Joseph Hochstein, 77, who was editor and publisher for nearly two decades of The Washington Jewish Week, which he co-founded with his father, died June 26 in Tel Aviv, Israel. A resident of that city since 1983, he had cirrhosis of the liver.
Born Aug. 15, 1933, in New York City, Hochstein graduated from Princeton University in 1955. Beginning in 1956 he served a two-year stint in the Army, assigned to the Armed Forces Press Service unit in New York City. His career in journalism spanned many years and news organizations: he worked for Advance News Service; was editor of the Congressional Quarterly; and worked for the Newark Star Ledger, Jersey Journal and Huntsville Times—all part of the Newhouse chain of newspapers. In Washington, D.C., he served as the information chief of a U.S. government commission on paperwork during the Carter administration.
Hochstein and his father, Philip, of New York City, started The Jewish Week in Washington as a successor to the National Jewish Ledger, in 1965, following the elder Hochstein’s retirement after 40 years as editorial director of the Newhouse organization. Philip Hochstein went on to publish The Jewish Week of New York.
Among the features in the D.C. paper was a column by a Wolf Blitzer, then a young correspondent for The Jerusalem Post. Under Hochstein, the newspaper won many American Jewish Press Association awards, covering major stories of the day including: the 1977 takeover of the Bnai Brith building in Washington by Hanafi Muslim gunmen; the 1978 signing of the Camp David Accords by Egyptian President Anwar El Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin; and the daily vigil held in the 1980s at the Soviet embassy on behalf of Soviet Jews.
Hochstein’s first marriage to Alice Ann Mott in 1955 ended in divorce. He married Anne Rutledge in 1962. They lived with their three children first in Washington, DC and then in McLean, Virginia. They ran The Jewish Week together until her death in 1981. In 1983, Hochstein married Lynne Mallioux; they divorced some years later.
In 1983, Hochstein sold The Jewish Week. On Aug. 11, 1983, just before he made aliyah to Israel, in an op ed titled “Not goodbye, but l’hitraot,” he wrote: “I love newspapering, and I have a special love for this paper, since I helped start it in 1965 with my father…What happens each week at The Jewish Week is achieved with greater difficulty than the work done in the newsrooms of great metropolitan dailies, and it is more profoundly needed. Knowing that I played a central role in making this happen helps offset the regret of leaving, as does the joy of realizing a long-held dream of living in Israel.” The paper’s new owner, Leonard Kapiloff, changed the name of the paper to Washington Jewish Week.
In making aliyah to Israel, Hochstein was following his eldest son Marcus who had spent summers living on Kibbutz Beit Hashita. Marcus became an Israeli citizen in 1984, joining the Israel Defense Forces and volunteering for a paratroop unit. In 1985, just shy of his 21st birthday, he was fatally wounded when his detail was ambushed while clearing a mine from a road near Nabatiya, Lebanon.
In 1987, Hochstein co-wrote, with Murray S. Greenfield, The Jews’ Secret Fleet: The Untold Story of North American Volunteers who Smashed the British Blockade.
On March 4, 1996, he was crossing Dizengoff Street in Tel Aviv when a suicide bomber stepped into the crosswalk with an antipersonnel bomb and exploded it. The suicide weapon killed 13 passersby and hurt more than 150 others, including Hochstein. Writing in the Princeton Alumni Weekly, he described the experience: “By rights, I should have been killed. What saved my life was an illogical, inexplicable detour onto a pedestrian bridge a moment before the explosion.”
New York Jewish Week editor and publisher Gary Rosenblatt first came to the paper in 1972, hired by Philip Hochstein, and recalls the father and son conferring frequently by phone about stories to cover in New York and Washington, respectively.
“Joe Hochstein not only covered one of the great Jewish stories of our time in the rebirth of Israel, he lived it intensely,” Rosenblatt said. “He made aliyah, was wounded by a suicide bomber and lost a son, not yet 21, serving in Lebanon in the IDF, enduring great tragedy amidst the joys of life in Israel.”
While living in Israel, Hochstein worked as a freelance editor and writer. Several years ago, he began blogging in English about life in Israel under the blog name “Israel: Like this, as if.” He also enjoyed spending time with his grandchildren, as well as making pizzas for students’ lunches at the Tel Aviv preschool operated by his daughter, Michal Elisabeth Atash.
He is survived by three sisters, Ruth Hochstein, Judith Civan and Deborah Hart Strober; his daughter Michal of Israel; son, Nathaniel Tobias Ludlow Hochstein of Israel; and eight grandchildren, Nur Atash, Maor Atash, Adam Atash, Itamar Zuckerman, Guy Hochstein, Max Hochstein, Tamara Hochstein and Uma Hochstein, of Israel.