Kenneth Bialkin, longtime Jewish leader and philanthropist, dies at 89


Kenneth Bialkin, a philanthropist and a longtime leader of a plethora of major Jewish organizations, has died at 89.

The Anti-Defamation League’s CEO, Jonathan Greenblatt, announced the passing of Bialkin on Aug. 23 on Twitter.

Bialkin was the civil rights group’s national chairman in the early 1980s.

“Under Bialkin, [the] ADL was instrumental in gaining a posthumous pardon for Leo Frank,” Greenblatt said, referring to the Jewish businessman from Georgia who was convicted of murder and lynched in 1915.

The Frank case helped lead to the launch of the ADL. Frank was pardoned in 1986.

Bialkin, who was until recently active as a retired partner at the Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom legal firm, also was chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations in the mid-1980s, when it took a lead in brokering
freedoms for Soviet Jews in the final years of the USSR.

Bialkin was additionally a longtime board member of the Republican Jewish Coalition and a donor to GOP candidates.

“A passionate defender of Israel and the Jewish community, Ken’s advice and his friendship will be missed,” RJC director Matt Brooks said.

Bialkin is survived by his wife, Ann, and two daughters, Lisa and Johanna.

—JTA News and Features

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