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The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

BENESCH, ALFRED ABRAHAM - The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

BENESCH, ALFRED ABRAHAM (7 Mar. 1879-21 May 1973), was an active community leader and senior partner in one of Cleveland's most prestigious law firms, Benesch, Friedlander, Coplan & Aronoff. Born in Cleveland to Isidore J. and Bertha Federdian Benesch, he received his law degree from Harvard in 1903 and established a practice with Benjamin Star. Among his clients was the predominantly Jewish Peddlers' Self-Defense Assoc., for whom Benesch obtained better police protection and fair treatment in the courts.

In 1912 Benesch was elected to the city council. In 1914, Mayor NEWTON D. BAKER† appointed him as public safety director. Benesch was state director of commerce from 1935-39 and area rent director for northeastern Ohio from 1942-45. He was a member of the Cleveland Board of Education from 1925-62, including 2 terms as its president, 1933-34. Benesch was active in B'NAI B'RITH and, representing that organization, successfully fought to remove the quota system at Harvard University that restricted Jewish admissions to 10%.

Benesch was a founder of the BUREAU OF JEWISH EDUCATION in 1924 and an active or honorary member of its board of trustees until his death. He also served on the boards of the JEWISH FAMILY SERVICE ASSN., the JEWISH COMMUNITY FEDERATION, BELLEFAIRE, MT. SINAI MEDICAL CENTER Hospital, and the Natl. Jewish Hospital in Denver, serving that institution for over 50 years including as a vice-president during the 1950s and 1960s. In 1955, Benesch received the Eisenman Award from the Jewish Community Fed. for his civic and humanitarian activities. He married Helen Newman of Chicago in 1906. They had no children. Benesch died in Cleveland and was buried in Mayfield Cemetery.

Alfred A. Benesch Papers, WRHS.

Last Modified: 14 Jul 1997 11:12:30 AM

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