Brian Hendler, longtime JTA photographer, dies
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Brian Hendler, longtime JTA photographer, dies

(JTA) — Award-winning photographer Brian Hendler, who served for many years as JTA’s staff photographer in Israel, has died.

Hendler, a South African immigrant to Jerusalem, died suddenly on Wednesday at 63, according to The Jerusalem Post, one of the many news outlets for which Hendler worked. The report did not offer any information on cause of death.

Among the news outlets Hendler worked for were The Associated Press, Reuters and National Geographic. He also shot photos for Jewish and Zionist organizations.

During his tenure at JTA in the 2000s, Hendler won at least four first-place awards from the American Jewish Press Association. Among his award-winning shots were photos from Israel’s 2005 withdrawal from Gaza, “Sea of Soldiers” and “Leaving Gaza,” as well as conflict photos from 2004, “Grieving Soldiers in Gaza” and “Fighting the Fence.”

“Brian was as dedicated as they come,” said Lisa Hostein, JTA’s editor at the time and now the executive editor of Hadassah Magazine. “He always wanted to be at the right place for the right photo. Sometimes that happened with serendipity and sometimes it took days or weeks of planning. Throughout his tenure with JTA, he covered some of the most significant developments in Israeli life. It was often those images that the Jewish world saw first.”

Dina Kraft, JTA’s Israel correspondent in the 2000s and now a journalism professor at Northeastern University, recalled Hendler’s delicate consideration of his interview subjects in joint assignments the two worked on for JTA.

“We spent a lot of time in the summer of 2005 in Gaza interviewing Jewish settlers ahead of their evacuation. I remember how considerate he was with his subjects there and on every assignment,” Kraft said. “Brian was a gifted photographer – able to capture human and relatable moments within complex stories, whether it was an Israeli mother holding her baby close during an air raid siren in the South or the lone footprints of Sudanese refugees crossing sand dunes into Israel.”

Hendler, who was not married and had no children, is survived by his mother and a brother in South Africa, the Post reported.

“Brian made aliyah at a young age all on his own, and stuck it out,” a relative in Jerusalem, Yael Newman, told The Jerusalem Post. “He was committed to Israel and Jewish values, and was passionate about his photography.”