LEAVITT, MOSES A. (1894–1965), *American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee leader. Leavitt was born in New York City. He studied chemical engineering and worked with chemical companies until 1922, when he entered Jewish social service work. He became assistant secretary of the Joint in 1929, then was transferred in 1933 to the Palestine Economic Corporation, an organization closely allied to JDC, where he served as vice president and secretary. Succeeding Joseph *Hyman as JDC secretary in 1940, Leavitt directed JDC aid from the U.S. to German-occupied Europe. Together with Joseph J. *Schwartz in Europe, Leavitt formed most of the policy decisions during the war and especially after it, when JDC spent the largest sums in its history aiding Jewish survivors in Europe. He also took part in channeling JDC efforts to immigration to Israel and the start of social service for the elderly (Malben) there. After prolonged negotiations, he was one of the signatories of the $107 million agreement with West Germany on Jewish Material Claims. Leavitt, who had been executive vice chairman of JDC from 1947, served as chairman of the American Council of Voluntary Agencies from 1954, and later as honorary chairman (1958). He was also a member of The Hebrew University Board of Governors (from 1959).
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.