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Judge Joseph M. Proskauer Dies at 94

September 13, 1971
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

A funeral service will be held tomorrow at Temple Emanu-El for Judge Joseph Meyer Proskauer who died Friday at the age of 94. For more than 50 years Mr. Proskauer was active in public life as a judge, philanthropist and political advisor. He served as New York State Supreme Court Justice from 1923-30 and was a member of the New York Charter Revision Committee and chairman of the New York State Crime Commission from 1951-53. Born in Mobile, Alabama, Mr. Proskauer served as consultant to the American delegation at the United Nations Conference in San Francisco in 1945 and was instrumental in securing the adoption of the human rights provisions in the UN Charter.

In 1946 he testified before the Anglo-American Commission of Inquiry into the Palestinian question and proposed a comprehensive four-point program dealing with all phases of the problem. The Commission’s recommendations paralleled those put forward by Mr. Proskauer. During the 1920’s, Mr. Proskauer was a key political advisor to Alfred E. Smith when he was running for President. His work on behalf of Smith and his willingness to expose himself to the prejudice that Smith encountered helped to cement Mr. Proskauer’s relations with Catholics. Subsequently, the Jewish lawyer worked closely with liberal elements in the church and helped to lobby in Rome for the passage by the Ecumenical Council Vatican II of its resolution absolving the Jewish people of blame for the death of Christ.

On April 29, 1965, as president of the Henry Kaufman Foundation, he attended the dedication of the Henry Kaufman auditorium at the International University of Social Studies, “Pro Deo” in Rome. At the dedication, a special Apostolic Brief–the first signed by Pope Paul VI with his own hand–granting official status to the University and its affiliated International Pro Deo Union was made public in which the Pope congratulated “the leaders, members, and promoters of the work accomplished” and hailed “the high and noble goals set for the Pro Deo organization.”

From 1943 to 1949 Mr. Proskauer was president of the American Jewish Committee and at the time of his death was Honorary President of the AJCommittee. He was a trustee and former president of the Young Men’s Hebrew Association of New York and a trustee and former president of the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies. He was recipient of honorary degrees from Hebrew Union College, Dartmouth, Brandeis, New York University and Fordham University. Philip E. Hoffman, president of the AJCommittee, mourned the death of Mr. Proskauer and described the jurist as one whose “towering eloquence and gift of advocacy were given freely and generously in behalf of the afflicted and unfortunate.” Senator Jacob K. Javits (R.. N.Y.) said of Mr. Proskauer that he was “a beloved and most distinguished citizen of this nation and a son of his people. He was a legend in his own time.”

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