Bender, Philipp Philip Phineas (c.1831–1901), Jewish minister and teacher, was born in Germany, and moved (c.1851) to Hull, England, where he was appointed minister to the Jewish community. He settled (1862) in Dublin and was appointed (1863–81) a preacher at Mary's Abbey synagogue and teacher in the Jewish school; he reorganised the school and improved its educational standards. He subsequently moved (1870) to 73 Lower Mount St., where he established a successful, private, non-denominational boys' school, taught Hebrew and modern languages, and tutored protestant and catholic clergy in Hebrew and rabbinic literature.
A distinguished Hebrew and secular scholar, he had obtained a doctorate, and his candidature (1878) for the regius professorship of Hebrew in TCD was supported by many in university circles and by influential Dublin figures, and was the subject of an Irish Times editorial (12 December 1878). College statutes stipulated, however, that only fellows could hold professorships, and his candidacy was rejected. Well known in Dublin, he was an honoured guest and an eloquent and witty speaker at the lord mayor's annual banquet. Resigning (1881) as minister to concentrate on teaching, he moved (c.1881) to England and was principal for fifteen years of Beaufort College, St Leonard's-on-Sea, Sussex. He died 31 March 1901 at Hove, Sussex, England. He married Augusta Bremer; they had at least three sons and two daughters.
Their eldest son, Alfred Philipp Bender (1863–c.1937), Jewish minister and teacher, was born in Dublin. He helped to found the Cambridge Hebrew congregation in England, and subsequently emigrated to South Africa. He became (1895) minister of the Cape Town congregation and subsequently professor of Hebrew at the South African College (University of Cape Town), and was an active campaigner on behalf of the National Jewish movement.
Their second son, Albert Maurice Bender (1866–1941), insurance broker, bibliophile, and art patron, was born in Dublin and emigrated (c.1882) to San Francisco. He made a fortune as an insurance broker and became California's greatest art patron during the 1920s and 1930s. As a memorial to his father, he presented (1932) to TCD the first items of the Philip Bender collection; his gifts continued to 1939, comprising a total of 495 finely printed books, issued mainly by Californian private presses from 1920. In memory of his mother, he endowed the National Museum, Dublin, with the Augusta Bender Room of Ancient Asiatic Art, opened in 1934 by Éamon de Valera (qv). The first donation (1932) stimulated a friendly correspondence between Adolph Mahr (qv) – then the keeper of Irish antiquities, later director of the National Museum – and Bender. Mahr subsequently tried to discourage Bender from giving any more gifts on the grounds that they would be more appreciated elsewhere; Bender finally complied (1936) with this repeated request when Mahr argued that more artefacts would be detrimental to their exhibition. Although Mahr was co-founder (1934) of the Irish branch of Hitler's National Socialist Party, their correspondence (100 letters) continued until 1939 and is preserved in the Albert Bender archive, Mills College, Oakland, California. The archive also contains letters from W. B. Yeats (qv) and his manuscript copy of ‘The lake isle of Innisfree’; from Jack B. Yeats (qv), with a book of his sketches drawn on the Aran Islands; and from Oliver St John Gogarty (qv) who described Bender as ‘the greatest humanitarian I have ever met’ (Mullins, 13).