Philadelphia lawyer and Jewish activist Theodore (“Ted”) Mann passed away on Dec. 12, 2020, due to complications from COVID-19. He was 92 years old.

Mann was heavily involved in many regional and international Jewish organizations, including holding leadership positions in the American Jewish Congress (AJC), the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs and the National Coalition Supporting Eurasian Jewry. In 1985, he founded the advocacy organization Mazon: A Jewish Response to Hunger.

“Ted’s entire life represented exactly the voice of moral principle, a fierce commitment to pluralism, and dedication to human rights that is so vitally needed today,” Rabbi David Saperstein, the emeritus director of the Reform movement’s Religious Action Center, told The Washington Post.

Mann was born in Kosice, Czechoslovakia, in 1928 and came to the United States as a child. He served in the U.S. military before earning a bachelor’s degree from Pennsylvania State University in 1949. At the advice of his father, he decided to try Temple University law school where, drawn to the drama of courtroom trials and the rigorous questioning familiar to him through the study of Talmud, he “surprised himself and everyone else by loving it,” said his son, Marcus Mann.

He got his law degree in 1952 and practiced until 2007. He was a founding partner of the Philadelphia law firm Mann, Ungar, Spector & Labovitz, specializing in commercial litigation. He would also take on pro bono cases through the AJC and the American Civil Liberties Union. He unsuccessfully argued a 1960 Supreme Court case against the Pennsylvania “blue laws,” which allowed only certain stores to remain open on Sundays, making business difficult for Jewish shop owners who took off on Saturday to observe Shabbat.

Although he was often critical of Israeli government policies, he said, “I regard dissent as one of the precious jewels of Jewish life.” Mann cared deeply about the connection between the United States and Israel. As AJC president, he organized a Mideast mission visiting the leaders of Israel, Egypt and Jordan.

In 1979, he accompanied former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin to Egypt to celebrate the signing of the Camp David peace treaty, where he cried watching Israelis and Egyptians dancing and singing together while the band played “Hevenu Shalom Aleichem” and other Jewish songs of peace.

“Ted’s entire life represented exactly the voice of moral principle—a fierce commitment to pluralism and dedication to human rights that is so vitally needed today,” said Rabbi David Saperstein, a prominent leader of the Reform movement and U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom.

Passionate about justice, Mann marched in Washington in solidarity with Soviet Jews seeking to emigrate, in opposition to apartheid in South Africa and was present at the 1963 March on Washington where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech (which he missed after fainting from heatstroke). His law firm was the first in Philadelphia to hire an African-American associate, according to the Philadelphian Jewish Exponent.

In retirement, he published a memoir, “If I Am Only for Myself ... ” (2012).

Rowena Weiss, his wife of 56 years, passed away in 2010. He is survived by their three children: Julie Mann of Wyncote, Pa.; and Rachel and Marcus Mann, both of Philadelphia; two grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

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