Dina Rabinovitch

Journalist and writer


Dina Rabinovitch, journalist and writer: born Charleston, South Carolina 9 June 1963; married first Guido Rauch (three daughters; marriage dissolved), secondly 1999 Anthony Julius (one son); died London 30 October 2007.

Dina Rabinovitch, who has died from breast cancer, gained her widest audience as a journalist with her writing about the disease. What marked out her writing was an absence of self-pity and an ability to spin the multiple strands of her life into a colourful tapestry of storytelling.

While her health deteriorated, she produced a vast volume of increasingly strong work as she wrote columns in The Guardian and The Jewish Chronicle, magazine pieces and, earlier this year, a book called Take Off Your Party Dress: when life's too busy for breast cancer. Proceeds from the book have gone to the appeal she launched which aims to raise £100,000 to establish a cancer research centre at Mount Vernon Hospital, in Northwood, Middlesex. A lot of people came to know Rabinovitch through the blog she kept charting her fundraising efforts. The blog took on a life of its own as she included news about breast cancer treatments, personal snippets about her family, funny anecdotes and her own health challenges.

As the indignities of the disease and its treatment crept up on her, she took care to show the world a groomed and elegant face. When her nails crumbled as a drug side effect, she had regular manicures at home. After her mastectomy, she marshalled fashion advisers from Vogue to help track down pleated, soft clothes that you could get your arms into after the operation and which would fall naturally and look good on a single-breasted woman. As her hair fell out from chemotherapy, grew back, and later thinned as she became weak, she kept it coloured and cut in flattering styles. Some of her funniest blog entries detailed her quest for the perfect blow-dry within walking distance of her home. It is a measure of her inclusive nature that the manicurist, hairdresser, local fruiterer and home help all regarded Rabinovitch as a close personal friend.

Dina Rabinovitch was born in South Carolina and lived briefly in Canada before moving to England with her parents and five siblings. She retained a slight transatlantic accent, most evident in the way she pronounced the word "yoghurt". Her taste in television also remained resolutely American and she was an early and enthusiastic fan of The Sopranos and The West Wing.

She was unusual in the way she straddled the worlds of orthodox Judaism and hip journalism. Her father, Rabbi Nahum Rabinovitch, is a scholar and communal leader from a highly rigorous and exacting strand of Judaism. Dina was educated in Jewish schools until she opted for a secular, academic girls' grammar school, Henrietta Barnett, for the sixth form. After school, she went to a theological seminary in Israel at which girls study Jewish law and traditions to a high academic level. Dina Rabinovitch's Judaism was like a skin. It was an integral part of her which she never sloughed off. Her daily life revolved round Jewish festivals and the weekly Sabbath. She was strictly kosher, which meant she rarely ate at work dos, but fellow journalists say she was never judgemental and regarded her religious practice as her own business.

Her taste for journalism had surfaced at a young age. While still at school, she helped to start a schools section in The Observer. While studying International Relations at the London School of Economics, she started writing for the student newspaper, The Beaver. Perhaps surprisingly, given the subject she was studying, Rabinovitch shied away from political themes, preferring to write about the arts, especially theatre.

Friends from her LSE days remember her as an ambitious and bright young thing who was clearly going to do well in life. She didn't follow the path of many aspiring journalists who start work on local papers but joined a short-lived arts and culture magazine. Colleagues recall Rabinovitch as cool and fashionable. She enjoyed her contact with celebrities, especially if they had a good story to tell, though she was far from star-struck.

In 1986, Rabinovitch joined the newly launched Independent as deputy features editor. Her marriage to the businessman Guido Rauch resulted in three daughters and, as family commitments were always her first priority, Rabinovitch opted for freelance journalism. Her acrimonious divorce exposed her to the vagaries of family courts and she wrote passionately about the failure of the system, as she saw it, to put the needs of the children first. Later, she worked as a journalist for The Guardian and recognised that children's literature was a growing and exciting field. She interviewed many leading children's writers and some, like Francesca Simon, author of the Horrid Henry books, and Meg Rosoff, became friends.

Dina Rabinovitch met and married the lawyer Anthony Julius in 1999 and worked hard to create a welcoming home environment for Anthony's four children, her three girls, and the son they had together. With up to eight children, two cats and numerous visitors, their house in Hendon hummed with life. From the small cosy kitchen, Dina gently nurtured an unusually warm and inclusive home life.

To most people, Hendon is an unprepossessing suburb in north London, but Dina Rabinovitch, who lived there for most of her life, kept lists of all the fascinating people and events that had a Hendon link. Disobedience, the recent novel by Naomi Alderman, whom Dina befriended just before she died, was set in Hendon, which Dina triumphantly took as proof of her point.

Dina was a welcoming and warm hostess and it was impossible to pop in to see her without being offered a piece of her mother-in-law's excellent cake or a tempting snack she'd conjured up. Sabbath lunch was always a lively affair with an array of dips, platters of cooked food and tasteful desserts. Guests might include a young novelist, a visiting Israeli academic, a well-known American lawyer, a playwright, local friends and the kids and their friends.

Conversation was always robust and fun. Both Dina and Anthony wore their huge intellects lightly and, in company, Dina was highly attentive to her guests and unlikely to let the full force of her views show. In private, she was more forthright, dispensing advice, sympathy and good humour with a generosity of spirit that inspired great love and devotion in her friends.

Ann Robinson

Sport
Mourinho lost his temper as well as the match
sportLiverpool handed title boost as Sunderland smash manager’s 77-game home league run
Voices
Sweet tweet: Victoria Beckham’s selfie, taken on her 40th birthday on Thursday
voices... and her career-long attack on the absurd criteria by which we define our 'betters', by Ellen E Jones
Arts & Entertainment
Billie Jean King, who won the women’s Wimbledon title in 1967, when the first colour pictures were broadcast
tv
News
Snow has no plans to step back or reduce his workload
mediaIt's 25 years since Jon Snow first presented Channel 4 News, and his drive shows no sign of diminishing
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Life & Style
food + drinkWhat’s not to like?
Voices
Clock off: France has had a 35‑hour working week since 1999
voicesThere's no truth to a law banning work emails after 6pm, but that didn’t stop media hysteria
Arts & Entertainment
Maisie Williams of Game of Thrones now
tvMajor roles that grow with their child actors are helping them to steal the show on TV
Life & Style
Lana Del Rey, Alexa Chung and Cara Delevingne each carry their signature bag
fashionMulberry's decision to go for the super-rich backfired dramatically
Arts & Entertainment
Kingdom Tower
architecture
Life & Style
Sampling wine in Turin
food + drink...and abstaining may be worse than drinking too much, says scientist
Arts & Entertainment
Game of Thrones writer George R.R. Martin has been working on the novels since the mid-Nineties
books
News
Easter a dangerous time for dogs
these are the new ones. Old ones are below them... news
News
Brand said he
people
Voices
Actor Zac Efron
voicesTopless men? It's as bad as Page 3, says Howard Jacobson
Sport
Roger Federer celebrates his victory over Novak Djokovic in the Monte Carlo Masters
sport
Arts & Entertainment
The monster rears its head as it roars into the sky
film
Voices
For the Love of God (2007) The diamond-encrusted skull that divided the art world failed to sell for
its $100m asking price. It was eventually bought by a consortium
which included the artist himself.
voicesYou can shove it, Mr Webb – I'll be having fun until the day I die, says Janet Street-Porter
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Apprentice IT Technician

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...

1st Line Technical Service Desk Analyst IT Apprentice

£153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...

1st Line Helpdesk Engineer Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...

Sales Associate Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...

Day In a Page

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit