Obituaries for April 13, 2017

Ted Cutler, Boston philanthropist, businessman, dies

Ted Cutler, a philanthropist, businessman and visionary arts patron whose charitable giving included Jewish causes, hospitals and feeding the hungry in Boston and Israel, has died.

Cutler died March 30 of complications from a lung disorder. He was 86.

Cutler, who served in the early 2000s as board chairman of the Combined Jewish Philanthropies and also as a board member of AIPAC, is being remembered for his passion and devotion to the city where he rose from meager beginnings as the son of Jewish immigrants to become one of Boston’s most beloved and influential philanthropic leaders. Over the years he served on the board of a number of institutions, including Emerson College, his alma mater; Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital, and the Boston Ballet.

Over 25 years, Cutler and his late wife, Joan, donated tens of millions of dollars to human services, education, the arts and health care. Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker told the Boston Globe, “It’s a shame his very gentlemanly and old-fashioned manner and kindness won’t be with us anymore.”

Cutler led a $35 million campaign for a new building for the Greater Boston Food Bank that opened in 2009.

“Ted clearly articulated the moral imperative of Jews to give back, to make sure that the Jewish community would be there for those in need,” according to Steve Grossman, former Massachusetts state treasurer and a longtime leader and philanthropist in Jewish institutions.

As a teen, Cutler, who played bass in a cowboy band, worked his way through Emerson College, graduating in 1951, and entered the world of business by booking bands. He branched out to the wider world of charter tours, entertainment, hospitality and conventions, where he earned his wealth. Among his business partners over the years was his childhood friend Sheldon Adelson; their joint ventures, with others, included the purchase of the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas.

—JTA News and Features

Masha Leon, longtime Forward columnist, dies at 86

Masha Leon, the society columnist first for the Yiddish Forverts and then for the Daily Forward for nearly 30 years, has died.
Leon, a Holocaust survivor whose weekly column “On the Go” covered Jewish events and charity galas, died April 4. She was 86.

In February, she joined the staff of the Jewish news magazine Tablet after leaving the Forward at the end of 2016.
Leon, a native of Poland, and her mother were hidden by a Catholic woman in Warsaw during World War II. Her father, the journalist Matvey Bernstein, was arrested and imprisoned for his anti-communist sympathies.

Leon and her mother later escaped to Lithuania, where they were issued transit visas to Japan — among the 6,000 written by Japanese Consul Chiune Sugihara. After World War II they immigrated to the United States.

In 2011, Poland honored Leon with the Knight’s Cross Order of Merit, an honor granted to Polish citizens who live abroad for great service to the country. Leon was honored for helping to further the understanding of Polish-Jewish lives, history and culture through her writing.

She is survived by three daughters.

—JTA News and Features

‘Babi Yar’ poet Yevtushenko dies

Russian poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko, best known for his poem commemorating the slaughter of Jews by the Nazis at the Ukrainian ravine known as Babi Yar, has died at 84.

Yevtushenko died April 1 in Tulsa, Okla., where he had been a faculty member at the University of Tulsa since the mid-1990s.

“Babi Yar,” written in 1961 about the September 1941 massacre near the Ukrainian capital of Kiev that killed some 34,000 Jews, exposed the anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union by authorities who refused to recognize the Jewish victims of the Nazis. The poem was set to music by Dmitri Shostakovich in his Symphony No. 13.

Yevtushenko told The Associated Press in 2007 that he wrote “Babi Yar” after visiting the site of the mass killings and not finding anything to memorialize the tragedy that occurred there. An official memorial to Soviet citizens shot at Babi Yar was erected in 1976, and in 1991 the Ukrainian government allowed the establishment of a separate memorial specifically identifying the Jewish victims.

The poem begins:

No monument stands over Babi Yar.
A steep cliff only, like the rudest headstone.
I am afraid.
Today, I am as old
As the entire Jewish race itself.

The poem was a sensation in the Soviet Union, where Yevtushenko’s readings drew the kind of frenzied audiences re served for rock stars in the West.

—JTA News and Features

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