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Writer and Activist Leonard Fein Dies at 80

Longtime Forward columnist co-founded Moment magazine with Elie Wiesel

Isabel Fattal
August 14, 2014
(Leonard Fein)
(Leonard Fein)

Leonard Fein, prominent Jewish activist, author and thinker, died Thursday morning at the age of 80, the Forward reports.

A longtime columnist for the Forward, Fein was still writing for the publication as recently as last week. Fein was also responsible for several significant contributions to American Jewish life. While teaching political science, social policy and Jewish studies at Brandeis in 1975, Fein worked with Elie Wiesel to co-found Moment magazine, a publication of Jewish politics, culture and religion; he also served as the magazine’s first editor. In 1985 Fein founded Mazon, a national Jewish nonprofit dedicated to ending hunger in the U.S. and Israel, and in 1997 he founded the National Jewish Coalition for Literacy, a group that fights against illiteracy by organizing volunteer tutoring programs for at-risk children.

A longtime advocate of liberal Zionism, Fein was also one of the founding members of Americans for Peace Now. The organization issued a statement on their website paying tribute to Fein:

“…All of us were inspired by his relentless energy, buoyed by his irrepressible and often mischievous humor, and humbled in the face of his eloquence, both spoken and written….Today we smile as we remember him lovingly as a combination of philosopher and reformer, organizer and agitator, truth-teller and joke-teller, irrepressible idealist and hard-boiled realist, and one of the finest men we have had the honor to know.”

You can read Fein’s columns in the Forward here.

Isabel Fattal, a former intern at Tablet Magazine, attends Wesleyan University.