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ShivaWatch: A Final Gong for Barris, and Other Sad Endings

Legendary American TV producer and author, Chuck Barris passed away at the age of 87. A native of Philadelphia, Barris gained fame as the founder of “The Dating Game” and “The Newlywed Game” on American TV, as well as “The Gong Show,” the parent of the “judging” TV shows that are popular worldwide. Criticized as low-brow entertainment, the shows were much loved by viewers, if not the critics. Barris also authored mysteries, an autobiography, and a story about his daughter who suffered from a bi-polar disorder and what he considered his failure as a parent. In his autobiography, which was later made into a film, Barris wrote that he was a part-time CIA assassin. The CIA denied this, and book reviewers wrote that he added this subplot to spice up the more mundane stories of TV production. Raised in a mostly secular Jewish household in Lower Merion, Barris recounted that his bar mitzvah was shared with another 13 year old, and he mostly just had “one sentence.” After surviving cancer in retirement, Barris made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem in 2000, and began attending synagogues on Friday night to give thanks for his good fortune.

Jerry Krause, a general manager of the Chicago Bulls, who was famous for putting together the teams that Michael Jordan led to six NBA basketball championships in just eight years, died at the age of 77. He had never played basketball or coached, but he was a baseball scout for the Chicago White Sox, who was hired by the Bulls to lead the team. His teams included Scottie Pippen, Charles Oakley, Bill Cartwright, Steve Kerr, Dennis Rodman, Horace Grant, Toni Kukoc and Ron Harper. Born in 1939, Jerome (Karbofsky) Krause’s parents owned a deli and later a shoe store. Krause endured bullying from some players; Michael Jordan called him “Crumbs” since he was perceived to be always eating.

Amy Krouse Rosenthal, famed for her best-selling children’s books, passed away at the age of 51 from ovarian cancer, just ten days after publishing an essay on “Modern Love: You May Want to Marry My Husband,” in The New York Times, on the topic of finding a new spouse for her husband after her passing. Her books included one about a unicorn who believes girls are real and a pea denied dessert until he finishes his candy. The titles included “Little Pea,” “Uni the Unicorn,” “I Wish You More,” “Exclamation Mark,” “Spoon,” “Chopsticks,” “Duck! Rabbit!” “Yes Day,” “The OK Book,” “The Wonder Book,” “Cookies: Bite-Size Life Lessons,” “Plant a Kiss” and “Wumbers.” IN her last essay she wrote, “I want more time with Jason. I want more time with my children. I want more time sipping martinis at the Green Mill Jazz Club on Thursday nights. But that is not going to happen. I probably have only a few days left being a person on this planet. So why I am doing this? I am wrapping this up on Valentine’s Day, and the most genuine, non-vase-oriented gift I can hope for is that the right person reads this, finds Jason, and another love story begins.” She grew up in Northbrook, a Chicago suburb. A graduate of Tufts University in Massachusetts and worked in advertising before focusing on books.

Robert “Bob” Loup, for whom a JCC is named, died at 87. Known for his magical energy, he worked to rescue refugees in Ethiopia, Jews in the USSR, and to build Jewish institutions – he was one of America’s leading philanthropists and fundraisers. Loup grew up in the Jewish community of west Denver. A graduate of the University of Colorado, he was a veteran of the Korean War. In November, one of Denver’s Jewish community’s highest awards was renamed in Loup’s honor.

Also, Gershon Kekst, a pioneer in Corporate and Wall Street Communications, (or strategic communications) passed away at 82. A public relations expert, he left Ruder Finn in 1970 to launch Kekst and Company, and specialized (and invented) in helping M&A firms (and their law firms) announce their plans to investors and the public. Raised in Salem, Massachusetts, the home of witchcraft stories, Kekst was the son of a Hebrew teacher. For 18 years, Kekst was the chairperson of The Jewish Theological Seminary’s board of trustees; he was chairman of the board at the Weizmann Institute in Rehovot, Israel, for nine years; and he also served on the boards of Brandeis University, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting-WNET Thirteen, Montefiore Medical Center, and the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem. He also was an honorary vice president of the American Jewish Committee, and was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He was a very busy person. Brandeis University president Ron Liebowitz said Kekst “embodied the Jewish ideal of using one’s gifts and talents to make the world a better place.”

Adam Krief, a young father of three, who gained media popularity for his quest for a bone marrow donor, sadly passed away from complications from bone marrow cancer at the age of 32. Celebrities including Mayim Bialik, Jason Biggs, and Kim Kardashian, helped publicize his search for a matching donor. A resident of Los Angeles, marrow donor drives were held for him in the USA, Mexico, Israel, and France. Seven matches were found. Earlier this month, a Worldwide Unity Shabbat was held for his recovery.

Author and Professor Elliott Horowitz died suddenly at 64. The author of “Reckless Rites: Purim and the Legacy of Jewish Violence (Princeton University Press),” he taught early modern Jewish history at two Israeli universities – Ben-Gurion and Bar-Ilan – and was a visiting teacher at many schools, including Oxford. He was also co-editor of Penn’s Jewish Quarterly Review, with UCLA’s Professor David Myers. The Katz Center posted on Facebook, the Horowitz “embodied the scholarly ideals of wide-ranging curiosity, cutting observation, and generous friendship, and he wrote with grace, erudition, and, often, mischief… His absence from our halls and from the collegial networks of Judaic studies will be dearly felt.” His famous essay on Coffee, Coffee Houses, and the Nocturnal Rituals of Early Modern Jewry, can be found HERE.

Also, Art Wolff, 90, of Memphis, Tennessee passed from this Earth. Perhaps a secret Lamed Vavnik during his lifetime, he was one of America’s strongest advocates for Israeli Scouts, and a “passionate, tenacious and even quixotic crusader against what he considered ill-advised” anti environmental government and private construction projects. “He gave himself a nickname — PITA. It was for Pain In The —, and he wore it as a badge of honor. A proponent of Jewish Scouting, he was among the first men in the U.S. to forge a partnership with the Israeli Scouts in an effort to build friendship between Israeli and American Jews. For decades, he hosted groups from the Israeli Scouts who came to America for summer camp. To most scouts he was known as “Saba” or grandfather.

And the man who built London’s tallest building – The Shard – Irvine Sellar, has died at 82. Sellar began his career as a seller of gloves in his father’s glove stall on Petticoat Lane. He quit school at 16, but later became a leader of British fashion industry after setting up a store, Mates, on Carnaby Street in London in the 1960s and growing it into a chain of nearly 100 stores. He then started to develop real estate. He bought the site for the Shard by London Bridge station in 1998. The design for the glass building, which was widely considered unbuildable, was famously scribbled on the back of a menu during a lunch with architect Renzo Piano.

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