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Frankel, Lee Kaufer


FRANKEL, LEE KAUFER (1867–1931), social worker and insurance executive. Kaufer was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and during the 1890s taught chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania and also worked as a consulting chemist. Frankel's friendship with Rabbi Henry *Berkowitz helped arouse his interest in Jewish community affairs and social work. Frankel went to New York City in 1899 as manager of the United Hebrew Charities. A brilliant administrator, he helped introduce professional social work standards into Jewish philanthropy. He stressed the importance of adequate relief geared to rehabilitation, the development of a pension program for such dependents as widowed mothers, and a program of assisted migration to reduce the concentration of the Jewish population in New York City. He became interested in the potential contribution of social insurance to the prevention and relief of poverty. The Russell Sage Foundation appointed him a special investigator in 1908; this led in 1910 to the publication of Workmen's Insurance in Europe which he wrote in cooperation with Miles M. Dawson and Louis I. Dublin. In 1909 Frankel became manager of the industrial department of the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company; he eventually advanced to the position of second vice president. At Metropolitan, Frankel pioneered the development of social and health programs under private insurance auspices. These included the distribution of many pamphlets on communicable diseases and personal hygiene, the organization of public health nursing services, and community health demonstrations. Throughout his career Frankel retained an interest in Jewish affairs. He served on the board of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, and in 1927 was chairman of the commission that surveyed Palestine for the Jewish Agency. Frankel published many articles on health and welfare issues and was the coauthor of several books, including The Human Factor in Industry (1920), A Popular Encyclopedia of Health (1926), and Health of the Worker, How to Safeguard It (1924).


Lowenstein, in: ajyb, 34 (1933), 121–40.

[Roy Lubove]

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