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2018-01-26 digital edition

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The Jewish Press of Tampa and the Jewish Press of Pinellas County are Independently- owned biweekly Jewish community newspapers published in cooperation with and supported by the Tampa JCC & Federation and the Jewish Federation of Pinellas & Pasco Counties, respectively. Copyright © 2009-2018 The Jewish Press Group of Tampa Bay, Inc., All Rights Reserved.


 

January 26, 2018  RSS feed
Front Page

Text: T T T

Tampa synagogue leader, PR executive slain in Afghanistan hotel terror attack

By BOB FRYER Jewish Press


With the Tampa skyline behind him, Glenn Selig appears on the “Good Morning Britain” television program in 2015. Known for taking on controversial clients, former TV host Nancy Grace called him a “PR guru.” On his softer side, Selig created websites with parenting advice for dads. With the Tampa skyline behind him, Glenn Selig appears on the “Good Morning Britain” television program in 2015. Known for taking on controversial clients, former TV host Nancy Grace called him a “PR guru.” On his softer side, Selig created websites with parenting advice for dads. Glenn Selig of Tampa, president of Congregation Mekor Shalom, former investigative reporter for WTVT-Channel 13 and owner of a high profile public relations firm, was among 22 people killed when Taliban terrorists attacked the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul, Afghanistan on Jan. 20.

Selig, 50, is survived by his wife Charyn, daughter Drew, 15, and son Josh, 13, all of Tampa.

Selig was one of four Americans who died after a small group of Taliban wearing suicide vests stormed the hotel, beginning a 13-hour siege. News reports said that the attackers targeted foreigners and Afghan officials who were there for a conference. During the siege, a portion of the hotel went up in flames and multiple explosions could be heard as security forces battled with the attackers, all of whom were killed. Video showed people trying to escape by tying bedsheets together and climbing down the side of the 6-story luxury hotel. Besides those who died in the attack, about 150 were injured.

“Glenn was in Kabul on a potential success story involving Afghanistan and its steps to battle extremism. The focus was highlighting the country’s new president and constructing a democracy forum event for Afghani women,” SeligMultimedia spokesman Adam Farragut said.

“From the information we’ve been given we’re unable to determine if Glenn was targeted because of his faith,” Farragut added.

On Jan. 14, less than a week before he died, Selig was re-elected president of Mekor Shalom, a small Conservative congregation in the Carrollwood area.

“So honored and thankful to be the synagogue president,” he wrote on the synagogue’s Facebook page last Thanksgiving.

Selig had already served two years as president and this year, to ensure a smooth transition when his new term was to end, bylaws were changed to create a position of president elect, filled by Yael Hatfield.

Both Hatfield and the congregation’s spiritual leader, Hazzan Jodi Sered- Lever, declined to speak about Selig, citing family wishes for privacy. But later on the synagogue’s Facebook page, condolence messages were posted: “Congregation Mekor Shalom notes with deepest sorrow the death of our beloved, dedicated, and indefatigable president” and “We honor Glenn Selig for his steadfast commitment to Congregation Mekor Shalom.”

“Glenn was very involved in the Jewish community and passionate about his faith,” said Farragut. “Since I’ve known Glenn it has been abundantly clear that his faith played a large role in his life…”

Selig’s death rocked the local community and prompted expressions of sympathy to his family and respect for Selig by friends and former co-workers.

“If there was a dictionary of Yiddish words Glenn’s picture would be next to the word Mensch,” wrote Dena Joy-Schwartz Fields on the Mekor Shalom page. “He was a wonderful leader BUT most of all friend, husband and father! He will be missed profoundly by all and never forgotten! May his memory always be for a blessing and a smile! I can think of so many times when I smiled from the pure kindness he projected!”

SeligMultimedia officials wrote: “Glenn was a tireless professional, loyal friend and pillar of the community, but most importantly he was a loving husband and wonderful father. The loss for his family and friends cannot be measured nor conveyed strongly enough, but we thank everyone for the outpouring of support we have received.”

“I respected you as a colleague at Fox 13. I was in awe of your successful transition into public relations,” wrote Ray Collins on Selig’s Facebook page, adding “I am so sorry for your family. You were so proud of them.”

Selig was born in Los Angeles in 1967, and graduated in 1985 from Valley Torah High School in North Hollywood. He graduated from New York University in 1989, where he studied politics, international relations and journalism.

In his company biography, Selig said that even as a young child, he was destined for a career in media. He would write letters to family and sign them “Glenn Selig, News Staff.”

Selig described himself as a workaholic.

His first television news job was in El Centro, CA, and then he worked for TV stations in Eureka, CA, Victoria and Beaumont, TX, and Flint, MI, before moving to Tampa to work as an investigative reporter for the local FOX news affiliate, WTVT, Channel 13. During his news career, he won the National Headline Award. He was a fill-in anchor at times before leaving WTVT in 2007.

That same year, he formed SeligMultimedia, serving as company president and CEO. He also founded The Publicity Agency and PR Newschannel. SeligMultimedia is parent company to those entities. The companies provided a variety of services from producing standard press releases to providing crises management strategies for politicians and criminal defendants.

Several other ventures revolved around fatherhood. In 2002, while still at WTVT and his daughter Drew was about to be born, he created Interactive Dad, “It [the website] came to be because while seeking a tool for myself as a dad-to-be, I discovered that most (actually nearly all) parenting stuff was geared toward moms, and dads were the ‘also-parent,’” he wrote, adding “So I figured I’d create it. And Interactive Dad was born.” Selig brought writers and other experts for his website “because I obviously did not know much about being a dad… I remember vividly holding Drew as a newborn on my lap as I typed!”

That website eventually petered out due to demands of his jobs, but in 2013 Daddyhood.net, was launched, which covered news, finance sports and parenting for dads.

That pride in being a father did not wane as Selig and his wife shared details of how they planned Drew’s bat mitzvah in the Jewish Press’ annual Bar/Bat Mitzvah Planning Guide in 2016. They provided pictures of decorations they made for the cleverly named, “Seligbration.”

After entering the public relations field, Selig gained a reputation for handling high profile clients. Among those he represented are Rod Blagojevich, the Illinois governor convicted of soliciting bribes for political appointments, and Casey Anthony, the Orlando mom acquitted of killing her daughter Caylee. More recently his firm was hired by former top Trump campaign operative Rick Gates after his indictment in connection with an investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Selig appeared on a variety of television news shows and in publications, offering advice on how public personalities should handle their public relations

But it was not all about the “big fish,” touting on the company’s website a branding campaign for Hillel Academy. Selig’s wife is on the board for Hillel Academy in Tampa. Son Josh still attends the school and daughter Drew graduated from there last year.

Selig’s last post on his Facebook page on Jan. 17, three days before the hotel attack, was of a video of him on the streets of Dubai, where he stopped on his way to Kabul. He said it was “an absolutely gorgeous night,” with the weather similar to Tampa. He said he was just checking in, decided to take a walk, and assured his Facebook friends, “It is extremely safe here.”

He ended the post with, “I will talk to you soon.”

As of press time, there was no indication of any funeral arrangements.


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