Ambassador Loeb’s philanthropic interests have been strongly influenced by his dislike of minority and religious intolerance. As a descendent of the first Jews in colonial America, Loeb felt considerable pride in his family’s association with early American patriotism and their contribution to the country’s economic prosperity. His awareness of the scope of anti-semitism in America began in high school when he met a tremendous amount of animosity toward Jews.
“In 1944, at one of the Saturday night movies held every week-end at his school, I saw the first newsreels of the liberation of the death camps. Believe it or not, the entire student body cheered and some of the students said to him afterwards, ‘Well, we don’t like Hitler, but at least he killed the Jews.’
“That experience, without doubt, was what planted the seeds of my lifelong commitment to anything connected with tolerance in the broadest possible sense, but most especially with religious freedom.”
His commitment was demonstrated most clearly when he founded the George Washington Institute for Religious Freedom [GWIRF] in 2009.
Loeb Visitors Center, Newport, Rhode Island
The institute’s first project was to design, build, and operate the Loeb Visitors Center on the campus of Touro Synagogue in Newport, Rhode Island. The Visitors Center now serves as a gateway to the National Historic site, which includes Touro Synagogue, the oldest extant synagogue in the United States (dedicated in 1763); Patriots Park, which commemorates American Jewish patriots; and the Colonial Jewish Burial Ground, which stands on land purchased in 1677 by Newport’s early Jewish residents. The cemetery is the resting place of ten of Ambassador Loeb’s direct relations (Great-grandfathers and cousins).
The Visitor Center’s exhibits focus on the history and architecture of Touro Synagogue, the integration of Newport’s Jews into the larger community, and Rhode Island’s role as a haven for all religious sects.
Most importantly, the exhibit presents the history and importance of George Washington’s Letter to the Hebrew Congregation of Newport, Rhode Island. Written in August of 1790 in response to a letter written by Moses Seixas, Parnas of Congregation Yesuat Israel, the letter is the clearest expression by Washington on the position of the Federal Government toward religious injustice.
“It is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people, that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights.”
He goes on:
“For happily the Government of the United States gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens in giving it on all occasions their effectual support. Everyone shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree, and there shall be none to make him afraid.”
The mission of the non-profit organization is to promote greater awareness of the historic roots of religious freedom, and the importance of separation of church and state in the U. S. Its efforts are targeted at introducing teachers and students to the principles expressed in George Washington’s “Letter to the Hebrew Congregation in Newport, RI” of 1790.
The Foundation’s Scholarship Program offers American citizens of exceptional ability and outstanding achievement the opportunity to pursue graduate studies in engineering, mathematics, or the sciences at Cambridge. Churchill College was built in tribute to Sir Winston, who in the years after the Second World War recognized the growing importance of science and technology for prosperity and security. Churchill College focuses on the sciences, engineering, and mathematics. Loeb has been Chairman of the Foundation from 2003-present; President, 1981-2003; and Trustee from 1975-1981.
The Langeloth Foundation
The Foundation's grant-making program is centered on the concepts of health and well-being. Its purpose is to promote and support effective and creative programs, practices and policies related to healing from illness, accident, physical, social or emotional trauma and to extend the availability of programs that promote healing to underserved populations. Ambassador Loeb has served as Chairman from 1996-2001 and is currently a Trustee.
American Scandinavian Foundation
The American-Scandinavian Foundation (ASF)is the leading cultural and educational link between the U.S. and Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. An American non-profit organization, the ASF works to build international understanding with an extensive program of fellowships, grants, intern/trainee sponsorship, publishing and membership offerings. Loeb is currently an Executive Trustee and member of the Investment Committee.
International Rescue Committee
The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises and helps people to survive and rebuild their lives. Founded in 1933 at the request of Albert Einstein, the IRC offers lifesaving care and life-changing assistance to refugees forced to flee from war or disaster. Loeb served on the Board of Directors from 1966-1967.