Remembering a Great Scholar and Defender of Jews: Harold Brackman
I was shocked to open my inbox on Sunday, and receive a message that Harold Brackman had passed away. Harold was a brilliant, prolific, and fiercely pro-Jewish scholar, whose work ranged from the historic, to his work with the Simon Wiesenthal Center, to his crusade to expose the hatred of Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam.
As the Opinion Editor at The Algemeiner, I worked with Harold on a weekly basis. He produced some amazing content — usually my favorite on the site — and I strongly encourage you to look up his past catalogue here.
Being an Opinion Editor is an interesting position; some authors are easy to deal with, others are not. Some re-write versions of the same article over and over. Others only write on current events. Most are only interested in speaking to you when they have a new article.
Harold Brackman, however, defied all these expectations. I’ve developed great relationships with many authors over my 8 years in this position, but none will ever be quite like Harold. He was a combination of a grandfatherly mentor, and a zany uncle.
Brackman was educated at UCLA, and focused much of his work on the relations between Jews and African-Americans. He wrote extensively about the longstanding and positive connections between Jews and Black people that often go unreported.
While he sometimes wrote on current affairs, I always loved — and encouraged it — when Harold would write on historical issues, often unearthing amazing histories that had been lost. Just three days before his death, I was telling a friend of mine about this article he wrote about America’s first non-Jewish, “Jewish novelist.”
Harold had an abundance of intellectual curiosity, and a scope of knowledge (Jewish or otherwise), that I have found very rare in life.
He was so proud of his work for The Algemeiner (something his assistant confirmed to me upon his passing). I always took the time to tell Harold how much I loved his articles when they really spoke to me; I was glad I did so at the time, and am even more glad that I did so now.
I’m glad Harold knew how I felt about him; and the only positive lesson we can take from his death is to tell those around us how much we value and appreciate them.
Although Harold has only been gone for two days, I know that for the next few months, I’ll feel a pit in my stomach when I open my email on Monday or Tuesday morning, and don’t see his new article with the subject heading: “PLEASE CONFIRM RECEIPT.”
I can safely say that Harold and I developed a true friendship from our time working together. He was even supportive of my work outside of The Algemeiner. Years ago, I showed him a play I wrote about Sophie Scholl — a German college student who resisted the Nazis during World War II.
Aside from reading it, I would get an e-mail from Harold every few months when he saw something about Sophie Scholl in the news. He remembered, and he cared. I had so looked forward to showing him a new script that I have written about the Rosenberg spy trial, and feel so deprived that it will never happen.
The Jewish world lost a great defender and scholar — one who embodied the best of Jewish values, took a level-headed approach to the issues, and was interested in so many interesting things that seem to be slipping away from our culture on a daily basis.
But more importantly, I lost a friend. Goodbye, Harold. Thank you. May your memory be a blessing — it will be to me.
David Meyers is the Opinion Editor at The Algemeiner.