Philanthropist Larry Phillips, AJWS co-founder, dies

Marcy Oster

(JTA) — Larry Phillips, a philanthropist and businessman who was a founder of the American Jewish World Service, has died.

The American Jewish World Service in a tribute on its website called Phillips, who died on Sept. 11 at 88, “a visionary philanthropist who brought the dream of a Jewish organization dedicated to ending poverty and promoting human rights alive.”

He collaborated with Lawrence Simon, today a prominent professor of international development at Brandeis University, to launch AJWS in 1985. Phillips served as the organization’s earliest financial investor and first board chair, according to the organization.

“We owe our existence today to their passion, compassion and dedication to applying Jewish values toward building a more just and equitable world,” AJWS President Ruth Messinger said in a statement.

Phillip’s family founded the Phillips-Van Heusen fashion conglomerate, which his great-grandparents started as a pushcart business.

According to AJWS, Phillips joined the board of an international relief organization but felt isolated as the only Jewish trustee, which led him to found a Jewish organization to undertake humanitarian relief efforts.

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