The Eulogizer: Schindler Jew, financier-art collector, Israeli sociologist


JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Eulogizer is a new column (soon-to-be blog) that highlights the life accomplishments of famous and not-so-famous Jews who have passed away recently. Learn about their achievements, honor their memories, and celebrate Jewish lives well lived with The Eulogizer. Write to the Eulogizer at Read previous columns here.

One from Schindler’s List

A loving obituary written by her daughter, Anna, for the Sydney Morning Herald in Australia, told the dramatic story of Helen Rosner, who died Dec. 29 in Melbourne at 86.

Helen Rosner was born in Krakow, Poland, and her mother died when Helen was 11. Her father was rejected from the Polish army for being Jewish and the family was sent to the Krakow ghetto. Helen met her future husband, Leopold Rosner, in a ghetto coffee house where he played accordion.

He was sent to Plaszow labor camp, headed by the notorious Amon Goeth, on their wedding night in 1943, and Helen followed two months later. Goeth caught Helen smoking a cigarette one day for which she had traded a piece of bread, and he pulled out his revolver and held it against her head. An aide whispered to Goeth that she was the wife of Rosner, the accordionist, and he let her live.

According to Anna’s article, Helen was sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau, but was rescued by Oskar Schindler, who also had loved her husband’s music and had promised to put his name and those of several family members on the life-saving list.

The Rosners moved to Melbourne in 1949 and later started the Moulin Rouge nightclub and then Dayan Receptions, named after Israeli Gen. Moshe Dayan.

Financier, art collector

Roy Neuberger, who went from the world of finance to financing the world of modern art, died Dec. 24 at his home in New York’s Pierre Hotel. He was 107.

Neuberger’s collection included hundreds of paintings and sculptures by 20th century masters such as Milton Avery, Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning. He became one of America’s leading art patrons by donating art to more than 70 institutions and helping to establish the Neuberger Museum of Art at the State University of New York, Purchase, in 1974.

Neuberger began his adult life as a tennis bum and sampler of the pleasures available to the rich in the early 20th century, but went to work on Wall Street shortly before the 1929 collapse. As a founding partner in the firm Neuberger & Berman, he was one of the few to experience not only the 1929 market crisis, but also those of 1987 and 2008. At his death he was called a "20th century financial titan."

Neuberger wrote two memoirs and received the U.S. National Medal of Arts at a White House ceremony in 2007.

Leading Israeli sociologist

Shmuel Noah Eisenstadt, who founded the first Israeli sociology department, died on Sept. 2 at 87. Here is a guest post about Eisenstadt from Harriet Hartman, president of the Association for the Social Scientific Study of Jewry.

Eisenstadt was the Rose Isaacs Professor Emeritus of Sociology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where he had been a faculty member since 1946. He was chair of the department from 1949 to 1969, and dean of the Social Science faculty from 1966 to 1969. Eisenstadt was a senior research fellow at the Van Leer Institute in Jerusalem.

He was the most prolific sociologist in Israel, having authored dozens of books and hundreds of papers. He crystallized the understanding of the origins of modernity and the Axial Age, and developed a productive line of scholarship around his idea of "multiple modernities."

Eisenstadt was honored with many awards, among them the International Balzan Prize in Sociology; the McIver Award of the American Sociological Association; Amalfi Prize for Sociology and Social Sciences; the Israel Prize (1973); the Rothschild Prize in Social Sciences; Max Planck Research Award; Ambassador of Cultural Dialogue Award; Polish Asia Pacific Council, Warsaw; EMET Foundation Prize in Sociology; and, most recently in 2006, The Holberg International Memorial Prize of Norway.

Eisenstadt’s citation for the Holberg prize, which included an honorarium of $760,000, read, in part: "Shmuel N. Eisenstadt has developed comparative knowledge of exceptional quality and originality concerning social change and modernization, and concerning relations between culture, belief systems and political institutions. His work combines sociological theory with historical and empirical research in the study of modernities and civilizations."


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