Jewish Journal writer remembers friend Steven Sotloff

Steven Sotloff in the top row, Danielle Berrin in the lower row.

American journalist Steven Sotloff, 31, was murdered by the terrorist army Islamic State in Syria in a video that became public on Tuesday. Sotloff was beheaded, just as American journalist James Foley had been. Sotloff, an Arabic-speaking student of the Middle East, grew up in Miami. It's there that Danielle Berrin of the Jewish Journal of Los Angeles knew him when they were kids. She wrote a tribute to Sotloff at her blog Hollywood Jew after seeing coverage of the video of his slaughter. Here's an excerpt.

While I waited, I searched for more “Steven Sotloff.” In my Jewish Journal inbox I found an article Steven sent me in February 2011. The subject line, “Viennese Jews” referred to an article he wrote about the resurgent Jewish community in Vienna for The Jerusalem Post. “Hey Danielle! I hope all is going well for you out in Hollywood. I know you're into Jewish news and thought you may be interested in my recent piece on the Jews of Vienna… Let me know how you're doing!”

It doesn’t appear I wrote back that time, which now makes me feel irreparably awful. As I re-read his article, I found echoes of Steven’s voice, and even an unconscious presaging of his own destiny:

“In the past Vienna’s beleaguered Jews were threatened by Christian and Nazi persecutions; today they are under siege by a melange of native extremism and Muslim hostility,” he wrote.

“Despite such hostilities, the Viennese Jewish community has refused to relent in the face of such adversity and emigrate to more hospitable lands free of the turmoil that has plagued this city that was once Europe’s cultural and intellectual mecca.”

Steven, too, “refused to relent” in the face of roiling hostilities in the Middle East; rather than cower from danger, he flew right into it, intent on telling the stories he believed would shape history.

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