Historian Kenneth Libo observed that the true religion of the Loeb, Lehman and Lewisohn families is philanthropy. John learned at an early age that a full life contains three parts. First, the period of education, where you prepare for the future. Secondly, one’s career. And the third is philanthropy, where you share what you have with others. John’s philanthropic activities include serving on foundation boards, promoting religious freedom, supporting education, supporting the arts, and subsidizing scholarly research and publications.
John has served as chairman of three foundations. He was chair of the Winston Churchill Foundation of the United States, which sponsors young American scientists to study at Churchill College at Oxford University. He served as chair of the Langeloth Foundation, whose purpose is to provide housing and other social services to those in need. Finally, he is chair of the JLL, Jr Foundation, through which he personally supports numerous non-profit organizations, especially in the area of religious freedom. He also serves on a variety of other boards and foundations listed in the “Honors” section of this website.
Growing up as a young boy, John had no conscious experience of anti-Semitism. He once asked his mother in response to a schoolmate’s question, “What am I?” She replied, “You’re an American, dear.” In his high school years at Hotchkiss, he encountered several episodes of anti-Jewish feeling. The most painful and enduring occurred at a Saturday night film showing on campus in 1945, when the first images of the Nazi death camps were screened and John’s classmates cheered. From that day to today, John has invested countless hours of effort to understand the roots of anti-Semitism and religious bigotry in general, and millions of dollars of his personal wealth to combat both.
In his memoir, John reflected, “When I write a check to support a book’s publication, I remind myself that seeing a book into print means more to me than [owning] any yacht ever could. This is particularly true if the book is related to any of my three passionate pursuits: American Jewish history, genealogy, and Danish art.” Love of books runs in the family: John’s brother Arthur is the former owner of the Madison Avenue Bookshop in Manhattan, which closed in 2002 to the disappointment of its devoted customers.