Middle East journalist Jerrold Kessel dies in Israel

Yoram Kessel

Yoram Kessel

Friends and colleagues of the late Yoram Kessel, a journalist who was for 20 years an Israel correspondent for the Jewish Chronicle, have paid tribute to his modesty and passion for his craft.

Mr Kessel, who died on Thursday at the age of 65, had been battling with cancer for some time.

The South African-born writer began working for the JC in 1973 after he was approached while working as spokesman for the IDF.

He spent a long period as reporter for the Jerusalem bureau of CNN, working under his original name of Jerrold Kessel, and also acted as news editor for the Jerusalem Post.

Before he died he was working on a radio play about his childhood in apartheid-era South Africa, called Voting for Joey.

Passionate about sports, particularly football and cricket, his book Goals for Galilee was published last summer. Co-written with his longtime collaborator Pierre Klochendler, the book looked at football’s role in encouraging Arab Israeli dialogue.

Mr Klochendler told the JC that despite Mr Kessel's prolific reporting career, his friend was “a modest man”.

He said: “He was my mentor. He taught me the skills of being a decent journalist.

“That was what he was most, a decent journalist and, above all, a decent man, one that does not forget the person who makes the story, who is behind a story.”

Mr Klochendler added:“He was a passionate journalist, and a passionate man, who always wanted to reach the core of the truth of a story.”

Jeremy Robson, the book’s publisher, said of Mr Kessel: “He was a very intelligent and professional man, an accomplished writer and journalist. He worked hard to get the political balance right and was always thorough in his work.

“It is very, very sad.”

Mr Kessel, who is survived by his wife Lorraine, son Chuckie and two grandchildren, will be buried in Israel today.

    Last updated: 10:54am, February 25 2011