Philip Perlmutter, 87; former head of AJCongress in St. Louis

Philip Perlmutter

BY ROBERT A. COHN, Editor-in-Chief Emeritus

Philip Perlmutter, a former director of the St. Louis Region of the American Jewish Congress, died Sunday, Dec. 29, 2012 in Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena, Calif.  His death was caused by complications from pneumonia, family members said. He was 87.

He served in the U.S. Army in Europe during World War II, earning an Infantry Combat Badge as well as a Bronze Star. Upon his return, he earned a bachelor’s degree from New York University and a master’s degree from Columbia University.  While in New York City, he met Rosanne Perlmutter, a concentration camp survivor and the couple was married in 1950.

Mr. Perlmutter worked for a variety of Jewish organizations.  In the 1950s, he worked for the Anti-Defamation League in New York City and then served as director of the St. Louis Region of the American Jewish Congress. He would also work for the American Jewish Committee in Boston before becoming executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston, a position he held for 15 years, retiring in 1990. Mr. Perlmutter gained admiration for his work in fostering good relations between the Jewish and Roman Catholic communities.

A Boston Globe article notes that Mr. Perlmutter was so admired in cultivating good relations between Jews and Roman Catholics that two decades ago, Pope John Paul II made him a Knight of the order of St. Gregory the Great. He received the award during a trip to the Vatican, where he and his wife met with the Pope.

Mr. Perlmutter also wrote numerous essays and books on interfaith relations, Middle East politics, gender and the complexity of bigotry throughout history. 

He is survived by his wife, Roseanne, two children, Cathy (Alan Weinstein) and Jeff, and two grandchildren.