Zachor Bronfman

Zachor Bronfman

Edgar M. Bronfman, Jr. passed away at 84 in New York City over the weekend. The billionaire businessman and philanthropist, he took an active role in the organizations he funded and brought a business and marketing strategists keen eye and acumen to their leadership boards.

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algoldstein1Another king and former resident of the Upper East Side passed away last week, and his death made the front page of The New York Times. Al Goldstein, the publisher of Screw magazine, a tasteless, hard-core pornography book, died in Brooklyn at 77. The first issue of Screw featured a woman in a bikini stroking a salami. The salami was kosher. Goldstein enjoyed offending people, and was arrested numerous times. His estranged son barred him from his Harvard Law School graduation. His public access television cable television show (Midnight Blue) was used as a pulpit from which Goldstein lambasted his critics and those for whom he had grudges or who offended him in the most trite ways.

In a court case, told that his magazine had no redeeming value, he responded that giving a reader an erection had redeeming value. In the past decade, Goldstein filed for bankruptcy protection from creditors, lost ownership of his homes and businesses, and took minimum wage jobs, including that of a greeter at a kosher deli in Manhattan. At one point, he was living in a homeless shelter, and then in a cramped apartment on Staten Island paid for by his Penn Jillette, the Las Vegas magician.

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Sam Barshop, 84, a king of low cost motels passed away in Texas. He was a co-founder of La Quinta Motor Inns. In 1967, with his brother Philip, Sam borrowed $45,000 to launch their first two La Quintas; by 1974, they had 200 locations. The Barshop family name graces several San Antonio buildings, including a swimming center at the University of the Incarnate Word, and a Jewish Community Center. It was important to Barshop that the center reach out to the larger community. The JCC is so highly regarded throughout San Antonio, that its membership is 60 percent non-MOT

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Peter Lewis, a billionaire, business leader and philanthropist who changed the way insurance is sold in North America also passed away. Lewis grew Progressive Corp. from a small-time insurance company to one of the largest auto insurers in the United States. By insuring those drivers that other insurers rejected, Progressive was able to charge higher premiums. Lewis funding Jewish causes, Princeton University, Ohio universities, and the campaign to legalize marijuana, a controlled substance that he used for over four decades to control pain. He found it better than scotch. He was one of the largest funders of the Guggenheim Museum before stepping down as a trustee eight years ago after a disagreement over their plan to expand worldwide.

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Joe Bihari, a music producer who discovered and developed B.B. King, Etta James the Cadets, Young Jessie, Jesse Belvin, and Ike Turner, passed away at 88. Bihari spent much of his childhood in a New Orleans Jewish orphanage. In 1945, with his older brothers, Joe, Jules Lester, and Saul, Joe Bihari started “Modern Music Records.” They stocked juke boxes and needed more 45 RPM records. In 1951, Joe recorded a young disc jockey and blues singer from Memphis — B.B. King. The session, which yielded King’s first hit recording, “Three O’Clock Blues,” was recorded in a black YMCA building with Ike Turner on piano. Turner also helped Mr. Bihari locate and record the slide guitarist Elmore James in a Canton, Miss., juke joint. King left them in 1962 over disagreements on rights and formats.

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