Leo Levin, 96

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Levin passed away on Nov. 24, at the age of 96. His sons Jay and Allan said he touched many lives.

Leo Levin loved people, Judaism and the law. The Trenton native, who spent the last 28 years in Merion, taught for 50 years at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, started Lower Merion Synagogue in Bala Cynwyd and always put other people first. 
 
Levin passed away on Nov. 24, at the age of 96. His sons Jay and Allan said he touched many lives. 
 
“He was a really smart, thoughtful man,” Jay Levin remembered. “He was very committed to the Jewish community in Philadelphia. He was able to make everyone feel they were important and special.”
 
Jay followed in his father’s footsteps, becoming a lawyer and serving as president at Lower Merion Synagogue, making them the only father-son duo to do so.
“Most people really loved him,” he said. 
 
Levin received his bachelor’s of arts from Yeshiva University in 1939 and his juris doctor from Penn Law in 1942. He became a full-time professor at the Law School of the University of Pennsylvania in 1953 and received emeritus professor status in 1989. He was also president of the Jewish Exponent and the Jewish Publication Society. 
 
In 1954, Levin and his wife Doris founded Lower Merion Synagogue with four other similarly minded families: Julie and Eric Korngold; Sylvia and Leon Korngold; Louise and Neil Leibman; and Ruth and George Castle. 
 
Gwen Horowitz, the executive director of the shul, said Levin had a tremendous impact on the synagogue and will be missed. 
 
“The members of the Lower Merion Synagogue are blessed to be the recipients of what the Levin family has built,” she said in apreciation. “We have a beautiful shul and a thriving community, none of which would have been possible without their time and extraordinary dedication.”
 
She recalled meeting Mr. Levin when she first moved to the Philadelphia area 10 years ago. 
 
“I never left the Levins’ home without smiling,” she said. “He and his wife Doris always shared the funniest stories with tremendous wit and charm.”
 
Allan Levin said his dad’s core values were derech eretz, tikkun olam and justice. For example, whenever he answered the phone, he said, “So nice to hear your voice. Thank you for calling. What can I do for you?” He also lived by the motto: “Justice, justice ye shall pursue” — tzedek, tzedek tirdof. 
 
“He didn’t just talk the talk; he walked the walk,” Allan said. “He taught values by example. You saw how he lived his life, and you knew how you were supposed to live yours.”
 
 A former colleague and friend, Penn Law School professor Steven Burbank knew Mr. Levin for about 30 years. He looked up to him and said he sometimes wished he was Jewish like him. With all of Levin’s activity in the community and legal world, he was blessed to have the Sabbath, he explained.  
 
“He somehow managed to balance a very full professional life,” he said. “Obviously, it’s a loss, but he had a long and rich life.”
 
Contact: [email protected]; 215-832-0747

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