The Bostoner Rebbe, Rabbi Levi Yitzhak Horowitz, the first American-born Hasidic leader, died December 5. He never fully recovered from a heart attack that he suffered during the summer. He was 88.
Yochanan Muffs, a scholar of Bible, law and Semitic languages whose books illuminated the legal and social meaning of emotions such as love and joy in the lives of Jews in antiquity, succumbed to Parkinson’s disease on December 6.
“I hope you have a notebook where you take down anecdotes,” William Safire told me the first time we met. I muttered something about how, on Bill Clinton’s speechwriting team, we had several researchers who compiled loose-leaf binders with stories about people who’d met the president, told him about their problems, or thanked him for proposing policies that would improve their lives.
William Korey spent more than 30 years of his life deeply involved with the struggle to allow free emigration for Soviet Jews. But when I interviewed him in his Queens apartment a few years ago, he did not hide the fact that he never liked to work on individual cases. “There would be no end to it,” he told me.
When the Forward Association launched the weekly paper in 1995, it joined a crowded media market of two dozen Russian-language newspapers in the New York metro area alone and grew to be the third-largest in circulation. It was an outspoken Jewish voice in the Russian-speaking community, when only one other publication, the Lubavitch-affiliated paper, identified itself as Jews speaking to other Jews.