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Lewis, Paul (1900–1984)

Natalie Ornish Biography Entry

Paul Lewis, Jewish leader and philanthropist, son of Rabbi Bino Menashi and Miriam (Tyber) Lubinsky, was born on January 18, 1900, in Poland. His family brought the textile industry to Poland. Lewis's father was known as the saint of W_oc_awek, and his grandfather, Rabbi Pincus Lubinsky, was known as the miracle worker of Kowal. Paul immigrated in 1922 to New York and worked with the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company in 1931. In 1944 he went to Marfa, Texas, where he managed a store; he later purchased stores in Marfa and Presidio and developed the largest clothing establishment between El Paso and Del Rio. He subsequently moved to Dallas. On November 1, 1931, he married Leah Alper, teacher and graduate of Hertzlea Academy and Teachers College in New York City. They had two children, Morton and Miriam.

Lewis sponsored the first in a series of national memorials at Congregation Shearith Israel in Dallas (1959). He built and donated Congregation Beth Israel in Mesquite (1960), organized the first National Memorial Remembrance Day to the victims of the Holocaust and the Warsaw Ghetto Fighters Day (1963), and sponsored the twentieth and thirtieth anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising by publishing commemorative editions of the Passover Hagadah. He built and dedicated more than fifteen memorials to the victims of the Nazi Holocaust in synagogues, centers, and museums throughout the United States. He was appointed by James E. Carter to serve on the president's first United States Holocaust Memorial Commission (1976). Lewis established the first Chair of Holocaust Studies at Yeshiva University, New York (1969), gave a grant for Lucy S. Dawidowicz to author The War Against the Jews, and developed the first teaching curriculum on Holocaust studies through the Paul and Leah Lewis Chair. He donated and built the Lewis Park of Memories at the Dallas Jewish Community Center, which included a hexagonal fountain and plaza featuring a twenty-four-foot granite monument. This is a tribute not only to the six million victims but also to "righteous Christians" who were rescuers (1980). Lewis served as building chairman at the Dallas Akiba Academy, to which he donated the Morton A. Lewis Educational Wing in memory of a son who had been an attorney with the Dallas firm Geary, Brice, and Lewis (1968). Paul Lewis was a member of the group that founded the first American colony in Palestine in 1928, today the city of Ranana.

His many awards include the Lewis Marshall Award of the Jewish Theological Seminary (1969), an award from the Israeli government (1971), and the First Guardian of the Holocaust award from Yeshiva University in New York (1981). He was a member of the Lions Club and the Dallas Chamber of Commerce. Leah Lewis died on May 29, 1981, and Paul Lewis died on November 19, 1984. They were survived by a daughter, Miriam (Mimi) Barnett, of Dallas.

Natalie Ornish, Pioneer Jewish Texans (Dallas: Texas Heritage, 1989). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.


  • Peoples
  • Jews
  • Business
  • Activism and Social Reform
  • Civic Leaders
  • Patrons, Collectors, and Philanthropists

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Natalie Ornish, “Lewis, Paul,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 08, 2021,

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March 1, 1995
May 31, 2016