Appreciation: The loss of a renaissance man

A native of Baltimore, a proud Israeli, and a citizen of the world, Joe Hoffman possessed a spark of enthusiasm for life and an optimistic outlook.

October 7, 2015 03:17
2 minute read.
Joe Hoffman

Joe Hoffman. (photo credit: Courtesy)

You don’t find many sports writers with a doctorate in art history. But that dichotomy typified the life of Joe Hoffman.

A native of Baltimore, a proud Israeli, and a citizen of the world, Joe possessed a spark of enthusiasm for life and an optimistic outlook that utilized cynicism, humor, bawdiness, and heart to spark all those who came in contact with him.

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In the early 1990s, as one of The Jerusalem Post’s co-sports editors along with Ori Lewis, Joe would show up for his shifts often dressed to the nines, in matching beige or white pants, vest and tie, crowned by a colorcoordinated fedora.

A child of the 60s who also evoked many of the gentlemanly old-world characteristics of the era before him, Joe embraced all of his many sides. He could talk baseball and his beloved Orioles for hours with the same passion he possessed for nuances of Italian Renaissance art. He was a raconteur, equally at home in philosophical repartee at a posh cocktail party or spinning yarns in a smoky speakeasy.

Following his stint as sports editor, Joe put his art historian side to work as a culture and arts writer for The Jerusalem Report. In later years, he lived in Italy and California, before returning to Israel where he spent the rest of his life, near his three children, Avigail, Ariel, and Ruti.

Long-divorced, Joe appreciated the finer things in life – especially women, who were attracted to him by his charm, twinkle, and style. Many old friends reminiscing about him recalled that he always would show up for a dinner or an event with an attractive and urbane date on his arm.

While at the Post for only a relatively short time in the paper’s decades-long history, Joe made his mark on everyone he worked with. When news of his death over Succot made the rounds on social media, past colleagues were quick to remember the Joe they loved. “ A colorful character so full of life,” “a man who knew how to enjoy life to the fullest,” and “a passionate, special man” were just some of the accolades that poured in.

Some people, although they may only touch your life for a short time, really never leave. Their aura, their bon mots, and their spirit stay with you. Joe was one of them – an original thinker and a thoughtful writer. He’ll be long remembered for his laugh, his grace, his off-color jokes, and his capacity for kindness... and, of course, his impeccable sense of fashion.

They don’t make them like him anymore.

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