Irreplaceable: Those we lost in 2019

Irreplaceable: Those we lost in 2019

Top authors, Holocaust survivors and celebrated war veterans among those who passed away in the last 12 months


Leslie Brent, 94

A leading immunologist, he arrived in the UK in 1938 on the very first Kindertransport. He spoke extensively about his experiences as a refugee from the Nazis – including at Westminster Abbey last year to mark the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht – and was made Professor Emeritus at the University of London in 1990.

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Jersey City attack victims 

Moshe Deutch, 24, and Leah Ferentz, 33 were named as victims of the attack on a Kosher deli in Jersey City. Deutch was reportedly in Stamford Hill in London the week earlier, attending a wedding.

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Moshe Deutsch, who was killed in Jersey City, N.J. Deutsch, a 24-year-old rabbinical student from Brooklyn (Chai Lifeline via AP)

Italian Holocaust survivor Piero Terracina 

Noemi Di Segni, president of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities, hailed Terracina as a “true light in these dark times” which she described as being marked by words of hate and denial of the Holocaust.

As a 15-year-old, he escaped a round-up by German occupying troops of Rome’s Jews in 1943 and went into hiding with his family.

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Theatre director Sir Jonathan Miller

After making his directing debut with the play Under Plain Cover in 1962, he  directed six of the BBC’s Television Shakespeare plays and worked with the English National Opera over four decades. Miller’s contribution to music and the arts earned him a knighthood in 2002.

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‘Schindler’s List’ producer and Shoah survivor Branko Lustig

Born to a Jewish family in 1932, Lustig was imprisoned in Auschwitz during the Holocaust. Much of his family was killed by the Nazis, including his father and grandmother. Lustig’s work on American films helped him move to Los Angeles in the 1980s, where he met Steven Spielberg, who directed “Schindler’s List.” The film won the Oscar for best picture in 1994.

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Messianic ‘Rabbi’ Philip Sharp

His unconventional family was the focus of a 2013 Channel 5 documentary, The Girl With Seven Mums, which featured his daughter Ellie, then 10-years-old, describing what it was like to grow up with multiple mother-figures.

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Resistance fighter Yvette Lundy

While serving as secretary to the mayor near Epernay, she joined the resistance network code-named Possum. Forging identity documents from 1940, she helped save Jewish families and others fleeing Nazi persecution, hidden at her brother Georges’ farm.

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Archival photo of Yvette Lundy in 2014 (Credit: G.Garitan,


Ex Israeli president of supreme court, Meir Shamgar

Born in 1925 in Danzig, now Gdansk in Poland, Shamgar moved to the British Mandate of Palestine in 1939. Five years later he was arrested by the British for his role in the Irgun, or Etzel, and was sent to Eritrea. In a biography of Shamgar, the Supreme Court said he had been a “champion of free speech” throughout his years as a judge.

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Literary critic Harold Bloom

Bloom, who published over 20 books, was best known for best-selling volumes such as The Western Canon and The Book of J.  His seminal work The Anxiety of Influence entered the canon of literary criticism.

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Producer Eric Pleskow

Pleskow was the president of the United Artists studio when it took home the best picture Oscars for “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” “Rocky” and “Annie Hall” in 1975, 1976 and 1977

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Austria’s oldest Holocaust survivor, Marco Feingold

“I must have spoken to around half a million people all in all,” he said in interview in 2018 interview. He said he swore to himself in Auschwitz that he would tell his story, having also survived the German camps of Neuengamme, Dachau, and Buchenwald. He was liberated from Buchenwald in May 1945 and learned that his father and siblings all died during the Holocaust.

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Marko Feingold (Werner100359/Wikipedia)

Jewish Care resident Esther Shupick 

The 101-year-old Lady Sarah Cohen House resident appeared in Jewish Care’s 2019 annual dinner film, shown to 900 guests, as £5.2 million was raised for the charity.

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Poppy seller who survived Auschwitz camp, Ron Jones

Jones, from Newport, South Wales, collected for the Royal British Legion poppy appeal for more than 30 years, stopping last year aged 101. He was captured in Benghazi, Libya, in 1942 and, after nine months in Italy, was transferred to forced labour camp E715, part of the Auschwitz complex.

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Actress Sheila Steafel was born in South Africa and grew up in Lancashire, where she sang at the local synagogue, where her parents directed the choir.

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British composer and saxophonist Jonathan Goldstein

Award-winning composer, whose father was Jewish, his wife the saxophonist Hannah Goldstein and their seven-month-old baby Saskia were believed to be on their way to Italy when the plane they were travelling in crashed.

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Rabbi, Reuven Hammer

British-born leader moved to Israel in the 1970s and helped establish Jerusalem’s Kehilat Moreshet Avraham synagogue as well as the larger Masorti movement. He later served as the head of the Masorti Beth Din (rabbinic court) here as well as president of the International Rabbinical Assembly.

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Rabbi Reuven Hammer. (YouTube screenshot)

Gateshead leader Ezriel Salomon

He set up the Jewish Community Council of Gateshead and the Gateshead Interfaith Forum, was the headteacher of Gateshead Jewish Primary for 35 years and was awarded an MBE in 2010.

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Silver Jews frontman  David Berman

Berman, who was Jewish, had battled substance abuse and mental health problems, formed Silver Jews in New York City in 1989 with Stephen Malkmus and Bob Nastanovich.

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Former JC editor Geoffrey Paul

Former Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks, who attended the funeral, paid tribute to him saying: “Geoffrey Paul was one of Anglo Jewry’s finest editors, with a sharp mind, a deeply moral set of commitments, a devoted love of Judaism, a strong sense of humour and unfailing humanity. He represented Anglo-Jewry at its very best and raised its journalistic standards high. Elaine and I considered him a cherished friend, and our deepest condolences go to Rachel and his children”.

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Geoffrey Paul (right) with Moshe Dayan at the JC offices in 1977 (Credit: The Jewish Chronicle)

Hal Prince

Born Harold Smith Prince to German Jewish parents in New York in January 1928, he went on to become the top musical theatre producer of the 20th century, winning an unparalleled 21 Tony Awards, a feat unlikely ever to be beaten.

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German historian who faked family Holocaust story, Marie Sophie Hingst 

In June, Hingst was stripped of a “Golden Blogger” award following revelations that she faked a family history of suffering in the Holocaust. Hingst sent 22 pages of testimony for nonexistent people to Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial and archive, in 2013. She reported about her “family” in her blog. She later took the blog off line, and her writings appear to be lost.

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Former Board of Deputies President, Lionel Kopelowitz 

Kopelowitz was born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1926, and served as Board of Deputies President from 1985-1991, and President of the National Council for Soviet Jewry. Former Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks wrote that he “was one of the finest and longest-serving Anglo-Jewish lay leaders of our time.

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Lionel Kopelowitz

Cameron Boyce

Disney Channel star, 20, best known for his role on the network’s comedy show “Jessie,” died suddenly in his sleep after a seizure.

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Artur Brauner

Polish-born Holocaust survivor became one of Germany’s most prominent film producers following the Second World War, died aged 100.

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Eva Kor, survivor and Mengele victim

She and her sister were one of some 1,500 sets of twins who were experimented on by Josef Mengele. Kor frequently spoke about the power of forgiveness and publicly forgave Mengele and the Nazis. Her embrace in 2015 of 94-year-old Auschwitz guard Oskar Groening, during his trial in Germany, made headlines.

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Eva Mozes Kor (Wikipedia/Oregon State University/ Photo courtesy of CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Education Center)


Chemist who helped make birth control pill, George Rosenkranz

He and two Jewish chemists Carl Djerassi, a refugee from Austria, and Luis Miramontes, synthesised the progesterone that was to be used in one of the first two combined oral contraceptive pills. He passed away at 102.

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Non-Jewish British soldier who fought for Israel in 1948, Tom Derek Bowden

Bowden, a South London cavalry officer who died aged 97, was one of 5,000 foreigners who volunteered to fight for the nascent State of Israel from abroad. They became known by the Hebrew acronym ‘Machal.’

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Far left: American pilot Bill Katz; Ben-Gurion; Derek Bowden,1st commander of the Paratrooper School, behind Ben-Gurion. Far right – Haim Laskov,Head of Training Command of Army at Tel Nof Air Base. Gershon Yuval, CO of Administration Wing of the Paratrooper Training School is talking to Ben-Gurion.

First Lady Nechama Rivlin

Wife of Israel’s head of state passed away aged 73. She had received a lung transplant in March after suffering from a pulmonary illness for years.

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One of the last living survivors of the Nazi death camp Sobibor, Semyon Rosenfeld, aged 97

Rosenfeld, who was born in Ukraine, was drafted into the Red Army in 1940 to fight the Nazis. He was captured and taken as a prisoner of war in 1941. He was transferred to Sobibor in 1943, and participated in the Sobibor uprising in September of that year. He was one of the 300 prisoners that managed to escape the camp, and one of only 47 who survived in the days after the uprising

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Semyon Rosenfeld


Judith Kerr

Kerr, who authored The Tiger Who Came to Tea and the Mog series, fled Nazi Germany with her family and later helped generations of children understand her experience in the 1971 book When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit, part of a trilogy.

In one of her last interviews before her death, the celebrated author and illustrator, whose family fled the Nazis, talks books and antisemitism – over tea, of course.

Read our interview with Judith Kerr here.

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Jewish News’ Brigit Grant with the late great Judith Kerr.

Pulitzer Prize winning Jewish author, Herman Wouk

Among the last of the major writers to emerge after the Second World War and the first to bring Jewish stories to a general audience, he had a long, unpredictable career that included gag writing for radio star Fred Allen, historical fiction and a musical co-written with Jimmy Buffett.

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Survivor Rudi Oppenheimer 

Berlin-born Oppenheimer was nine years old and living in the Netherlands in 1940 when the Nazis invaded. In 1943 his family was rounded up and sent to the Westerbork transit camp, where they remained until 1944.

Holocaust educators paid tribute to the Bergen-Belsen survivor for “playing a key role” in bearing witness to the past, including to The Queen.

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Rudi Oppenheimer


Community hero and war veteran Jack Lewis, died aged 98

Lewis, 98, from Canons Park, honorary life president of Stanmore and Canons Park Shul, was often referred to colloquially as “Mr Stanmore” due to his work in the community.

The war veteran joined the royal army medical corps in 1938 serving in West Africa and India and was promoted to the role of sergeant major.

After the war, Lewis opened an accounting practice in the West End, later moving to Edgware, and also served the Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen and Women (AJEX) as national chairman and later as vice president.

As part of his work on remembrance, Lewis organised a trip to Bergen Belsen concentration camp attended by survivor Gena Turgel to mark the 50th anniversary of the liberation of the camp.

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Jack Lewis

Historian John Lukacs, died aged 95

His book Five Days in London was widely cited as a source for Darkest Hour, the 2017 film starring Gary Oldman in an Oscar-winning performance as Churchill.

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Comedian Freddie Starr

Starr told The Times in 2003 that his mother was German Jewish. “I think most of her family got killed off in the Holocaust. She settled in Liverpool,” he said.

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Rabbi David Goldberg

Emeritus rabbi of the Liberal Jewish Synagogue and a leading figure in both interfaith work and left-wing, doveish causes relating to Israel and the Palestinians.

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Chasidic rebbe and Holocaust survivor Menachem Mendel Taub 

Rebbe of the Kaliv Chasidic dynasty in Jerusalem devoted his life to memorialising the Holocaust and helping fellow survivors died aged 96.

Born in Transylvania, which was then Romania, Taub was deported with his siblings to Auschwitz, where he was experimented on by the notorious Josef Mengele – and later was unable to grow facial hair due to the experiments.

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Ultra Orthodox followers of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Taub of the Kaliv (Hasidic dynasty) attend his funeral in Jerusalem, on April 28, 2019. Grand Rabbi Menachem Mendel Taub of the Kaliv (Hasidic dynasty), passed away at the age of 96. Photo by:JINIPIX

Liberal Rabbi Harry Jacobi

Liberal Judaism vice-president and Kindertransport refugee rabbi Harry Jacobi, passed away aged 93.

Born Heinz Hirschberg, he celebrated his Barmitzvah at Berlin’s Friedenstempel Synagogue – 18 days before it was destroyed on Kristallnacht.

Labour peer Lord Dubs, who is also a Kindertransport refugee, paid tribute to fellow Kindertransport refugee Rabbi Harry Jacobi, hailing him as a “passionate advocate for refugees”.

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Rabbi Harry Jacobi (right) and Lord Dubs (left) campaigning for refugees together

Scientist and Nobel Prize winner Sydney Brenner

Tributes were paid to the revolutionary Jewish biologist who won a Nobel Prize in 2002 for his work at Cambridge, leaving the scientific world mourning the loss of one of the 20th century’s great minds.

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Impresario Victor Hochhauser, who died and 95

The family of legendary London impresario Victor Hochhauser paid tribute to “the only Jew who could make the Red Army dance,” after he passed away aged 95.

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Lilian and Victor Hochhauser

Mossad spy Rafi Eitan, 92

Eitan was one of the founders of Israel’s intelligence community and among its most prominent figures in Israel and abroad. He led the team that captured Holocaust mastermind Adolf Eichmann in Argentina

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Lt. Col Mordaunt Cohen 

Sunderland-born centenarian Lt. Col. Mordaunt Cohen was awarded an MBE from Her Majesty The Queen last year, for his services to education, teaching about the history and legacy of the Second World War.

He began army life as a gunner but in 1942 he received his commission as an officer and was sent to Nigeria to command mainly Muslim troops. He spoke to them about Obah Ibrahim (Father Abraham) and they referred to him as the “White Muslim.”

He got involved in local politics (as a Conservative) and Jewish communal organisations, with leadership positions at the Sunderland Hebrew Congregation and the Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen (AJEX).

Read more here and here.

Lieutenant Colonel Mordaunt Cohen receiving his MBE from the Queen

Composer Leopold Kleinman-Kozłowski, 100

During World War II, he lived in the ghetto in Przemyślany, and then in a forced labor camp in Kurowice. He fought in the partisan unit, and then in the ranks of the Polish Army, reaching Berlin. After the war, he settled in Krakow, where he studied at the State Higher School of Music. He was the music director of the Army Song Festival in Kołobrzeg. In 1968, as a result of an antisemitic campaign, he was released from the army.

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Drummer Hal Blaine

Hall of Fame session drummer who played on the songs of Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley and the Beach Boys has died aged 90

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Edgware rabbi Jeremy Collick, 61

Rabbi Collick, formerly of Edgware Masorti, passed away at the age of 61, days before he was due to make aliyah with wife Cindy.

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Composer André Previn 

Jewish composer and pianist André Previn, who in 1939 emigrated to the United States to escape the Nazis, died at 89 in Manhattan. He will be remembered as one of the most distinguished musicians of his generation.

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Stanley Donen: Singin’ in the Rain co-director

The iconic Hollywood director died from heart failure in New York City at the age of 94.

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Kindertransport survivor Harry Bibring

Harry and his sister were one of nearly 10,000 child refugees who came to the UK through the Kindertransport prior to the outbreak of war in September 1939.

Working with the Holocaust Educational Trust, Harry made hundreds of visits to schools and universities nationwide to educate pupils about the horrors of the Nazi genocide.

One of his final public appearances saw him attend the burial at Bushey New Cemetery of six unknown Jews murdered at Auschwitz.

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Broadway star Carol Channing

Channing was the daughter of a Jewish mother and a Christian father and identified as “part Jewish.”

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Ex-Israeli defence minister Moshe Arens

He first hired Benjamin Netanyahu and is credited with helping him get his start in politics. Arens died in his sleep at his home near Tel Aviv, aged 93.

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UJIA’s former leader Brian Kerner, 85

A president of UJIA and former vice-president of the Zionist Federation, Kerner was also chair of the Fair Play Campaign Group until 2016. A pharmacist by profession who became managing director of the chemists’ chain, Underwoods, Kerner had many communal roles and is credited with helping to create Bicom, the Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre

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Brian Kerner at the UJIA Annual Dinner 2013. Credit: Blake Ezra Photography

Curb Your Enthusiasm star Bob Einstein 

Einstein, who was born into a Jewish family in Los Angeles, was best known for playing Marty Funkhouser in the satirical comedy starring Larry David and stuntman Super Dave Oborne in Super Dave.

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French resistance fighter who saved hundreds of Jews, Georges Loinger

Loinger, who was Jewish but looked Aryan with his blonde hair and blue eyes, smuggled at least 350 Jewish children whose parents had been killed or sent to Nazi concentration camps in small groups across the Franco-Swiss border.

The children he saved were in the care of the Oeuvre de Secours aux Enfants, or OSE, a Jewish children’s aid society.

He was taken prisoner by German armed forces in 1940 while serving with the French army, and sent to a prisoner of war camp in Germany. He was able to escape and return to France where he worked with the OSE.

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