Remembering individuals of note whom we lost this year.
Richard Greenfield, longtime publisher of the Connecticut Jewish Ledger and the Massachusetts Jewish Ledger, died April 16, three days before his 72nd birthday. A resident of Norwell, Mass., “Ricky”, as he was known to friends and family, passed away after a brief illness while visiting family in San Francisco, Calif.
Edgar Bronfman – a prominent Jewish philanthropist, communal leader, and businessman – died at his home on Saturday, Dec. 21. He was 84. Born in Montreal, Bronfman, heir to the Seagram alcoholic beverage company, stepped down as CEO in 1994 and focused his energies on his foundation, The Samuel Bronfman Foundation. Among the many initiatives supported by Bronfman was Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life, which he helped to revive in the 1990s. Bronfman also focused on Jewish education and identity, establishing the Bronfman Youth Fellowships in Israel and the website MyJewishLearning.com.
Alice Herz-Sommer, who was considered to be the world’s oldest-known Holocaust survivor, died at the age of 110 in London. Born in Prague, the accomplished pianist was sent to the Terezin-Theresienstadt concentration camp in 1943. She eventually moved to the newly formed state of Israel in 1949, where she taught at the Jerusalem Academy of Music.
Ariel Sharon, 11th prime minster of the State of Israel, died Jan. 11 at the age of 85. Sharon served as prime minster from 2001 until 2006, when a massive stroke left him in a comatose state until his death. Sharon is remembered as an enigmatic figure, both as one of Israel’s greatest generals and field commanders, and later as a government minister and prime minister.
On Aug. 23, four-year-old Daniel Tregerman became Israel’s first child casualty of Operation Protective Edge, when a mortar fired from Gaza struck his kibbutz.
Shulamit Aloni, former chairwoman of Israel Meretz party, which she helped found, died on Friday, Jan. 24 at her home in a suburb of Tel Aviv. She was 85. First elected to the Knesset in 1965, as a member of the Labor party, Aloni served as a minister-without-portfolio for three months in 1974, under Yitzhak Rabin’s first term as prime minister, when she headed the Ratz party, which eventually merged into Meretz.
Al Feldstein, the editor of Mad magazine for 28 years, died at his home in Livinston, Mont. on May 1. He was 88. Under his tutelage, the irreverent magazine parodied politicians, mocked traditional morality, and turned the freckle-faced, gap-toothed Alfred E. Neuman into a cult hero.
Dr. Sherwin B. Nuland, author of the bestselling book, How We Die: Reflections on Life’s Last Chapter, which won the National Book Award in 1994, died of prostate cancer at his home in Hamden on March 3. He was 83.
Lewis Katz, 72, co-owner of The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Daily News and Philly.com, as well as a major philanthropist in the Jewish world, was killed Saturday, May 31, in the crash of a private jet in Massachusetts.
Rabbi Joseph Ehrenkranz, the former spiritual leader of Congregation Agudath Sholom in Stamford and co-founder of the Center for Christian-Jewish Understanding at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, died on Sunday, Feb. 23 at his home in Tel Aviv, where he had retired.
Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, known as “Reb Zalman,” the founder of the Jewish Renewal movement, died Thursday, July 3, at his home in Boulder, Colo. He was 89. ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal, the organization he founded in 1964 as B’nai Or Religious Fellowship, continues to serve the core of Jewish Renewal communities all over the world.
Judge Jerry Wagner, 88, of Bloomfield, died Sept. 30. A long-time resident of Bloomfield, Wagner had been a judge of the Superior Court of Connecticut since 1979 and served on the Judicial Executive Committee and the Executive Board of the Connecticut Judges’ Association. He became a judge trial referee in 1991 and was the oldest active referee in the Hartford Judicial District. Wagner was actively committed to Jewish organizations locally, nationally, and internationally.
Mike Nichols, the Oscar-winning director of “The Graduate” died on Nov. 19 at the age of 83. Along with winning the Academy Award, he also won Emmy, Grammy and Tony awards – one of the few to win all four. Before turning to directing, he was one half of the comedy duo Nichols and May, along with Elaine May. Nichols, born Michael Igor Peschkowsy, escaped Nazi Germany with his family in 1938 and emigrated to the United States.
Gil Marks, an acclaimed Jewish food writer and historian, died Dec. 5 in Jerusalem. He was 62. The author of five books on the subject of Jewish food and founding editor of Kosher Gourmet Magazine, he also published The Encyclopedia of Jewish Food, the first attempt within the American Jewish culinary community to compile a comprehensive reference guide for Jewish food.
Leonard J. Fein, an outspoken and often controversial advocate of liberal Zionism, who in 1975 co-founded with Elie Wiesel Moment Magazine, died on August 14 in Manhattan. He was 80. Fein also founded Americans for Peace Now and Mazon: A Jewish Response to Hunger, and since 1990 wrote a column for the Forward newspaper.
Comedienne Joan Rivers died on Sept. 4 after going into cardiac arrest and going on life support on August 28, while undergoing throat surgery. Credited with blazing a trail for other female stand-up comics, Rivers was known for her often outrageous and sometimes controversial humor.