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Baila R. Shargel

November 23, 1933 February 16, 2021
Baila  R.  Shargel
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Obituary for Baila R. Shargel

It is with deep sorrow that we announce the death of Baila R. Shargel of Harrison, New York, beloved mother, grandmother, friend, teacher, and scholar. Born in Baltimore, Maryland, she attended the Baltimore Hebrew College and earned her BA from Goucher College. Her marriage to the sweetheart of her youth, Rabbi Norton Shargel, lasted sixty-three years through his tenure as rabbi in Fort Benning, Georgia; Easton, Pennsylvania; and – for the last fifty years – Harrison, New York.

In the mid 1970’s, Baila returned to school, earning master’s and doctoral degrees in Jewish intellectual history from the Jewish Theological Seminary. She published her first scholarly article in 1979, an early treatment of the Masada myth. Subsequently, she authored dozens of essays about Jewish life, culture, and religion as well as four books: biographies of Israel Friedlaender and Bessie Gotsfeld, an account of Henrietta Szold’s lost love woven together with newly published diaries and letters, and a social history of the Jews of Westchester. Dr. Shargel also lectured locally as well as around the country.

She taught history, film, and Holocaust studies at Manhattanville College, Pace University, SUNY Purchase, and the Jewish Theological Seminary, where for a time she was Assistant Dean of the Graduate School.

Dr. Shargel was a tireless supporter of the community. She was involved in interfaith dialogue and charity work. Her love of singing led her to join a number of Jewish choral groups in Westchester. She is survived by three children, Dina, Raphael, and Rebecca, and three grandchildren. Her son Jonathan died in 1986. Everyone who knew her was inspired by her love of family, her zest for living, and her passion for history, literature, and music, especially Mozart and the opera.

Donations in Dr. Shargel’s memory may be directed to the Jewish Community Center of Harrison, the Parkinson’s Foundation, and Hadassah.

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