Jay was born on May 31, 1922 in New York City. After graduating from Townsend Harris, he earned a bachelor's degree from City College. In 1948, he met Barbara J. Henly with whom he shared 63 years of devoted marriage before she passed away in March of this year. The son of Jerome Levy, a maverick economic theorist, Jay and his late brother, financier and philanthropist Leon Levy, grew up with their father's economic perspective and preoccupation with ethics. In 1949 Jay founded Industry Forecast, which continues to this day as The Levy Forecast, the oldest publication focused on analyzing and forecasting U.S. economic conditions. He was also a consultant to major corporations and financial institutions, eventually joined in the business by his son David. Jay achieved a remarkable record of calling business cycle turning points, prompting a Barron's editorial to dub him "the Doughty Maverick" in 1959.
Throughout his career Jay was sought out for commentary by public officials, private corporations, and the news media. He testified before Congress and met with high-level congressional, administration, and Federal Reserve officials to discuss economic policy and to provide analysis of economic conditions. He authored many monographs, articles, and columns as well as coauthoring a book, Profits and the Future of American Society (Harper Collins, 1983), with son David. He taught courses and lectured on economic topics. In 1986, Jay became chairman of the Jerome Levy Economics Institute at Bard College, until leaving in 2001 with David as the Forecasting Center returned to the business sector.
Throughout his life Jay supported his community and country through active participation in civic and educational activities. He served on the Academic Freedom Committee of the American Civil Liberties Union and involved himself in numerous other organizations. Guided by his strong convictions about democratic principles, freedom of expression, and humanitarian causes, he gave financial support to a broad range of charities and causes. His family and friends remember him for his kindness, generosity, and quiet sense of humor. He is survived by his children, Ann Levy; David A Levy and his wife Judith Butler; and Joshua R. Levy and his wife Pam Magnuson. He is also survived by his grandchildren Claire Levy, Hannah Levy, Noah Simms-Levy, and Alice Levy.
A memorial service will be held at Temple Beth El, Chappaqua, NY at 2:00pm on Sunday, October 14. Donations in lieu of flowers can be sent to The City College of New York or a cause he would have valued.
Reprinted from the New York Times, October 7, 2012.
The cause was a stroke, his daughter Peggy Adler said.
Mr. Adler joined the American Communist Party in 1935, when he was 22. Sixteen years later, when he was chairman of the math department at Straubenmuller Textile High School on West 18th Street in Manhattan, he was subpoenaed to testify before a Senate subcommittee investigating Communist influence in the nation’s schools. He refused to answer the senators’ questions, citing his rights under the Fifth Amendment.
Within weeks, he was taken away from his students.
“I was teaching a class when the principal sent up a letter he had just received from the superintendent announcing my suspension, as of the close of day,” he recalled in 2009. He was later dismissed.
Mr. Adler was among more than 1,150 teachers who, in the anti-Communist furor of the cold war, were investigated under New York State’s Feinberg Law. Enacted in 1949, the law directed the Board of Regents to list organizations it considered subversive and deemed membership in those organizations prima facie evidence for firing any public school employee.
Called into the office of the school superintendent, William Jansen, Mr. Adler was asked, “Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?” Once again, he refused to answer. He was one of 378 city teachers ousted under the Feinberg Law and, based on his last name, became the lead plaintiff in the case known as Adler v. Board of Education.
In March 1952, after the case rose rapidly through the lower courts, the United States Supreme Court held in a 6-to-3 decision that there was “no constitutional infirmity” in the Feinberg Law, as Associate Justice Sherman Minton wrote in his opinion. Associate Justices William O. Douglas, Hugo Black and Felix Frankfurter dissented, declaring that the law “turns the school system into a spying project.”
The decision stood until 1967, when, in Keyishian v. Board of Regents, the Supreme Court reversed it with a 5-to-4 ruling that the Feinberg Law and similar statutes were unconstitutional. Dozens of dismissed teachers were eventually reinstated, and in 1977 Mr. Adler began receiving his annual pension of $14,901.
In 1953, during a hearing on the charges against him, Mr. Adler had said, “If you asked me whether I was a Democrat or a Republican, I would tell you it was none of your business.”
By then he had begun educating children in another way. His first book, “The Secret of Light,” was published in 1952. Its opening sentences are something of a mission statement: “This is a book about light. It will tell you interesting facts about many simple, ordinary things, like a glass of water, mirrors, soap bubbles and hot pavement.”
“Part of this story sounds like a fairy tale,” it continues. “But the wonders it describes are all true. This does not make the story any less exciting, for there is no adventure more thrilling than discovering the real wonders of the world we live in.”
The wonders that Mr. Adler would illuminate in his 87 books — many written with and illustrated by his wife, Ruth Relis Adler — are evident in their titles, among them “How Life Began,” “The Stars: Steppingstones Into Space” and “Thinking Machines.” In “Why? A Book of Reasons” (1961), he answered simple questions like “Why don’t the fish freeze when the pond freezes?” and “Why can a fly walk on the ceiling?”
Mr. Adler’s books, many of them written after he moved to Vermont, have sold over four million copies and been translated into 19 languages. He received awards from the Children’s Book Council and the National Science Teachers Association.
Born in Manhattan on April 27, 1913, Irving Adler was one of five children of Marcus and Celia Adler, immigrants from what is now Poland. His father sold ice, coal, wood, seltzer and beer. Irving was an outstanding student, entering Townsend Harris Hall (now Townsend Harris High School) at 11 and graduating from City College with a degree in mathematics at 18. Soon afterward “he was teaching high school students that were older than him,” his daughter said.
Mr. Adler married Ruth Relis in 1935; she died in 1968. His second wife, the former Joyce Lifshutz Sparer, died in 1999. Besides his daughter Peggy, he is survived by his son, Stephen; a stepdaughter, Laura Wallace; nine grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren.
Not all of Mr. Adler’s writing was directed at youngsters. In “Mathematics and Mental Growth” (1968), he reprised essays he had written for professional journals in support of the “new math” — the movement to replace rote learning of the subject with clear delineation of mathematical concepts.
In reviewing the book for The New York Times, Isaac Asimov wrote, “It is to be hoped that interested parents will read them to see what one enlightened educator thinks.”
“We race toward catastrophe by facing the Nuclear Age with our Tom Sawyerish idyll of education,” Mr. Asimov added. “Adler’s book is a cry for something better.”
Reprinted from the New York Times, September 27, 2012.
Ben's first job was with the Department of Labor in Washington, DC. While there, he met his future wife, Mildred. They married in 1954 and shortly thereafter moved to Smithtown, NY. Ben established a general law practice in 1955 and continued the practice of law for the next 45 years. He approached his work with passion and commitment. In time, he became a well respected plaintiff's attorney in Suffolk County. He was deeply saddened when ailments late in life forced him to retire.
Ben was actively involved in the community. He helped found Temple Beth Sholom in Smithtown and a secular Jewish School, as well. From 1966 to 1977, he was the Secretary to the Board of Trustees of the Vanderbilt Museum. Ben served on the board of the Suffolk County Boys Scouts and the Smithtown Historical Society. He was also the volunteer judge for the village of Head of the Harbor, in Saint James, where he lived from 1969 to 2000. Ben was an active member of the Suffolk County Bar Association, serving as chairman of the Committee on Grievances from 1974 to 1977 and as chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Supreme Court Library. Ben published several articles in the NY Law Journal.
He was an avid reader of history, politics and biographies and enjoyed jogging around Saint James and hiking in the Adirondack Mountains. One of his proudest achievements was to become an Adirondack 46er, climbing the 46 peaks above 4000 feet in the Adirondack Park. After his beloved wife's death in 2000, Ben moved to Newton MA to be closer to his children and grandchildren. Ben is survived by his son Jeremy of Simsbury, CT, his wife Julie and their 3 children, Jesse, Marisa and Paul; and his son Adam of Warren, VT, his wife Anne and their three children, Laura, Sam and Jackie.
Reprinted from the Newsday, September 3, 2012.