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Milton Himmelfarb, 87; Jewish Essayist Noted for His Wry Observations

January 18, 2006|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Milton Himmelfarb, 87, a noted essayist for Commentary magazine and other publications who was known for his wry and perceptive observations on Jewish affairs, died from complications of skin cancer Jan. 4 at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.

One of his most famous and oft-repeated phrases, coined to address why Jews remain liberal even after they become affluent, was that Jews "earn like Episcopalians and vote like Puerto Ricans."

Among his better-known essays was "No Hitler, No Holocaust," published in a 1984 issue of Commentary, in which he criticized historians who minimized the role demonic individuals played in the Holocaust.

A Brooklyn native, Himmelfarb graduated from City College of New York in 1938 and received a degree in Hebrew literature from the Jewish Theological Seminary.

In 1942, he went to work for the American Jewish Committee, eventually becoming director of information and research.

During his more than 40 years with the committee, Himmelfarb commissioned essays that cautioned about threats to sustaining the Jewish population posed by birth control and intermarriage. He also wrote about these and other subjects for Commentary, a committee publication.

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