Editor’s Note: The synagogue was packed for Lee Bender’s funeral Friday morning September 13th, at Temple Beth Hillel-Beth El. Lee contributed numerous articles to the Philadelphia Jewish Voice.
It is with profound sadness that the Zionist Organization of America announces the passing of its longtime Philadelphia co-president, Lee Bender, Esq.
Lee was an unabashed Zionist and a prolific writer who was committed to advocacy and activism. Lee was Philadelphia’s co-president from 2012 to 2019. His activities with ZOA and for the cause of ZOA, Zionism, Israel and the Jewish community knew no bounds. From giving presentations throughout the region with co-author Jerry Verlin, to helping to manage the chapter, to high-level meetings with communal leaders and other officials, to stuffing envelopes – Lee did it all and with passion.
He was co-author of the book Pressing Israel: Media Bias Exposed From A to Z with Jerome Verlin. They along with Steve Crane developed the Web site and app “Facts on Israel,” a tool to advance pro-Israel advocacy.
ZOA National President Morton A Klein and Philadelphia Executive Director Steve Feldman said, “Lee Bender was a fabulous Zionist leader and activist. His love of Israel was boundless and relentless. He always wanted to discuss how best help the Jewish State and ZOA. Only his love for his family superseded his love for the Jewish people. He always attended ZOA’s missions to Washington and our annual Gala Dinner. He had an active and fertile mind that generated idea after idea of actions that should be taken to protect the Holy Land. Lee will be sorely missed.”
ZOA was but one of Lee’s many activities. He was active in his synagogue, Temple Beth Hillel-Beth El, and led its Men’s Club and its Israel Advocacy Committee. He was on the board of the Jewish Community Relations Council and its Israel Committee. He volunteered at the Mitzvah Food Pantry and Cook for a Friend. He had been president of the Lower Merion Township Civil Service Commission. He volunteered to raise awareness about cancer and to raise money to try to eradicate it. He did as much as any lay leader could possibly do.
It seemed that Lee only knew how to give, and that he lived to give.
Before taking ill, Lee had been an accomplished attorney and earlier had worked in the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office. He enjoyed learning Torah and Halacha. He was a proud graduate of Cornell University and was active with its alumni association. He earned his JD at William & Mary. He was also an avid skier and traveler.
These are just some tidbits about the life of Lee Bender, though words alone cannot adequately describe his spirit and commitment. We at ZOA will miss Lee tremendously.
Lee is survived by his wife Jane; their sons, Justin and Noah; a sister, Sharon; a brother, Evan; and countless friends.
May Lee’s memory be for a blessing, and may all of his loved ones be comforted along with the mourners of Zion and Yerushalayim.
Lee’s funeral took place Friday at 9 a.m. at Temple Beth Hillel-Beth El, 1001 Remington Rd., Wynnewood, PA.