BostonWalks

Integrating the urban, modern Jewish American city experience with its historical sites and themes in such locales as Boston, MA, Portland, ME, East Bay and Providence, RI, and the Upper West Side of Manhattan, NYC.



When will hospitals begin making themselves healthy places to visit?

(Or, at least acknowledge publicly, like Beth Israel Hospital - Boston, that the problem is real and that BI, unlike many other hospitals, is beginning to face it head-on!)

Check out our website for 10 suggestions how hospitals can be made healthier for patients:

10 Ways to Make Hospitals Healthier Places

(Let's Reduce Hospital Infections!)



Celebrating 353 Years


of Jews in America

Celebrating 353 Years


of Jews in America


"West End House" circa 2004 - Begun by 35 Jewish boys in 1903!
Click here to connect with more of Boston's Best!


Now available!


The Jewish Friendship Trail Guidebook

6 Self-Guided Walking/Bicycling Jewish Boston History Tours

Covers Boston, Brookline, and Cambridge

Softcover 198 pages with maps & b/w photos

Print out this
Book Order Form
to order now!



Now available!


The Ten Commandments Guidebook

Ways to Self-Struggle with Classic Morals

In Song, Poetry, and Prose

Covers 10 Commandments Plus One Other!

Softcover 153 pages with practical suggestions pages!

Print out this
Book Order Form
to order now!






Boston Walks presents


E.A. Filene

and

Boston's Jewish Merchant Legacies



Copyright Michael Alan Ross, 1999-2007.
All Rights Reserved.

Email: BostonWalks

Telephone: 617-489-5020
















E. A. Filene, A. Lincoln Filene, and Louis E. Kirstein,

Boston's most successful Jewish department store magnates, led lives which can be recalled by means of a half-dozen existing Boston sites.



Foremost among these sites is the 1912 Filene's retail store building

located at the corner of Washington and Summer Streets (top of photo).

Two additional sites commemorate the life of E. A. Filene: (1) a free-standing memorial tablet/stone on Boston Common at the corner of Charles and Boylston Streets (left in photo) and (2) the elegant, simple brick townhouse with turquoise painted shutters at #12 Otis Place (right in photo).

One site reminds us of Louis E. Kirstein: The Kirstein Memorial Business Library, a branch of the Boston Public Library, located directly behind Old City Hall at #20 City Hall Avenue.

Kirstein's residence in Kenmore Square at #506 Commonwealth Avenue was torn down during the winter of 2001-2002 in order to build a new hotel.

One site served as one of the homes of A. Lincoln Filene at #361 Beacon Street (His principal residence was located in Weston, Massachusetts.).



These sites can serve to stimulate our learning about and understanding the commercial, intellectual, and societal contributions by these three Jews to Boston and to the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

A public relations story told by Edward Bernays who briefly worked for Filene was that William Filene, the father and founder of Filene's, a Jewish immigrant to the United States in the late 1840s from Posen, Prussia/Germany, arrived at customs here in Boston with a surname of Katz. William Katz thought to substitute his surname with the equivalent synonym "feline" or, as mispelled, "filene."

As a peddler and small shopkeeper (principally for women's apparel), William Filene's ventures through Connecticut introduced him to a young Jewish woman, Clara Ballin. After a short courtship, the two married.

Over the next thirty years, the Filenes had five children (four boys and a girl), and, after fits and starts in small shops, eventually returned to the Boston area to make their lives and livelihood.

The Filenes were enlightened "German" Jews who relished opportunities in America and concerned themselves more with ethics and progressive thinking than with ritual observance.

By the 1890s, two of their sons, E. A. Filene and A. Lincoln Filene had become the chosen successors to their parents' business.

These two "boys", bright and capable, formulated theories on how to do business and then proceeded to implement them.

For assistance they sought out some of the best Jewish and non-Jewish minds of their day. Legal counsel was obtained from LouisD. Brandeis. A merchandising partner was discovered in Louis E. Kirstein. Boston societal analyis was contracted from Lincoln Steffens.

If ever there was a talmudist (in a broad sense) in department store clothing, E. A. Filene was it. Filene was a constant inquirer about everything and anything in his life. His incessant questioning eventually led him to write a half-dozen books, to give dozens of speeches, and to speak nationally on radio in behalf of President Franklin Roosevelt's policies.

Together, he and his brother, catalyzed progressive approaches to purchasing goods, employee relationships, and selling their products.

A. Lincoln Filene also wrote books, with his focus more directed toward business personnel relationships.

While E. A. Filene did not overtly participate in Jewish community activities and A. Lincoln Filene ostensibly changed his religious affiliation in midlife; the two brothers remained committed to two of Judaism's powerful tenets: tzidakah and fairness/justice.

E. A. Filene donated almost his entire multi-million fortune to two charitable foundations which he had created: The Twentieth Century Fund (a fact finding foundation now in New York City) and The E.A. Filene Good Will Fund. A. Lincoln Filene and his wife Therese created their own foundation which gave substantial sums of money to universities and cultural programs.



Together, the two Filene brothers catalyzed creation of The Filene Cooperative Association, perhaps the earliest American pseudo-union, in which employees had an independent and significant role in governing themselves. Not only did Filene employees determine such matters as their own wage scales but also they could adjudicate (and reverse) controversies such as employment dismissals.



Louis E. Kirstein, who joined Filene operations in 1911, had direct and influential involvement in Boston's Jewish community. During and after World War One, Kirstein served first as campaign chair and then later as President of Boston's Jewish Federation. His fund raising abilities were considered monumental by our Jewish community. In the span of one particular year (1917-1918), under Kirstein's leadership, the dollar amount of Jewish community fundraising quadrupled!

For almost forty years, Kirstein lived in Kenmore Square close to Temple Israel (today Boston University's Morse Auditorium).

When the Boston Public Library was searching for an opportunity to start a business branch, Kirstein provided personal funds for the entire such building.

E. A. Filene, for many years, lived in rented quarters in Boston's South End. In 1920, he purchased Elizabeth Glendower Evan's (L.D. Brandeis' close friend) home at #12 Otis Place, where he lived the last seventeen years of his life.

The dapper bachelor E. A. Filene, like his friend and counselor Brandeis, loved walking the streets of Boston and his view of the Charles River.

From E. A. Filene's travels and creative mind constantly came new ideas and projects. His travel to India in the first decade of this century resulted in his creation of credit unions here in the United States. That creation was recognized in the 1950s by the Credit Union Association when it placed a tablet/memorial stone honoring its founding father on one corner of the Boston Common.

E. A. Filene's most tangible product for Boston consumers was not only the supervision of the construction of the main department store building at Washington and Summer Streets but also the conception and implementation of Filene's Automatic Basement Store underneath it.

One of several books commemorating E. A. Filene's life is Liberal's Progress by Gerald W. Johnson, Coward-McCann, Inc., New York, 1948.



JOIN US ON ONE OF OUR LARGE GROUP DISCOVERY WALKS!


We've walked what little remains of the once thriving West, North, and South Ends' Jewish communities of Boston. Even today, with little of them standing, the few surviving sites make for a fascinating walking or bicycling group tour (minimum 25 participants) which we lead by arrangement. Click here on BostonWalks for further information or contact us, BostonWalks, via email or by telephone: 617-489-5020.





Links to Boston and New England








On-line selections from Michael Alan Ross' new,
The Ten Commandments Guidebook





Now available!


The Jewish Friendship Trail Guidebook

6 Self-Guided Walking/Bicycling Jewish Boston History Tours

Covers Boston, Brookline, and Cambridge

Softcover 198 pages with maps & b/w photos

Print out this
Book Order Form
to order now!



Now available!


The Ten Commandments Guidebook

Ways to Self-Struggle with Classic Morals

In Song, Poetry, and Prose

Covers 10 Commandments Plus One Other!

Softcover 153 pages with practical suggestions pages!

Print out this
Book Order Form
to order now!











"West End House" circa 2004
Begun by 35 Jewish boys in 1903!

Click here to connect with more of
Boston's Best!
















Yea, Team! The Boston Red Sox and The New England Patriots!


From the Charles River, a red, white, and blue agenda flows!



Copyright Michael Alan Ross, 1999-2007. All Rights Reserved.

Email: BostonWalks

Telephone: 617-489-5020





Click here to discover more walks around Boston!




Click here for 10 ways to reduce hospital infections!



Do you know how many Americans die yearly in car crashes?...
...How many?






Chazak Ve-ematz
be strong and resolute

(Moses words to Joshua in Deut. 31:7)







Boston Walks

The Jewish
Friendship Trail


How do you imagine the relationship between freedom and responsibility within a democracy?

Check out this poetic interpretation:


In Defense of Liberty and Democracy, Freedom and Responsibility


considering the parasha of the week, Yitro.




Isn't it time to Attract Middle Class Families Back into Our Cities?

Here's 10 Ways to bring middle-class families back into cities like NYC:


10 Ways to Bring Middle Class Families Back into New York City, Boston, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Washington, DC, Atlanta, and other Cities


considering the best of the suburban paradigm for our large cities.




Are you curious about what are some of the ethical reasons for single-payer universal health care insurance?


10 Moral Reasons for One Payer Universal Health Care Insurance for America


in light of Hillel's If I'm only for myself, what am I?




When was the last time you really laughed?



We're featuring good Jewish jokes!
Check out this month's featured humor
by clicking here!

We know that there are other belly laughs our there.
Email us at bostonwalks@hotmail.com with your contribution!




Isn't time to make unhealthy hospitals history?

Here's 10 ways to make our hospitals healthier!








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