J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami released the following statement upon the death of author and activist Leonard “Leibel” Fein:
“Leibel was a dear friend and a singular voice of conscience for the Jewish people. His death is a tremendous loss for our community.
Leibel was righteous man, a true believer in the Jewish principle of tikkun olam. His decades of advocacy for social justice causes rescued thousands, perhaps millions, from hunger, poverty and despair.
For me, he was also a treasured source of wisdom and inspiration. Throughout his life, Leibel was unafraid to wrestle with the toughest questions facing the Jewish people and Israel–particularly the desperate need for a two-state solution. No one who knew Leibel could question his love for Israel. He was proud to lift up the brightest points of its history, while never hesitating to challenge its darkest demons. Leibel knew that true commitment to Israel’s future requires speaking the truth–even and especially when it is difficult to hear.
In that way, he was a visionary for our movement well before there was a movement. And when we got off the ground, he continued to be a guiding force and source of support and encouragement. He believed in us, and for that, we owe him an enormous debt. We will strive every day to live up to Leibel’s example.
It was a great honor to have known him.”