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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....

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Noah, Mordecai Manuel (19 July 1785–22 March 1851), politician, playwright, and Jewish communal leader, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Manuel Mordecai Noah, a failed businessman, and Zipporah Phillips. He was orphaned at the age of seven and was raised by his grandparents Jonas and Rebecca (Machado) Phillips. In his youth, first in Philadelphia and later in Charleston, South Carolina, he published journalistic pieces, a political pamphlet, a critique of Shakespeare ( ...

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Peixotto, Benjamin Franklin (13 November 1834–18 September 1890), diplomat and Jewish community leader, was born in New York City, the son of Daniel Levi Maduro Peixotto, a physician, and Rachel Seixas. In 1836 Peixotto’s family moved to Cleveland, Ohio, where he received an elementary education and then engaged in the retail clothing business and several speculative enterprises. Active in public and Jewish affairs, Peixotto was a follower and correspondent of ...

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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. ...

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Zhitlowsky, Hayim (1865–06 May 1943), philosopher and theoretician of Jewish socialism, diaspora nationalism, and Yiddish culture, was born in Uschatchi, a small town near Vitebsk, Russia, the son of Yosef Zhitlowsky, a successful flax merchant, and Hava Hasia Weinstein. His father, a child prodigy, combined rabbinical learning with hasidic pietism and business acumen with devotion to modern Jewish enlightenment. Zhitlowsky disliked the traditional Jewish elementary education he received in ...