The Eulogizer: Israeli artist Uri Lifschitz and Klinghoffer lawyer Jay D. Fischer


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.

Uri Lifschitz, 75, Israeli artist

Uri Lifschitz, an award-winning and controversial Israeli artist, died May 28 at 75. Lifschitz tried to bring the influence of pop art and historical painting traditions to Israeli art.

In the 1990s he became infamous for a series of provocative paintings of Margalit Har-Shefi, then the girlfriend of Yigal Amir, assassin of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. His sales dropped and he could not get his work into establishment galleries.

A 2009 exhibition at two Tel Aviv galleries was titled “Back to the Future” and was his first exhibition in major Israeli galleries in years. Among the topics were works done “in real time” on the evacuation of Amona, uprisings of Palestinians and portraits of political figures such as former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Friends and family said Lifschitz loved provocation and used his paintings to understand current affairs.

Lifschitz studied painting at Seminar Hakibbutzim Teachers College in Tel Aviv and won the 1982 Dizengoff Prize. He was a father of six, including the artist Giora Lifschitz.

Jay D. Fischer, 79, Klinghoffer lawyer

Attorney Jay D. Fischer, who negotiated a monetary settlement with the Palestine Liberation Organization on behalf of the family of Leon Klinghoffer after his murder during a 1985 hijacking, died May 12. He was 79.

Fischer’s daughter, Tamar Stern, said her father became involved because one of his clients was a friend of Leon Klinghoffer’s wife, Marilyn, who was on the anniversary cruise with her husband. Marilyn Klinghoffer died of cancer four months after the incident.

Palestinian terrorists hijacked the Italian cruise liner Achille Lauro in the Mediterranean Sea on Oct. 7, 1985. They killed the 69-year-old Klinghoffer the next day and tossed his body and wheelchair overboard.

Fischer built his case on the assertion that the PLO was not a sovereign power with diplomatic immunity but an unincorporated association with real estate in New York. The PLO, represented by former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, settled the case 12 years later for an undisclosed sum.

Fischer "believed in the case from the beginning and believed in it at the end," said attorney Alan Thomas.

Stern said her ailing father was unaware that U.S. Navy Seals had killed Osama bin Laden recently, "but he would have been thrilled."

Fischer was a Bronx native active in the 1960s Democratic reform movement in New York City. He was senior partner in the New Jersey law firm Fischer, Porter, Thomas & Reinfeld, which he founded.

More on marijuana activist Ben Masel

The Eulogizer heard from Chanan Mazal, brother of marijuana legalization activist Ben Masel, whose April 30 death at 56 was covered in this column.

Mazal, an artist in Jerusalem, passed along humorous and touching anecdotes from his brother’s funeral and life. He said that Madison’s Jewish mayor, Paul Soglin, “a Jewish hippie historian … infused the hesped with Yiddish” and that Madison’s Chabad and chevra kadisha held minyans for him.

“Going to Madison was an eye opener for me,” Mazal said, “seeing how loved he was by big police wigs and the government lawyers who opposed him in court, how charming (and toothless) were his hippie neighbors, and how charming, intelligent and devoted to him were his inner circle of friends.”

Mazal said his niece told a story of Masel being arrested along with 100 others during the 1996 Democratic Convention in Chicago: “They were in a holding cell for 12 hours without food. Ben started singing ‘The Star Spangled Banner’ — not a pretty sound. Soon all of the cells started singing it over and over and over. Then they got pizza.”

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