau of Jewish Education of Greater Los Angeles (now called Builders of Jewish Education). He remained in that position until he retired in 2008.

Uzi also spent 10 summers as the education director for Camp Ramah and was an adjunct professor at the University of Judaism.

Uzi is survived by his wife, Erika, three children, 10 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren.

Holocaust Survivor Kalman Aron Dies

It is with profound sadness, that the world has lost another Holocaust survivor, Kalman Aron. Mr. Aron died in a hospice in Santa Monica, California, Feb 24th, with his son, David Aron, at his side.

I first met Kalman a little over a  year ago, at his humble home and painting studio in Beverly Hills. His spirit and personality were that of a much younger man than the 93-year-old gentleman that was in front of me.

He gave me an incredible tour of his modest home, and then gave me the history of a few of the hundreds of master artworks that were all over the apartment. I felt like I was getting a tour of a miniature Louvre. Every painting was a masterpiece;It was beyond impressive.

Our first meeting was a lovely time, as lovely, as a person could have. Kalman allowed me to film him for the first two hours, and gave me the rights to his life story. We then broke bread and spent time talking about his career and his time in seven Nazi concentration camps.

“I made it through the Holocaust with a pencil,” Kalman declared, with a Cheshire cat grin.

A  Nazi guard came before him with a machine gun, and he was able to draw an exact portrait of the guard in real time. The guard was so impressed that this was the beginning of a Kalman Aron seven Nazi concentration camp tour.

What makes Mr. Aron’s story so very different and unique than any other Holocaust story that one has heard, was that he was treated relatively well, during the entire four and one-half years he was interned.

“I would tell the Commandant or the guard I was painting, if I could just get a little more cheese and bread, I could paint much quicker,” he said with a smile. “This worked often,” says Kalman.

He then told me he was even able to get the Nazis guards to give him extra blankets.

“I had to always be thinking,” said Kalman.

The next time I would meet Kalman, I would bring a very special guest. Now that I had the rights to his life story, I began looking for partners and Executive Producers. I had met Norman Lear 10 years earlier, when he had written me a sizable check for my award-winning film, “Unbeaten.”

I called Norman up, and told him about this incredible man, and asked if he had time to meet him. Mr. Lear did not flinch. The meeting was set, and on a warm Tuesday morning in September 2017, I walked into Kalmans home with the greatest and kindest most iconic TV  producer in the history of Television.

When these two nonagenarian’s met, it was like they had known each other all of there lives. There was laughter. There were tears, and there was great admiration for one another as artists. There was also great profoundness as Norman was a B-17 gunner and radio man, and actually dropped bombs very close to where Kalman was interned. The Nazis could not kill Kalman, and neither could Norman Lear!

The next few months, I would have dinner and lunch with Kalman a few times, and I was very fortunate to be able to have NPR do a global story on him on the program, The World, with Marco Werman. Little did I know at the time, this would be my last time seeing Kalman.

In early January, Kalman took a fall, and would be admitted to Cedars. Always the fighter, he was released in a week, and was back home painting. A month later he would take a turn for the worse, and on Feb. 24th, the world lost one of its greatest  global citizens.

My time with Mr. Aron was brief, but very, very rich. He produced  thousands of paintings through out his long life, including portraits of Ronald Reagan, Henry Miller and Andre Previn, just to name a few. Kalman was the father of ‘”Psychological Realism”

Kalman brought love, joy and peace to all who knew him. Mr. Aron beat the Nazis with a pencil, and he strove for greatness in everything he did. Kalman Aron was a master painter, and very great man. Kalman personified all that is good in human kind. He will be missed.


Steven C Barber is a writer ,director and producer residing in Santa Monica, California. His work can be found at www.vanillafire.com.

Sharing My Father’s Words on the Afterlife

A little over a month ago, my father, Abraham Haimoff, lost his battle with cancer at the age of 73. My father had a strong love of Israel, which started when he was a teenager. In 1963, at the age of 17, he left his comfortable home in Iran to join the Israeli military. Over the next 30 years, as a dedicated soldier and commander, he survived many difficult battles and sustained war injuries. Throughout his life, he always stayed connected to Judaism. Soon after retiring from the Israeli military and moving to the United States, he started to dive deeper into the spiritual and religious studies of Judaism.

While sitting shivah at my parents’ home, we discovered in his library my father’s writings on Jewish philosophy, tradition and history. I was so moved by one of his writings on the afterlife that I decided to translate it and shared it at his memorial service. In his honor, I’d like to share it with our community:

The Torah speaks to the existence of the soul to eternity and being a separate entity from the body. As people, we may think that living 80 years in good health, comfort and wealth, with a peaceful death, is something to aspire to; however, such view of life may be limited. If we are aware of the existence of our soul, we realize that our existence continues into infinity. This world of “now” gives us an opportunity to do things that would ultimately lead and influence our “afterlife.” The deeper spiritual question is who is the one that creates a deeper connection with god? Who is happier, under the infinite life of the soul? The healthy person who lives a life of comfort and pleasure but yet without any spiritual connection to god vs. another person, who is poor, hungry and perhaps physically disabled, but yet with a rich and deep spiritual connection with god? Clearly, material possession represents an artificial and shallow view of the world as compared with a rich and deep spiritual connection with god.

So, what is life after death?

Our “afterlife” is the world of truth and transparency.

When a person passes away from this world and his soul or spirit arrives to the heavens, he may be faced with the first film, titled “This Is Your Life,” which would include every thought, every action, whether good or bad, intimate moments and every detail, which are passed before his eyes. Our “afterlife” is the world of truth and transparency. As we reflect on our actions in life, we quickly realize that hell may be a place where all of our sins are revealed to all in pain and shame. Then, the second film, titled “How It Could Have Been” is shown, and focuses on how life could have been, had a person made the right decisions in his life and fulfilled his potential. The second film reflects the missed opportunities and the resulting sorrow to the soul because of the mistakes made by a person. The second film helps to purify the soul through the feeling of pain and regret and breaks down the barriers that caused the bad deeds and the wrong decisions made during a person’s life, allowing, then, the soul to connect with god. Not all souls require the purification process. Still, other wicked souls, like the one of the Pharaoh from biblical times, who enslaved the Hebrews, do not even get the privilege of going to hell.

So what about heaven?

This is the highest privilege for the soul, allowing the closeness to god.  However, the depth of the closeness and experience with god would heavily depend on the preparation of the soul well in advance. While the “afterlife” is not clearly articulated in the Torah, we should look to our actions and deeds, and aspire to live a life of “Torat Emet,” where we look to our morals, virtues and values based on our tradition to get ourselves ready for the “afterlife.”

Remembering Shelley Berman

Danny Lobell and Shelley Berman

The music blared as friends and family gathered around to welcome my bride and me. As we walked from the yichud room to the social hall, someone joined my side: an old man. He was not my grandfather, as most of the guests thought. He was the legendary comedian Shelley Berman.

Although he was 90 years old, Berman was keeping up with everyone, dancing to the loud Israeli music with his cane up in the air, and smiling from ear to ear. He was the life of the party on the dance floor.

I first met Berman in 2014, when I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to interview him on my podcast. After the interview, Berman and his wife, Sarah,  invited my wife and me to look at Berman’s impressive knife collection and have some tea. We talked about how Sarah converted to Judaism, and how my wife, Kylie Ora Lobell, was in the process of doing the same. It turned out, in fact, that we all had a lot in common, and an instant friendship was born.

As a new couple in Los Angeles looking for another couple to hang out with, we had finally found our match. It just so happened that they were a few years older than we were.

They told us to stay in touch and we did. We drove up to Shelley and Sarah Berman’s house a few more times for lunch and became a fixture at their holiday party every Hanukkah. When Kylie and I got married in the summer of 2015, Sarah and Shelley Berman were there with their daughter, Rachel, celebrating with us.

The following Rosh Hashanah, Shelley Berman came to our festive meal along with his daughter and two grandsons. He had us all laughing throughout the holiday. He showed us how he ate pomegranates by first rolling them against the table to loosen the skin and then just biting into them. He said that nothing made him happier than a good pomegranate on Rosh Hashanah.

In fact, Rosh Hashanah was one of Shelley’s favorite days of the year, so much so that he had written a poem about the sounding of the shofar is his book “To Laughter With Questions: Poetry by Shelley Berman.”

The next time I was to hear this poem was sadly at Berman’s funeral; he died in Southern California on Sept. 1, 2017, at 92. The Chabad rabbi presiding over the funeral read it aloud, because it had been a gift to him from Berman, and Rosh Hashanah was only a few weeks away.

On Jan. 30, 2018, droves of people, including Kylie and me, went to the Comedy & Magic Club in Hermosa Beach to celebrate Berman’s life and career with a memorial service. We heard from his contemporaries, friends and family, such as the host of the event, comedian Lewis Black, comedian George Carlin’s daughter, Kelly Carlin, producer and writer Alan Zweibel, and comedians Laraine Newman and Fred Willard, who brought down the house with a story about the two of them grand marshaling a Hollywood parade. In attendance were many of Berman’s co-stars, including actors Larry David and Cheryl Hines, and comedians who wanted to pay their respects. Sarah Berman closed the afternoon by talking about their loving 70-year relationship.

Most people will remember Shelley Berman for his work on the comedy series “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” on which he portrayed Larry David’s father, Nat David. Or perhaps the older generation will remember his many television performances and famous telephone routine. Maybe he will be remembered for being the first comedian to win a Grammy for a comedy album, his 1959 work “Inside Shelley Berman,” and for changing the face of stand-up comedy.

I will remember him for being a mensch and a great friend.


Danny Lobell is a stand-up comedian.

Philanthropist Ruth Ziegler dies at 98

Screenshot from Facebook

Ruth Ziegler, for decades a leading philanthropist supporting Jewish institutions in the United States and Israel, died of natural causes on Feb. 4 at Saint John’s hospital in Santa Monica. She was 98.

A public service honoring her lifetime achievements was scheduled for Feb. 6 at 3 p.m. at the Mount Sinai Memorial Cemetery Hollywood Hills, 5950 Forest Lawn Drive, followed by a private interment. On the same day at 5 p.m., American Jewish University (AJU) at 15600 Mulholland Drive was set to host a minyan service.

Ziegler grew up in St, Joseph, Mo., the only child of a Reform rabbi, but in her late teens she moved to Los Angeles, initially intent on an acting career and joining the Pasadena Playhouse. She subsequently enrolled and graduated from USC, where she met Allen Ziegler, then a USC law student.

After Allen’s Navy service during World War II, he and Ruth married. He became head of Westco Products baking supplies and set the family standard for open-handed philanthropy, continued and extended by his wife after his death.

Among the Zieglers notable beneficiaries are the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies at AJU, Sinai Temple, City of Hope, Venice Family Clinic, Washington Institute for Near East Policy and the Center for Jewish Education at the University of Haifa in Israel. As word of Ruth Ziegler’s death spread, tributes to her personality and generosity arrived at the Jewish Journal.

Excerpts from some of the tributes include one by AJU President Robert Wexler. He recalled that in the mid-1990s, when trying to establish the university’s School of Rabbinic Studies, Ziegler called him on her own initiative and asked how much money would be needed to transform the vision into reality.

Wexler did some quick calculations and came up with a $19 million figure. A few days later, Ziegler called again to say that she didn’t have that sum on hand, but asked Wexler if he would agree to $22 million, spread over a 10-year period. The AJU president agreed. Sinai Temple Max Webb Senior Rabbi David Wolpe, currently traveling in Asia, sent an email, which read in part: “Yankee Stadium used to be called ‘The House that Ruth Built.’ Sinai Temple could be called the same — the house that Ruth built. She and Allen gave an immeasurable amount to our community. …  Ruth Ziegler loved dogs, the writer Brian Morton, the actress Frances McDormand, the theater, social justice, Judaism, her family and friends. She hated self-righteousness, unkindness and hypocrisy. … She gave so much to so many; she was
indeed a great lady with a great heart. May her memory be a blessing.”

Friends wishing to honor her memory through a donation to Sinai Temple
are asked to email www.member.sinaitemple.org/donate.

Spokesman Timothy Smith noted that “Ruth Ziegler was a central figure in the history of the Venice Family Clinic [VFC]. For more than 30 years, she expressed her love of helping people by saying ‘yes’ to nearly every request VFC made of her.

“This included funding for the clinic’s pediatric services, support for its Common Ground program for people living with HIV, and the Ruth Ziegler and Jack Skirball Dental Clinic, which has provided the first affordable dental service for many local families.”

Bailey London, the Allen & Ruth Ziegler Executive Director of the USC Hillel Foundation, wrote that “Ruth Ziegler’s impact on Jewish campus life … has touched thousands of students’ lives and will do so for generations to come.

“Her investment in the strengthening of our organization has resulted in the growth and flourishing community for Jewish students on our campus. Mrs. Ziegler stands as a model for community engagement and leaves a lasting impact on our Jewish Trojan community.

Rabbi Grossman Killed in Accident

Rabbi Grossman, 71

Rabbi David Grossman, one of the Los Angeles Jewish community’s best-known and longest-serving Torah teachers, was killed in an auto accident Monday morning in Staten Island in New York City.

According to preliminary information from New York police investigators, the crash was reported about 4 a.m. Rabbi Grossman was driving northbound on the West Shore Expressway near Victory Boulevard when he stopped in the roadway for reasons still unknown. His car was rear ended by another vehicle that remained on the scene. He was transported to Richmond University Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.

With a career spanning more than 40 years in Los Angeles, Rabbi Grossman was leading a variety of classes at LINK, in the Pico-Robertson neighborhood, at the time of his death.

His funeral was scheduled for Monday evening in Lakewood, NJ.

A founding member of the Lakewood Kollel branch in Los Angeles in 1975, under the late Rabbi Chaim Fasman, Rabbi Grossman helped start Yeshiva Gedolah in LaBrea in 1981. He served as the 12th grade lecturer in advanced Talmudic studies until 2008.

Concurrently, he opened a Torah program for working young adults and college students, independent of the yeshiva.

Rabbi Grossman recently opened up a morning yeshiva for young men who are working or going to college part-time. He recorded thousands of tapes and CDs on every page of the oral Torah and many areas of Torah.

Recently, he started teaching the second half of Rabbi Asher Brander’s late Thursday night class on the Torah portion of the week.

A LINK spokesperson said that in his classes, Rabbi Grossman “exuded his customary warmth and love for every talmid (student). The loss to his family and to our community is incalculable.”

While learning in Israel in his earlier years, the rabbi met his wife, Rachel. She was the principal of Valley Torah High School’s girls division in Valley Village for many years.

Rabbi Grossman’s survivors include his children, Mrs. Sara Fisher, Mrs. Tzippy Rokowsky, Mrs. Efrat Privalsky, Meir, Avi, Binyomin, Moshe and Chaim.

Remembering Mr. Benscher

Two years ago I was standing in synagogue, saying the Shacharit Amidah, when I saw an old man being wheeled in on the other side of the mechitza. He didn’t look familiar, but it was refreshing to see an older person coming to our shul.

I’m a shy person, so it took me a few months to say more than “Shabbat Shalom” and start up a conversation with this man. One day, my husband Danny Lobell and I walked over to the man, who was sitting at a table in the corner at Kiddush, sipping on a glass of water, and introduced ourselves.

“Hi, we’re the Lobells,” we said. The man didn’t respond. I was sure he didn’t hear us. We sat down anyway.

Then, after a moment, the man looked up at us. “Jerry Benscher, nice to meet you. Would you mind, please, to get me a real drink?” he said, eyeing the bottle of Jack Daniel’s on the next table. Danny laughed. “Sure.”

On Feb. 1, Jerry – or Mr. Benscher as the community called him – passed away at the age of 85. Though he’d been in poor health ever since I first saw him in shul, he never seemed to let it catch up to him. Sometimes he would have uncontrollable bouts of coughing, or he’d need to be wheeled around with an oxygen tank. I would get worried when I’d hear him coughing on the men’s side of the mechitza that he wasn’t doing well that day. I’d have the incorrect assumption that if his physical health was going downhill, so was his mental health.

By the time we made it to Kiddush again every week, though, Mr. Benscher, a Holocaust survivor, would be cracking jokes, giving sweets out to all the little children and sipping on some whiskey.

Overtime, Danny and I came to know Mr. Benscher outside of shul too. Our friend and his friend, Eva Becker, would take him around town for fun, always posting pictures of him at the Santa Monica Pier or hanging out with his family. A few times, he came to Danny’s monthly comedy show at the Hollywood Improv, Bookshelf. He said, after the first show, “The other comedians were too filthy! But I loved you, Danny.”

Mr. Benscher and Eva were there to support Danny at his one-man show in the Hollywood Fringe last year. They came to a 10 p.m. show on a Thursday night, when many of our younger friends said they couldn’t make it, sat in the front row and laughed audibly throughout the evening. Mr. Benscher said he had the greatest time.

Mr. Benscher always livened up a Shabbat meal, too. When we’d have Friday night dinner with him and Eva at Rabbi Elchanan Shoff’s home, he’d never fail to get the whole table cracking up. One time, Danny said, “Mr. Benscher, you are pretty much my best friend.” There was a long pause. Then: “Pretty much, Danny? Just pretty much?”

Five days before Mr. Benscher passed, Eva held an 85th birthday party for him at the rehabilitation facility where he lived. I didn’t know what to expect before we went. Would it be a sweet little gathering? Would it be kind of depressing, simply because nursing homes always are?

When Danny and I walked into the communal eating area, it was filled with people. There were at least 60 men, women and children chatting, munching on pizza and birthday cake and giving Mr. Benscher well wishes. He was at the front of the room, wearing an oxygen mask and unable to talk. But balloons surrounded him, and a violinist, pianist and guitar player sang Jewish melodies for him. Danny approached him to tell him a few jokes, and he grabbed onto Danny’s arm in acknowledgment that he was pleased.

The nursing home had come alive for Mr. Benscher. Danny and I and everyone else there had a blast. You could tell he was loved.

This Shabbat, I plan to drink a little bit of whiskey in honor of Mr. Benscher. I’ll toast to his joyous attitude, his zest for life, his sense of humor and his unwillingness to let sickness stop him. Even though he’s gone, I know he’s up there, somewhere in the sky, cracking jokes with the angels and bringing a bright, happy light with him wherever he goes.

Joe Frank, Radio Host and Producer, 79

Joe Frank, the acclaimed radio host and producer who created darkly comedic and philosophical narratives, died on Jan. 15 in Beverly Hills. He was 79.

Frank explored existential, spiritual and sexual themes in scripted monologues — delivered in a resonant monotone over hypnotic repeating music loops — and improvised dramatic scenes with actors.

He recorded more than 230 hours of programs for National Public Radio (NPR) and Santa Monica public radio station KCRW, and earned Peabody and Emmy awards. Stations around the country aired his boundary-pushing work. Public radio’s biggest producers, including Ira Glass, creator and host of “This American Life,” cite him as a major influence.

“He would give the actors plot points and then they would perform it over and over with him directing them,” said Glass, who worked as a production assistant for Frank in the early 1980s. “And then he himself would sit in the edit room and edit the reel-to-reel tape … and what came out of it was something that didn’t feel like radio drama but felt way more cinematic and way more alive.”

Frank was born Joseph Langermann in Strasbourg, France, in 1938. He was 1 year old when his Polish father and Austrian mother fled Nazi Germany and moved to New York. His father, a successful shoe manufacturer, died when Joe was 5.

Death was a regular theme in Frank’s work (he once called it “the shadow that hangs over me”) because he was seriously ill for much of his life. He was born with clubbed feet, for which he underwent a number of corrective surgeries and wore leg braces as a child. He was treated for severe scoliosis and kidney failure, and survived cancer three times.

“It made him more ferocious to get his work done,” said Ariana Morgenstern, a longtime KCRW staffer who had a close relationship with Frank. “His body didn’t matter to him. It was his mind that was really important to him.”

Frank died from complications after surgery for colon cancer. Michal Story, Frank’s wife and only surviving family member, chronicled Frank’s final two years of illness on a GoFundMe page that raised more than $124,000 for his medical expenses.

Jewish themes also were prevalent in his work, and his darkly absurd scenes evoked a particularly Jewish form of gallows humor.

In 1995’s “Prayer,” Frank attends the funeral of his Uncle Murray. A rabbi delivers a grandiose eulogy, while Frank remembers the man’s many flaws (“He had breath that could peel paint and pants that he would belt under the armpits.”) We later hear Murray’s wife interrupt the service to berate her dead husband and engage in a screaming match with the rabbi.

In 2000’s “Bad Karma,” Frank attends a dinner party with famous mass murderers, among them Adolf Hitler, who becomes emotional as he describes his favorite book, “Goodnight Moon.”

The spellbinding 2012 program “Dreamers” unfolds through the surreal nightmares of a young Arab suicide bomber, an ultra-Orthodox American who joined the Israeli army and renounced God, and a Christian pastor on his first trip to the Holy Land.

And in 2013’s “A Hollywood True Story,” a screenwriter finds himself at a Buddhist meditation retreat at Auschwitz in an attempt to advance his career in Hollywood.

While radio was his storytelling medium of choice, Frank had a literary pedigree. He studied at the Iowa Writers Workshop and taught literature and philosophy at Dalton, an elite Manhattan day school, for a decade.

He began his radio career in 1976 at WBAI in New York with experimental, free-form stories. Two years later, he was hired to co-host “Weekend All Things Considered” at NPR, and ended each hour with a provocative five-minute monologue that humorist and former KCRW host Harry Shearer described as “like a fist coming out of your radio.” Only three months later, Frank switched to producing radio dramas for NPR.

In 1986, Ruth Seymour, KCRW’s then-general manager, offered him a Saturday night radio show and he relocated to Los Angeles, quickly earning a cult following among listeners.

In an interview with Terry Gross on “Fresh Air” in 1989, Frank explained that creating radio programs helped him transcend his fears and insecurities.

“Whatever tragedies might befall you, you can always right away think, well, that would make a great story for radio … so that it was easier to experience whatever suffering that came my way,” he said.

Rabbi Neil Gillman, Theologian and Teacher

Screenshot from Twitter.

Two generations of students at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America (JTS) are mourning the passing on Nov. 24 of a challenging and beloved teacher, Rabbi Neil Gillman.

Beginning with his arrival from Montreal in the mid-1950s, Gillman was a commanding presence in the seminary community for over half a century. He was ordained by JTS in 1960 and earned his doctorate in philosophy from Columbia University in 1975.

He served as dean of the JTS Rabbinical School in the 1970s, during a period of transition when JTS debated women’s ordination, which it initiated in 1985. He was an early advocate for egalitarianism, and continued to teach and model an inclusive vision of Jewish thought and practice throughout his life.

Gillman also was a historian of JTS and Conservative Judaism, publishing a volume on the topic in 1993 and working with a committee to articulate the philosophy of Conservative Judaism in the 1988 volume “Emet V’Emunah.” He also wrote several volumes on how to define and justify belief in God through radical questions and sound philosophical considerations. His 1997 book, “The Death of Death,” examined Jewish beliefs about life after death.

You did not have to be an academic to understand his books. Gillman was forever the teacher in his writing, explaining difficult concepts in clear, down-to-earth language.

Gillman’s students will remember him most for the way he challenged them to think deeply about Jewish beliefs and practices and to create a Jewish theology of their own. They didn’t mind when he pointed out weaknesses in the way they were thinking because they knew that he cared deeply for them.

They also will remember lovingly the shock that Gillman evinced when a student said something that he found questionable or downright wrong — and how he would then prod the student into defending his or her particular belief rather than abandoning it. Gillman single-handedly transformed the education of future rabbis, educators and lay leaders from a passive study of other people’s thought into an exciting and significant struggle with one’s own. He did so with warmth, humor, wide erudition, analytic precision and genuine concern for his students.

I first met Neil Gillman at Camp Ramah in Wisconsin, where he taught me how to chant Eikhah, the Book of Lamentations, when I was 13. A year later, his wife, Sarah, taught me the first midrashic texts that I had ever seen.

Gillman later played a critical role in my life, persuading me to accept a fellowship and study for a doctorate in philosophy at Columbia while I was in rabbinical school at JTS.

He challenged them to think deeply about Jewish beliefs.

Subsequently, because we shared a deep love of both Judaism and of the philosophical questions that could either undermine it entirely or strengthen it significantly, we became frequent intellectual sparring partners, and I shall miss that immensely. One example: When I was working on the second edition of my book “Conservative Judaism: Our Ancestors to Our Descendants,” he and I spent many long-distance phone calls debating Abraham Joshua Heschel’s theology of revelation. As a result, I changed the way I categorized Heschel’s approach in the book — although, to this day, I’m not sure that Gillman was right about that!

We both wrote books on religious epistemology — the question of how we can know that our religious beliefs are true. Mine emerged directly from the world of analytic philosophy, while his included the insights of scholars of religious anthropology. It is through him that all of his readers, including me, learned to appreciate the role of religious stories (“myths”) and ritual practices in shaping what one believes and trusts.

We loved critiquing each other’s work, often with playful expressions of surprise that the other person could say or write such a thing.

We all will make Rabbi Gillman’s memory a blessing if we follow his lead in so deeply caring for one another and for our Jewish heritage that we are not afraid to question both, thus making our relationships and our Judaism truly matters of all our heart, all our soul and all our might.


Rabbi Elliot N. Dorff is rector and Sol & Anne Dorff Distinguished Service Professor in Philosophy at American Jewish University.

Marilyn Hall, actress, writer, producer, philanthropist and wife of Monty Hall, dies at 90

Marilyn Hall. Photo courtesy of the Hall family.

Marilyn Hall, an actress, writer, producer, philanthropist and wife of producer and game show host Monty Hall, died June 5 at age 90.

Hall was born Marilyn Plottel on May 17, 1927, in Winnipeg, Canada. She began her career as a writer and radio ingénue for the Canadian Broadcasting Corp., writing radio dramas, as well. Hall also taught writing focused on children’s programming at Queen’s University at Kingston in Ontario.

After moving to New York with her husband, she became a published songwriter. Her song “Is It Possible That I’ve Been Gone So Long,” co-written with Helen Bilby, was recorded by famed cabaret singer Hildegarde.

Hall supported Brandeis University, the United Jewish Welfare Fund and Tel Aviv University, for which she made several documentary films. In 1972, she won an award for best documentary campaign film for “A Fragile Sleep.” Hall volunteered to write for several charities and developed programs for the Julia Ann Singer Child Care Center, Guardians of Courage, Israel Bonds, Tel Aviv University, the Jewish Home for the Aging, and particularly for Variety Clubs International, where she served as a board member while also writing and producing its International Humanitarian Award event.

Her television writing credits included “Love, American Style” and the ABC special “Lights, Camera, Monty.”

She was the executive producer of the four-part miniseries for PBS/NHK titled “The Ginger Tree”(1989), written by Christopher Hampton; associate producer of the Emmy-winning TV movie “A Woman Called Golda,” starring Ingrid Bergman and Leonard Nimoy (1982); co-executive producer of “Do You Remember Love?” an Emmy-winning TV movie starring Joanne Woodward and Richard Kiley; and associate producer of “Nadia,” a TV movie about Olympic gymnastics champion Nadia Comaneci (1984). She executive produced the 2007 feature film “The Little Traitor,” starring Alfred Molina, based on the novel “Panther in the Basement” by Amos Oz.

Hall co-wrote “The Celebrity Kosher Cookbook,” and her book reviews appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

She earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Toronto and a master’s of fine arts from UCLA, at age 50.

She is survived by her husband of 70 years, Monty; children Joanna Gleason (Chris Sarandon), Richard Hall and Sharon Hall (Todd Ellis Kessler); five grandchildren; and sister Peggy Cooper.

In lieu of flowers, donations in her honor can be made to the Los Angeles Jewish Home (lajh.org) or Variety Clubs International, a children’s charity.

 

 

 

Curt Lowens, Holocaust survivor, actor, 91

Photo from Pexels

Curt Lowens. Photo by David Miller

In the final days of his life, Curt Lowens, Sharon Farber and I sang a song that Curt recalled often during his hospital stay. His voice became a soft melodic whisper, sharing a fragment of a song that held the three of us close to heart. From the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical “Carousel,” he sang gently :

When you walk through a storm, hold your head up high, and don’t be afraid of the dark….walk on, walk on….”

Now, more than a week since Curt’s passing on May 8 at age 91, these words remind me of the strength and courage with which he lived his life and faced its ending. 

Born in what is now Olsztyn, Poland, in 1925 as Kurt Loewenstein, he was an actor, Holocaust survivor, hero, resistance man on the ground when only a boy, British officer, son, husband, brother, uncle, friend, artist, and man of culture and the arts. 

I met Curt in late 2011 at the start of  The Righteous Conversations Project, which connects teens and young adults to Holocaust survivors through oral histories that inspire collaborative art projects, photography and filmmaking. Marie Kaufman, then-president of the Child Survivors of the Holocaust, made the shidduch, saying he was a special person with an adventurous spirit who would contribute to our nascent venture. It was our hope to build community between the rising generation of young women and men and our elders who had survived the Shoah and had so much to teach.

Curt was open from the start and participated in our filmmaking programs with a zest that grew from his lifetime in film, television and theater. He was beloved by his teachers and students, and he brought a wry wit, grace and elegance to every interaction.

He eschewed modern technology in favor of conversation and engagement, sharing his stories of a childhood in Germany interrupted by the Nazi reign, the serendipity that led him to hiding, his efforts with three resistance workers tending more than 100 children in hiding across the Netherlands, and his saving two American servicemen whose plane was shot down.

Curt was beloved in the community of organizations dedicated to preserving Holocaust memory and he contributed to all of them, with a special connection to the Rodgers Center at Chapman University, to which he entrusted  precious artifacts of his history. His voice and presence animated the work at the USC Shoah Foundation, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust, Remember Us, the Righteous Conversations Project and Yad Vashem. The history he shared stands as a testament to a life of sacrifice, risk, ingenuity and, above all, moral clarity.

But it was his life in the arts that captured his heart, the life he chose after he left business school, much to his father’s chagrin. As a student in New York City, Curt met his wife, actress Katherine Guilford, and they spent almost 50 years together until her death last December.

He made his acting debut in 1951, in a Broadway performance of “Stalag 17,” in which he played a Nazi guard. In the 1963 Broadway version of “The Deputy,” he played Dr. Josef Mengele. He has 125 movie and television acting credits, according to IMDb.

Curt was a graceful man who lived modestly and with dignity in an apartment that evoked the contours of a cultured European life. He is survived by his older brother Henry, as well as an extended family of nieces and nephews, and great-nieces and nephews.

A private funeral service will be held in early June in accordance with Curt’s wishes. A public memorial service is being planned under the direction of Sharon Farber. The family is requesting donations in his memory be sent to Remember Us, 1112 Montana Ave., Santa Monica, Calif., 90403. 


SAMARA HUTMAN is co-founder and director of The Righteous Conversations Project.

Trish Vradenburg, TV writer who put spotlight on Alzheimer’s, 70

Trish Vradenburg. Photo courtesy of UsAgainstAlzheimer’s.

Trish Vradenburg. Photo courtesy of UsAgainstAlzheimer’s.

Trish Vradenburg, a television writer and advocate to end Alzheimer’s disease, died on April 17. She was 70.

A spokesperson for the family declined to disclose the cause of death, but in a phone interview, her husband, George, chairman and founding board member of UsAgainstAlzheimer’s, described his wife’s death as “sudden.”

Vradenburg and her husband co-founded UsAgainstAlzheimer’s, which aims to increase funding for Alzheimer’s research and discover a cure by 2020 for the progressive disease, a type of dementia, after her mother, Bea Lerner, died of Alzheimer’s in 1992. Vradenburg wrote a semi-autobiographical play about her mother, “Surviving Grace,” about a sitcom writer and her mom battling Alzheimer’s together.

Vradenburg was born Patricia Ann Lerner on May 9, 1946, in Newark, N.J. She began her career as a speechwriter in the U.S. Senate after graduating from Boston University, where she studied political science, in 1986. She was a television writer for “Designing Women,” “Family Ties” and “Kate & Allie”; published the novel “Liberated Lady”; and wrote for the New York Daily News, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, Ladies’ Home Journal and Woman’s Day.

Judaism was important to Vradenburg, though she was a secular Jew. “She identified deeply with being Jewish and [I] converted to Judaism because she felt so deeply about her religion,” George, a former AOL executive, said. “I found this great depth in this community and purposefulness in the community.”

The couple resided in Washington, D.C., at the time of her death. They lived in Los Angeles and moved to Washington after George was offered a job with AOL. The two were married for 48 years at the time of Vradenburg’s death.

“A piece of light in the universe has gone out,” George said. “There is a brightness that will be dimmed.”

Her survivors include her husband, George; daughter Alissa Vradenburg and son-in-law Michael Sheresky; son Tyler Vradenburg and daughter-in-law Jeannine Cacioppe Vradenburg; brother Rabbi Michael Lerner and sister-in-law Cat Zavis; and four grandchildren.

A private funeral service was held April 20 in Los Angeles at Hillside Memorial Park and Mortuary. Lerner and Temple Israel of Hollywood Rabbi John Rosove led the service. A public memorial service in Washington is scheduled for May 9.

Obituaries, March 10-March 23

Daniel Aflalo died March 10 at 73. Survived by wife Nivia; daughter Sabrina (Juan Morales); sisters Paulette Green, Alyse (Jay) Roen; brothers Sidney (Marcel), Gabriel (Chantal); sister-in-law Nelda (Sheldon) Arak. Mount Sinai

Doris Frackman died March 23 at 97. Survived by daughter Susan (Janis Eells); son Russell (Myrna Morganstern); 3 grandchildren; brother Irving Wasserberg. Pacific View

Patricia Haley died March 23 at 75. Survived by daughter Barbara Hibbits; 2 grandchildren; 3 great-grandchildren. Mount Sinai

Beverly June Rubin died March 18 at 87. Survived by husband Saul; sons Michael, Donn; 2 grandchildren. Mount Sinai

Ida Selko died March 20 at 106. Survived by 6 grandchildren; 6 great-grandchildren. Mount Sinai

Bernard Vallens died March 22 at 92. Survived by wife Shirley; daughters Nita, Terry (Dave) Norton, Melinda; son Michael; 3 grandchildren; 1 great-grandchild; sister Ida Mays; brother David (Harriet). Mount Sinai

Arline Zuckerman died March 15 at 76. Survived by brother Ira (Marion) Rosenberg. Mount Sinai 

Adam Krief, whose battle with cancer united community and attracted celebrities, dies at 32

Adam Krief with his wife, Lia Mantel Krief. Photo courtesy of Hope4Adam/Facebook.

Adam Krief, the cancer-stricken Jewish man from West Los Angeles whose search for a bone marrow transplant rallied the community and gained the notice of international celebrities, died on March 14. He was 32.

Donor drives to find a match for the father of three young children were held all over the United States and in France, Israel and Mexico. Several matches resulted and Krief underwent a bone marrow transplant in December. But in a tragic turn of events, his body rejected the transplant and his condition deteriorated quickly, according to Jeremy Braun, a family friend.

Braun, who went to college with Krief’s wife, Lia, said he grew much closer to Adam over the last year. He said that even in his dying days, Adam was focused on the impact his story could have on others.

“He said that Hashem gave him this to save other people’s lives,” Braun said. “That was consistent throughout. He never wanted people to be in the [national bone marrow] registry just of his sake. The drives organized for him have found matches for at least 13 others and has saved lives.”

Last summer, Krief began chemotherapy to treat a rare form of blood cancer called primary myelofibrosis. To save his life, he needed a bone marrow transplant but there wasn’t a single match in the national bone marrow registry’s 13-million person database.

A “Hope4Adam” Instagram account and Facebook page with more than 13,000 “likes” documenting his story got the word out. “Big Bang Theory” actress Mayim Bialik and reality television star Kim Kardashian West were among those who helped publicize a search for a matching donor, encouraging people on their social media accounts to join the registry and become donors.

Braun, his wife Michal and other community members rallied behind the Krief family as well. Many relatives, friends and neighbors signed up to become bone marrow donors and created a “hot meal train,” signing up and taking shifts to deliver food to the Krief household. Late night prayer sessions were arranged at the Krief’s Fairfax-area synagogue, Baba Sale Congregation.

Bikur Cholim, a Jewish medical charity organization, provided platelet donors for Adam when his hospital ran low. Platelets are tiny cells in blood that form clots and stop bleeding, and they’re often critical to fighting cancer.

People dropped by the hospital to visit Adam to play guitar and sing Havdalah songs after Shabbat. Jews from around the globe captivated by Adam’s story flooded the Kriefs with pictures, prayers and videos with words of encouragement.

“It’s been really special and takes away from feelings of isolation and aloneness,” Adam’s wife Lia said for a December story in the Journal. She also called those who helped out in any way her family’s “vigilantes” and “knights in shining armor.”

Braun said he told Adam how much his courage has meant to the community when he visited the hospital on Sunday to say goodbye to his friend.

“I told him, on behalf of entire world, I want to say thank you for inspiring us and making us better people,” he said. “Thank you for making us do good for other people. Thank you for changing the world. I told him you have my commitment that this isn’t over. We’ll continue to do blood drives for people who need it.”

Braun said so far donor drives held on behalf of Adam — an avid basketball fan, skateboarder and snowboarder—have resulted in more than 60,000 new bone marrow donors to the national registry.

“He was this young, vibrant guy and his life was turned around and taken from him in one quick year,” he said.

Krief is survived by his wife, Lia, and their three children, Lev, Joel and Luca. Services were scheduled to be held March 15.

Harriet Rochlin, noted historian, 92

rochelinHarriet Rochlin, a noted writer and historian sometimes called the “Mother of Western Jewish History,” died Feb. 6 at her home in Westwood. She was 92.

The youngest of three children, she was born Nov. 4, 1924, and raised in the diverse East Los Angeles neighborhood of Boyle Heights. During the first 20 years of her life, she was immersed in its foods, languages and multicultural social character.

Without a scholarship or financial assistance from her parents, she left home at age 20 and put herself through college at UC Berkeley, earning a bachelor’s degree in Hispanic Studies. It was there she met Fred Rochlin, her future husband.

Between raising their four children, Harriet Rochlin began a career as a journalist and novelist. She spoke four languages: Spanish, Portuguese, English and Yiddish.

In the early 1960s, inspired by the emerging ethnic history movement, she delved into her past as a woman, Jew and Westerner. Her pursuit soon launched a quest for Jewish roots in the Spanish, Mexican and American West, and ultimately resulted in “Pioneer Jews: A New Life in the Far West,” a landmark social history co-authored with Fred, first published in 1984, reprinted more than a dozen times and frequently used as source material, notably by David Milch in creating his HBO series “Deadwood.”

Rochlin next wrote the fictional “Desert Dwellers Trilogy”: “The Reformer’s Apprentice: A Novel of Old San Francisco,” “The First Lady of Dos Cacahuates” and “On Her Way Home.”

She also amassed two Western Jewish collections — one historical, the other photographic — both now housed at UCLA’s Charles E. Young Research Library.

She then instituted the first comprehensive guide to Western Jewish historical societies, museums and archives, The Rochlin Guide, which can be found online at rochlin-roots-west.com. She was 90 when she completed her final book, “A Mixed Chorus: Jewish Women in the American West, 1849 to 1924.”

Rochlin is survived by daughters Judith (Mitch Fink), Davida (Fred Marcus) and Margy Rochlin (Robert Abele); son Michael J. Rochlin; three grandchildren; and sister Charlotte Ginne.

She was predeceased by husband Fred in 2002. They were married for 55 years.

Donations in Harriet’s memory can be made to the Harriet Rochlin Memorial Education Scholarship at lightbringerproject.org. The annual scholarship will benefit a graduating senior from her alma mater, Roosevelt High School.

‘People’s Court’ star Judge Joseph Wapner, 97

Judge Joseph A. Wapner, former host of the television series "The People's Court" poses with Graumans Chinese theater in background before ceremonies unveiling his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Nov. 12, 2009. Photo by Fred Prouser/REUTERS.

Joseph Albert Wapner, star of “The People’s Court” and the man who many would judge to be television’s first reality star, died Feb. 26 at his home in Los Angeles. He was 97.

His son David told The Associated Press that the retired Los Angeles judge died in his sleep after being hospitalized a week earlier with breathing problems and that he had been under hospice care at home.

Wapner was born in Los Angeles in 1919 into an Orthodox family, the son of immigrants from Eastern Europe; graduated from Hollywood High School (where he dated future movie star Lana Turner) in 1937; and earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from USC in 1941.

During World War II, he served in the Army in the Pacific theater and was wounded by sniper fire in the Philippines. He later received a Purple Heart and Bronze Star.

In 1948, he earned a law degree from USC and during a break in his studies, met petite Mickey Nebenzahl, a Texas native, on a blind date. Abandoning his usual sober deliberations, Wapner became engaged and married Mickey within two months of their first meeting.

Professionally, he went on to private practice until being appointed by California Gov. Edmund G. Brown as an L.A. municipal court judge in 1959. In 1961, he was selected to preside over the Superior Court system. He served for 18 years and retired in 1979.

Among the Jewish causes closest to the hearts of Joe and Mickey Wapner was the Brandeis-Bardin Institute (BBI) in Simi Valley. The couple was among the institute’s founding members and made a large donation to renovate and expand its library.

In 1992, Wapner was elected as BBI’s president and in 2007 initiated its merger with the University of Judaism (now American Jewish University). His involvement with BBI could be found in his childhood roots, or, as he put it, “Since I was a little kid, Judaism has meant a great deal to me and I am very proud to be a Jew.”

Colleagues who knew Wapner as judge and fellow officers at BBI used almost identical words to describe the character of the man: judicious, steady, fair, penetrating, principled, humane. Also, when the occasion warranted it, tough, demanding, a mite testy in the face of bootless arguments and, at times, intimidating. These characteristics carried over into his tennis game, in which he was a ranked senior player.

One of his most famous cases took place during his final year on the bench, when he presided over the divorce trial of Jack Kent Cooke, former owner of the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Kings and other sports franchises, and Cooke’s first wife, Jeannie Carnegie. The $49 million settlement set a world record.

Wapner didn’t settle into a leisurely retirement. In 1981, according to The New York Times, television producer Ralph Edwards (of “This Is Your Life” and “Truth or Consequences” fame) approached him to wield the gavel on a new show inspired by “Divorce Court” but involving real-life litigants and actual cases. This he did until 1993, handing down small claims rulings on 2,484 cases involving issues as varied as female oil wrestlers who didn’t follow the rules to siding with a defendant who refused to pay a reward offered for return of her dog when the missing pet’s remains were delivered.

“Everything on the show is real,” Wapner said in an interview with The Associated Press in 1986. “There’s no script, no rehearsal, no retakes. Everything from beginning to end is like a real courtroom, and I personally consider each case as a trial.”

He was memorialized in the 1988 film “Rain Man” by Dustin Hoffman’s character counting down the “minutes to Wapner” to ensure that Tom Cruise’s character would get him to a TV in time to watch the show. He wrote a popular memoir filled with anecdotes, titled “A View From the Bench,” that was published in 1987. And in 2009, Wapner even got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

The true measure of his popularity was probably best captured in a 1989 poll by The Washington Post that found two-thirds of people surveyed could not name any of the nine justices on the U.S. Supreme Court, but 54 percent knew that Wapner was the man in charge on “The People’s Court.”

In addition to his son David, Wapner is survived by his wife of 70 years, Mickey; another son, Frederick, a judge on the L.A. Superior Court; two daughters-in-law; four grandchildren and a great-granddaughter. A daughter, Sarah, died in 2005.

Obituaries: Week of Feb. 10, 2017

Harold Alden died Jan. 7 at 88. Survived by wife Geraldine; daughter Tracey (Richard) Martin; sons Tony (Lucinda), David (Dina); 7 grandchildren; 1 great-grandchild. Hillside

Sadie Blumberg died Jan. 12 at 72. Survived by daughter Ethne McGuire; son Morris. Hillside

Fred Evans died Jan. 8 at 79. Survived by wife Elisabeth “Betsy”; daughters Jennifer Levin, Samantha (Dan), Molly (Max); sons Ted (Tracy), John VanSchraeder; 2 grandchildren. Hillside

Steven Feldman died Jan. 6 at 49. Survived by mother Diane; father Daniel; sister Wendy. Hillside

Randy Granovetter died Jan. 12 at 65. Survived by daughter Jo Anna (Vincent) Manganello; brother Richard (Susan) Freidman; 1 grandchild. Hillside

Eleanor Jacobson died Jan. 5 at 94. Survived by daughters Sheryl, Linda; son in-law Jeffrey Rosen; 2 grandchildren;1 great-grandchild. Sholom Chapels

Charles Kuperman died Jan. 12 at 79. Survived by wife Judy; daughter Lisa Veylianti; son John; 3 grandchildren. Hillside

Sylvia Levey died Jan. 8 at 99. Survived by nieces Susan (Hillel) Aronson, Janice; nephews Harry (Pegi), Michael, Albert. Hillside 

Maxine F. Meyer died Jan. 20 at 71. Survived by brother Robert. Simpson Gaus (Kingston, N.Y.)

Saul Halpert, 93, longtime TV journalist

Back in the day, broadcast journalists came in three varieties. Walter Cronkite embodied the “voice of God” approach to delivering the news. George Putnam was more of a “personality” than a journalist, and his booming voice and blow-dried coiffure was caricatured in the character of Ted Baxter on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.” And the younger generation of up-and-coming TV correspondents included razor-cut and matinee-handsome young men like Tom Brokaw and Dan Rather.

And then there was Saul Halpert.

Halpert died last week at the age of 93. Southern California television viewers of a certain age will remember him as a hard-edged and hard-driving news hawk, sharp-eyed if also short in stature, a man who disdained the happy talk that prevailed in broadcast journalism and preferred to go after the story. Yet he was also kind and tolerant, approachable and forthcoming, a real mensch, which explains the outpouring of grief that attended his Aug. 16 passing.

Halpert was a journeyman reporter without pride or pretension, and he went where the assignment desk sent him. “Back on Dec. 14, 1963, at KNXT, I assigned Saul to cover the arrest of the [Frank] Sinatra Jr. kidnappers at an FBI news conference,” recalled his boss at the time, Pete Noyes. “Right in the middle of the news conference, I paged Saul and told him to take his crew and head to the Baldwin Hills Dam, which might burst at any minute. Saul cursed me out but followed orders. He, cameraman Doug Dare and soundman Pierre Adidge were standing on the dam when it broke and barely escaped death. Eventually, they were rescued by a sheriff’s helicopter. You’ve probably seen their film of the dam collapse at one time or another. It’s an L.A. classic — and so was Halpert.”

Halpert was born in Albany, N.Y., in 1922. The family moved to Southern California when he was 16, and he attended Belmont High School in Los Angeles. He served as a second lieutenant in the Army during World War II, and he returned to L.A. after the war to earn a B.A. at USC and a master’s degree at UCLA. Later in life, he taught journalism at both schools.

“Hard-boiled” is an adjective that is stereotypically used to describe private eyes, but it also applies to Halpert’s style of journalism. “Just the facts, ma’am,” is what radio and TV detective Joe Friday used to say, and that’s how I remember Halpert’s delivery of the news. His reporting was always rooted not in talking points but in hard facts, whether he was covering the mind-boggling outbreak of Beatlemania or the breaking news of a dam collapse.

As it happens, I knew Saul Halpert when I was a young magazine and newspaper journalist in the 1970s, and he invited me now and then to join the guest panels on “Channel 4 News Conference,” the long-running show that he hosted on Sundays on the local NBC affiliate. Halpert worked at all three network affiliates over his long career, and everyone who was privileged to know him will agree that he embodied the qualities that his fellow broadcast journalists always praised, even when they did not actually practice them. 

My most precious memory of Saul Halpert, however — and one that I have reflected upon many times over the years — is a long, chatty lunch at which Saul and his wife, Ruth, began to reminisce about the death of their adult son, Robert. “He had such beautiful legs,” Ruth recalled, and they both fell silent for a moment. And it was at that moment that I glimpsed the depth of emotion that was the wellspring of the compassion that he brought to his 40-year career in journalism. That unguarded and heartfelt disclosure brought tears to my eyes then, and so does Saul’s passing so many years later.

The family of Saul Halpert has announced that memorial contributions can be made to the Ruth L. Halpert Memorial Scholarship Endowment in the name of Saul E. Halpert, CSUN Foundation, 1811 Nordhoff Street, Northridge, 91330-8321. Inquiries should be directed to (818) 677-6057 or development@csun.edu.

JONATHAN KIRSCH is the book editor of the Jewish Journal.

Obituaries: Week of August 26, 2016

Eunice Armond-Greenstein died July 28 at 97. Survived by daughter Leslie (Steven) Saeta; 2 grandchildren; 1 great-grandchild. Hillside

Norman Barken died Aug. 3 at 84. Survived by daughter Lauren (John) Olinski; son Miles; 2 grandchildren. Hillside

Robert Ellison died Aug. 2 at 95. Survived by sons Charles (Hilary), Richard (Paula); 7 grandchildren; 3 great-grandchildren. Mount Sinai

Daniel S. Elman died Aug. 1 at 82. Survived by wife Barbara; daughter Sheri; sons Ken (Rachel), Michael (Brenda) Tzipori; 3 grandchildren. 

Rose Fiertel died Aug. 3 at 97. Survived by daughter Robin Claridge; 4 grandchildren; 6 great-grandchildren. Hillside

Stanley Friedman died Aug. 3 at 93. Survived by wife Ida; daughter Janet (William) Parsons; son Mark (Mehrnaz). Mount Sinai

Sarina Grinberger died July 19 at 85. Survived by daughters Ofra Abadi, Penny Hakian; 4 grandchildren. Chevra Kadisha

Charlotte Harris died July 28 at 95. Survived by son Donald; brothers Jerome Manashaw, Herbert Manashaw. Hillside

Irma Heller died July 29 at age 97. Survived by daughters Eileen Rogers, Sherry; son Brian; 7 grandchildren; 12 great-grandchildren. Mount Sinai

Richard Husar died July 24 at 96. Survived by wife Shirley; daughters Linda, Barbara (Dan) Greenhouse; 1 grandchild; 2 great-grandchildren. Hillside

Reuven Itzhaki died July 25 at 96. Survived by wife Evelyn; daughter Edna (Ronny) Shahrabani; son Rafael (Alexandra); 4 grandchildren. Hillside

Mickey Kahan died July 24 at 73. Survived by wife Lynn; daughter Lya (Mark) Pinkus; sons Memo (Sabrina), Alex (Susie); sister Thelma Muzinek; brother Luiz; 7 grandchildren. Hillside

Penny Kanner died Aug. 2 at 91. Survived by daughter Jaimie Stephenson; sons Richard, Keith; 7 grandchildren; 1 great grandchild. Hillside

Saul Leipsitz died Aug. 2 at 87. Survived by wife Violet; daughter Denise; son Michael (Linda McNeil); 1 grandchild. Mount Sinai

Sherwin Levy died July 31 at 88. Survived by wife Patricia; daughters Nancy, Robin, Linda, Jessica (Peter) Riffel; 2 grandchildren. Hillside

Steven Lief died July 19 at 76. Survived by wife Nancy; daughter Hillary; son Jason (Anna) Lief; 2 grandchildren. Chevra Kadisha

Ruby Doris Luban died July 28 at 85. Survived by daughters Jackie (Steven) Stern, Jan Folden, Laurie Keller, Sherrie (Oriel) Valenzuela; sons Gregory (Dulce) Dubin, David (Sandy) Dubin, Ronald (Karen) Dubin; 16 grandchildren; 10 great-grandchildren; brother Richard (Frances). Mount Sinai

Lenore Marcus died July 29 at 95. Survived by sons Wayne (Judy), Gary. Hillside

Sidney Moray died July 31 at 92. Survived by daughter Linda (Bob) Gersh; sons Michael (Kathy), David, Robert (Scott); 9 grandchildren; sister Helen. Hillside

Lee Irwin Petersil died July 28 at 53. Survived by wife Leslie; daughters Maddie, Lauren; father Charles (Joan); sister Bonnie (Rodney) Kleiger; brother Jeff; aunt Bobbi Polk. Mount Sinai

Manie Rhalter died  July 31 at 96. Survived by son Peter (Melanie); 2 grandchildren. Hillside

Michael Jay Rosenberg died July 29 at 54. Survived by mother Maxine; son Jack; brother Mark; 1 nephew. Mount Sinai

Robert Sackett died Aug. 3 at 96. Survived by wife Evelyn; daughter Lauren; 5 grandchildren; 1 great-grandchild. Hillside

Naomi Schiff died Aug. 3 at 89. Survived by daughter Kathy; sons Stanley, Norman; 7 grandchildren; 3 great-grandchildren. Hillside

Sigmund Schiff died Aug. 1 at 83. Survived by his sons Gary (Nicole) Schiff, Robert (Devon); 5 grandchildren. Mount Sinai

David Schneider died Aug. 2 at 57. Survived by wife Martha Macker; daughter Josie; stepdaughters Aubrey Macker, Caitlin Macker; sons Jarrett and Jonah; mother Ruth Glaser; sister Debbie; brothers Ben, Noah. Hillside

Stanley Schway died Aug. 3 at 93. Survived by wife Laurette; daughters Melinda (Scott) Kough, Lisa (Tim); 2 grandchildren. Mount Sinai

Arthur Smith died July 29 at 89. Survived by wife Ann; daughters Frances, Nancy, Hillary, Mary; 6 grandchildren; brother Jerry. 

Marian Sornoff died July 27 at 95. Survived by daughter Robyn Paletz; son Jeffrey; 5 grandchildren; 2 great-grandchildren. Hillside

Marilyn Sherman Sroloff died July 27 at 91. Survived by sons Sheldon (Gail), Barry; 2 grandchildren; 1 step-grandchild; brothers Jerry Sherman, Stanley Sherman. Mount Sinai

Beverlee Vickter died July 28 at 67. Survived by brothers Marvin, John Ramsey. Mount Sinai

Kerwin White died July 27 at 56. Survived by sons Aaron, Jordan. Palm Mortuary

Obituaries: Week of August 19, 2016

Anita Albeck died July 20 at 92. Survived by daughter Candace (Richard) Gardner; 4 grandchildren; 6 great-grandchildren. Hillside

Pnina Barri died July 26 at 77. Survived by sons Guy, Eli (Claudia) Dror, Ron Dror; daughter-in-law Danielle Dror; sister Rachel (Mickey) Sapoznic; brothers Itzhak Strugano, Moishe (Stella) Strugano, Yossi “Pepo” (Hanna) Strugano. Mount Sinai

Dorothy Berkowitz died July 23 at 98. Survived by daughter Marlene (David) Brand; son Lee (Elaine); 5 grandchildren; 8 great-grandchildren; sisters Ruth Cohen, Edith Susman. Mount Sinai

Esther Blank died July 19 at 98. Survived by daughters Arlene Sirkin, Sandera (Don) Schuman, Samantha Erkeneff; sons Steve (Janet), Irving; 16 grandchildren; brother Stan (Deb). Mount Sinai

Arlene Cordova died July 22 at 83. Survived by daughter Barbara; son Mike (Barbara); 1 grandchild; brother Philip Reisman. Mount Sinai

Pia Goldbaum Fogel died July 18 at 91. Survived by daughters Linda, Helen; 4 grandchildren; 1 great-grandchild. Chevra Kadisha

Elaine Fond died July 20 at 95. Survived by daughter Barbara (Richard) Ackerman; son Loren (Diane); 5 grandchildren; 6 great-grandchildren. Hillside

Marc Friedman died July 21 at 58. Survived by sister Barrie Goettsche. Mount Sinai

Ellen Hannah Gelbard died July 23 at 64. Survived by husband Joseph Zell; daughters Rachel (Jeremy) Macht, Monica (Brandon Adler) Zell; 1 grandchild; sisters Susan (Larry) Fishman, Nancy (David Kalb); brother Martin (Thalia). Mount Sinai

Sarah Fleischman Gross died July 14 at 85. Survived by daughters Cena (Yakov) Abergel, Helen Gross Brown; 4 grandchildren; 4 great-grandchildren. Chevra Kadisha

Gerald Hodes died July 23 at 81. Survived by wife Silvia Dos Santos; daughters Tracy Berkus (Ellie) Dekel, Simone Jacindo; sons Brian, Osman Jacindo; 3 grandchildren; sister Rene (Mel) Ozur; brother Morrie (Sherry). Hillside

Jeffrey Eden Kahn died July 26 at 75. Survived by daughter Rhoni (Montag) Ivester. Mount Sinai

Jeffrey Katzer died July 24 at 73. Survived by wife Deborah; daughter Lauren; sons Ryan, Jason; mother Myra; sister Linda Barton; brother Sheldon. Mount Sinai

Ana Kozodoy died July 19 at 82. Mount Sinai

Israel Morton Laub died July 27 at 81. Survived by wife Marsha; daughter Renee (Cheryl) Vlashi; son Dana (Soyeon); 4 grandchildren. Mount Sinai

Raisa Layner died July 22 at 97. Survived by daughter Alexandra Koft; 1 grandchild. Mount Sinai

Frank Lewin died July 17 at 62. Survived by mother Deborah; father Arthur; sister Eve (Paul) Wagner; brother Eugene. Mount Sinai

Michael Liebmann died July 26 at 61. Survived by mother Joan; father Sheldon; sisters Amy (Jeffry) Tellio, Ruth (Thomas) Lawson. Mount Sinai

Esther Metzner died July 21 at 96. Survived by daughter Carolee Goldberg; son Richard; 4 grandchildren; 9 great-grandchildren; sisters Thelma (Temmie), Irene (Babe). Mount Sinai

Roslyn Pinkus died July 27 at 73. Survived by husband Frank; daughter Lynn (Evan) Lewis; sons Gary (Mary), Mark (Lya); 9 grandchildren; brother Walter (Jackye) Popick. Mount Sinai

Marlynn Podell died July 19 at 65. Survived by husband Terry; sons Greg, Eric; 2 grandchildren; brother Drew Swonetz. Mount Sinai

Rebecca Pollack died July 20 at 68. Survived by husband Steven; sons Greg (Cynthia), Spencer (Vicky); 3 grandchildren; sister Susan Hogg; brother Paul Schechter. Hillside

Madeline Rappaport died July 22 at 71. Survived by sons Greg (Erika), Jason; brothers Max Garden, Armond Garden, Mimo Garden, Albert Garden. Hillside

Amanollah Refooah died July 19 at 92. Survived by wife Parvin; daughter Janet Refoa; son Massoud; 2 grandchildren. Mount Sinai

Alex Paul Satin died July 19 at 92. Survived by wife Shirley; daughter Diane; sons David, Michael; 4 grandchildren. Mount Sinai

Evan Shapiro died July 21 at 60. Survived by wife Kathy Marks; sister Julie (Barry) Harris. Mount Sinai

Adele Wallack died June 23 at 94. Survived by daughter Ellen (Barry) Tischler; son Joel; 1 grandchild. Chevra Kadisha

Jack Weinberg died July 25 at 92. Survived by daughters Michelle Seery, Adeena (Matt) Atilano; sons Sandy (Beth) Schron, Richard (Michelle); 10 grandchildren; 1 great-grandchild. Mount Sinai

Lawrence Wertz died July 24 at 46. Survived by daughter Hannah; father Larry; former wife Marci. Mount Sinai

Abdul Sattar Edhi, Muslim humanitarian who preserved Daniel Pearl’s remains, 88

Abdul Sattar Edhi, a Muslim humanitarian, died July 8 in Karachi, Pakistan, mourned by millions of Pakistanis and, in Los Angeles, by the family of slain journalist Daniel Pearl. Edhi was 88.

Pearl was the South Asia bureau chief for The Wall Street Journal who was kidnapped and decapitated by terrorists in 2002 while working in Pakistan.

When Pearl’s abandoned body parts were finally found, cut into 10 pieces, there was no one in the strife-ridden country to gather his remains and transport them to his family in Los Angeles.

It was Edhi who stepped in, according to Daniel’s father, UCLA professor Judea Pearl, and his sister Tamara Pearl.

“Mr. Edhi appointed himself the custodian of Daniel’s remains and brought them to the airport,” Tamara Pearl said.

“They came in three ambulances, one with the remains and the two others as decoys, protected by an armed convoy,” she added. “Before the coffin was transferred to the plane, Mr. Edhi attached a wreath with the words ‘For the peace and soul of Daniel Pearl.’ ”

Such concern and respect for a Jewish journalist was extraordinary in a country frequently torn by sectarian hostilities and terrorist strife, but a common act of decency
for Edhi.

Born a Muslim around 1928 in India, he fled to Pakistan after the 1947 partition of the subcontinent into two countries, and, horrified by the government’s indifference toward the country’s poor and sick, set himself up as a one-man welfare agency.

He raised his first funds while sitting cross-legged on a busy Karachi street, with pedestrians occasionally dropping rupee notes in his lap.

In 1951, he established the Edhi Foundation, which now runs hospitals, orphanages, mosques, legal aid offices, and centers for the abandoned and drug addicts, and employs 2,000 ambulances, which it dispatches to the sites of terrorist attacks.

Sometimes dubbed the “Father Teresa of Pakistan” and recognized as his country’s most respected figure, it was characteristic of Edhi that shortly before his death, he willed his two eyes, his body’s only viable organs, to the blind.

Edhi is survived by his wife and fellow humanitarian, Bilquis Bano, and four children. Edhi was an honorary board member of the Daniel Pearl Foundation. 

David Horowitz, publicist for entertainers, politicians, 86

David Horowitz, a publicist who worked with President Bill Clinton, actress and singer Barbra Streisand and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, died July 17 at his Westwood home. He was 86. 

Highlights of his career occurred 20 years apart. In 1968, following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., he booked Streisand, his client, at a Southern Christian Leadership Conference benefit concert at the Hollywood Bowl. 

Two decades later, he helped Clinton, governor of Arkansas at the time, secure an appearance on “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.” Clinton had just come off an overly long, poorly received Democratic National Convention speech on behalf of 1988 presidential candidate Michael Dukakis and his performance with a saxophone during the Carson broadcast helped bring the media back into his corner.

Born July 21, 1929, in New York City and raised in Los Angeles, Horowitz graduated from University High School at age 15 and, in accordance with his parents’ wishes, entered UCLA as a pre-med student.

A summer internship in advertising changed the course of his life. He left medicine behind and began his professional career at news organization KERO-TV in Bakersfield. A position at The Goodman Organization, a now-defunct advertising agency, led to a position as filmmaker Robert Aldrich’s vice president of publicity. 

Horowitz’s posts included president of corporate entertainment, president of the film division and president of the television division at Rogers & Cowan, as well as a decade-long stint with the film studio Warner Bros. During the course of his career he worked with many stars, including Woody Allen, the Beatles, Steven Spielberg and even the Muppets, according to Carl Samrock of Carl Samrock Public Relations, a former colleague of Horowitz’s. During the 1990s, he led successful Academy Award campaigns for the feature films “Dances With Wolves,” “The Silence of the Lambs” and, later, “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.”

Interested in Israel, he was involved with Americans for Peace Now, which aims to bring peace to the Israelis and the Palestinians. In 1992, he offered advice to Rabin that helped the Israeli politician win re-election and, three years later, Rabin requested Horowitz come to Israel to work on a project. While Horowitz weighed the opportunity, Rabin was assassinated. 

Horowitz supported Women of the Wall, an organization dedicated to creating an egalitarian prayer space at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills Rabbi Emerita Laura Geller, who officiated the July 25 funeral at Mount Sinai Memorial Park in Hollywood Hills, said Horowitz was humble, despite his many achievements.

“While proud of his accomplishments, and he knew he was gifted in what he did, that isn’t where he led from,” she said. “He led from a very clear vision of a world he wanted to see happen and the role public relations could play in that role.”

He is survived by his wife of 56 years, Lynn. 

The family requests that contributions in his memory be made to MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger; the Southern Poverty Law Center; or a charity of one’s choice.

Melvin Durslag, journalist, dies at 95

Melvin Durslag, one of the last surviving major metropolitan newspaper columnists who personified and shaped the golden age of Jewish sportswriters in post-World War II America, died in Santa Monica on July 17. He was 95.

At the peak of his career in the 1960s through the ‘80s, Durslag’s byline was published in daily and weekly newspapers and magazines with a combined circulation of some 25-million. This figure was estimated to be higher than that of popular and widely read Jewish advice columnists Dear Abby and Ann Landers.

A journalism graduate of USC, his best-known work was with the old Los Angeles Herald Examiner, as well as TV Guide and the Sporting News in the heyday of their popularity. In any given week, he would write seven daily columns for the Herald Examiner, and then serve as a contributing writer of lengthy feature articles on the leading sports personalities and events of the 20th century. Magazines to which he was a contributing writer included the Saturday Evening Post, Look, and Sports Illustrated.

His newspaper column, in particular, served as a springboard for bringing major league sports to Los Angeles. He lobbied, in writing, for bringing Dodger Stadium to Chavez Ravine, the Lakers and the Sports Arena to Exposition Park, and the Raiders from Oakland to L.A. and into a new stadium that never was to be. Durslag was one of the first journalists to focus on the business side of sports. He generally did not approve of tax dollars going into public stadiums and arenas, warning readers that they were sure-bet money losers. 

Despite his work appearing in many of the most influential and highest circulation publications of the time, Durslag’s name was not as widely recognizable as one might expect. He never considered himself a “media celebrity” even though he was a confidant of many of sports’ most controversial and high-profile owners. These included maverick Jewish NFL executives such as Al Davis, Carroll Rosenbloom, Gene Klein and Art Modell. To that list may be added non-Jewish and non-conformist owners such as Walter O’Malley, Jack Kent Cooke, Gene Autry and Charles O. Finley.

Working in the pre-Internet age of communication, Durslag was trusted by sports’ elites because he strictly abided by a code of confidentiality and ethics; still he was able to perform his job with utmost objectivity, which earned him the trust of his legions of loyal readers.

He clung to a journalistic philosophy in which he did not consider himself the center of attention; rather, the modest purveyor of the information from those he interviewed as the experts. Rarely did Durslag’s stories venture beyond his sources doing the speaking, and they were almost always written in the third person.

Joe Siegman, founder of the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame and co-founder and past chairman of the Southern California Jewish Sports Hall of Fame (which elected Durslag in 1991), said, “Mel Durslag let his typewriter tell you who he was.  Before there was Google, there was Durslag. He was especially helpful for research during the early days of the Halls of Fame.”

Writing about the Munich Olympic massacre of Israeli athletes in 1972, Durslag slightly reverted off of his journalist ethos, and wrote in the first person. “I never thought I would live to see this at a sports event. As times began to change and people started taking their philosophic differences to the streets, and they expressed themselves with bombs, with bullets, and with fire, the possibility began to develop that sports was not exempt from this behavioral pattern.”

Durslag penned these words for the Sporting News as someone who, in his career, had covered 10 Olympic Games, as well as 25 Super Bowls and 34 World Series – all potential targets for terrorists. Henceforth he was concerned about security and the high costs involved at sporting events, especially international competition.

Melvin Durslag was born in Chicago on April 29, 1921, the second of two sons of Hungarian Jewish immigrant parents. When he was a small child the family moved to Los Angeles.

After graduating from Los Angeles High School and USC, he took his first journalism job with the Los Angeles Examiner (later the Herald Examiner), one of two flagship newspapers in the once powerful chain founded by “Citizen Kane,” the legendary media mogul William Randolph Hearst.

His journalism career was placed on hold when he entered the Army Air Corps in 1942. He served with distinction in India and China. According to the Los Angeles Daily News, Durslag concluded his military service by writing speeches for legendary Air Corps Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle who gained fame for leading his airmen in daring and successful missions along Asia’s Pacific Rim.

Like many other Jewish GIs returning to civilian life, Durslag pursued — against his immigrant mother’s wishes — a career as a sportswriter. Before the war, sports writing had been previously dominated by the sons of Irish and German immigrants. After the war, Jews began making a name for themselves as national columnists, “rewriting” the rules of sports journalism. Durslag’s contemporaries who went on to the national spotlight (those born between 1915 and 1929) and that predeceased him included such names as Dick Young, Leonard Koppett, Milton Richman and Joe Reichler from New York; Jerome Holtzman from Chicago; Hy Hurwitz from Boston; Art Rosenbaum from San Francisco; Stan Hochman from Philadelphia; and Hal Lebovitz from Cleveland.  

The writing style of sports articles evolved to appeal to the emerging middle class, which was better educated, and wanted more leisure time. This led to record TV ratings, attendance and marketing revenues for sporting events. Durslag was a pioneer in composing feature stories and in-depth interviews which later evolved into the TV news magazine format.

He brought diversification to the topics to be included in the sports column, not limiting himself to football and the three B’s –boxing, baseball and basketball. He would write about golf and the Kentucky Derby to attract more affluent readers. He did not have a distinct “written voice.” He utilized many styles, tailor-made for his publication and its readers.

In 1995, Durslag was inducted into the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association Hall of Fame.

When Durslag retired he, without fanfare, gifted his extensive career files to the Paul Ziffren Sports Resource Center Library at the Amateur Athletic Foundation in L.A., according to Joe Siegman. Ziffren, a prominent Jewish community leader, was chairman of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee.

As recently as 2007, he appeared in HBO’s documentary, Brooklyn Dodgers: The Ghosts of Flatbush.

He is survived by his wife of 68 years, the former Lorayne Sweet, three children, Bill Durslag, Jim Durslag and Ivy Durslag, and three grandchildren.


Richard Macales is a contributor to the four-volume reference/anthology work, “American Sports: A History of Icons, Idols and Ideas,” edited by Prof. Murry R. Nelson. ABC-Clio.

Obituaries: Week of July 29, 2016

Edward David Astrin died July 12 at 80. Survived by wife Barbara; daughter Elizabeth (Garrett) Hoffman; son Gregory; 2 grandchildren. Mount Sinai

Ruthe Bergner died July 7 at 93. Survived by daughter Beth (Steven) Gutterman-Bergner; son Mitchell (Debra); 4 grandchildren. Mount Sinai

Florence Bienenfeld died July 6 at 86. Survived by husband Milton; daughter Ruth (Falcon River) Barrett; sons Joel (Kim), Daniel; 5 grandchildren; 1 great-grandchild. Hillside

Judith Cohen died July 8 at 83. Survived by daughters Roz, Leslie Danille, Elly, Sheryl; son Jeffrey; 4 grandchildren. Hillside

Mercia Cohen died July 5 at 99. Survived by daughter Sue Milchman; son Max; 2 grandchildren; 1 great-grandchild. Mount Sinai

Eugene Feldman died July 4 at 95. Survived by wife Rita; daughters Linda Davidson, Ellyn Bloomfield; sons David, Bob; 2 grandchildren; 2 great-grandchildren; sister Hermine Beck. Hillside

Dolores Friedman died July 8 at 86. Survived by daughter Aime; sons Heywood (Brenda Joan), Jay Adam; 3 grandchildren. Mount Sinai

Benson N. Gidan died July 6 at 95; survived by daughter Sara (Daniel) Leon; son Jonathan (Freddi Segal-Gidan); 4 grandchildren; sister, Roxanne (Sandy) Schwartz-Shapiro. Groman Eden Mortuary

Edwin Gold died July 7 at 88. Survived by wife Gilda; sons Robert, Irwin; 1 grandchild. Hillside

Claire Jampol died July 3 at 98. Survived by daughters Betty Goldberg, Jan (Martin) Berkowitz; 2 grandchildren. Hillside

Shirley Kampf died July 7 at 92. Survived by sons Larry (Karen) Raff, Joel (Lavonne); 2 grandchildren; brother Sidney (Orfa Nelly) Meisel. Mount Sinai

Harold Kaufman died July 2 at 96. Survived by wife Shirley; daughters Carol (John Frost) McCall, Lorri, Vicki. Hillside

Frances Levy died July 8 at 86. Survived by daughters Beverly (John) Pretty, Earlene Kaiser; 3 grandchildren; 4 great-grandchildren. Hillside

Harold A. Linstone died July 8 at 92. Survived by sons Clark (Karen), Fred (Elissa); 6 grandchildren; 4 great-grandchildren. Mount Sinai

Eileen Milgrom died July 2 at 93. Survived by daughter Diane Rubin; son Steven; 4 grandchildren; 6 great-grandchildren. Hillside

Rebecca Mintzer died July 6 at 87. Survived by sons Sydney, Leonard; 3 grandchildren. Mount Sinai

Miriam Popilsky died July 3 at 95. Survived by daughter Sheila; son Ben; 3 grandchildren. Mount Sinai

Stephen Reiss died July 7 at 73. Survived by wife Fayla; daughters Shayney, Nicki (Tony) Reiss-Testa; 1 grandchild; mother Irene; sister Annette (Mort) Wolfson; brother Robert. Mount Sinai

Judith Robinson died July 9 at 80. Survived by husband Ira; daughter Roni Adler; son Douglas (Lesley); 4 grandchildren. Mount Sinai

Joan Ileen Roman died June 22 at 66. Survived by husband Daniel; daughter Lori (Brian) Getz; sons Mike (Laura), Patrick (Jessica); 6 grandchildren; sisters Bonnie (Lou) Hillegass, Robin (Steve) Starr, Linda (Lou) Sylvestri; brother Rick (Christine) Essex. Mount Sinai

Sidney Rosen died July 9 at 87. Survived by wife Carol; daughters Sandra (Larry) Serota, Elissa (Mark) Teitelman; 2 grandchildren; brother Morris (Marion). Mount Sinai

Louis Rosenberg died July 5 at 93. Survived by sons Ronald (Karen), Bradley (Joann); 2 grandchildren. Hillside

Spencer David Saxon died July 5 at 89. Survived by daughter Jennifer (Keith) Gore; son James (Jennifer); 4 grandchildren. Mount Sinai

Sanford Samuel Shapiro died July 5 at 81. Survived by wife Helena Baumwirt; daughter Natalie (Liat) Tamsut; son Grant Shapiro; 3 grandchildren; 3 great-grandchildren. Mount Sinai

Stuart Myles Simen died July 11 at 75. Survived by sister Roberta (Allan) Kerner; brother Bruce (Iris). Mount Sinai

Dale Wayne Sontag died July 3 at 69. Survived by wife Barbara; daughters Debora (Michael) Floyde, Samantha; and 1 granchild. Mount Sinai

Melvin Stern died July 7 at 83. Survived by wife Gayle; daughters Shawn (Richard) Sperber, Eden (Chuck) Kokoska; 4 grandchildren. Mount Sinai

Herman Wakcher died July 4 at 96. Survived by son Harold (Ann); daughter Sherry; 3 grandchildren; 1 great-grandchild. Mount Sinai

Aaron Yekutiel died July 8 at 78. Survived by son Brendan; sisters Miriam (Yakov) Shultan, Leah, Rivka Friedman, Geula (Shimon) Ben-Chaim, Sara (David) Green; brother Mordchey; former wife Rita Silver-Yekutiel. Mount Sinai

Manuel Batshaw, ‘architect of Montreal’s Jewish community,’ 101

Manuel (Manny) Batshaw, who was considered “the architect of Montreal’s Jewish community,” has died at 101.

Batshaw, who died Monday, won praise for his work over the past nearly half century in structuring some of the community’s main institutions and his renown as a discreet community “fixer.” He was the first Jewish person to earn an honorary doctorate from McGill University.

For years Batshaw served as an adviser to his friend Charles Bronfman, the billionaire Jewish philanthropist and Seagram’s liquor magnate. After retiring from official community life, Batshaw became Bronfman’s director of Jewish affairs.

Batshaw served for 12 years as executive director of the Jewish Federation-CJA and its network of social service agencies, and worked with Jewish schools.

A social worker by training, Batshaw in 1975 issued an exhaustive report on child abuse that set the stage for Quebec to establish such institutions as the Batshaw Youth and Family Services Centre and legislation including the Youth Protection Act.

Batshaw continued performing volunteer community work as a fundraiser well into his 90s.

Jona Goldrich, philanthropist and real estate developer, 88

Jona Goldrich, a Los Angeles-based developer, museum pioneer, advocate, philanthropist and Holocaust survivor, died June 26. He was 88. It is with great sadness and respect, and an enormous sense of loss, that we honor his extraordinary life.

Goldrich had an immeasurable impact on the city of Los Angeles, and his passion, determination and commitment to creating a memorial and educational space in the heart of the city that would be free and open to all helped make possible the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust. The institutions, programs and lives rebuilt that are his legacy will continue to reach across the city and the country to future generations.

Goldrich was born Sept. 11, 1927 in Turka, Poland, to Sender and Elza Goldreich. Sender, a successful businessman in the lumber industry with a deep connection to his Jewish heritage, believed in the importance of education. Goldrich and his two brothers grew up speaking Polish, Hebrew and Yiddish, studying mathematics and science, and reading extensively.

When the Nazis occupied their region in 1941, Goldrich’s father made arrangements to smuggle the family to Hungary. Goldrich and his brother Avraham made the trip first and arrived in Hungary, but their older brother, Eizo, did not want to leave their parents. Sender, Elza and Eizo were caught and eventually died during the Holocaust.

In Hungary, Goldrich worked tirelessly to arrange forged papers so he and his younger brother could immigrate to Palestine, and they arrived there in 1943.

Over the next decade, Goldrich worked as an auto mechanic and taxi driver while he studied at Technion University in Haifa.

He immigrated to the United States, where he married his wife, Doretta, and raised two daughters, Melinda and Andrea.

He created the Goldrich Family Foundation, which furthers efforts to cure disease, supports local schools and international universities, promotes social justice, and supports Holocaust remembrance and awareness. He also was a founder and lifetime supporter of the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust.

And so we allow ourselves to take some comfort in the thought that we might strive to carry forward his legacy and honor the hopes he expressed to me each and every time I saw him over his last years: “You have to keep teaching the young people.”

This week, in the quiet space of the outdoor Goldrich Family Foundation Children’s Memorial, just as the news of his death reached us, students from across Los Angeles were learning and reflecting and young men and women, grandchildren of survivors, were in dialogue with Holocaust survivors, learning how lives were rebuilt in Los Angeles, and how loss and unimaginable pain were met with hope and possibility and determination to create new lives and a better future.

“Another giant has left us,” said Lidia Budgor, 91, Goldrich’s fellow founding board member and an Auschwitz survivor.

Goldrich is survived by his wife of 56 years, Doretta; daughters Melinda and Andrea (Barry) Cayton; grandchildren Garrett, Lindsay and Derek; and brother Avraham.