Hugh Orgel, a long-serving former JTA correspondent in Israel, died Sunday in Tel Aviv at 85.
Orgel suffered a fall last week, fracturing his hip. But his condition was not diagnosed as serious. Nevertheless, he died suddenly while undergoing tests prior to surgery for the fall.
Orgel joined JTA in 1980 after a distinguished career in government service and in the media.
Before the creation of the State of Israel, the British-born Orgel worked on the staff of The Palestine Post, now The Jerusalem Post. He narrowly escaped injury when the Post was blown up by Palestinian terrorists in 1947.
Orgel served the fledgling state’s Foreign Service as spokesman for the Israeli Embassy in Washington for six years.
He later served as spokesman for the Technion-Israel Institute for Technology in Haifa and for El Al, Israel’s national air carrier.
He returned to diplomacy in 1967, serving as spokesman for the Israel Mission to the United Nations in the hectic period following the Six-Day War.
He subsequently returned to journalism, working on the news desk of the Reuters news agency in Tel Aviv.
After retiring from Reuters, he worked for 16 years as JTA correspondent in Tel Aviv, covering mainly hard-news stories, including Israeli military and security developments, as well as economic issues.
He wrote a moving first-person remembrance of the hardships of daily life in Jerusalem during Israel’s War for Independence and was in the entourage of journalists aboard El Al’s first commercial flight to China in September 1992.
Orgel’s rigorous professionalism made his dispatches a valued part of JTA’s news coverage.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.