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Obituary David Friedman, a News Junkie and Former JTA Bureau Chief, Dies

December 9, 2003
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David Friedman, JTA’s former Washington bureau chief, died Dec. 2 after a long illness. He was 68.

Friedman, a career journalist, worked at JTA in New York and later as the Jewish news service’s Washington bureau chief from 1981 until his retirement in 1992.

“He was interested in emerging nations and wanted to be a foreign correspondent,” longtime friend and fellow journalist Barry Robinson said.

Instead, he went to Washington, covering international issues from the U.S. capital.

Born in New York City in 1935, Friedman grew up in Newark, N.J. He returned to New Jersey to work at the Asbury Park Press and The Trentonian after newspaper stints at the Bryan Times in Ohio and the Pompano Beach Sun, in Florida.

Friedman and Robinson met and began their journalism careers in New Jersey.

Friedman often tried to put pun headlines on stories, Robinson recalled.

When an Israeli politician whose last name was Gur lost an election, Friedman headlined the piece “Gur nicht” — “Gur nothing” — drawing on Yiddish humor.

“He loved that wordplay,” Robinson said.

Friedman’s tenure in Washington coincided with pivotal news events, including Israel’s war in Lebanon, the first Palestinian intifada, the massive Soviet Jewry march on Washington and the battle over loan guarantees for Israel, said Mark Joffe, JTA’s executive editor and publisher.

“He clocked many hours at the White House, at the State Department and in the halls of Congress, enabling us to provide a Jewish take on the news,” Joffe said.

Friedman’s time in Jewish journalism predated his stint at JTA. When he lived in Tel Aviv, Friedman worked as a freelance writer and editor.

It was there that Friedman also met his future wife, Toby Schwartz, who was visiting Israel from Toronto.

Returning to the United States in 1972, Friedman married Schwartz and began his association with JTA the following year.

Robinson recalls Friedman as a loyal friend, an objective critic and a news junkie.

After his retirement in 1992, Robinson says, Friedman kept up with news by tuning into 24-hour news programs.

“Right up until the end, in fact, even as David was dying, I believe in the hospital room it probably happened that CNN was on,” Robinson said.

In addition to his wife, Friedman is survived by his sister, Renee Gross, two nieces and two nephews.

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