Theo Bikel (PPI chair) mourns Leonard ‘Leibel’ Fein

Theo Bikel (PPI chair) mourns Leonard ‘Leibel’ Fein

The following is from our board chair, Theodore Bikel:

PPI board chair, Theo Bikel

Last week the progressive American Jewish community lost one of its giants. Leonard ‘Leibel’ Fein’s contribution to the Jewish social justice movement in the United States was without parallel, and as a professor of politics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he built an intellectual foundation for his activism. As an early board member of such organizations as the New Israel Fund and Americans for Peace Now, he found a pragmatic outlet for his vision for Israel. As a talented and witty writer, he made clear that the act of supporting progressive movements in Israel was the core of Zionism’s vitality.

He was a personal friend to several members of the Partners for Progressive Israel board. Lilly Rivlin grew up with Leibel, both of them having attended Moshava, the Habonim camp.

Lilly said of Leibel: “We will miss his analyses, his sense of humor, his yiddishkite, and his soul.”

As a close, personal friend, I wrote a special kaddish for Leibel:

Leonard ‘Leibel’ Fein, Z”L

Kaddish is said at the end of a lesson.

Today’s Kaddish also marks the end of a lesson; a lesson of courage, of endurance, of leadership by a man with unflagging optimism. A man who saw in his mind a world better than what we have and did much to make it better: a better America, a better Israel, a better Jewish community, a better world altogether.

We will all miss him immensely, few more than I because he was my dear friend. Careful writer that he was, Leibel foresaw this day and made certain requests. One of them was to me, a request to sing a song in Yiddish to mark his passing:

Dizun vet aruntergeyn untern barg
vet kumen a goldene pave tsu flien
un mitnemen vet zi unz ale ahin
ahin vu di benkshaft vet tsien

The sun will be setting soon over the hill
A peacock will come and gold majesty show
And with him we’ll fly
Leaving earth far below
To a land where all longing does go

I shall be singing this song in my heart for Leibel.

Theodore Bikel, Board Chair
Partners for Progressive Israel

By | 2014-08-18T18:02:00-04:00 August 18th, 2014|Blog|0 Comments

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