Lewis Naphtali Dembitz

Lewis N. Dembitz
Born (1833-02-03)February 3, 1833
Zirke, Prussia
Died March 11, 1907(1907-03-11) (aged 74)
Louisville, Kentucky
Nationality American
Occupation Legal scholar

Lewis Naphtali Dembitz (February 3, 1833 – March 11, 1907) was a German American legal scholar. His nephew Louis Brandeis, who admired him greatly, chose law as a profession because of Dembitz.[1]

Born into a Jewish family in Zirke, in the Prussian province of Posen, he attended gymnasium in Frankfurt, Sagan, and Glogau. After one semester at the Charles University in Prague studying law, he emigrated to the United States in 1849. He continued to train American law in offices at Cincinnati, Ohio, and Madison, Indiana. After doing journalistic work for a time, he began in 1853 the practise of law at the bar of Kentucky, in Louisville, which practise he has continued for the remainder of his career.[2]

Also politically active, Dembitz was a delegate to the 1860 Republican National Convention, assistant city attorney of Louisville, 1884–1888, and was a commissioner for Kentucky to the Conference for the Uniformity of State Laws. In 1888, Dembitz drafted the first Australian ballot law ever adopted in the United States, to govern elections in Louisville. His legal works include: Kentucky Jurisprudence, 1890; Law Language for Shorthand Writers, 1892; and Land Titles in the United States, 2 vols., 1895. He is the author of "The Question of Silver Coinage," in the Present Problem Series, 1896, No. 1; and has written a number of book-reviews for The Nation, 1888–97, besides articles in other magazines and in newspapers.

Dembitz is strongly attached to conservative Judaism. He was one of the early members of the executive board of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, and in 1878 a member of the commission on the plan of study for the Hebrew Union College. In 1898 he acted as chairman at a convention of Orthodox congregations, and was elected a vice-president of the Orthodox Jewish Congregational Union of America. In addition to memoirs, articles, and addresses which have appeared in Jewish papers, he has published Jewish Services in Synagogue and Home, 1898; "The Lost Tribes," in the Andover Review, Aug., 1889; and has revised Exodus and Leviticus for the new translation of the Bible to be issued by the Jewish Publication Society of America.


  1. Urofsky, Melvin (2009). Louis D. Brandeis: A Life. New York: Random House. p. 18. ISBN 0307378586.
  2. Kleber, John E. (1992). "Dembitz, Lewis Naphtali". The Kentucky Encyclopedia. University Press of Kentucky. pp. 247–248. ISBN 9780813117720.

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Singer, Isidore; et al., eds. (1901–1906). "article name needed". Jewish Encyclopedia. New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company. 

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