Philip W. Lown (1890-1976)
Philip W. Lown was born in Lithuania in 1890, which was then occupied by Russia, on the seventh day of Hanukah. When he was eleven, he attended a rabbinical school in Vilna. At the age of fourteen or fifteen he participated in the Russian Revolution in Lithuania in which he protested the czar and risked the brutality of the Cossacks in 1905. After the Revolution was crushed, he needed to escape the social unrest and poor living conditions so he immigrated to the United States in 1907, part of a mass exodus of Lithuanians from their country during 1868-1914. 2
In the United States, Lown found work as a milkman, a paper hanger, and a shoe factory worker in Maine. He hired a private teacher to obtain an elementary education so he could go to Lynn Classical high school at age twenty-two. When he turned twenty-five, Lown attended the University of Maine in 1914 and received his B.S. in 1918 for chemical engineering. When World War I began in 1914, Lown joined the army and worked as a researcher to combat chemical warfare. After he served his new country, he worked for seven years in the textile dyes industry. He proved himself successful in business and purchased a factory. When the business became less profitable he sold it and in 1926 became a joint owner of Pilgrim Shoe Company. He later became president of Penobscot Shoe Company in Old Town, Maine and Lown Shoes, Inc., in Auburn, Maine.
Starting in 1937, Lown invested his profits into the small Jewish community in Maine and tried to help Jews that faced danger in Europe. Until his death in 1976, he worked tirelessly on boards for Jewish education: the American Association for Jewish Education, B’nai B’rith Hillel Foundations, Maine Jewish Council, World Council on Jewish Education, and the Y.M.C.A. of Auburn, Maine, amongst others. He established Camp Lown in 1946, a summer camp for children that focused on teaching Jewish history and education. He founded the Lown School for Near Eastern and Judaic Studies and the Graduate Center for Contemporary Jewish Studies at Brandeis University, became the President and Chairman of Hebrew College in Massachusetts and served as President of the American Association for Jewish Education, the Y.M.C.A. of Auburn Maine, and the Community Chest of Lewiston, Maine. Lown also became involved in Zionist activities and was present at a meeting on July 1, 1945, where he met with David Ben-Gurion and helped plan critical assistance to the Hagana. He received countless awards and honors for his work in Zionism, Jewish education in America, and Jewish communal institutions.
Lown received his Doctorate at University of Maine and Brandeis University. His first wife, Anna, was born in New York in 1900. His second wife, Sally Lown, was also dedicated to Jewish education and was present with Lown in many of his activities. He worked with the same organizations into his late eighties, up until his death on November 1, 1976 at Miami Beach. 3
Born in Lithuania.
Attended Rabbinical School in Vilna, Lithuania.
Participated in Russian Revolution in Lithuania.
Arrived in Boston, Massachusetts.
Attended Lynn Classical High School.
Served in United States Army as a researcher to combat chemical warfare.
Attended University of Maine and received B.S. in Chemical Engineering.
Became joint owner of Pilgrim Shoe Co.
Became involved in Jewish Education in New England.
Helped to form Maine Jewish Council for United Jewish Appeal.
Camp Lown opened in Oakland, Maine.
Chairman of the Second National Conference for Jewish Education.
President of American Association for Jewish Education.
Chairman, Program Committee, B’nai B’rith Hillel Committee.
Received Henrietta Szold award from Boston University.
Received the 14th Annual T. Kenyon Holly Memorial Plaque.
Lown School for Near Eastern and Judaic Studies and Graduate Center for Contemporary Jewish Studies opened at Brandeis University.
Died at Miami Beach on November 1st.
- 1 Information used in this finding aid is from the following sources and other sources as indicated:
Materials from the collection.
- 2Encyclopedia Britannica. “Lithuania.” 2012. <http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/343803/Lithuania> May 24, 2012.
- 3The Lewiston Daily Sun November 3, 1976. <http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1928&dat=19761103&id=GT0pAAAAIBAJ&sjid=3WUFAAAAIBAJ&pg=2538,444986> May 31, 2012.
From the guide to the Philip W. Lowan, Papers, undated, 1913-1975 [bulk 1944-1974], (American Jewish Historical Society)