2016-01-06 / Home

Jews we lost in 2015

By GABE FRIEDMAN JT A


OLIVER SACKS… neurologist and best-selling author. JTA photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images. OLIVER SACKS… neurologist and best-selling author. JTA photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images. We’d like to take a moment to honor the memories of those who we lost over the past 12 months. From remembering lives cut short by senseless, dark tragedies to tributes to revered icons who lived life to the fullest, here are some Jews whose deaths left their legacy on the year that was.

 Theodore Bikel, 91, who died on July 21, was best known for playing Tevye in the stage production of “Fiddler on the Roof” more often than any other actor. He was also the first to play Capt. Georg von Trapp in the original Broadway cast of “The Sound of Music.” Outside the theater, Bikel was a prolific folk singer who recorded 27 albums in Hebrew and Yiddish.

 Dave Goldberg, 47, a veteran Silicon Valley entrepreneur and husband of Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, died suddenly on May 1 after falling on a treadmill while vacationing in Mexico with family and friends. The CEO of Survey Monkey, Goldberg had worked previously at Capitol Records and founded his own media company.


ROCHELLE SHORETZ… founder and executive director of Sharsheret, an organization that helps Jewish women with breast and ovarian cancer. JTA photo courtesy of Sharsheret. ROCHELLE SHORETZ… founder and executive director of Sharsheret, an organization that helps Jewish women with breast and ovarian cancer. JTA photo courtesy of Sharsheret.  Rachel Jacobs, 39, and Justin Zemser, 20, died on May 12, when an Amtrak train heading from Washington, D.C., to New York City derailed and crashed in the Port Richmond area of Philadelphia, killing eight and injuring most of the 230 surviving passengers. Two of those killed in the horrific crash—Rachel Jacobs, CEO of the online education startup ApprenNet, and Justin Zemser, a sophomore at the U.S. Naval Academy who aspired to be a Navy SEAL—were Jewish.

 Leonard Nimoy, 83. “Live long and prosper,” Nimoy’s “Star Trek” character Spock used to say. The Jewish actor followed his character’s advice. Nimoy portrayed the half-Vulcan alien—who became one of the most popular television characters of the second half of the 20th century—for four decades. He also sustained a successful Broadway theater career and directed two of the “Star Trek” films.

 Alberto Nisman, 51. The demise of Alberto Nisman, the special prosecutor who at the time of his shooting death was guiding the investigation of the 1994 AMIA Jewish center bombing in Buenos Aires, remains a mystery with enough plot twists to fill multiple Hollywood screenplays. Nisman was found dead in his Buenos Aires apartment in the early morning on Jan. 19, the day he was scheduled to reveal the details behind his allegations that then-Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner and the Jewish foreign minister, Hector Timerman, had covered up Iran’s role in the AMIA attack.

 Oliver Sacks, 82. The British-born Sacks, a neurologist and an author of books such as “The Mind’s Eye” and “The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat,” was among the best-selling science writers of the past half-century.

 The seven Sassoon children, ages 5 to 16. Gabriel Sassoon was away from his Brooklyn home at a religious retreat in Manhattan on the morning of Mar. 22 when police officers located him at a synagogue to bestow horrifying news: Seven of his eight children had died the night before in a fire likely started by a malfunctioning Shabbat hot plate. “God Almighty took seven roses,” Gabriel Sassoon said at the funeral in Israel.

 Rochelle Shoretz, 42, was the founder of Sharsheret, a nonprofit that provides educational and support services to Jewish women with breast and ovarian cancer. The organization, which Shoretz founded in 2001 while undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer, now runs programs nationwide and has an operating budget of over $2-million. .

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