Joseph Cummins, Anglo-jewish Publisher Dead at 85

Joseph Jonah Cummins, editor and publisher of the B’nai B’rith Messenger, an English-Jewish weekly since 1929, died Thursday at the age of 85, after a long illness. Funeral services will be held tomorrow.

Often called the dean of American Jewish publishers, he came to Los Angeles in 1923 and acquired the California Jewish Review which he merged into the B’nai B’rith Messenger in 1929. He expanded the Messenger to be the largest independently owned Anglo-Jewish newspaper in the U.S. In the 1920s he published Jewish papers simultaneously in Los Angeles, Detroit, Toledo, St. Louis and Kansas City, directing the publications from his office here.

He was believed to have been the first publisher in the U.S. to organize a boycott against Nazi Germany’s exported products in 1933. Throughout his career, he managed to practice law. In 1924, at the request of the State Department, he visited a number of Eastern European nations on a special diplomatic mission to investigate reports that conditions of Jews in those countries were deteriorating.

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