Ja­son Fen­ton

Pro­fes­sor of English and Jewish his­tory who pro­moted Is­rael and the Jewish peo­ple

The Jewish Chronicle - - LIFE - Ja­son Fen­ton: born: Septem­ber 30, 1931. Died, Jan­uary 21, 2017

THE YOUNGEST vol­un­teer in Is­rael’s War of In­de­pen­dence, Ja­son Fen­ton, who left his na­tive Lon­don in 1948, has died at 85 in Min­neapo­lis, Min­nesota, af­ter a lengthy bat­tle with lung can­cer.

The son of Rabbi Ben­zion and Bertha Fertle­man, Fen­ton was or­phaned at a young age and was sent to Perse School Cambridge as one of the few ac­cepted Jewish stu­dents. Fen­ton was an in­de­fati­ga­ble cham­pion of the Jewish peo­ple and Is­rael dur­ing more than 50 years in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia; the last four years of his life in Min­neapo­lis.

A tal­ented writer and pub­lic speaker, he reg­u­larly ad­dressed au­di­ences in syn­a­gogues, churches, pub­lic fo­rums and class­rooms. He em­i­grated to the United States in 1956, re­ceived a Ph.D. at the Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, Los An­ge­les (UCLA) and then pur­sued a lengthy ca­reer as a pro­fes­sor of English and of Jewish his­tory at com­mu­nity col­leges and state uni­ver­si­ties, pri­mar­ily in Or­ange County, south of Los An­ge­les.

Fol­low­ing in the foot­steps of his older brother, Ivor Fen­ton, Ja­son clan­des­tinely left Eng­land for Is­rael and there fought with the 4th Anti-Tank Unit, com­posed of vol­un­teers from the world’s English-speak­ing coun­tries. His ser­vice, un­der fire, was ar­guably the

defin­ing ex­pe­ri­ence of his life.

In ad­di­tion to his many speak­ing en­gage­ments, he au­thored Strength and Courage: The Un­told Story of the MACHAL Vol­un­teers Who Helped Win Is­rael’s War of In­de­pen­dence, ap­peared in two doc­u­men­taries, and fre­quently par­tic­i­pated in TV in­ter­views.

Af­ter mov­ing to Min­neapo­lis to be near his daugh­ters, Fen­ton taught a very pop­u­lar con­tin­u­ing education course in Jewish Bib­li­cal His­tory through the Univer­sity of Min­nesota, de­spite ad­vanc­ing ill health.

Fen­ton is sur­vived by his three daugh­ters, Mina Rush, Ta­mar Fen­ton and Suzanne Fen­ton, 11 grand­chil­dren, one great-grand­son and his for­mer spouse, Judith Fen­ton. He had a pro­found in­flu­ence on his daugh­ters, who are all deeply in­volved in Jewish life as pro­fes­sion­als and vol­un­teers, and on their de­scen­dants.

TOM TUGEND

PHOTO: TA­MAR FEN­TON

Ja­son Fen­ton, a Lon­don na­tive, shown in 1948 as a 16-year old

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