David Margolis, who lived and chronicled the transformation of a 1960s-era American hippie into a deeply spiritual resident of a West Bank settlement, died July 17 at the age of 62. A Brooklyn native, the widely published journalist, novelist and editor died of cancer and was buried near his home at Bait Yatir in the Hebron Hills.
Most recently, Margolis served as the “Jewish World” editor of the Jerusalem Report magazine.
Margolis described his hippie commune experiences in his first novel, “Change of Partners,” which was followed by “The Stepman” and a collection of short stories, “The Time of Wandering.”
“I consider David the foremost chronicler of that slice of the Jewish 1960s that went from rootless, hedonistic hippiedom into, somehow, a deeply spiritual engagement with Jewish life and the challenge of Zionism. That transformation is at the center of all his writing,” said Martin Jaffee, a professor of Jewish and international studies at the University of Washington.
The screenwriter and novelist Robert Avrech described Margolis as “a major American Jewish writer who never received the attention he deserved,” and called him a “a master storyteller with a wicked sense of humor.”
The producer and writer David Brandes recalled Margolis as “a true mensch and one of the sweetest people I ever met.” Brandes cited the author’s “wry sense of humor and perceptive insights.”
From 1990 to 1993, Margolis served as a senior writer, investigative reporter and award-winning feature columnist for the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles.
Yehuda Lev, his colleague at the time, recalled frequent serious but civil discussions with Margolis about their religious and ideological differences.
“David never succumbed to extremism,” Lev said. “He was that rare individual who combined idealism with practicality and overlaid them both with a protective layer of honesty.”
After moving with his family to Israel in 1994, Margolis established himself as a successful freelance journalist for general and Jewish newspapers and magazines, created marketing materials for major Israeli universities and hi-tech companies, and co-wrote the prize-winning CD-ROM “Artrageous! The Amazing World of Art.”
His writings were honored by the BBC, the American Jewish Press Association, the Israeli government, and the Center for Jewish Culture and Creativity, among others.
Margolis is survived by his wife, Judith; his children Hodya, Ephraim, and Noa; his grandchildren; his mother and two brothers.
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.