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LEVI, LEO NAPOLEON (1856–1904). Leo N. Levi, lawyer, was born to Mina (Halfin) and Abraham Levi in Victoria on September 15, 1856. At age sixteen he enrolled at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, where he received the medal for being the best university debater and at age twenty received his law degree. He married Ray Bachrach, and they had six children. He settled in Galveston and became associated with the law firm Flournoy and Scott in 1876; later he became a partner in Scott, Levi, and Smith.

Levi was a well-known orator, and officials at the University of Texas invited him to give the commencement address in June 1899. The Independent Order of B'nai B'rith published this speech and others by Levi in a book in 1905. In 1887 Levi was elected president of Temple B'nai Israel, and the next year he brought Rabbi Henry Cohen to Texas. Levi retained the presidency for twelve years. In Galveston he joined the Independent Order of B'nai B'rith, a Jewish fraternal organization, and was elected president of District Seven, which comprised seven Southern states. In 1900 Levi was elected national president of the IOBB. That same year he moved to New York City to pursue his work with B'nai B'rith.

As president of B'nai B'rith, Levi penned a petition on July 4, 1903, to Czar Nicholas II, after the massacre at Kishinev, that demanded Russians stop abusing Jews. Secretary of State John Hay signed the Kishinev petition, and President Theodore Roosevelt endorsed it. On January 13, 1904, Levi died of a heart attack. He was one of the first Texas-born Jews to receive national recognition.


Henry Cohen, David Lefkowitz, and Ephraim Frisch, One Hundred Years of Jewry in Texas (Dallas: Jewish Advisory Committee, 1936). Independent Order of B'nai B'rith, Memorial to Leo N. Levi (Chicago: Hamburger, 1905). Natalie Ornish, Pioneer Jewish Texans (Dallas: Texas Heritage, 1989).

Natalie Ornish

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Natalie Ornish, "LEVI, LEO NAPOLEON," Handbook of Texas Online (, accessed December 01, 2015. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.