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Jewish Journal

Obituaries

September 8, 2007 | 8:00 pm

Berthold A. Woythaler, Rabbi Emeritus of Temple Ner Maarav, Dies at 93

Rabbi Emeritus Berthold A. Woythaler of Temple Ner Maarav, Encino, died Saturday evening, Aug. 4, at 93, following a prolonged illness.

Woythaler spent his childhood in Danzig (Gdansk). After attending the University of Berlin, he fled to New York in 1936 to escape the Nazi regime and attended the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) where he was awarded the degree of master of Hebrew literature and was ordained rabbi.

Upon arriving on the West Coast he served as spiritual leader of Temple Beth Zion of Los Angeles and Congregation Beth Israel of Vancouver, British Columbia. He lectured at the University of British Columbia, published in the Western Jewish Bulletin of British Columbia and served on the board of the Canadian Jewish Congress.

He became rabbi of Temple Ner Tamid of Van Nuys in 1963, which later merged with Maarav Temple of Encino to become Temple Ner Maarav.

While serving as rabbi of Temple Ner Tamid, Woythaler influenced an entire generation of Jewish youth, especially those USYers in Southern California of the Pacific Southwest Region. In the 1960s and 1970s, hundreds of USYers and college students flocked to his Sabbath services to study with the man whom they affectionately called "Rabbi Bert."

Woythaler and his USYers won the International USY Award for Best Chapter four years in a row, culminating in the synagogue receiving the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism's (USCJ) Solomon Schechter Award, achieved for outstanding youth programming.

He influenced several of his young people to become rabbis and, earlier this month, several of "Rabbi Bert's Kids" utilized their sermons to pay tribute to their mentor.

In California, Woythaler was a member of the Executive Council of the Board of Rabbis and was the first chairman of the Commission of Jewish Education of the Pacific Southwest Region of the USCJ. He was a past president of the Rabbinical Assembly, Western States Region, taught at the University of Judaism (currently American Jewish University) in its early years and was the recipient of an honorary doctorate from JTS.

Woythaler was a lover of classical music and opera and was an accomplished pianist. His wife, Eva, preceded him in death in 1974. He is survived by his daughters, Miriam, Ruth and Esther; grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Chris Schwarz, Founder and Director of the Galicia Jewish Museum in Krakow, Dies at 59

On July 29 the current Jewish renaissance in Krakow lost one of its most prominent champions, Chris Schwarz, the founder and director of the Galicia Jewish Museum, who died from cancer at his home in the Kazimierz. He was 59 years old.

Born Jan. 12, 1948 in the United Kingdom, Schwarz began his career as a photojournalist in Japan in 1970. He also served for many years as the Chairman of the UK Jewish Film Festival and was on the Board of the Institute of Polish-Jewish Studies. Wherever he photographed, his interest was always the human condition, whether it be in refugee camps in Afghanistan or a hospice in England.

Schwarz first arrived in Poland in 1981 to cover the Solidarity movement, returning after the collapse of communism in 1992 to shoot photographs and write articles for the Jewish Chronicle in London. Wandering Krakow's ancient Jewish quarter, the Kazimierz, sparked his imagination. "There was such a special atmosphere. The streets still resonated from centuries of a great Jewish culture in Galicia. One that not even the Nazi ferocity could entirely erase," he said.

For over a decade, he photographed the remains of ancient synagogues, some now used as warehouses; crumbling prayer houses with magnificent murals; Orthodox cemeteries; and rain-swept fields and hills that were the hidden resting places of Jews murdered during the war.

Finding a venue to present the show in Krakow at the time posed a problem. As he explains in his book, Photographing Traces of Memory, "I arrived in Krakow on February 28th, 2004, to confront a biting Polish winter, an empty but renovated former furniture factory. I had some borrowed money and a dream. I had little Polish, no staff and no infrastructure. Seven weeks later the Galicia Jewish Museum opened."

Schwarz wanted a dynamic, vital institution that celebrated the immense contributions Jewish society had made to the history of Polish Galicia. In addition, he hoped the facility would provide a forum for multicultural dialogues and for the dissemination of exhibitions and publications to wider audiences, both Jewish and non-Jewish, around the world.

The Museum is now an important centerpiece of cultural restoration in the Kazimierz and provides lectures and seminars on Jewish history, Holocaust studies, Klezmer concerts, traditional dance forms and lessons in Yiddish and Hebrew. It also houses the largest Jewish book store in Europe.

He is survived by his mother, Joan Schwarz; and brother, William Schwarz.

The Galicia Jewish Museum is located at 18, Dajwor Street, Krakow 31-052, POLAND. www.galiciajewishmuseum.org.

Emanuel Abers died July 31 at 95. He is survived by his daughter, Laurie; brother, Arion Abramchik; and one grandson. Malinow and Silverman

Harry Abramowitz died July 30 at 92. He is survived by his great-niece, Karen Getusky; and great-nephew, David Bailinson.

Malvina Adelstein died July 24 at 85. She is survived by her husband, Jack; son, Stan (Mary); daughters, Janice Prager (Jim Benvenuto), Doreen Steinecker (David) and Marcia; five grandchildren; nieces; and nephews. Sholom Chapels

Regina Aichler died June 23 at 84. She is survived by her husband, Joseph; her son, Samuel; daughter, Helva; 10 grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren. Groman

Vivian Barnert died July 27 at 91. She is survived by her daughter, Illana. Malinow and Silverman

Doris Becker died Aug. 5 at 91. She is survived by her daughters, Ruth (Ernest) Ratowitz, Betty (John) Seinfeld; son, Jerome (Susan); five grandchildren; three great-grandchildren; and brother, Norman (Norma) Marks; and sister, Charlotte (Joseph) Raboy. Mount Sinai

Gerta Behrendt died July 24 at 94. She is survived by her son, Peter. Sholom Chapels

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