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Hugo Gryn, Holocaust Survivor and Leader of Britain’s Reform Jews, Dies

August 19, 1996

LONDON (AP) _ Rabbi Hugo Gryn, Holocaust survivor, broadcaster and leader of Britain’s Reform Jews, has died, synagogue officials said today. He was 66.

Gryn, a charismatic leader who worked to build understanding with those of other faiths, died Sunday night of brain cancer, said Barry Hyman, spokesman for the Reform Synagogues of Great Britain. Gryn became the group’s president in 1990.

Born in the Carpathian region of the former Czechoslovakia, Gryn was held for two years of World War II in the Nazi concentration camps of Mauthausen and Auschwitz, where his father and brother perished.

``His experience as a youth in the Nazi death camps could have left him embittered. Instead it gave him a deep sympathy for all suffering people and a determination to fight intolerance and prejudice,″ said the Rev. Ernest Rea, the BBC’s Head of Religious Broadcasting.

After the war, he studied at the universities of Cambridge and London before obtaining a masters degree from the University of Cincinnati, Ohio.

After studies at Cincinnati’s Hebrew Union College, he was ordained a rabbi in 1957, and served for the next three years as a rabbi in Bombay, India.

From 1960 to 1962, Gryn was executive director of the World Union for Progressive Judaism.

Around this time, he settled in Britain. In 1964, he was appointed senior rabbi at the West London Synagogue, a center of Reform Judaism, the 19th century movement that sought to modernize Orthodox religious practice.

In the same year, Gryn was appointed vice president and lecturer at London’s Leo Baeck College, a training school for rabbis.

For more than 20 years, Gryn served on the Standing Committee for Interfaith Dialogue in Education, which works to build religious understanding in schools. From 1987 to 1994, he was joint chairman of the Interfaith Network, an umbrella organization of interfaith groups.

Gryn wrote widely, including articles for the Journal of the Central Conference of American Rabbis and for the London-based Jewish Chronicle newspaper.

More recently, he built a career in religious broadcasting, winning praise for his sharp, witty contributions to ``The Moral Maze,″ a British Broadcasting Corp. radio program that probes issues of morality.

Gryn was made an honorary Commander of the British Empire in 1992.

He is survived by his wife, Jacqueline, three daughters and a son. Funeral details were not immediately available.

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