Campaign flyer from Joe’s first Chapel Hill Town Council race, 1979

About Joe

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Chapel Hill, N.C., United States
Joe Herzenberg was born June 25, 1941, to Morris & Marjorie Herzenberg. His father owned the town pharmacy in Franklin, N.J., where Joe grew up. After he graduated from Yale University in 1964, Joe went to Mississippi to register voters for Freedom Summer. He joined the faculty of historically black Tougaloo College, where he was appointed chair of the history department. Joe arrived in Chapel Hill in 1969 to enroll as a graduate student in history at the University of North Carolina, and, along with his partner Lightning Brown, soon immersed himself in local, state, and national politics. Although Joe’s first campaign for the Chapel Hill Town Council in 1979 was unsuccessful, he was appointed to the Council to fill a vacant seat and served until 1981. In 1987, he was elected to the Council, becoming the former Confederacy's first openly gay elected official. Joe died surrounded by friends on October 28, 2007. He was 66 years old.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Joe Herzenberg's Yahrzeit

As the anniversary of Joe Herzenberg’s death nears I would like to share with you the Jewish custom for observing the Yahrzeit of a family member. The Hebrew Date is used instead of the actual date of death. This year the date will be November 14.

Traditionally family members mark the yearly anniversary of a death (called "yahrtzeit") in two ways:

Light a yahrizeit candle. A candle that burns for 24 hrs. Yahrzeit candles should be lit the evening before the date specified. This is because the Jewish day actually begins at sundown on the previous night. There is no prayer said with this lighting.

And giving some form of charity (tzedakah) in the name of the deceased.

Candles can be purchased at Harris Teeter in the ethnic section of the store or at the Chapel Hill Kehillah gift shop.

I gave a Rainbow Arch to NC Pride Fest that is now is the Joe Herzenberg Memorial Arch. It was dedicated September 26 at the Pride March in Durham.

Joe left 1/2 of his estate equally to Friends of Chapel Hill Parks and Recreation and Greenways for the Bolin Creek Greenway, especially for benches and other amenities, as well as actual construction; and the Inter-Faith Council for Social Services, Inc. for the operations of the homeless shelter and the kitchen. Each has received a check in the amount of $250,000.00.


Kathie Young

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