Louis E, Kirstein, one of the outstanding leaders of American Jewry, died here today from pneumonia at the age of 75. He was one of the nation’s most prominent department store executives.
Born in Rochester, N.Y., Kirstein was identified with humanitarian and civic projects and was the founder of the Associated Jewish Philanthropies of Boston. He was chairman of the General Committee of the American Jewish Committee whose purpose it is to defend the rights of Jews everywhere and in which Mr. Kirstein was active for many years. He also was honorary national chairman of the United Jewish Appeal, the leading fund-raising agency for Jewish needs overseas and Palestine, and for the rehabilitation of refugees in this country. He was also a national director of the Jewish Welfare Board and formerly President of the Graduate School for Jewish Social Work, Because of his leadership in multifarious areas he acquired a role similar to that of Jacob H, Schiff and Felix M, Warburg.
His interest in Jewish affairs was expressed not only by his substantial contributions to Jewish causes, but by a constant absorption with the basic problems of Jewish life and the needs of Jewish social institutions. Although he had definite opinions on Jewish policies and actions, all groups saw in him a leader of vision and a devoted Jew with an objective mind and a warm heart. His pride in Jewish achievements, no matter in which field, was one of his outstanding characteristics.
He followed, with the greatest sympathy, the reconstruction work accomplished by the Jews in Palestine and recently, as head of the committee which was authorized by the American Jewish Committee to conduct negotiations with the Zionists and which became known as the “Kirstein Committee,” he was striving toward a settlement which would bring about the cooperation of all sections within the Jewish community for one common purpose. His hope to the last day of his life was that such cooperation would be achieved.
His capacities and vision were also recognized by the Federal Government which asked his advice very frequently on matters of importance, and by which he was appointed to numerous commissions. He was a member of the original National Labor Board, chairman of the Industrial Advisory Board and the NRA, member of the Business Advisory Council for the Department of Commerce, and member of the Government’s special coal-strike settlement committee, He was instrumental in carrying out the collective agreement with the cloak industry which was proposed by Justice Brandeis, and he contributed much to many other enterprises for the improvement of relationships between employer and employee.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.