Law & Community Service
Born in Newark, NJ to Russian immigrants, Ben was a 1942 graduate of Weequahic High School where he was elected Senior Class President. He then graduated from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, with his time there interrupted by service in the Army. While at UNC, he served as Hillel President and used this position to lead an interfaith group to push the school to hold its first concert for an integrated audience in UNC’s history, hosting the noted African-American soprano, Dorothy Maynor.
Ben received his JD from Rutgers University-Newark Law School, attending school at night, while serving during the day as Assistant Director of the Newark Housing Authority, working to improve the quality and availability of the City’s affordable housing.
Ben went on to work with his father-in-law, Cecil Lurie (founder of Atlas Steel products which later became Benco). He remained active in legal work as an expert witness, mediator and arbitrator.
Aside from his family, his greatest joy was his community work and for it he received numerous awards. He was past Chairman of the Maplewood Economic Commission leading efforts to reinvigorate Springfield Avenue. As a founder of the Society of Musical Arts, he helped bring outstanding live classical performances to local venues. He was an active member of CRIA (Council of Religion and International Affairs, later named the Carnegie Council on Ethics and International Affairs). With his wife, Ruth, he established the UNC-Hillel Ruth and Benjamin Perlmutter Foundation for Ethics in Our Time, dedicated to bringing to campus outstanding, internationally recognized thinkers on the topic of ethics and Judaism. He served for many years on the Board of the Lautenberg Center for Immunology and Cancer Research at Hebrew University and he and Ruth contributed an important microscope to them--key to conducting specialized research.
Ben was especially dedicated to the Metrowest Jewish Community. Early on, he received the Julius and Bessie Cohen Award, recognizing young UJA leaders and their potential. He went on to become President of the Jewish Vocational Service (JVS) and remained an active Board member for decades. There he began the Scholarship Fund, which, to date, has provided over $3.1 million in interest-free scholarship loans. He was also a dedicated member of the Board of Hebrew Free Loan of NJ, the same organization that decades before provided a loan that helped his father start his small business when he arrived in this country. Ben served for many years on the Executive Committee of the Jewish Community Federation of Metrowest NJ.
In his retirement, he took every class offered by Seton Hall University’s Department of Jewish Christian Studies, enjoying rigorous conversations with its Rabbis, Priests and his fellow classmates. He also took many art classes, studying painting and drawing.
Ben was married for 68 years to Ruth Lurie Perlmutter. They had two daughters, Amy and Risa Goldstein, and two grandchildren.