Paul Cowan, 48, an author and staff writer for New York’s Village Voice for 20 years. Cowan’s “An Orphan in History,” published in 1982, influenced thousands of Jews to rediscover their Jewish roots, as he did. A product of Choate, an Episcopal preparatory school, and a family that celebrated Christmas, Cowan learned only after his parents died that he was descended from Lithuanian Orthodox Jews. His interest in Judaism led him and his wife, Rachel, to help found a Hebrew school on the West Side of Manhattan, the Havurah School, and to help revitalize a Conservative synagogue with an aging congregation. Cowan and his wife also wrote a book about interfaith marriage called “Mixed Blessings.” Cowan also wrote “The Making of an Un-American” about his two-year Peace Corps stint in Ecuador. In New York on Sept. 25 of complications related to leukemia.