(JTA) — There’s no way to tally all whom we lost in 2020, a year when we mourned even our ability to carry out time-tested rituals of grief.
Among those who died this year were some of the Jewish world’s most famous and influential pillars in a range of industries, realms of thought and areas of activism — from the pioneer jurist Ruth Bader Ginsburg to the moral thought leader Rabbi Jonathan Sacks to the Modern Orthodox rabbi Norman Lamm to the influential LGBTQ activist Larry Kramer.
But many of the people whose deaths tell the story of 2020 were not widely known, except among the people who loved them and the communities they enriched.
To honor the loss that defined this year, we’re departing from our usual end-of-year practice of highlighting only a few luminaries. Here, we’ve listed all of the people memorialized in Jewish Telegraphic Agency obituaries this year.
We’ll start with the many people — many of whose names will never make the news — lost to the pandemic that still rages. After that, we have decided the names into themed sections and listed them in chronological order of their death.
VICTIMS OF COVID-19
Nearly 2 million people worldwide have died of COVID-19, the new coronavirus that emerged in China at the end of 2019. Among them were countless Jews, including thousands of Israelis, large numbers of aging Holocaust survivors and rabbinic leaders around the world. The disease felled prominent people, such as the Novominsker rebbe, Yaakov Perlow, and Fountains of Wayne songwriter Adam Schlesinger, who was just 52 when he died April 1. But it also took from us mothers, fathers, grandparents, young adults with promising futures and dear friends — the full range of human experience extinguished by an unrelenting pandemic.
Jonathan Sacks: The former chief rabbi of Britain was one of the Jewish world’s leading moral and intellectual voices.
Dovid Feinstein: Feinstein was one of the foremost haredi Orthodox legal authorities in the United States and a symbol of the rich Jewish history of the Lower East Side of Manhattan.
ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Joel Schumacher: The openly gay director of blockbusters was known for helming “St. Elmo’s Fire” and two Batman films.
Carl Reiner: The comedy legend called himself a “Jewish atheist” after the Holocaust, but that didn’t stop him and his best friend Mel Brooks from writing some of the 20th century’s best Jewish comedy.
Angela Buxton: The 1956 Wimbledon doubles champion was denied admission to the All England Club, which hosts the prestigious tennis tournament and normally gives lifetime access to all winners, because of anti-Semitism.
Ronald Harwood: The acclaimed screenwriter won an Oscar for his script for “The Pianist,” based on the memoir of a Polish Holocaust survivor.
Catie Lazarus: The comedian and writer hosted one of the entertainment world’s best kept secrets: “Employee of the Month,” a live show that involved standup and interviews with celebrities.
LAW AND BUSINESS
Theodore Mann: Mann led several major Jewish organizations, including the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and the American Jewish Congress, and was an early critic of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank.
Larry Kramer: The outspoken writer emerged as one of the most important figures in the history of LGBTQ activism during the AIDS crisis.
Renzo Gattegna: In addition to testifying before young people about the Holocaust, Gattegna helped rebuild the Jewish community in Italy after the genocide and eventually led the Union of Italian Jewish Communities.
ACADEMIA AND INNOVATION
Larry Tesler: The Xerox and Apple innovator invented the now-ubiquitous copy and paste function.
Norman Lamm: The prolific Jewish scholar and author helped turn Yeshiva University back into a flagship institution of Modern Orthodoxy as its longtime president.
Martha Nierenberg: The Hungarian Holocaust survivor and MIT biochemist who spoke six languages helped bring Scandinavian furniture design to the U.S. through a company with her husband.
JEWISH COMMUNAL LIFE
Albert Sherman: The influential communal and political insider in Boston held leadership positions at several major Jewish organizations, including the New England Anti-Defamation League.
Robert Lappin: The massive giver to Jewish causes helped found the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews and sponsored teen trips to Israel decades before the start of the Birthright program.
Jorge Kirszenbaum: The influential former president of Argentina’s Jewish community helped the relatives of those who were kidnapped and disappeared under the last military dictatorship that ruled Argentina, from 1976 to 1983.
Mikhail Zhvanetsky: The Holocaust survivor from Odessa became one of Russia’s most famous standup comedians, against all odds during the oppressive Soviet Union years.
The post Those we lost in 2020: Remembering the rabbis, pioneers, innovators and family members appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.