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Shiva Stars

Marc Tracy
June 02, 2011
Arthur Goldreich in 2001.(NYT/John Hogg/The Star Johannesburg, via Associated Press)
Arthur Goldreich in 2001.(NYT/John Hogg/The Star Johannesburg, via Associated Press)

Each week, we select the most interesting Jewish obituary. This week (or, really, from last week), it’s that of Arthur Goldreich. A South Africa-born Israeli, Goldreich made waves from the age of 11, when he demanded to be taught Hebrew instead of the German that was then in vogue, given that it was 1940 and it seemed possible the Nazis would take over the world. While still a teenager, he fought for Israel’s independence in the Palmach. When he returned to his homeland in the 1950s, he joined the militant anti-apartheid group led by Nelson Mandela (as well as, likely, the Communist Party); by 1963, he was hiding the great leader, and was eventually arrested, along with Mandela and several others. He avoided the decades in jail Mandela suffered only by bribing a guard, disgusing himself as a priest, and fleeing to Tanzania.

Back in Israel, and incidentally a gifted painted and designer, he helped Jerusalem’s Bezalel Academy of Art and Design rise to its current status of international prominence. Late in life, he also took to criticizing Israeli policy, referring at one point to the occupation as “bantustanism.” His death in Tel Aviv was announced by the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.

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