Respected father of local Jewish leader dies

Bennett Yanowitz, a Cleveland attorney and father of East Bay Jewish community leader Jerry Yanowitz, died May 31 in Cleveland at age 88.

Bennett Yanowitz, who led many Jewish community organizations and worked to support Jewish education, was a past president of the National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council (now the Jewish Council for Public Affairs) and the Jewish Education Service of North America. He was a founding president of Akiva High School and a past president of the Jewish Federation of Cleveland.

Following in his father’s footsteps, Jerry Yanowitz has served as president of the Jewish Community Federation of the Greater East Bay, the Jewish Community Relations Council of the East Bay and the Northern California Region of AIPAC.

The elder Yanowitz was involved in civil rights causes and the efforts to free Soviet and Ethiopian Jews. He led a trip to Ethiopia for U.S. Jewish leaders, and with his wife, Donna, he spearheaded a 1975 mission to the former Soviet Union to meet with refuseniks. The couple traveled to Israel and Washington many times and visited numerous countries around the world.

A member of foundation boards and federation committees, Yanowitz chaired the board of the Mount Sinai Health Care Foundation, served on the board of governors of the Jewish Agency for Israel, and was a past vice president of the Cleveland Jewish News. For United Jewish Com-munities (now Jewish Federations of North America) and JESNA, he chaired a task force on the viability and vitality of Jewish day schools.

Yanowitz earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of Michigan. During World War II, he was an Army captain stationed with the Quartermaster Corps in Italy and the Philippines. He received his law degree summa cum laude from the Western Reserve University School of Law. For many years he was a partner in the Kahn, Kleinman, Yanowitz & Arnson law firm.

He is survived by his wife, Donna, sons Jerry of Moraga, Joel of Mill Valley and Alan of Cleveland, and seven grandchildren.