The Eulogizer: nonfiction author, Holocaust survivors who left legacies

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Eulogizer is a new column (soon-to-be blog) that highlights the life accomplishments of famous and not-so-famous Jews who have passed away recently. Learn about their achievements, honor their memories and celebrate Jewish lives well lived with The Eulogizer. Write to the Eulogizer at eulogizer@jta.org. Read previous columns here.

Charles E. Silberman, nonfiction book writer

Charles E. Silberman, whose books on education, criminal justice and American Jews made headlines and waves in the 1970s and 1980s, died Feb. 5 at 86.

Silberman wrote, among other books, “A Certain People: American Jews and Their Lives Today,” published in 1986, which painted an optimistic picture of the future of Jewish life in America. Others writing at the time and afterward criticized his position.

Silberman’s “Criminal Violence, Criminal Justice.” published in 1980, warned against uniform sentencing, which he said would crowd jails. He urged more efforts at rehabilitation in less confined settings.

Perhaps his most widely read and discussed book was “Crisis in the Classroom,” published in 1971, in which Silberman urged more openness in schools and praised British models. The book was the subject of numerous academic and popular critiques in the years following its publication.

“Silberman, as well as other theorists and writers of the day, believed schools failed to develop self-discipline and self-respect in their students,” and that students “should have more responsibility for their learning,” said Kevin Costley of Arkansas Tech University in a 2009 paper

Silberman also was a leader in the Reconstructionist movement, chairing its Prayerbook Commission, which developed the Kol Haneshamah series, and was on the board of governors of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. He also served on the board of trustees of the West End Synagogue in New York.

He was born in Des Moines, Iowa, grew up in New York City, and spent his retirement years in Sarasota, Fla.

The Eulogizer would like to thank JTA correspondent Penny Schwartz and the Silberman family, who passed along the information about Charles Silberman.

Holocaust survivors who have died recently

Each of these individuals had amazing lives, told their tales for posterity to students and to community organizations, and lived long and prosperous lives after their early experiences. The Eulogizer honors their passing.

Joseph Korzenik of West Hartford, Conn., 85, died Jan. 16. He was a Holocaust survivor from Poland and educated children about the Holocaust.

Henry Oertelt, who survived five concentration camps and received an honorary doctorate from St. Cloud State University in Minnesota just before his death, died Jan. 27, in St. Paul, Minn., on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, at age 90. His memoirs have been recorded as a podcast.

Kurt Frankfurter, a retired waiter who was a native of Vienna and a survivor of several concentration camps, died Dec. 24 at 90 — 17 years to the day after his wife, Giselle, died in New York. A 1999 video interview of Frankfurter by German artist Rainer Ganahl in English and German is available here.

 

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