Born in 1890 in Kiev, Ukraine, Jacob C. Gutman grew up in Philadelphia and was educated at Central High School and Philadelphia University. He married Ida Pressman in 1912, and joined forces with his father-in-law, Harry Pressman, in his clothing business. Soon after the company was renamed Pressman-Gutman Company.
It did not take Gutman long to succeed in his business and begin to dedicate himself to philanthropic endeavors. During the mid-1920s he became the first president of the Association for Jewish Children, and then became a trustee and member of the advisory council of the YMHA/YWHA branch of the Jewish Ys and Centers. In 1927 Gutman made history by becoming the youngest president of Congregation Beth El in West Philadelphia.
Gutman helped found the Philadelphia Museum of Jewish Art, and worked on causes that unified new immigrants from Eastern Europe, arriving in the wake of pogroms, with Jews from Germany and Austria who had arrived in the US before the Civil War. Many considered Gutman an expert on German-Russian Jewish relations in the United States.
After his wife passed away Gutman spent more time helping the Jews of Philadelphia, Israel and all over the world. He became an honorary fellow and trustee of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, serving as its secretary and treasurer.
An active man until he died in 1981, Gutman will always be remembered by the Jews of Philadelphia and around the world as a generous and caring man.