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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Read previous columns here.
Philip Rose, 89, Broadway producer
Philip Rose, whose productions of Broadway shows such as “A Raisin in the Sun” championed black playwrights and actors, died May 31 at 89.
Rose brought “Raisin” to the stage, first in New Haven, Conn., in 1958, after encouraging the author, Lorraine Hansberry, to follow her dream to be a writer. They had met while he was a singer and she was a waitress in the Catskills.
“He said to her, ‘I hope you do become a writer because you’re a lousy waitress,’ ” recalled his wife, actress Doris Belack Rose. “That cemented the friendship.”
The nearly all-black cast of "Raisin" meant a risky bid for a previously nearly all-white Great White Way, and Rose needed more than a year to raise enough money to bring the play to Broadway. But it was a big success. The New York Drama Critics’ Circle named it the best play of 1959. It was the first play written by a black woman to be produced on Broadway, and the first with a black director.
A New York Times retrospective of the play 25 years after its premiere said it “changed American theater forever."
Sidney Poitier, who appeared in the Broadway and Hollywood productions of “Raisin,” said Rose was a good judge of actors and “could see what rested behind the words, which gave him a good measurement of the power that actor had.”
Rose’s 2001 memoir, "You Can’t Do That on Broadway! ‘A Raisin in the Sun’ and Other Theatrical Improbabilities" described how he got to know African Americans while working as a bill collector in Washington.
Author Maya Angelou said Rose "was in the right place so many times and he was the right person to be in those places."
Rose was born Philip Rosenberg on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Along with being a bill collector, he was a sometime singer and record executive before going into theatrical producing.
His other Broadway credits included the direction and production of the 1975 musical “Shenandoah,” for which he shared a Tony Award, and a 1979 musical adaptation of “A Christmas Carol,” retitled “Comin’ Uptown,” which starred Gregory Hines.
Arthur Goldreich, 82, anti-apartheid activist
Arthur Goldreich, a South African immigrant who fought in the Palmach in Israel’s War of Independence and returned to South Africa to plan a violent overthrow of its apartheid regime, died May 24 in Tel Aviv.
Returning to South Africa, Goldreich befriended and aided Nelson Mandela in the overthrow of the apartheid government. An artist and designer, he traveled to China, the Soviet Union and East Germany seeking military aid, wrote a detailed plan for the overthrow of the South African government and identified industrial targets for sabotage before being arrested and making a daring escape in which he later returned to Israel.
He befriended and hid Mandela on a farm in South Africa in 1961, but fled after an arrest known in South Africa as the "Rivonia Raid" in 1963. The Nelson Mandela Foundation quoted from a 1964 statement by Mandela during his trial:
”Whilst staying at Liliesleaf farm, I frequently visited Arthur Goldreich in the main house and he also paid me visits in my room. We had numerous political discussions covering a variety of subjects. We discussed ideological and practical questions, the Congress Alliance … Because of what I had got to know of Goldreich, I recommended on my return to South Africa that he should be recruited to Umkhonto [we Sizwe, the armed wing of the ANC].”
Mandela was said to have been impressed as well by Goldreich’s military experience in the Palmach.
Upon his return to Israel, Goldreich opened the Industrial and Environmental Design Department at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem, and later became a critic of the Israeli government, saying that the Jewish state had strayed from the ideals of Zionism and begun to resemble South African white-minority rule.
“Don’t you find it horrendous that this people and this state, which only came into existence because of the defeat of fascism and Nazism in Europe, and in the conflict six million Jews paid with their lives for no other reason than that they were Jews?” he said in 2006. “Is it not abhorrent that in this place there are people who can say these things and do these things?”