- LIT, U.S. family, prominent in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in the 19th–20th centuries. The Philadelphia department store operation known as Lit Brothers was first established in 1891 as a dress and millinery shop by RACHEL P. LIT (1858–1919; later Wedell, still later Arnold), who was soon thereafter joined by her brothers Colonel SAMUEL D. LIT (1859–1929) and JACOB D. LIT (1872–1950). Samuel's only experience had been as an apprentice plumber and book salesman. However, he and Jacob brought tremendous energy and ambition to their task. The store expanded yearly, and by 1906 covered the entire city square on Market Street from Seventh to Eighth, where a new building was erected in 1907. Samuel served as a member of the Delaware River Bridge Commission and of the Board of City Trusts; he was also a member of the boards of Mikveh Israel Congregation and of the Jewish Hospital. Jacob was active in the leadership of the YMHA and was founder-president of the downtown Mt. Sinai Hospital (1900). In 1928 Lit's was purchased by City Stores, in which albert m. greenfield was the controlling figure. After World War II, the business expanded into suburban areas of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and in 1962 absorbed the four branches of Snellenburg's, thus becoming the largest department store chain in the Delaware Valley area. Rachel's daughter ETTA (d. 1953) was the wife of JULES E. MASTBAUM (1872–1926), motion picture exhibitor and executive who gave his magnificent collection of Rodin sculptures, drawings, and letters to the city, together with $1,000,000 for the erection of a museum to contain them, opened to the public as a landmark on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in 1929. Another brother, JONKER LIT (1853–1919), had a daughter Juliet, who married J. DAVID STERN (1886–1971) the publisher of Philadelphia Record (1928–47), Camden Courier-Post (1919–47), and The New York Post (1933–39). (Bertram Wallace Korn)
Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.