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Dembitz, Lewis Naphtali (03 February 1833–11 March 1907), attorney and activist in public affairs, was born in Zirke, Prussia. His father, Sigmund Dembitz, was a surgeon whose degree from a Prussian university precluded his practicing in Austria, which required an Austrian degree. He, his wife Fanny Wehle, and their three children therefore led a wandering existence throughout other parts of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, particularly Poland, while Sigmund unsuccessfully sought a profitable practice in various small towns. The young Dembitz attended schools in Munchenberg, Brandenburg, Frangbord, and Sagan and graduated at age fifteen from the Gymnasium of Glogau University in Frankfort-on-the-Oder. Dembitz’s family did not observe religious rituals. A schoolmate at Glogau introduced him to Orthodox Judaism when Dembitz was thirteen, however, and as an adult he adhered strictly to its tenets and rituals. His one semester of legal studies in Prague was interrupted by the unsuccessful political uprising of 1848. Although neither he nor his family were active participants, they found that the combination of their sympathy for the uprising’s libertarian goals and their Jewishness, assimilated though it was, made life in the Empire uncomfortable. Thirty-five members of the interrelated Wehle, Dembitz, and Brandeis families therefore immigrated to the United States in 1849....

Article

Kohler, Max James (22 May 1871–24 July 1934), jurist, historian, and Jewish communal worker, was born in Detroit, Michigan, the son of Kaufmann Kohler and Johanna Einhorn. His parents were Jewish immigrants from Germany, and both his father and grandfather, David Einhorn, were leading rabbis of the Reform Movement in American Judaism. Upon the death of Kohler’s grandfather in 1879, his father assumed Einhorn’s pulpit at New York’s Congregation Beth El, and the family moved to that city. There he grew up in an atmosphere infused with a devotion to both religious values and scholarly pursuits. After completing high school, Kohler attended the College of the City of New York, where he won several important literary prizes. Following his graduation in 1890, he entered Columbia University, from which he received both M.A. (1891) and LL.B. (1893) degrees. He was admitted to the New York State bar in 1893 and became an assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, resigning after four years to start a private law practice. In 1906 he married Winifred Lichtenauer, who died in 1922. No children resulted from the marriage....

Article

Marshall, Louis (14 December 1856–11 September 1929), lawyer and Jewish communal leader, was born in Syracuse, New York, the son of Jacob Marshall and Zilli Strauss, poor German-Jewish immigrants. His father, at first a porter and peddler, ended up in the hide and leather business. A graduate of Syracuse High School, Marshall read law for two years in a local law office. In 1876 he left to attend Columbia University Law School in New York City, where he completed the two-year curriculum in one year. Admitted to the bar on 1 January 1878, he joined the Syracuse law firm headed by William C. Ruger, later chief judge of New York State. In 1894 he returned to New York City at the invitation of his classmate ...

Article

Monsky, Henry (04 February 1890–02 May 1947), lawyer and Jewish communal leader, was born in Omaha, Nebraska, the son of Abraham Monsky, a fish dealer, and Betsy Perisnev Greenblatt, both of whom had been born in Poland. Monsky was raised in an Orthodox Jewish home; his father was a cantor and was active in synagogue and Jewish communal activities. After graduating from Central High School in 1907, he entered Creighton College of Law as a night student in 1909. There he demonstrated leadership and oratorical skills and in 1911 was president of the Omaha Hebrew Club, a group that had been founded by his father in 1892. He earned his law degree in 1912 and embarked on a corporate practice. He married Sadie Lesser in 1915; they had three children....

Article

Proskauer, Joseph Meyer (06 August 1877–11 September 1971), judge, political adviser, and Jewish communal leader, was born in Mobile, Alabama, the son of Alfred Proskauer, a bank cashier, and Rebecca Leinkauf. Born into a southern Jewish family of German and Hungarian descent, Proskauer was educated at Columbia College (B.A., 1896) and Columbia Law School (LL.B., 1899) and began practicing law in New York City in partnership with college friend James Rosenberg in 1900. Two years later both men entered the well-known firm of James, Schell & Elkus, which eventually became Elkus, Gleason & Proskauer. In 1903 Proskauer married Alice Naumburg. ...

Article

Sulzberger, Mayer (22 June 1843–20 April 1923), jurist and Jewish leader, was born in Heidelsheim, Baden, Germany, to Abraham Sulzberger, a teacher and chazan (cantor), and Sophia Einstein Sulzberger. As a result of German anti-Semitism and the failure of the 1848 German liberal revolutions, the family immigrated in 1849 to Philadelphia, where Abraham’s brother lived. Abraham also had numerous relatives who were rabbinical scholars. Mayer received religious education from his father and from the Rabbis ...

Article

Wolf, Simon (28 October 1836–04 June 1923), lawyer and prominent Jewish American leader, was born in Hinzweiller, Bavaria, the son of Levi Wolf, an invalid who had been a teacher of Hebrew, and Amalia Ulman. The family immigrated to the United States in 1848, settling in Uhrichsville, Ohio, where the younger Wolf worked as a salesman and bookkeeper in a general merchandise store owned by his uncles. When his uncles left Ohio in 1855, Wolf became proprietor of his uncles’ business. Two years later he married Caroline Hahn, with whom he would have six children. In 1892, the year after Caroline’s death, he married Amy Lichtenstein. Deciding that a career in law was more promising than one in commerce, Wolf retired from business in 1859, read law, took a course of lectures at the Union Law College of Cleveland, was accepted into the Ohio bar on 19 July 1861, and practiced at New Philadelphia, Ohio, for one year....