Marty Lee, scientist, businessman, dies in Jerusalem

Martin Lee, a businessman, entrepreneur and familiar figure in the Jerusalem Anglo community in the last decade, died March 16. His age was not immediately available.

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Lee was well known as an active spiritual seeker and student, but kept being drawn back to business. He worked with several Israeli high-tech start-ups after coming to Israel in semi-retirement to study and learn. He had been in a coma for more than four years before dying on Shushan Purim.

Rabbi Barry Leff wrote a lengthy and warm appreciation of Lee on his blog, Neshamah.net, in which he compared Lee to Abraham:

Marty was a scientist, a businessman, a committed Jew dedicated to Torah study, and a devoted family man. As I was thinking about Marty, it occurred to me that these traits, in many ways, make him like the first Jew, Abraham.

You might be wondering, Abraham a scientist? There are two midrashim I think of which illustrate the point. First, there’s the midrash that says the way Abraham discovered God was to consider that everything has a cause. Abraham sees a burning house, and wonders, "Is it possible there is a house and no one is responsible for it?" God then speaks up and says "I am the owner." That kind of curiosity about the world – wanting to know how the world works – is a hallmark of the scientist. Marty shared that curiosity about the world and how things work.

Lee was known for his commitment to the little pocket of Jerusalem he lived in, the German Colony, home to many Anglo immigrants. He helped the owners of Cafe Hillel on Emek Refaim Street reopen about a year after the horrific 2003 suicide bombing there. I sat with Lee the night the cafe reopened, and his pride and joy in seeing the cafe open and full of happy customers was evident.

The Eulogizer highlights the life accomplishments of famous and not-so-famous Jews who have passed away recently. Write to the Eulogizer at eulogizer@jta.org. Follow the Eulogizer on Twitter @TheEulogizer

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