Deaths of Lionel Blue and Zsa Zsa Gabor

Today, I learnt of the deaths of Rabbi Lionel Blue, and the actress and socialite Zsa Zsa Gabor. As I have often reflected, the passing of well known and personally influential personalities is nowadays a regular occurrence. Both I have been aware off since my youth and in quite different ways I have an affection towards. It is difficult to connect them, other than their Jewish ancestry, yet both have strangely and more positively than not impacted me.

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In this report: “Rabbi Lionel Blue dies aged 86” we read: “Rabbi Lionel Blue, a regular on BBC Radio 4’s Thought for the Day and the first openly gay British rabbi, has died. Rabbi Blue was known for his liberal teachings and supporting other gay members of his faith. The 86-year-old from London read history at Balliol College, Oxford, and Semitics at the University of London, before being ordained in 1960…  Announcing his death on its Facebook page, representatives from the liberal London synagogue, Beit Klal Yisrael, wrote: “Lionel was a wonderful and inspirational man, who spoke with such wisdom and humour and whose words reached out far beyond the Jewish community. He was a friend and mentor to many and his courage in coming out as gay in the 1970s paved the way for many other Jews, including many Rabbis.” I have long been a fan of the Thought for the Day program and Rabbi Blue has long been my favorite presenter, an unlikely prospect maybe, given he was openly gay and theologically liberal. Yet I preferred him over more conservative presenters, nearer to my own views. The reason primarily was that he was humble, not full of himself unlike many, and had a warm, wise humanity I found uplifting, often in my darkest hours. (Just been listening to “Lionel Blue – my obituary” – ed)

In this report: “Zsa Zsa Gabor: Hollywood legend dies at 99” we read: “Actress Zsa Zsa Gabor has died at he age of 99 after suffering a heart attack, her husband has confirmed. On the point of tears, Frederic von Anhalt told the AFP news agency his wife had passed away at home, surrounded by her friends and family. “Everybody was there. She didn’t die alone,” he said. Born in Hungary, she emigrated to the United States during World War Two and made her Hollywood debut in 1952. She was married nine times. She appeared in more than 70 films, but was more famous for her celebrity lifestyle. She first married at the age of 20 and for the last (and longest) time when she was nearly 70 to the man who outlived her.” In many ways Zsa Zsa Gabor represented many of the things I disliked, yet she had qualities I admired too: like her generous nature, independent spirit, outrageous sense of humour, witty manner and couldn’t care a damn attitude when criticized.

I will miss both Lionel Blue and Zsa Zsa Gabor. Thank you for what you did give and now may they rest in peace.

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