Commander Harold (Hal) Howard Sacks, U. S. Navy Retired August 2, 1930–September 8, 2017

by | Sep 25, 2017 | Other News

With the passing of Hal Sacks, Jewish News has lost a friend, advocate, historian, and visionary—along with a writer and book review editor.

As a friend, Hal was always available for advice—and not timid about offering it up—even when it wasn’t requested.

As an advocate, he was quick to promote the merits of the newspaper when needed and bolster the staff in ways that only he could accomplish.

As the community’s unofficial historian, Hal was often called upon to write about programs, missions, and other events that took place decades ago. As a book reviewer, he shared just the right amount of details with his readers to tease them to read the book, or to pass on it. His wit, his personal experiences, and, his near encyclopedic knowledge of so many subjects…from cooking to Israeli politics—made each of his reviews informative and, often, great fun to read.

As a visionary, he offered myriad ideas for articles and themes—often writing them himself. And, his vision that Jewish News should have digital archives accessible via the Internet from anywhere across the globe, came to fruition only due to his insistence and personal funding. Now, through The Hal Sacks Jewish News Archives, it is possible to access the newspapers of the Tidewater Jewish community dating back to 1945.

“Hal was somebody who gently offered welcomed guidance to a new professional arriving in Tidewater as the Jewish Family Service CEO,” says Harry Graber, United Jewish Federation of Tidewater executive vice president.

“His guidance turned into support and eventually an offered friendship that was based upon mutual respect and a commitment to our people. We debated, we differed, but most of all we agreed on the most important matters of principle, ethics, and professional standards of excellence. He will be greatly missed by me and our community,” says Graber.

In his eulogy, Dr. Edward Karotkin noted, “Hal’s obituary…gave an extensive accounting of his accomplishments, both during his distinguished 20-year military service and his entry into the world of business once he retired. How many of us can claim to have two rewarding careers?” (In addition to Hal’s military and business careers, he also worked extensively in the non-profit world, taught English, and authored two books…but, for Hal, those are just details.)

“There was much more to Hal than fundraising,” Karotkin said. “Perhaps it was his military service, his experience in the business world, and his keen sense of human nature that gave him an edge in addressing challenges facing Tidewater Jewish Foundation. But we all know, Annabel, that he could not have done any of this without you, his First Mate. Actually, Annabel was not really First Mate for the Commander, but she was in fact, the Admiral.”

– Terri Denison