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Marie Syrkin, Labor Zionist Leader for 60 Years, Dies at 89

Dr. Marie Syrkin, an author, lecturer, biographer of Golda Meir and a leading figure in the Labor Zionist movement for more than 60 years, died in Santa Monica, Calif., Wednesday at 89.

A gifted speaker and prolific writer, Syrkin wrote three volumes on the life and work of Golda Meir, the only woman prime minister of Israel, with whom she was closely associated.

Another book, “Blessed is the Match,” published in 1947, dealt with the Holocaust.

Her most recent volume, “The State of the Jews,” published in 1980, was a collection of essays that appeared in the Jewish Frontier, Midstream, Commentary and The New Republic.

Syrkin was on the editorial board of the Jewish Frontier, the Labor Zionist journal, since its founding in 1934. She was its editor in chief from 1948 until the mid-1970s.

Ben Halpern, professor emeritus at Brandeis University and former managing editor of the Jewish Frontier, lauded Syrkin as “a woman of valor.”

He said that he had “worked with her since I started working, in one form or another,” and said he was “very grieved” at her death.

Menachem Rosensaft, president of the Labor Zionist Alliance, called Syrkin “one of the last of the great Zionist leaders. Her passing truly marks the end of an era.”

Rosensaft praised her “intellectual brilliance and moral courage . . . to take strongly progressive steps on behalf of the peace movement in Israel (and) progressive Zionist causes.”

Syrkin taught in New York City high schools from 1925 to 1948 and was an associate professor of English at Brandeis from 1950 to 1966.

She was born March 22, 1899, in Bern, Switzerland, the daughter of Dr. Nachman Syrkin, the foremost Socialist Zionist theoretician of his the time and a founder of the movement.

She came to the United States with her father in 1907 and graduated from Cornell University in 1920.

Her late husband was the noted poet Charles Reznikoff.

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