Leonard Fein, liberal activist and scholar

Leonard Fein

Leonard Fein, a veteran Jewish activist and writer, died at 80 on Aug. 14 in New York. The longtime columnist of the Forward lived in Watertown, Mass.

A prominent voice of Jewish liberalism and left-wing Zionism, Fein was the author of numerous books on Jewish issues and politics.

Fein was the founder of Mazon: A Jewish Response to Hunger and of the National Jewish Coalition for Literacy. He also was a founder and board member of Americans for Peace Now, the American affiliate of Israel’s Peace Now movement.

In 1975, he co-founded Moment Magazine with Elie Wiesel. Fein was a former professor of political science and social policy at Brandeis University, where he also taught Jewish studies. — jta


Sylvia Hassenfeld, philanthropist and Jewish pioneer, dies at 93

Sylvia Hassenfeld, a major Jewish philanthropist and the first female president of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, has died.

Hassenfeld, of Palm Beach, Fla., died Aug. 15. She was 93.

She served as the JDC chair from 1988 to 1992, representing the organization in the former Soviet Union and overseeing significant Jewish outreach in Central and Eastern Europe. Hassenfeld also presided over significant JDC operations in Africa.

She led the Hassenfeld Foundation, which supported Jewish and non-Jewish causes around the world. Her philanthropy was directed at the United Jewish Appeal, Brandeis University, the Jewish Agency for Israel and other Jewish and non-Jewish organizations. “Sylvia Hassenfeld was a remarkable woman who dedicated her life to improving the human condition by protecting the rights of all and promoting religious freedom,” said Frederick Lawrence, president of Brandeis.

Hassenfeld’s Jewish activism was inspired by the family involvement of her husband, Merrill, the chairman of the Hasbro company before his death in 1980, in the religious and Jewish communal life of Providence, R.I. She would go on to lead the Providence Jewish Federation.

She was a major force behind the Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at New York University, which is scheduled to open a new facility in 2017. — jta