Obituaries for September 7, 2016

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Israeli father dies waiting for return of son’s remains

JERUSALEM — Herzl Shaul, whose son’s remains have been held by Hamas since the 2104 Gaza war, was buried after dying of cancer.


Herzl Shaul died Sept. 2, at the age of 54, less than a year after being diagnosed with intestinal cancer. He was buried Sept. 4 in northern Israel.

Even during his illness, he worked tirelessly for the repatriation of his son Oron Shaul’s body, as well as that of Hadar Goldin, who also was taken by Hamas during Operation Protective Edge. Both soldiers were later declared dead by the Israeli government in consultation with religious and medical authorities.

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“Herzl Shaul was a brave man and until his last days he fought to return his son’s remains for a Jewish burial. At the same time, over the past year, he was compelled to fight the cancer with which he had been stricken. I saw him several times and on each occasion, from meeting to meeting, he appeared more gaunt, and heroically met the double tragedy that befell him and his family,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement following Herzl Shaul’s death.

“The State of Israel will continue to do all it can to fulfill the obligation upon it to bring Oron to rest alongside his father, Herzl,” Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said.


Hours before his death, Shaul asked his son Aviram Shaul to promise that he would not rest until his brother was returned to Israel, Israel Hayom reported.

“I very much wanted and prayed to [be able] to see Oron brought back, but I didn’t have any more strength. They exhausted me and broke me. I’m asking you to promise me that you won’t break and you’ll bring Oron back to your mother,” Shaul told his son.

Herzl Shaul is survived by his wife and two sons.

Also on Sept. 2, Aryeh Bar-Natan, whose only child, Haim Bar-Natan, was killed in the first Lebanon War nearly 25 years ago, committed suicide on his son’s grave in the Mount Herzl cemetery in Jerusalem.

Bar-Natan also was suffering from cancer and visited the grave daily, saying it helped him feel better, according to reports.

—JTA News and Features

Steven Hill, ‘Law & Order’ actor, dies at 94

Steven Hill, an Orthodox Jewish actor best known for playing a Jewish Manhattan district attorney on the hit TV series “Law & Order,” has died at 94.

Hill, who sacrificed numerous career opportunities so that he could observe Shabbat, died Aug. 23 in Monsey, N.Y., Hollywood Reporter said, citing Hill’s son, Rabbi Yehoshua Hill.

The New York Times cited Hill’s daughter, Sarah Gobioff, in reporting that Hill lived in Monsey, a heavily Orthodox Jewish area in suburban Rockland County, but died in Manhattan.

On NBC’s “Law & Order,” Hill played District Attorney Adam Schiff for more than 225 episodes from 1990 to 2000, earning two Emmy nominations for outstanding actor in a drama series. Schiff was loosely modeled on longtime Manhattan DA Robert Morgenthau, who also was Jewish.

In a 1996 interview with The Washington Post cited in the Times obituary, “Law & Order” creator Dick Wolf called Hill “the Talmudic influence on the entire zeitgeist of the series.”

“Steven has more moral authority than anyone else on episodic TV,” Wolf said.

In a statement made after Hill’s death, Wolf said, “Steven was not only one of the truly great actors of his generation, he was one of the most intelligent people I have ever met. … He will be missed but fortunately he can be seen ubiquitously on Law & Order reruns.”

Hill, born Solomon Krakovsky in Seattle,  made his professional acting debut in the 1946 production of “A Flag Is Born,” a controversial Zionist play by Ben Hecht.

In the 1960s, after having established himself in television and on Broadway, Hill became Orthodox. In a 1983 interview with The New York Times, Hill said he was inspired to explore Judaism after performing the role of Sigmund Freud in “A Far Country,” a play in which a character screamed “You’re a Jew!” at the founder of modern psychology.

“When she would let loose this blast, I would take it. And in the pause that followed, I would think, ‘What about this?’ And I was provoked to explore my religion,” Hill told the Times. “I slowly became aware that there was something more profound going on in the world than just plays and movies and TV shows.”

Hill appeared on several hit shows and was in the original cast of “Mission Impossible,” but was forced to leave after a year due to his unavailability for rehearsals on Friday night and Saturday.

After a 10-year hiatus from acting in which he worked in real estate and writing, Hill returned to acting in 1977, appearing in several TV shows and films, including “Thirtysomething,” “Yentl” and “Brighton Beach Memoirs.”
Hill is survived by his second wife, Rachel, nine children, and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

—JTA News and Features

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