Tributes as for­mer JC ed­i­tor dies af­ter fall

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY DANA GLOGER

TRIBUTES POURED in from se­nior fig­ures in jour­nal­ism and gov­ern­ment this week, fol­low­ing the death of for­mer JC ed­i­tor William Frankel.

Mr Frankel, 91, who edited the news­pa­per from 1958 to 1977, died last Fri­day in Wash­ing­ton af­ter a fall which led to a brain hae­m­or­rhage. He had been suf­fer­ing from Parkin­son’s dis­ease.

In 1991 he be­came chair­man of the JC, the only per­son since the pa­per’s found­ing in 1841 to have held both jobs.

Dur­ing his ed­i­tor­ship, he an­gered the Ortho­dox com­mu­nity by fa­mously de­fend­ing Rabbi Dr Louis Ja­cobs, whose ap­point­ment as chief rabbi was blocked by the Ortho­dox es­tab­lish­ment be­cause of his view that God had not dic­tated ev­ery word of the To­rah.

Peter Hal­ban, who pub­lished Mr Frankel’s au­to­bi­og­ra­phy, Tea with Ein­stein and Other Mem­o­ries said: “William was a good friend of my fam­ily for many years. It was a great plea­sure to have been able to pub­lish his mem­oirs. He was a truly lib­eral per­son, loyal to his roots, to his coun­try and Is­rael, to his friends and pro­fes­sional as­so­ciates. He stood for de­cency, in­tegrity and un­der­stand­ing and above all, tol­er­ance of oth­ers.”

Peter Op­pen­heimer, pres­i­dent of the Ox­ford Cen­tre for He­brew stud­ies and for­mer JC di­rec­tor and chair­man, said: “His com­pany was in­vari­ably en­light­en­ing, civilised and hu­mor­ous. There would al­ways be some blend of a search­ing ques­tion and amus­ing gos­sip and that is some­thing I shall miss about him.”

Lord Janner — whose par­ents Sir Barnet and Lady Elsie Janner — were close friends of Mr Frankel, said: “He was re­li­able, bright, friendly and a tremen­dous fighter for our com­mu­nity. He was al­ways there when we needed him.”

Lord Janner’s sis­ter, Lady Mor­ris, who served with Mr Frankel on the ex­ec­u­tive of the Jewish Youth Fund, echoed her brother’s sen­ti­ments.

“William was one of the kind­est, most car­ing men I have ever met. He was quite spe­cial and he will be missed.”

Sir Sig­mund Sternberg, who knew Mr Frankel for more than 50 years, said: “William had a sharp mind. The JC flour­ished un­der his ed­i­tor­ship.”

Cathy Neuman, Mr Frankel’s step­daugh­ter, who lives in Bal­ti­more, said: “He had a great im­pact on us, his three step daugh­ters, and on our chil­dren. He was re­ally our chil­dren’s grand­fa­ther and had an enor­mous im­pact on all of them in terms of in­tel­lec­tual cu­rios­ity and chal­leng­ing them in a very un­der­stated way to do their best and learn about what’s re­ally im­por­tant. He be­lieved that who you are is what’s im­por­tant, and not ma­te­rial things. That’s how we will all re­mem­ber him.”

The JC’s cur­rent chair­man Peter Levy de­scribed Mr Frankel as “a man who had a pas­sion for Ju­daism and an in­ter­est in ev­ery­thing.

“He loved be­ing with peo­ple and he was a great friend who was al­ways there to give ad­vice and as­sis­tance and the ben­e­fit of his coun­sel. As ed­i­tor and chair­man, he is the man most re­spon­si­ble for the es­tab­lish­ment of the JC as a news­pa­per of record and re­pute.”

Alan Ruben­stein, com­mer­cial di­rec­tor, added: “William Frankel was ‘a gen­tle­man ed­i­tor’. You would never walk into his of­fice with­out be­ing asked and he al­ways wore a jacket.

“He was loved by all the staff. De­spite his clashes with ‘the beards’ — as he re­ferred to the strictly Ortho­dox — the vast ma­jor­ity of the com­mu­nity ad­mired his edi­to­rial stance, in­clud­ing his long bat­tle over the Ja­cobs af­fair.”

Ned Temko, JC ed­i­tor from 1990 to 2005, said: “William Frankel was a re­mark­able man and a re­mark­able JC ed­i­tor. It was a mea­sure of his ex­tra­or­di­nary vi­tal­ity — phys­i­cal and in­tel­lec­tual — that the news of his death struck me not only with a sense of sad­ness but also of shock.

“His ed­i­tor­ship, and par­tic­u­larly his role in plac­ing it at the heart of the Louis Ja­cobs af­fair, was cru­cial in ce­ment­ing it as a cen­tral in­flu­ence.”

Ge­of­frey Paul, who joined the JC in 1958, be­fore ul­ti­mately suc­ceed­ing Mr Frankel as ed­i­tor from 1977 to 1990, said: “William Frankel trans­formed the JC from the in­ward-look­ing com­mu­nity news­pa­per… into an in­ter­na­tional jour­nal of Jewish news and opin­ion with global reach.

“He ap­pointed to key po­si­tions a younger gen­er­a­tion of jour­nal­ists who shared his vi­sion, and pro­vided them with the in­spi­ra­tion, the re­sources and free­dom to get on with pro­duc­ing what was widely re­garded as the best Jewish news­pa­per in the world.”

News ed­i­tor Jenni Frazer, who joined the pa­per in 1976, said: “He was the ed­i­tor who spoke to popes and pres­i­dents. Al­most cer­tainly his finest hour was the role he played in the Louis Ja­cobs af­fair.”

Cur­rent JC ed­i­tor David Rowan said: “It was an hon­our to have known William, one of those true jour­nal­ists with an in­tegrity that in­spires. If we can pay an en­dur­ing trib­ute to him, it will be to keep his val­ues alive in the news­pa­per as it moves for­wards.”

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