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Dr. Walter J. Fischel, Orientalist, Educator and Author, Dead at 70

Dr. Walter J. Fischel, whose life work was to trace the history of ancient Jewish communities of the Middle East, Central Asia and India, died Saturday of a heart attack at the age of 70. He was professor emeritus of Semitic languages and literature at the University of California where he had been chairman of the department of Near Eastern language for 10 years. He had been teaching Jewish history at the university’s Santa. Cruz campus for the last three years.

Dr. Fischel, who was born in Frankfurt, Germany, was a member of the School of Oriental Studies of Hebrew University in Jerusalem from 1926 until coming to California in 1945. Fluent in 12 languages, in 1930 and 1936 he travelled widely in the Middle East and particularly in the Kurdish regions of Turkey, Iraq, Iran, where he found surviving groups of Jews unknown to the rest of Jewry for centuries.

Dr. Fischel was the author of numerous books on the history, role and contributions of Oriental Jews to the socioeconomic activities of their countries a contributor to professional journals and contributor to the Encyclopedia Hebraica and Universal Jewish Encyclopedia. He was the recipient of a Guggenheim fellowship for research on the history of Jews in Asia, 1959-60, and a Ful-bright award for research on the history of Jews in Asia, 1963-64. He was a member of numerous academic organizations and a fellow of the American Academy for Jewish Research and the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain.