1904 – 1981
Victor H. Bernstein, managing editor of the Nation during her years there, described Lillie Shultz as the magazine’s “dynamo—a tireless bundle of energy.” “Lillie had two passions,” he said, “the Nation and Israel.” This energetic journalist was a Zionist, a champion of the oppressed, a skilled administrator, and a businesswoman.
Born in 1904, Lillie Shultz was raised in Philadelphia with two brothers and three sisters. She attended Philadelphia public schools and the University of Pennsylvania, majoring in education.
Her first job as a journalist was with the Philadelphia Jewish World as the editor of the English-language section. In an article entitled “Why I Was Jealous: A Sukkoth Memory,” she illustrates her love of Jewish culture and the influence of her grandfather on her future Zionist activism. “Always toward the end,” she relates of her grandfather’s storytelling in the sukka, “there crept into his voice a tone of sorrow, as if he saw in the long procession the endless hordes of exiles banished from Palestine to a life of misery and misfortune. And when he finished, he always offered up a prayer for the speedy restoration of Palestine.”
Her grandfather’s prayer became her own. She moved to New York City and, after a stint as a cable editor and reporter at the Jewish Telegraphic Service, joined the staff of the American Jewish Congress. From 1933 to 1944, Lillie Shultz was chief administrative officer and director of publicity (appointed by Rabbi Stephen Wise himself), and the only woman on staff. She served on the governing council, was an editor of the Congress Bulletin, was an active member of a committee dealing with the 1936 Olympics, and was instrumental in encouraging the American Jewish Congress to assert itself in the boycott of goods manufactured in Nazi Germany. Ever committed to the end of oppression and discrimination, she was also instrumental in establishing a commission to investigate economic discrimination against Jews in the United States.
Her political intelligence and skilled writing were best displayed during her tenure as a writer, member of the editorial board, and director of the Nation Associates, an advocacy group at the Nation. From 1944 to 1955, Shultz wrote hard-hitting, politically sophisticated articles for the Nation from her vantage point as a reporter at the United Nations. In articles such as “U.S.-Israel Crisis: Peace or Appeasement,” “Peace: Why It Was By-Passed,” and “Democracy’s Betrayal of Spain,” she commented critically on United Nations actions on matters affecting the Middle East, China, and Franco’s Spain. During these years, she also lobbied tirelessly for the partition of Palestine and against nuclear expansion.
In 1956, Lillie Shultz opened her own public relations firm, Kenmore Associates, whose main client was the State of Israel. From 1966 to 1975, she was director of public relations for the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel.
Lillie Shultz died in April 1981 after a long illness. Victor H. Bernstein wrote in an obituary for the Nation that Lillie Shultz was a “gallant and fighting soul.” She had dedicated her life to Zionism and the annihilation of the oppression of all people through action and the written word.
“Edge of a Precipice: A Report from Lake Success.” Nation (1950): 159–161; “The Jerusalem Story: A Victory for the Vatican.” Nation (1949): 589–592; “Peace or Blackmail: The U.N.’s Chance in the Middle East.” Nation (1951): 204–207.
AJYB 83: 363; Gottlieb, Moshe R. American Anti-Nazi Resistance, 1933–1941 (1982); NYTimes Biographical Service 12, no. 1 (January 1981).