Judd Magilnick was a friend of the Freedom Center, and a dear friend of mine. He was by all measures one of the kindest, most decent human beings it has ever been my privilege to know.
It is so long ago, and I am so old now, that I do not remember when we met, except that it was a time of turmoil in my life, when I felt I was in free fall, and he and his loving wife Denise took me into their family and made me feel at home.
Judd was the kind of self-effacing individual whose achievements and talents remain hidden until you need to discover them. It took me years to find out that he went to Yale, or that he had a successful business, both of which were assets that came to my attention when it happened that I had a need for them.
He was, I realized very early on, a man whom I could count on and trust. Accordingly, when I came to create the Freedom Center thirty-odd years ago, I asked him to be one of the three-man board in whose hands I placed it. I knew we were headed for rough waters, and I knew I could count on his loyalty to defend us from the attacks that were coming.
Having set up the Center, I discovered that Judd had a publishing business and was sophisticated in the new computer technology which was foreign to me. He would help us print and send out thousands of mailings on behalf of the Center, including our publication about the leftist takeover of public broadcasting, which was our first big campaign. He also orchestrated our newsletters and helped with Heterodoxy, our pioneer magazine about the ravages of political correctness. His office in the back of his house on Ashland Avenue became for all intents and purposes a Center mail house. He took care of our databases, and the logistics of our publications which were our weapons. The Center has had a large impact on the struggle for our country and Judd was a big part of it.
Sheri Annis, who was one of our first employees, remembers going to his office to help with something and ending up stuffing Manila folders with him to get things out on time or to place labels on our publications. She recalls receiving her very first electronic computer transfer from him. It was a media list which she would later call to get me radio interviews. She was in her apartment in Marina del Rey when Judd walked her through the dial-up. Dial-up. It was the beginning of the computer era – the Internet was still years away – and Judd was our guide into this future.
Sheri also remembers how Judd would duck out early on Friday to buy flowers for Denise before later going to Shabbos services. He was a loving husband and, as I had occasion to observe, a devoted father to his many children.
Judd’s passing will leave a gaping vacancy for his family, for his children and grandchildren. But also for us. He was all in all a mensch. That rare species of human being who lights up the lives of those around him, and enriches them, and who cannot be replaced.