B'nai B'rith International is deeply saddened by the death of former B'nai B'rith International leader Philip Lax who passed away April 16 in his Maplewood, N.J., home.
Mr. Lax devoted much of his life to preserving American Jewish history. He played a significant role in the Ellis Island Restoration Commission and the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia. His creation of a generous endowment to house B'nai B'rith's archives helped illuminate not only B'nai B'rith's proud history but also historic moments in Jewish history as far back as 1700. The extensive archive comprises thousands of manuscripts, charters, medals, letters, memorabilia and other artifacts and serves as an invaluable primary resource.
"Phil gave of himself tremendously, playing a precious role in this organization. His unwavering commitment to preserving the history and culture of, not only our organization, but the Jewish people will be a permanent legacy of his commitment to Jewish life. We send our deepest condolences to his family and friends," said B'nai B'rith International President Allan J. Jacobs.
A B'nai B'rith member since 1953, Lax played an active role in the organization, serving in a number of capacities including president of South Mountain Lodge in New Jersey, president of District 3 and chairman of the International Council of B'nai B'rith, the forerunner of today's Center for Human Rights and Public Policy. He also played a crucial role on behalf of B'nai B'rith at the United Nations.
"Phil's deep commitment to Israel, public policy and U.N. affairs, as well his dedication to the protection of Jews and other minorities were major contributions to our work on behalf of Israel and human rights. He will certainly be deeply missed," said B'nai B'rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin.
Mr. Lax is survived by his wife, Madeline; his brother, Oscar; two daughters; two step-sons; three grandchildren; and four step-grandchildren.