Frankel, William 1917–2008

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Frankel, William 1917–2008


See index for CA sketch: Born February 3, 1917, in London, England; died of a cerebral hemorrhage, April 18, 2008, in Washington, DC. Newspaper editor and journalist, lawyer, and author. The Jewish Chronicle of London, England, had been a venerated newspaper for more than one hundred years when Frankel took over the helm as general manager in 1955, but it was Frankel who reportedly breathed new life into the aged publication. He became the editor in 1958 and a director of the governing board in 1977, and he continued to write for the paper for the rest of his life. The Jewish Chronicle had long been a voice for the Orthodox (and informally orthodox) Jewish establishment, reporting mainly on the somewhat parochial activities of local personalities and institutions. Frankel changed all that. He hired journalists from around the world and encouraged them to report on events of interest to the larger Jewish community—international events from wars and war trials to civil and human rights activities to news items from Israel, the U.S.S.R., and other places where large numbers of Jews abided. He published opposing viewpoints from multiple factions of organized Jewry, angering Orthodox leaders at times but increasing circulation at every turn. His intention, he once claimed, was to use the freedom of speech and freedom to challenge authority as tools to strengthen religious faith and preserve age-old traditions, not to cast them aside. When the controversies generated by the Jewish Chronicle escalated to the point where a takeover by the establishment was deemed a viable threat, Frankel orchestrated the creation of a controlling trust to ensure the paper's independence into the future. He chaired the trust from 1991 to 1994. Frankel had begun his life in an impoverished neighborhood of London, where Jewish immigrants lived in virtual segregation from the rest of the city and the rest of the world. He had begun his career as a lawyer, with no journalistic experience except for a period as correspondent for the American Jewish Committee. His long career with the Jewish Chronicle broadened his vista and his viewpoints, and in retirement he divided his time between England and the United States. Frankel was decorated a commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1970. He wrote two books: Israel Observed: An Anatomy of the State (1981) and his autobiography, Tea with Einstein and Other Memories (2006). He also edited various collections, including Friday Nights: A Jewish Chronicle Anthology, 1841-1971 (1973).



Frankel, William, Tea with Einstein and Other Memories, Halban (London, England), 2006.


Los Angeles Times, May 5, 2008, p. B5.

New York Times, May 3, 2008, p. B11.

Times (London, England), April 24, 2008, p. 60.

Washington Post, April 21, 2008, p. B6.