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Friedman, Lee Max


FRIEDMAN, LEE MAX (1871–1957), U.S. lawyer, historian, and patron of learning. Friedman was born in Memphis, Tennessee, of German Jewish descent. He became a noted trial attorney in Boston and a teacher and scholar of law. He was vice president and professor of law at Portia Law School, Boston, contributing learned articles to law journals. Friedman was deeply interested in American Jewish history, and in 1903 he began his association with the American Jewish Historical Society, eventually serving as president (1948–53) and honorary president (1953–57). In 1905 he was chairman of the celebration in Boston of the 250th anniversary of Jewish settlement in the United States, and half a century later he was the main speaker at Symphony Hall, Boston, on the occasion of the tercentenary. As a historian, Friedman contributed many articles and notes to the Publications of the American Jewish Historical Society, covering a wide range of subjects that included Judah Monis, Cotton Mather, and Aaron Lopez. The volumes he published in the field of Jewish history included some of European Jewish interest: Robert Grosseteste and the Jews (1934), and Zola and the Dreyfus Case: His Defense of Liberty and Its Enduring Significance (1937); and others on American Jewish themes: Early American Jews (1934), Rabbi Haim Isaac Carigal: His Newport Sermon and His Yale Portrait (1940), Jewish Pioneers and Patriots (1942), and Pilgrims in a New Land (1948). He presented books and manuscripts to the American Jewish Historical Society, and a bequest in his will enabled the Society to establish its own headquarters adjoining Brandeis University.

Friedman's approach to cultural, philanthropic, civic, and communal endeavors was conservative. He served in leading positions with the Boston Art Museum, Harvard College Library, General Theological Library, and Boston Public Library. He was active in Boston Jewish life and was prominent in such national bodies as the Union of American Hebrew Congregations and the World Union for Progressive Judaism.


Kozol, in: ajhsq, 56 (1967), 261–7; Meyer, ibid., 47 (1958), 211–5; Norden, ibid., 51 (1961), 30–48 (bibl.).

[Isidore S. Meyer]

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