Bennett Yanowitz, national Jewish leader, dies


CLEVELAND (Cleveland Jewish News) — Bennett Yanowitz, a Cleveland attorney who led many Jewish community organizations and worked to support Jewish education, has died.

Yanowitz, a longtime member of the JTA board of directors, died May 31. He was 88.

He also was a past president of the National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council (now the Jewish Council for Public Affairs) and the Jewish Education Service of North America. Yanowitz was a founding president of Akiva High School (now @Akiva) and a past president of the Jewish Federation of Cleveland.

Yanowitz was involved in civil rights causes and the efforts to free Soviet and Ethiopian Jews. He led a trip to Ethiopia for U.S. Jewish leaders, and with his wife, Donna, he spearheaded a 1975 mission to the former Soviet Union to meet with refuseniks. The couple traveled to Israel and Washington many times and visited many countries around the world.

A member of various foundation boards and many federation committees, Yanowitz chaired the board of The Mount Sinai Health Care Foundation, served on the board of governors of the Jewish Agency for Israel and was a past vice president of the Cleveland Jewish News. For United Jewish Communities (now Jewish Federations of North America) and JESNA, he chaired a task force on the viability and vitality of Jewish day schools.

Yanowitz received many awards, including the Cleveland federation’s highest honor, the Charles Eisenman Award.

“He had an outstanding grasp of what was needed to advance the goals and objectives of our Jewish community,” said Steven Hoffman, the Cleveland federation’s president. “Bennett was a mentor and inspiration to many.”

Yanowitz earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of Michigan. During World War II, he was a captain in the U.S. Army stationed with the Quartermaster Corps in Italy and the Philippines. He received his law degree summa cum laude from the Western Reserve University School of Law. For many years he was a partner in the Kahn, Kleinman, Yanowitz & Arnson Co. law firm.

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