Irreplaceable: Jewish News remembers those we lost in 2018
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Irreplaceable: Jewish News remembers those we lost in 2018

Those who passed away include Holocaust survivors, much-loved entertainers and acclaimed educators

Left-right: Tiop: Sabina Miller, Josef Perl, Jo Wagerman. Middle: Neil Simon, Gena Turgel, Stan Lee. Bottom: Michael Freedland, Maureen Kendler, Alec Ward.
Left-right: Tiop: Sabina Miller, Josef Perl, Jo Wagerman. Middle: Neil Simon, Gena Turgel, Stan Lee. Bottom: Michael Freedland, Maureen Kendler, Alec Ward.

Dec 2018

Rona Ramon, widow of Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon, who perished on board the space shuttle Columbia in 2003.

Rona became a public figure and established the Ramon Foundation to promote academic excellence and social leadership among Israeli youth.

She died aged 54 of pancreatic cancer.

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Noah Klieger, who survived Auschwitz by pretending to be a boxer and went on to a storied career in journalism, died in Israel, aged 92.

As a prisoner in Auschwitz, Klieger was selected for the gas chamber, but managed to talk himself out of the sentence in a personal encounter with the Nazi doctor Josef Mengele.

Later, he faked his way on to a boxing squad at Auschwitz that enjoyed better meal rations.

After liberation, he arrived in prestate Israel aboard the ship Exodus and fought in the 1948 War of Independence. Klieger went on to author several books and wrote a longtime column in the Israeli daily Yediot Acharonot.

He continued to work as a journalist until the end of his life.

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Yigal Bashan, a beloved singer and composer of many classic Israeli songs, died aged 68. Bashan starred as part of the Kmo Tzo’anim trio for nearly a decade until 1995, appearing in the Israeli children’s show “Hopa Hey.” The trio is known for losing the 1985 contest to represent Israel in Eurovision by a single point.

They then wrote a song titled “Anachnu Nisharim Ba’aretz,” or “We’re Staying in Israel,” which proved to be more popular than their entry for Eurovision. His other classics included  “Sivan” and “Eretz Hatzabar.”Bashan released dozens of albums, including several in English, over his more than 40-year career.

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Nov 2018

William Goldman, a novelist and screenwriter who twice won the Oscars for his work on “All the President’s Men” and “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” died age 87.Goldman began his writing career as a novelist and later transitioned to writing scripts. As a novelist, Goldman wrote the critically-acclaimed “Marathon Man” and “The Princess Bride,” among others.

He later adapted those two novels for film, turning them into box-office hits that are considered classics.His first film script was “Masquerade” in 1965. Some of his other notable film credits include “Misery” (adapted from the Stephen King novel) and “The Stepford Wives (adapted from the Ira Levin novel).

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Stan Lee, co-creator of Marvel Comics and such iconic characters as Spider-Man, The Fantastic Four and The Incredible Hulk, died aged 95.

The well-known American-Jewish writer founded Marvel Comics with Jack Kirby in 1961. Many of the characters’ stories have since been turned into Hollywood films, turning the Marvel brand into a multi-billionaire dollar business. Lee was renowned for making brief comical cameos in each of the Marvel universe films.After the news was announced, tributes began pouring in from across the entertainment industry, with director Edgar Wright, executive producer on the Antman film, saying: “Stan Lee, RIP. Thanks for inspiring so many of us to pick up a pen or pencil and put your dreams onto paper. Excelsior!

”Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk wrote: “Rest in peace, Stan Lee. The many worlds of imagination & delight you created for humanity will last forever.”Actor Seth Rogen also said on Twitter: “Thank you Stan Lee for making people who feel different realize they are special.”

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When it came to Judaism, Stan Lee used super-heroes as torch-bearers 

Stan Lee

Oct 2018

Jo Wagerman OBE, an accomplished educator and headteacher of JFS between 1985 and 1993, passed away aged 85. She was the first female president of the Board of Deputies, serving between 2000 and 2003, having previously been its senior vice-president.

Current JFS headteacher Rachel Fink paid tribute to Jo Wagerman, as having “transformed the school and developed its reputation as an outstanding learning institution.”

Read Rachel Fink’s full tribute to Jo Wagerman: I have lost a role model and the community has lost a beloved educator  

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Jo Wagerman

Leon Lederman, an experimental physicist who won a Nobel Prize in physics for his work on subatomic particles and coined the phrase ‘God particle’, died aged 96.

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Michael Freedland, veteran journalist and author, and father of Guardian columnist Jonathan, passed away aged 83. His lifelong career working at titles such as The Economist, The Sunday Telegraph, The Spectator and The Guardian, also included a broadcasting spell at BBC London in the 1980s, presenting on BBC Radio Two, and even lecturing on cruise ships.

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Michael Freedland

Sep 2018

Max Nash, a war photographer who worked for The Associated Press for more than 40 years, passed away aged 77.He covered both the Vietnam and Cambodian wars, the Israeli occupation of Lebanon, the Palestinian uprising and riots in the West Bank and Gaza in the late 1980s, the first Gulf War and a rash of bombings in Israel in the mid-1990s.

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Denis Norden, TV presenter and comedy writer  died aged 96.The It’ll Be Alright On The Night host presented the ITV bloopers show for 29 years until his retirement in 2006.After stepping down he gave a lot of attention to raising awareness of macular disease, a degenerative eye condition from which he suffered, and became a patron of the Macular Society.

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Josef Perl, Holocaust survivor and educator died aged 88

Born in Veliky Bochov, then part of Czechoslovakia, Josef Perl was the only son in a large, Orthodox family. When the Hungarian Army invaded in 1940, the Jewish population was forced into the town’s synagogue, from where they were marched to waiting cattle wagons which were to take them to Poland.  He experienced Płaszów slave labour camp, Auschwitz-Birkenau, Dachau, Bergen-Belsen, Buchenwald and Balkenheim.  Josef came to England in 1946, where he met his wife Sylvia and had two children. Miraculously, 20 years later, he was reunited with his father. He was awarded a BEM (British Empire Medal).

Read more here 

Josef Perl

Aug 2018

Uri Avnery, an Israeli journalist and peace activist and one of the first to openly advocate for a Palestinian state, died aged 94.left-wing pro-Israel group called him “one of the sharpest, most courageous people who lived among us.”

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Neil Simon, who was described as a “clutch hitter” by fellow Jewish writer and producer Mel Brooks, died aged 91.  The Pulitzer-winning Broadway icon and playwright received more Tony and Oscar nominations than any other writer, and is best known for works such as The Odd Couple, The Sunshine Boys, the Brighton Beach Trilogy, Barefoot in the Park and Goodbye Girl.

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Neil Simon

Moshe Mizrahi, the Egyptian-born producer who created the 1977 Oscar winner “Madame Rosa” passed away aged 86. He was the only direcor from the Jewish state to win the top gong.

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Jul 2018

Maurice Kaye, Britain’s longest married man, died aged 106.  He and his wife, Helen, 105, of Bournemouth, were married for 84 years and met four years previously when Maurice Kaye was a travelling salesman for his father’s clothing business. The couple have two surviving children, Tina Son and Larry Kaye, seven grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

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Maurice Kaye and his wife Helen

June Jacobs, the peace activist and social justice campaigner died aged 88.  She fought for women’s rights, and was awarded a CBE, having served as president of the International Council for Jewish Women, representing the organisation at the United Nations.  Born in 1930, she first became active in the civil rights movement in the 1970s, chairing the National Council for Soviet Jews and risking jail to fly to the USSR to visit Jews who were refused permission to emigrate to Israel.

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Jun 2018

Gena Turgel, dubbed the ‘bride of Belsen’, was a Holocaust survivor and educator who passed away at the age of 95. she survived Paszov, Auschwitz, Buchenwald and Bergen-Belsen, where she met her husband, Norman Turgel, an English soldier who helped liberate the camp.After liberation, she dedicated her life to educating about the Holocaust, telling her story of surviving Auschwitz’s gas chambers, and restarting her life in Britain.

In April Gena spoke in London at the community’s Yom Hashoah event, marking Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day. She told guests: “I beg you – don’t forget those who are less fortunate than yourselves”.

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Gena Turgel died aged 95.
Photo credit: Paul Faith/PA Wire

Anthony Bourdain, American celebrity chef, was found dead in his hotel room in France while working on his CNN series on culinary traditions around the world. He was 61-years-old.

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May 2018

Philip Roth

Philip Roth, the acclaimed author who received virtually every literary honour died aged 85. He was the author of classics such as ‘Portnoy’s Complaint,’ ‘American Pastoral’ and ‘The Human Stain,’ and used his books to explore aspects of his identity, including his Jewish heritage, sometimes angering Jewish readers with his ironic outlook.

His first collection of short stories, ‘Goodbye Columbus,’ published in 1959, told the story of middle-class Jewish Americans caught between modernity and tradition, wrestling with themes such as assimilation and being different. It won him a National Book Award but he was accused of antisemitism and labelled a “self-hating Jew”.  He stirred Jewish ire again in 1969 for ‘Portnoy’s Complaint,’ his friend and editor Aaron Ascher recalling that “the attacks were horrible and disheartening, especially from the Jews,” adding: “It made him angry and defensive, so he closed up, but maybe it did him good. The setback of great success changed and improved him as a writer. Without it, he’d have been different.”

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Bernard Lewis, the leading Middle East scholar passed away 11-days short of his 102nd birthday. He was a  Professor Emeritus of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University, was an expert in the history of Islam and the interaction between Islam and the West.

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Apr 2018

Dale Winton, the presenter of Supermarket Sweep, died at 62.The entertainer was a household name in the mid 1990s and early 2000s while fronting shows such as Supermarket Sweep and The National Lottery: In It To Win It, but had kept a low profile in recent years.In his 2002 autobiography, Dale Winton: My Story, he recalled: “Mum always had a great sense of what was right and wrong. Having converted to Judaism herself, she and made sure I attended Hebrew classes every Sunday and had always brought me up to embrace the wonderfully strong values of Jewish family life.”

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Dale Winton hosted Supermarket Sweep from 1993 to 2001

Millie Finger, a centenarian who introduced television shows on Channel 4 earlier this year to mark 100 years of women getting the right to vote has passed away, weeks after turning 101.

Born Millie Walvish on 30 March 1917, was a regular at Jewish Care’s Brenner Centre in Stepney – where she rekindled a bond with childhood friend and fellow 100-year-old with Beattie Orwell.

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Millie Finger
Credit: Blake Ezra Photography

Alec Ward, Holocaust survivor and one of ‘The Boys, passed away aged 91.

He survived two ghettos, three slave labour camps and two concentration camps before making his way to Britain after the Shoah.Aged 18, Alec flew to England in October 1945 as one of 732 child survivors of the Shoah, as part of a group known affectionately as The Boys.

He met his future wife Hettie Cohen in 1952 and married in 1953. They had two children, Lyla and Mark, who died in 1981, aged 23 of melanoma.
His grandson Liron is named after Alec’s younger brother Laib, who was shot by the Nazis during the war, and welcomed his son-in-law Barend and his children into the family.

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Alec Ward

Mar 2018

Sabina Miller, Holocaust survivor and educator whose immediate family were murdered in the Shoah, died aged 95.

Born in Poland in 1922, Miller lived in West Hampstead for 50 years, working closely with Holocaust Memorial Day Trust (HMDT), telling young and old alike about how she’d lived in the forest rather than be herded onto a lorry.

She survived the Warsaw Ghetto and working as slave labour on a farm owned by a brutal Lithuanian who would horsewhip Jewish girls.

In later years, after she had married and brought up a family of her own, she shared her experiences across the UK.

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Sabina Miller
Credit: Holocaust Memorial Day Trust

Lewis Gilbert, East End filmmaker received an emotional tribute from Jewish actress Maureen Lipman, after passing away aged 97.

Lipman starred alongside Dame Julie Walters and Sir Michael Caine in Gilbert’s 1983 film Educating Rita and described the film maker as like a “favourite uncle”.

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Leslie Temple, war hero who flew 30 operations from RAF Ludford Magna in Lincolnshire, passed away aged 93.

He was a resident of Limewood Court in Redbridge and chairman of the Ilford branch of AJEX for many years, flew 30 operations from RAF Ludford Magna in Lincolnshire.

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Johan van Hulst, the Dutch Schindler who saved hundreds of Jewish children during the Holocaust, died aged 107. Van Hulst and resistance activists smuggled the children to safety over several months

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Feb 2018

Maureen Kendler, one of British Jewry’s most popular and prolific educators, died aged this year. She was born in 1956.

Known for her appearances at Limmud events across the world, she taught Jews about their culture, history, tradition and gave insight into individual and collective experiences that together comprise the Jewish story.

Born in 1956, she fought for women’s rights and always described herself as “self-taught,” saying: “I think that makes me a very empowering role model.”

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Maureen Kendler speaking at a JDOV talk in 2013

Jason Silver, a pro-Israel activist from east London who was involved in a major confrontation at the 2017 PalExpo, died aged 50,Read more here

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Jan 2018

David Minn, a former JFS pupil died while hiking in Argentina. He was 24.

Tributes poured in for the young man, with his former school saying it “is deeply saddened”, and that  “He will be remembered as a fun-loving, talented and able student with a great personality.  We extend our condolences to the entire family”.

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David Minn
Source: Facebook

Aharon Appelfeld, a Holocaust survivor who moved to Israel and became an acclaimed novelist, died at 85. The Romanian-born writer rose to become one of Israel’s most prolific Hebrew-language writers, even though he only learned the language as a teenager.

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Arkady Wajspapir,  a key figure in the 1943 uprising at the Sobibor death camp, died in Kiev at the age of 96.

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