Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

Obituary Herb Brin, Editor of Jewish Weeklies, Was a Passionate Crusader for Israel

February 11, 2003
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Herb Brin, one of the most colorful writers and editors in the annals of Los Angeles Jewish journalism, died Feb. 6 of congestive heart failure.

His death at an old-age home in the Los Angeles area came 11 days before his 88th birthday. He died shortly after he completed his autobiography, pecked out, like the countless exposes, features and editorials he wrote, with two fingers on a manual typewriter.

For some 45 years, from the mid-1950s to the end of the century, Brin was the editor-publisher of the Heritage Jewish weeklies in Los Angeles and the surrounding area.

He was the last of the old-time newspaperman, “absolutely committed to every cause he felt just,” said his youngest son, Daniel Brin, who worked at his father’s side for 25 years and succeeded him as editor.

Amid deadlines, soliciting ads and printing his weeklies, Brin authored six books of poetry and two books on post-Holocaust Germany.

His overriding passion was Israel, which he visited countless times, and in whose capital he was buried earlier this week.

He battled enemies, or even lukewarm supporters, of Israel and the Jewish people with every fiber of his being and applied the same passion, and often blunt language, to a long list of causes, from civil rights to conservancy of the Santa Monica Mountains.

Never a very astute businessman, he fought bitterly against the realities of corporate society to maintain his chain of community papers. But at his death only the San Diego Heritage, under different ownership, has survived.

Brin was born in Chicago of immigrant parents and cut his journalistic teeth at his birthplace’s fabled City News Bureau.

After World War II army service, Brin moved to Los Angeles and found a niche as a lively feature writer of oddball human interest stories at the Los Angeles Times.

In 1954, with a wife and three small sons, Brin quit The Times, mortgaged his home, and started the Los Angeles Heritage as a 12-page weekly.

He continued to write occasionally for his old paper and covered the Eichmann trial in Jerusalem for the L.A. Times.

Throughout the years, Heritage published his investigations of white supremacy and neo-Nazi organizations, his early meetings with Soviet Jews and his picketing of the 1979 Oscar ceremonies to protest an award to British actress Vanessa Redgrave, a PLO sympathizer.

Among many accolades, Brin especially cherished the words of his friend Elie Wiesel, who wrote, “How a journalist, how an editor, could also be a brilliant poet is a source of astonishment — and gratitude.”

Brin was married and divorced three times. He is survived by his sons, Stan, a business reporter; David, a best-selling author of science fiction novels; Daniel, an editor; and six grandchildren.

Recommended from JTA