When Louis H. Levin was appointed the first executive director of the Associated Jewish Charities in 1920, he was faced with a daunting task: uniting the German-Jewish Federated Jewish Charities with the United Hebrew Charities, a group of comparatively new immigrants from Russia and other Eastern European countries. Both bodies provided similar services but to different groups of recipients. But Levin, who had served as secretary of the Federated Jewish Charities, had long recognized that the two organizations would be stronger as one. He had already gained a reputation in the community for his tact, wisdom, sense of humor and dedication to needy children. Clearly, he was the right man for the job.
Louis Levin was born in 1866 in Charleston, S.C., and moved to Baltimore as a boy. He earned a law degree from Baltimore Law School (now University of Baltimore’s School of Law), but only worked three years as a practicing attorney before devoting himself to the Jewish philanthropic movement.
Upon his death in 1923, at a special meeting of the AJC, those in the room recalled that “his head was in perfect accord with his heart, and his judgment was almost unerringly accurate in carrying philanthropic purposes to sane and sound practical execution.”
His work at uniting the factions of Baltimore Jews was still being recognized some 40 years after his death. “The major contribution which Louis H. Levin made to the building of the Baltimore Jewish community is the fact that he was able, through his statesmanlike leadership, to win the respect and confidence of all groups in the Jewish community and thus make it possible for them to work together effectively,” said Rabbi Israel M. Goldman at a speech delivered at Chizuk Amuno Synagogue in January 1966.
Today, Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center and Hospital in northwest Baltimore bears his name.
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