Panken, Jacob

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PANKEN, JACOB (1879–1968), judge and U.S. Socialist leader. Born in the Ukraine, Panken was taken to the United States as a child. He worked in leather factories in New York City and attended school in the evenings. Panken was admitted to the bar in 1905. In 1917, he was elected a judge of New York City's Municipal Court and served until 1928. In 1934 he was appointed a judge of the Domestic Relations Court, a post which he held for 20 years. Panken was attracted to the labor movement from his youth. At the age of 18 he organized a leather goods union and later helped found the Ladies Garment Workers Union (1900). In those days, gangsters had ties with employers as well as with politicians in New York City's East Side. Thus, prominent figures in the socialist movement were the objects of violence. Panken was shot at in 1904 and assaulted by thugs in 1906.

Panken represented U.S. Socialists at a number of international congresses and at the same time maintained an association with Jewish movements. When World War i broke out, he was one of the organizers of the People's Relief Committee to aid the Jews of Eastern Europe. Later, he helped to organize the American branch of *ort and for many years was its president. He was also president of the Jewish Daily Forward from 1917 to 1925. His writings include Socialism in America (1931) and The Child Speaks: The Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency (1941).

[Charles Reznikoff]