Robert Slater, one of Israel’s greatest English-language journalists, died on Tuesday at the age of 70 after a long illness. A native of New York City, he authored 26 books, including biographies of Yitzhak Rabin, Golda Meir, and Moshe Dayan. A lover of family and people, writing and sports, he also penned the best-selling Great Jews in Sports, and was a lifelong supporter of the New York Giants football team. He had a distinguished career in journalism, in which he worked for UPI (first in the US and then in Jerusalem from 1973-1974), Time magazine (from 1976 to 1996 in Jerusalem) and served as chairman of the Foreign Press Association (between 1987 and 1990). In recent years, he wrote a regular column for The Jerusalem Report, and served as a volunteer ombudsman at The Jerusalem Post. He is survived by his wife, Elinor, their three children, Adam, Miriam, and Rachel, and seven grandchildren. The following is Rachel Slater’s eulogy addressed to her father at his funeral in Jerusalem on Tuesday.
‘We started our lives with our backs to the walls.”
You wrote these words to our mother on your 40th anniversary.
You were always good with words. So I hope you don’t mind that I borrowed some of yours to get me started.
People know that I have a thing with fairy tales. That’s because I witnessed true love all my life. The walls you were talking about were the walls of the high school where you met mom. You were 15. The letters of your family names were so close to each other, they themselves could have whispered that the writing indeed was on the wall.
With mom’s “R” for Resnik and your “S” for Slater, you were told to sit next to each other. And so you did. You became high school sweethearts and the rest is history.
I’m sitting here at your desk, making sure my coffee is far from the computer. God forbid.
If ever you tried to warn me that danger lurks in life, it would indeed be the fear of harming one’s computer. While some people cherish the company of dogs, the computer was genuinely one of your best friends.
Unlike the loyalty people had for their pets, you loved your computer so much, you had to buy a new one each year. Lord only knows what new features were in the latest model; if Bill Gates built a new toy, you had to play with it.
The keyboard was your vehicle.
Typing away, you dashed off to many races. Mastering and channeling thousands of words that spun into books, articles, profiles, biographies.
You were lucky to know what you wanted to do all your life – all you had to do was pick a project or a persona that interested you and you told their story with passion, grace, and remarkable skill.
So here I am, Daddy, trying to tell your story; but I’m so full of sadness and gratitude that I can’t seem to keep my train of thought.
I simply want to thank you sincerely for the gift of life that you gave me. I want to tell the world that I feel so lucky and blessed to have you as my father.
No matter what happened you were always there for me and all of us; always generous, loving, and supportive.
Eight years ago when you got sick you showed me that when the going gets tough, the tough get stronger. You hanged on to life and you enjoyed it with all of us.
In the last two months I’ve been trying to understand if now the time has come for the tough to get going, and I think you nobly answered that question a few months ago when we celebrated your 70th birthday.
You told us, and I dare quote again, “The greatest thing about turning 70 is that you get to see how it all turns out.”
You got to marry your true love, you got to bring three amazing children into the world, watch them grow and expand, find their matches, and spring some more amazing grandchildren into the world.
You got to be the writer you aspired to be, and have an amazing career full of adventures and achievements. AND you got to live happily ever after.