Skip to main content
Penn People

Moses Levy 1757 - 1826

Penn Connection

  • A.B. 1772
  • Trustee 1802-1826
  • First Jewish graduate and Trustee of Penn

Moses Levy was born in Philadelphia in 1757 the eldest child of Samson and Martha Levy.  Levy entered the Academy of the College of Philadelphia in July 1767.  After two years in Latin or Grammar School of the Academy, he went into the three-year course in the College of Philadelphia in 1769 and graduated with an A.B. degree in 1772. Levy’s brothers Daniel and Samson also attended the College or Academy beginning in the fall of 1776 but their education was likely cut short by the Revolution.

Rather than become a merchant like his father, Levy chose to study law. He was admitted to practice law in the Philadelphia County courts in March 1778.  He had an active private practice in Philadelphia appearing in a number of high-profile cases, such as one defending Benjamin Rush.  In 1822 Levy was appointed as the Presiding Judge of the Philadelphia County District Court.

In addition to his legal career, Levy held public office and served on the boards of local institutions. He was the Recorder of the City of Philadelphia from 1802 to 1808.  He was one of the founding board members of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in 1805 and also served as a founding and early co-president of the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf.

Levy was elected to the Board of Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania in December 1802. He was fairly active serving on several different committees, particularly those charged to hire new faculty and personnel, review of curriculum, and final public examination of students. He remained on the Board until his death.

Levy died in Philadelphia on 9 May 1826. He is believed to be the first Jewish graduate and trustee of the University of Pennsylvania.