Aryeh Dean Cohen.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Aryeh Dean Cohen. What a fantastic name for a journalist. And what a stellar journalist he was.
Through some two decades at The Jerusalem Post, Aryeh made his mark as one of the paper’s most naturally gifted writers, insightful social commentators and astute critics.
Aryeh, who died in Jerusalem on Shabbat at age 63, could do anything – from researching and writing long, in-depth features and covering the complex social-welfare beat with sensitivity and dedication, to authoring side-splitting television reviews and court-side championship basketball game reportage.
A throwback to the days of journalism requiring bulldog tenacity with an ear to the ground and an eye for news, Aryeh single-mindedly threw himself into every story or column that he worked on, with the credo that getting it right was the only thing that mattered.
He loved people and hearing their stories, and he was blessed with the talent to put down those stories in print in a way that humanized them and brought them into his readers’ lives.
The accompanying column by Aryeh displays the intense love of ‘Am Yisrael
(the Nation of Israel) that he was ingrained with, as well as the anguish he felt over what he saw as injustice and people behaving unlovingly toward each other.
Aryeh grew up in Bayside, NY (Queens), the son of Hartley, an English teacher, and Dorothy, who was born in Germany and fled to England in 1938. There she was a baby nurse at the estate of Sir Ronald Storrs, the first military governor of Jerusalem, where children who were sent out of London because of the Blitz were housed. She immigrated to the US in 1939.
Aryeh, who is survived by an older brother, Jonathan, earned his BA at Queens College and his Masters in Journalism from Syracuse University, before making aliya in 1979 as part of a gar’in
of Young Judaea peers.
He married Shani Rosenfeld in 1982, and they had the first of their four children, Tamar, in 1986 – soon followed by Itai, Yaniv and Yael. Before joining The Jerusalem Post
in 1989, he worked at the Tel Aviv University public relations office.
Possessed with a wonderful sense of humor, Aryeh could recite old Tom Lehrer routines on demand and always had a groan-inducing pun at his fingertips for any occasion. Steve Linde, currently editor- in-chief of The Jerusalem Report
, recalls that when he was night editor at the Post on June 25, 1997 and Aryeh was a senior copy editor, there was a breaking news story on page 1 about the collision between Russia’s unmanned spacecraft Progress
and the Mir
space station during a docking attempt. Aryeh’s unforgettable headline, which Linde called one of the sharpest Post
headlines of all time, was: ‘Oy veys Mir!’
A lifelong New York Yankees fan, Aryeh could be seen in the early days of the Internet staying late after night shifts on the Post
’s copy desk, where he was a mainstay in the 1990s, busily poring over game recaps and stats. He was an aficionado and walking encyclopedia of classic films and TV series, and of the folk music of the early 1960s.
But most of all, Aryeh was a person with a huge heart and capacity to feel. It pained him if anyone was suffering, and he was always thinking about others. During the years when I was in annual reserve duty for a month, Aryeh would never fail to call my wife, who was trying to take care of a house full of children, and ask her if she needed anything – despite having his own hands full at home.
Aryeh encountered a series of challenges since leaving the Post
, and the family and community that he gave so much to over the years became the caregivers. But Aryeh never lost that inner spark of enthusiasm and joy for life that fortified so many of the people he encountered, and so many readers who remember his best stories.
With Aryeh’s passing, we’ve lost one of the good ones – whom we may never see the likes of again.