Tribute to June Jacobs

By Sharon Shenhav

Saddened by the death of June Jacobs, Former President of ICJW, I wanted to share my memories of a 30 year friendship.

As a friend, I would stop off in London on my travels from Israel to the US to stay at June’s London home and go to the theater with her.  Those evenings were great fun and the shows chosen by June were always interesting and provocative.  I’d usually spend only one night in London, but seeing June was worth the trip!  While she was President of ICJW, I had the opportunity to watch her in action as she met with Chief Rabbis, Supreme Court Justices, political leaders, ambassadors and Jewish communal leaders.  June captivated them all with her elegance, unique charm and devilish sense of humor.

In June, 1998, shortly after the launch of the International Jewish Women’s Rights Project, we organized an international conference on Solutions to the Problem of Agunot in Jerusalem.  June joined us, graciously welcoming the speakers who included Israeli Supreme Court Justice Menachem Elon and Professor Rabbi Emanuel Rackman, Rector of Bar Ilan University.  As the President of ICJW, June made an impression on the lawyers, judges and academics with her wit and charm.  A few years later, June and I were guests at a dinner given by the Chief Rabbi of South Africa, Cyril Harris.  Born in Scotland, Cyril was known as a great raconteur as well as Jewish scholar and religious leader.  He welcomed us by speaking of his friendship with June and telling a few anecdotes about her.  Without missing a beat June responded with several funny anecdotes of her own and had us all laughing with gusto.

My favorite memory is of an unforgettable and hilarious taxi ride from Manhattan to the Riverdale, Bronx home of Blu Greenberg.  June and I were invited to a dinner meeting and given a Jewish taxi driver from Brooklyn.  He picked us up and was wowed by June’s posh accent.  During the hour long ride he proceeded to ask her questions about her background in “Brooklynese”.  June responded with humorous answers and asked a few questions as well.  The two of them did a “stand up” comedy act which had me convulsed in laughter for the full hour.

June shared our dinner table in Jerusalem many times over the years and charmed all of our guests, as well as my husband.  Known for his wit and humor, my husband loved sparring with June who could match him at the table to the delight of all those present.

May her memory be blessed.