2 prominent Dutch Jews, Uri Coronel and Bloeme Evers, die on same day
AMSTERDAM — Two of Dutch Jewry’s best-known public figures, Uri Coronel and Bloeme Evers, died on the same day.
Coronel was the chairman of the Israelite Portuguese Community of the Netherlands. He died on July 25 at the age of 69 after he collapsed at a gym while exercising, the Dutch Israelite Religious Community, or NIK, said in a statement.
His death was widely reported in Dutch media not only because it left the country’s oldest existing Jewish community without a leader, but also because he used to be the chairman of the Ajax soccer club from 2008 to 2011. He was among the first Ajax chairmen to fight against fans calling themselves Jews.
The self-applied nickname, referencing the rich Jewish history of the Dutch capital, led to anti-Semitic incidents because it was seen as an invitation to fans of rival teams to use anti-Semitic hate speech at matches — a phenomenon that is common today despite Coronel’s efforts to curb it.
Evers’ death at the age of 89 on July 25 in Israel was also widely reported in the Netherlands, where the Trouw daily described her as “the unofficial queen of Jewish Amsterdam.” A Holocaust survivor who escaped the genocide in hiding before she was sent to Auschwitz, she grew up in a secular home but became more religious later in life, writing prodigiously in Dutch media on current affairs seen through the prism of Judaism.
A psychologist, she had written several books about the Holocaust.
She was cherished both in observant and secular circles of Dutch Jewry, giving frequent talks and lectures at Jewish institutions as well as at schools and churches. She spoke against racism but at the same time argued against avoiding certain issues out of political correctness.
She said that most anti-Semitic crimes in the Netherlands today are committed by Muslims — an assertion that is compatible with the findings of watchdog groups – and called on leaders of that community fight the phenomenon.
She had six children, including Raphael Evers, who is a prominent rabbi in the Netherlands. Most of them, as well as her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, now live in Israel. She was buried in Israel, where she only recently moved to live in an old-age home in the Tel Aviv suburb of Herzliya.
—JTA News and Features
Nathan ‘Gino’ Narboni, served in 3 countries’ air forces, dies at 92
Nathan “Gino” Narboni, a veteran of the French Air Force who volunteered to fly a combat plane during Israel’s War of Independence and also served in the U.S. Air Force, has died.
Narboni died July 16 at his home near San Antonio, Texas. He was 92.
Narboni, who was born in a Jewish community in what was then French Algeria, was the son of a prominent physician and had planned to attend medical school.
He joined the French Air Force in 1943 and trained in the United States as a pilot on a B-26 bomber. World War II ended before he could serve in combat, however.
In July 1948, at the age of 25, Narboni secretly flew a cargo plane into the new State of Israel, evading an embargo set up by the United Nations and the United States, and became a part of the Mahal brigade comprised of volunteers from abroad. Mahal included some 4,000 Jewish and some non-Jewish volunteers from the U.S., Canada, South Africa, Britain, France, Scandinavia and approximately 20 other countries.
“Why did I come to Israel in 1948? I was not brought up in a religious atmosphere, but my family and I felt strongly about our Jewish heritage,” Narboni told The Jerusalem Post in a June 2014 article. “I had a skill that Israel could use, so I decided to volunteer. Today, I am still attached to Israel.”
Following the war, Narboni flew as a pilot for Israel’s national airline El Al before eventually returning to his medical studies.
In the mid-1950s he immigrated to the United States, serving as a flight surgeon, including a one-year tour in Vietnam during the war there. He retired as a colonel from the U.S. Air Force in 1981.
Narboni worked another 22 years as a civilian doctor in San Antonio before retiring.
He is survived by his wife, Charlotte, and two daughters, Nicole and Cecile.
—JTA News and Features