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Ezekiel Jacob Levin, Jewish leader, was born in Riga, Latvia, on July
3, 1905, son of Avraham Raphael and Henya Levin. Being a gifted child,
he received his elementary schooling in a "Cheder Metukan," a
progressive Hebrew school. There he excelled in the Hebrew language
and Judaic studies. Levin's secondary education was provided by the
Greek German Gymnasium in Riga. During this period he was active in
the scout movement and was assistant scoutmaster of one of the large
Jewish troops in Riga. After his father's early death, Jacob accepted
his uncle's invitation and immigrated to the United States in 1923.
His uncle, Yerahmiel Levin, brought him to Baltimore, Maryland, where
he continued his Hebrew studies at the Baltimore Hebrew College and
his general studies at the University of Maryland. Shortly thereafter,
he joined the Labor Zionist party, Ziere Zion, and formed a Gordonia
Labor Zionist Youth group, among the first Gordonia groups in the
United States. The group encouraged immigration to what was then
Palestine (now Israel). The Gordonia group marked the beginning of
Levin's long and dedicated career as a Jewish teacher and Zionist
youth leader.

He moved to Philadelphia in 1926, when he was hired to teach Hebrew.
He taught at the Camden, New Jersey, Talmud Torah (Hebrew School),
considered one of the outstanding schools of that time. There he met
Tziporah Handelman, whom he later married. Both were active in Zeire
Zion and also became part of a group called Kvutzat Gordonia. This
group consisted of friends who were planning to "make aliya"
(literally to ascend) to the land of Israel. With the group's decision
to go to California for an agricultural preparation program, they
traveled to Petaluma, California, in January of 1927 to work on
poultry farms.

In 1929, through a contact with Rabbi Wolf Gold (a prominent New York
Rabbi) and his brother, Rabbi H. Raphael Gold, rabbi of Congregation
Shearith Israel in Dallas, Texas, Levin became principal of the Hebrew
School of Dallas. During his years in Dallas he also organized a
Gordonia group, later called Habonim throughout the amalgamation of
the groups. The organization's name had already changed to Habonim
when he organized groups in Houston and San Antonio. He developed the
Hebrew School of Dallas into one of the finest in the nation through
the use of a Berlitz-like method of teaching Hebrew. Students were
called by their Hebrew names and studied all subjects in Hebrew. The
prayer books were in Hebrew; instruction and explanations were in
Hebrew. The curriculum was intense and reflected an in-depth
Jewish-studies program. Classes were held in the afternoon after
regular school. Levin also organized a Boy Scout and Girl Scout group
sponsored by the Hebrew school. Along with the development of Habonim
he founded Camp Bonim, a residential summer camp oriented to Labor
Zionist, Hebrew, and Jewish studies. The camp was the only one of its
kind in the Southwest, and many campers came to it. Levin served as
camp director. He was a gifted teacher and touched the lives of his
many students and those he worked with. He resigned from his position
as principal of the Hebrew school in 1946 to take a position as an
organizer and campaign director with Histadrut, which worked under the
auspices of the National Committee for Labor Palestine. As Histadrut
Southwest regional director Levin directed the Minneapolis campaign
during Hubert Humphrey's term of office as mayor and received a
supportive statement from him.

Levin became principal of a Hebrew school in Houston in 1948 and
remained until 1953. He served as director of the United Hebrew School
of Philadelphia until 1959. In 1960 he became the director of the
Bureau of Jewish Education of Camden, New Jersey, a position he held
until his retirement in 1971. During his later years in Philadelphia
he was a lecturer at Gratz College and taught at the Philadelphia
Akiba Academy, a Jewish day school. He retired to Israel but died
during a visit to his daughter and her family in New Jersey in
December 1983.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Ginger Chesnick Jacobs, The Levin Years: A Golden Era,
1929-1951 (Dallas Jewish Historical Society, 1989).

Ginger Jacobs