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Notes on Maurice Sendak, Vidal Sassoon, death in the age of social media, and more

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What follows is a collections of links to articles and essays about celebrity deaths the Eulogizer missed recently (and for which I am full of regret) and the self-referential media echo-chamber that drives the cult of personality from which we all feed (for better or for worse):

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Vidal: A Jewish Soldier of the Hair Salons (Forward): “Despite his all-consuming career, Sassoon never forgot his early London experiences combating Fascist thugs. In 1982, he established the Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Anti-Semitism at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Sassoon Center: His profound commitment to the Jewish people inspired him to found the Vidal Sassoon International Center for research into antisemitism, which will carry his legacy into the future.

Revisiting a conversation with Vidal Sassoon (Jewish Journal):

My mother was the strongest Zionist; she used to have Zionistic meetings in the house. I had to stand on the corner to make sure only two people went in at a time, in case we caused a ruckus because it was before Britain left Palestine. An Israeli Palmach officer came to London to talk to us; he said as soon as Britain moved out of Palestine, which was expected in May, there would be a war. By July many of us were there already, and I was in the Israeli army, two months training, the toughest training I’ve ever had in my life. And then we walked one night through the Arab lines to the northern Kibbutzim, and the action started. It was probably the best thing I’ve ever done in my life; I felt so good that after 2,000 years of butchery and barbaric behavior against the Jews, “Never again” had become the slogan.

Apologies from Bibi and family (Jerusalem Diaries): Writer Judy Lash Balint on a letter the prime minister and his family sent to neighbors after their shiva for Netanyahu pere, Benzion.

Maurice the Mensch:A few more notes on the late illustrator Sendak  (Tablet)

Remembering Kenneth Libo (Jerusalem Post):

The New York Times devoted a good deal of space to the death of historian Kenneth Libo. But what the Times did not mention in its April 5 obituary for Libo was an accomplishment involving the Times: documenting how the Times and the secular press in the US in general downplayed the Holocaust.

This, Libo showed, was in contrast to the Jewish press which prominently and in detail presented some of the same information about the Holocaust.

On Twitter, Grief is Just Another Meme (Jewcy):

It’s a perfect representation of the Internet’s new tribalism, and when a celebrity dies, it’s raised to an insufferable level.

It makes for an all-day avalanche of mawkish sentiment and peacocking displays of authentic feeling (see: Samuels’ “competitive mourning cycle”). It reflects the worst side of what is often a great, and even useful and inspiring, medium. Not often have I found that I care what someone thinks of a dead celebrity—what Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” meant to your middle school experience or how Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are changed your childhood. Yet when a celebrity dies, we are all prompted to author our own mini-memoirs.

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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