Jewish Life Stories: A nurse who met Churchill, a rabbi who warned about the Internet


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Hannah Deutch, 101, a refugee and nurse who cared for Britain’s wounded

Hannah Deutch frequently spoke to audiences about fleeing Nazi Germany as a teenager and arriving in England, where she trained as a nurse and treated war casualties as an enlistee in the British army. “I remember Churchill came to visit, a cigar in his hand, and thanked us for our service,” she once recalled. “That was something.” She followed her Canadian husband to Canada, and after his early death traveled to Chile for a reunion with her mother, who had survived the Holocaust. She later moved to New York to work as an accountant in an advertising agency, and was a member of the Jewish Center of Jackson Heights for more than 40 years. “To save a life is God’s work,” she once said. She died Jan. 29 at age 101.

David Karp, 70, go-to photographer for New York’s Jewish groups

David Karp.

David Karp was a freelance photographer for AP for almost 30 years, and also photographed events for Israeli and Jewish organizations. (Courtesy Jin Cao)

David Karp, a news photographer who could often be seen snapping honorees, philanthropists and staff at Jewish events throughout New York City, died Jan. 7 at age 70. His wife, Jin Cao, told the Associated Press that he suffered a massive brain hemorrhage. Born in Holon, Israel, Karp served in the Israel Defense Forces during the 1973 Yom Kippur War, and moved to the United States in 1992. In addition to working on assignment for Jewish organizations, he was a freelance photographer for the AP for almost 30 years.

A photo by David Karp shows Abe Foxman (center), former national director of the Anti-Defamation League, with Cardinal Timothy Dolan (left) and U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice (right) at an event honoring Foxman in New York on June 17, 2015. (David Karp)

“David was our go-to freelance photographer for all of ADL’s events in New York City for well over two decades,” Todd Gutnick, senior director of communications at the Anti-Defamation League, told JTA. “His photography captured the essence and spirit of Jewish life and leadership in America. David never missed a shot, and he had a knack for whispering stage directions to his subjects in Hebrew, English and sometimes even Yiddish. I’ll deeply miss his sense of humor, his kindness, his love of Jewish food and traditions, and the many stories he shared about his previous life in Israel, and his celebrity encounters.”

Rabbi Matisyahu Salomon, 86, who warned of online dangers 

Rabbi Matisyahu Salomon.

Rabbi Matisyahu Salomon was a spiritual adviser for for three decades at Beth Medrash Govoha, the haredi Orthodox yeshiva in Lakewood, New Jersey. (Courtesy Agudath Israel of America)

Rabbi Matisyahu Salomon, a dean and spiritual adviser at Lakewood, New Jersey’s massive Beth Medrash Govoha yeshiva who in May 2012 organized a stadium rally to warn against the dangers of the internet, died Jan. 2. He was 86. More than 40,000 haredi Orthodox men filled Citi Field in Queens, New York to hear rabbis decry the online world, which one speaker called a “minefield of immorality.” Born in Gateshead, England, Salomon served almost 30 years as assistant “mashgiach” at the Lakewood yeshiva, stressing ethics and piety in his lectures and one-on-one encounters with students. “With his clarity of thought and eloquent delivery, he reached the minds and hearts of Yidden [Jews] and inspired them to enhance their Torah learning, performance of mitzvos, and improve their middos,” or virtues, according to the Haredi news site Hamodia.

Pearl Berg, 114, the world’s oldest Jew

Pearl Berg.

Pearl Berg (aged 3) with her parents Archiebald and Anna (Gerson) Synenberg in 1913; at right, Berg in recent years. (Gerontology Research Institute, Gerry Teitelbaum/Judy Taback)

Pearl Berg, thought to be the oldest Jewish person in the world and the third oldest American, died Thursday in Los Angeles. She was 114.

A philanthropist active in her local Hadassah chapter, Berg was married for 58 years to Mark Berg, a businessman and investor. He died in 1989.

“She maybe had a sip of Sabbath wine but she didn’t drink, she didn’t smoke, she ate sensibly, she had good emotional balance and she clearly had remarkable genes,” Berg’s youngest son, Robert Berg, told the Los Angeles Times.

Berg was born Oct. 1, 1909 in Indiana and raised in Pittsburgh, where she was confirmed at Rodef Shalom Congregation and attended secretarial school. In a tribute written on her 114th birthday, Rabbi John Rosove of Temple Israel of Hollywood, where Berg was a member, remembered that her parents, Archiebald and Anna (née Gerson) Synenberg, were “itinerant photographers” who traveled widely looking for work. Her father later ran a used car business. When that enterprise failed, the family moved to Los Angeles, where Berg met her husband.

“Jewish life was always a priority in Pearl’s life,” Rosove wrote. “She and Mark joined Temple Israel of Hollywood in 1938 where they raised their sons Alan and Robert,” who survive her, as does a granddaughter, Belinda Berg. “She was an avid supporter of Hadassah,” serving for two years as president of the Nordea chapter in Los Angeles, “and a life-long supporter of the State of Israel.”

At the time of her death, she was the ninth oldest living person in the world.

Lawrence Langer, 94, scholar of Holocaust survivors’ testimonies

Lawrence Langer's “Holocaust Testimonies.”

Lawrence Langer’s “Holocaust Testimonies,” published in 1991, won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism. (Courtesy; Yale University Press)

“One of the first things I learned is that you cannot generalize about the Holocaust experience,” Lawrence Langer told an interviewer in 2004. “We have to particularize constantly. So that’s what I devoted my life to try to find out: What was it really like?’’ In dozens of books and essays — most famously “Holocaust Testimonies: The Ruins of Memory” (1991) — Langer, a longtime professor of English at Simmons University in Boston, analyzed survivors’ accounts of the Holocaust and insisted that they not be sentimentalized. “One cannot open a book that deals with any aspect of Holocaust memory, testimony, or literature without encountering not only Langer’s name but also a discussion of his ideas,” the editors of the Journal of Holocaust Research wrote in 2020. Langer died Jan. 29 at a hospice near his home in Wellesley, Massachusetts. He was 94. 

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