Simcha Dinitz, a former Israeli ambassador to the United States and past chairman of the Jewish Agency, has died. Dinitz, 74, died Tuesday of a heart attack in Jerusalem. Born in Tel Aviv, Dinitz joined the Haganah in pre-state Palestine and served in the Israel Defense Forces during the War of Independence. He spent 37 years in a variety of public posts, including the Knesset, the Foreign Ministry, Golda Meir’s Prime Minister’s Office and the Jewish Agency, which he headed from 1987 to 1994. Dinitz served as vice president of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and was a diplomat in Rome and Washington for prime ministers Meir, Yitzhak Rabin and Menachem Begin. Dinitz’s public career ended in 1996 when he was found guilty of fraud and breach of trust connected to misuse of Jewish Agency credit cards, though Israel’s highest court overturned the conviction a year later. Dinitz, whom Israeli President Moshe Katzav called “one of the leaders of the nation,” leaves behind his wife, three children and eight grandchildren.
BERNARD MANISCHEWITZ, 89, FOOD GIANT
Kosher food giant Bernard Manischewitz died Saturday in New Jersey at age 89.
Manischewitz was the last in his family’s line to run the kosher food giant B. Manischewitz Company, the Newark Star-Ledger reported. The food company was sold to private investors in 1991 after it had been in the Manischewitz family for three generations. Renowned for its sweet wine and matzo, the business was founded in Cincinnati in 1888 by Bernard’s grandfather, Rabbi Dov Behr Manischewitz.
The company opened a second factory in Jersey City in 1932, eventually moving operations there. Born in Cincinnati, Bernard joined the company in the 1940s after graduating from New York University. The company expanded under his tenure but also weathered a scandal in the mid-1980s over price-fixing for matzo. Manischewitz was a philanthropist for Jewish causes, serving as president of New York’s United Jewish Appeal and of New York’s Shearith Israel synagogue. Manischewitz is survived by his wife, son, daughters, six grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren.
EMIL FACKENHEIM, 87, PHILOSOPHER
Rabbi Emil Fackenheim, a prominent philosopher and theologian, died September 19 of natural causes. He was 87.
Born in Halle, Germany, in 1916, Fackenheim was affected profoundly by the Holocaust. As a rabbi and philosopher, he spent his life trying to understand its meaning, writing dozens of books on the subject, including “To Mend the World: Foundations of Post-Holocaust Thought.”
He is perhaps most famous for his assertion that after the catastrophic event, Jews have not only 613 commandments to obey, but 614. The last commandment, Fackenheim asserted, was to be actively Jewish, thus denying Hitler a posthumous victory.
Fackenheim was arrested in 1938 on Kristallnacht, the night that the Nazis attacked Jewish businesses and synagogues across the country. He fled to Britain and eventually made his way to Canada. He earned a doctorate from the University of Toronto and taught there for 36 years as a professor of philosophy.
Fackenheim “practiced as a Reform rabbi in Toronto,” said David Silberklang, who worked closely with the philosopher as his teaching and research assistant during the 1980s. “But he was also a traditional Jew.”
Silberklang recalled that Israel’s 1967 Six-Day War also profoundly
impacted Fackenheim’s life. “From 1967 onward, he called the Holocaust and the creation of Israel the most significant events of the 20th century — both Jewish and in general.”
Though Fackenheim wanted to immigrate to Israel since 1967, he stayed in Canada until the 1980s. He had a full-time job and a family with four children to support. Once Fackenheim retired, however, he immediately moved to Jerusalem, where he began teaching part time at Hebrew University and later at Hebrew Union College.