William Braiterman, businessman devoted to Israeli causes, dies at 93

April 14, 1993

William Braiterman, a Baltimore businessman who served in the Palestine Jewish Legion in World War I and in later years divided his time between the United States and Israel, died yesterday at Levindale of a respiratory illness and an infection. He was 93.

The native of Russia moved to Baltimore with his family in 1911. His youthful interest in Zionism grew out of his awareness of celebrated cases of anti-Semitism in Poland as well as the U.S.

He ran away to Philadelphia to join the Jewish Legion during World War I because the doctor checking recruits in Baltimore knew he was not yet 18.

He was assigned to a unit that did not reach the Middle East until the fighting was over and after the British Army, of which the Legion was a part, had driven the Turks out of Palestine. In a 1967 "I Remember . . ." account in The Sun Magazine, he said many Jews had joined the Legion in the hope it would improve chances for establishment of a Jewish homeland.

After the war, Mr. Braiterman returned to Baltimore to help his mother raise his brothers and sisters. He became active in business -- as a traveling musical instrument salesman, as a distributor of Philco radios, as a salesman for the Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. and, from 1945 to 1965, as the owner of the Allied Merchants Collection Agency. With his wife, the former Leona Fedder, who died in 1967, he owned and operated the Windsor Dress Shop on Gay Street in Oldtown.

Until 1985, he also operated an income tax preparation business that specialized in simple returns for poor people.

In 1955, Mr. Braiterman made his first trip to Israel to visit his daughter. From the late 1960s until he had a stroke in early 1986, he spent half of each year in Baltimore and half in Israel.

He helped organize a group of former Baltimoreans in Israel and among his volunteer activities was the recording of their stories, which he donated to the Jewish Historical Society in Baltimore.

He had been commander of the Veterans of the Jewish Palestine Legion locally and later was international president of the veterans group.

Author of 84 letters to the editor on file in the library of The Sun, he said in 1980, "I don't get mad any more. I get even. I write letters."

He wrote on subjects as varied as the Middle East and what he saw as the deterioration of the U.S. Postal Service.

His opinions also were published in the Jerusalem Post and the Paris edition of the International Herald Tribune.

In 1980, he said, "Dreams and reality don't always work out, but I still have a lot of faith in our Jewish people. I'm convinced that in the cradle of some Jewish home is another Ben Gurion, another Golda Meir."

Services for Mr. Braiterman will be conducted at 3 p.m. tomorrow at the Sol Levinson & Bros. Home, 6010 Reisterstown Road.

He is survived by two sons, Sheldon H. Braiterman of Baltimore and Marvin Braiterman of Hennecker, N.H.; his daughter, Phyllis Cohen of Hadera, Israel; a brother, Morton Braiterman of Baltimore; a sister, Lillian Crane, also of Baltimore; 13 grandchildren; and 14 great-grandchildren.

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