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March 30, 1984 - Image 69

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1984-03-30

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

The fame of Flexner name,
including a Zionist image

Flexner is a name replete
with American fame.
The several brothers ac-
quired inerasable recogni-
tion in many spheres: in lit-
erature, education, the sci-
ences.
One became important in
American Zionist ranks.
Attention to the Flexner
name is called again by an
important work, An. Ameri-
can Sag- a: The Story of
Helen Thomas and Simon
Flexner (Little, Brown &
Co.)
The fascinating story
about this famous couple
also drew incidental atten-
tion to a brother of Simon
Bernard Flexner, who was a
close associate of Supreme
Court Justice Louis D.
Brandeis in the American
Zionist movement.
In An American Saga,
James Thomas Flexner
writes with dignity and af-
fection about his parents.
The heroes of this impor-
tant biographical literary
gem includes Simon
Flexner, the widely-known
medical investigator, the
leader in the American sci-
entific society who was a
guide and creative spirit in
his field. As the creating di-
rector of the Rockefeller In-
stitute for Medical Re-
search, now the Rockefeller
University, he was self-
educated, having risen
from the poverty of a Ger-
man Jewish immigrant
family into merited fame.



The family of Helen
Thomas, Quakers and orig-
inal settlers of Maryland,
lost their fortune by freeing
100 slaves in 1810. Her
background was aristocra-
tic.
Mrs. Flexner's father was
a founder of Johns Hopkins
Medical School and Bryn
Mawr College, Helen's sis-
ter becoming president of
the latter. Helen's mother
also was a leader in the
feminist movement.
Helen was 19 when she
met Simon, then 27. She
gained literary fame.
Such is the fascinating
An American Saga.
This important volume
draws attention to the other
famous personalities in the
Flexner family.
Simon's brother Ab-
raham became famous as
one of this country's most
distinguished educators.
There is hardly a book of

quotations that does not in-
clude his views.
Then there was Bernard
who became active in the
Zionist movement as a
Brandeis associate.
The Bernard Flexner
career is thus recorded in
the Universal Jewish
Encyclopedia:
"Flexner, Bernard, attor-
ney and Jewish organiza-
tional leader, brother of Ab-
raham, b. Louisville, Ky.,
1865. He received the LL.B.
degree from the University
of Louisville in 1898, and in
that same year began the
practice of law. In 1914 he
was appointed by the
United States Attorney
General chairman of a
committee to study the need
for legislation affecting
children in the District of
Columbia. He was a
member of the American
Zionist Organization while
Louis D. Brandeis was its
president.
"At the Peace Conference
at Versailles in 1918 and
1919 Flexner was one of the
delegates of the American
Jews on behalf of Jewish
rights, and aided the
American Jewish Joint Dis-
tribution Committee as an
authority on economic ques-
tions, as a member of its
executive committee and as
chairman of its committee
on medical affairs. He
served also as vice chair-
man of the Reconstruction
Committee, as a member of
the board of directors of the
Loan Bank, as president of
the Palestine Economic
Corporation, and as one of
the organizers of the Cen-
tral Bank of Cooperative In-
stitutions in Palestine and
of the American Joint
Foundation.
"Flexner wrote Juvenile
Courts and Probation (in
collaboration with Reuben
Oppenheimer; New York,
1922). In 1928 he directed
the publication and distri-
bution to librarians,
throughout the world of the
complete record of the
Sacco-Vanzetti trial."
Thus, a noteworthy biog-
raphy about one brother
and his equally prominent
wife draws attention to an
entire family of fame. An
American Saga: The Story
of Helen Thomas and Simon
Flexner earns recognition
among the best in biog-
raphical writing.
—P•S.

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