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 email@example.com. Read previous columns here.
Elizabeth Taylor, 79, Oscar-winning actress
Elizabeth Taylor, one of the all-time great screen actresses and stars, who famously converted to Judaism more than 50 years ago, died March 23 at 79.
Taylor, who was a star from the age of 12, appeared in more than 50 films, and won Academy Awards for "Butterfield 8" in 1960 and "Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" in 1966.
In her 1988 memoir, “Elizabeth Takes Off,” Taylor wrote about her conversion to Judaism, saying it “had absolutely nothing to do with my past marriage to Mike [Todd] or my upcoming marriage to Eddie Fisher, both of whom were Jewish. It was something I had wanted to do for a long time.”
A 2010 article on the blog Hollywood Jew talked about Taylor’s “defiant Jewish spirit.” Time wrote about the conversion in 1959. Taylor’s Hebrew name was Elisheba Rachel, Elisheba being a Hebrew version of Elizabeth and Rachel being “her own favorite biblical heroine.”
Rabbi Max Lipschitz, 87, leader in South Florida
Rabbi Max Abraham Lipschitz, a prominent figure in South Florida’s Jewish community for more than 50 years, died March 20 at 87.
Lipschitz built Beth Torah synagogue into one of the strongest Conservative congregations in the Miami-Dade area, co-founded Hillel Community Day School, was president of the Rabbinical Association of Greater Miami and director of the American Jewish Congress and Israel Bonds’ local branches. He was the rabbi emeritus of Beth Torah Synagogue-Benny Rok Campus.
The synagogue eulogized Lipschitz’s passing by saying, “We have suffered the loss of a Gadol haDor — ‘A Great One of the Generation’ — truly one of the great rabbinic leaders of his generation as well as one of the great human beings of his generation. He was one of those very unique persons who you held in awe and loved at the same time.”
The synagogue’s rabbi, Ed Farber, said Lipschitz was “the consummate pastoral rabbi. He was concerned with every aspect of a family’s life, and was there for them for all the joys and sorrows and all challenges.”
Lipschitz was born in Lodz, Poland, and was raised in prestate Palestine and later Detroit. He was ordained as an Orthodox rabbi at Yeshiva University, earned a master’s degree at Columbia University and a doctorate in Semitic studies at the University of Wisconsin, which was where he began to serve as a rabbi for non-Orthodox Jews.
“He went to his [teacher] at yeshiva and said, ‘I don’t know what to do, but the Jewish people here need me,’ " said his daughter, Fayanne Kuttler. “The rebbe told him to do it for the betterment of more Jews.”
He moved to Miami in 1959 and helped build Beth Torah. Lipschitz maintained his own personal Orthodox practice and wrote “The Faith of a Hassid” in 1967.