"Legendary" is the word most often used to describe Hyman Bookbinder, who died this week at the age of 95.
Known by all as "Bookie," he was the American Jewish Committee’s man in Washington since 1967 and well beyond his retirement in 1986. He had joined AJC following service in the JFK and LBJ administrations and the labor movement at a time when the Jewish lobby was more focused on civil rights, social justice, Holocaust remembrance and Soviet Jewry than on Israel. He covered them all with distinction.
With his trademark bowtie (we shared that preference but he cut and sewed his) and soft-spoken demeanor, he was a fixture on Capitol Hill who was respected and welcomed in Republican and Democratic offices alike and enjoyed friends and influence across the political spectrum.
“Thanks to Bookie’s tireless efforts, American society is that much better for Jews and all minorities who call this country home,” said David Harris, AJC’s executive director. “The impact of his advocacy efforts, the relationships he built with ethnic, faith and political leaders, and his tireless passion to serve the Jewish people will forever leave an indelible mark on American society and beyond.”
Bookie also helped establish the National Jewish Democratic Council, which called him "a treasure of our people," and was on the National Board of the Israel Policy Forum.