November 25, 2014

“Happy Thanksgiving (and would you consider a pledge?)!”

Filed under: audio-visual material, found in the archives — Heather Halliday @ 10:00 am

Federation took the occasion of Thanksgiving to ask its constituency to consider donating, as evidenced by the following graphic materials found in the Public Relations series. Dating back to the 1950s and 1960s, these slips of paper would have been inserted into mailed items.


Thanksgiving mail inserts from the FJP Public Relations, 1960s.



Thanksgiving mail insert from the FJP Public Relations files, undated.

November 21, 2014

UJA of Greater New York funds educational facilities in Israel

Filed under: found in the archives — susanwoodland @ 1:18 pm

In the 1970s and 1980s, the national office of UJA participated with the government of Israel in many fundraising campaigns; fundraising for Israel was, after all, a large part of UJA’s mission.  UJA offices in local communities, like UJA of Greater New York in our collection, participated in these campaigns, raising money from their local donors.  As part of the Israel Education Fund, UJA of Greater New York solicited donors who could fund schools or classrooms in specific communities in Israel.  The fundraising files of Henry C. Bernstein from about 1971 to 1981 indicate that many of these buildings and classrooms were for pre-kindergartens.  In a striking connection with Israel’s commitment to early childhood education, Bill De Blasio campaigned for mayor of New York City in 2013 on a platform that included universal pre-K; this fall many new pre-K classrooms opened with city funding.

The images below are from one of Henry C. Bernstein’s donor files and are from about 1980 – Israeli children playing at their new school, funded by generous donors to UJA of Greater New York.

Playground at a new pre-kindergarten in Israel around 1980

Playground at a new pre-kindergarten in Israel around 1980


Happy children

Happy children

November 14, 2014

Soviet Jewish Refugees are Coming…

"Soviet Jewish Refugees are Coming...and They Need You to be a Friend" brochure, 1989

Front of “Soviet Jewish Refugees are Coming…and They Need You to be a Friend” brochure, 1989

In a subject file on Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services (JBFCS) that is part of the Joseph Langer material, UJA-Federation’s Director of Community Development and Neighborhood Preservation, I found a packet of material that was provided to volunteers in the Friendly Visitors to Soviet Jewish Refugees Volunteer Program. The program helped train volunteers to visit and accompany refugee families to stores, businesses, tourist attractions, and synagogues. Through these and other activities, the volunteers aided families with their resettlement and adjustment to the New York area.

From the late 1980s well into the 1990s, many UJA-Federation-affiliated agencies, including JBFCS, were developing and offering services to cope with an influx of Soviet emigres finding a new home in the metropolitan New York area. Federation services and programs included assistance with housing, job placement, education, and child care. As Director of Community Development and Neighborhood Preservation, Langer would have received the packet—proof of his assistance with the coordination and funding of services and programs through neighborhood-based Jewish community councils in Crown Heights, Canarsie, Brighton Beach, the Rockaways, and other neighborhoods.

"Almost Everything You ever Wanted to Say in Russian" booklet, circa 1989

“Almost Everything You ever Wanted to Say in Russian” booklet, circa 1989

In the packet, there is also a very basic booklet to guide a volunteer in the JBFCS program with English to Russian transliterated phrases. For instance, if a volunteer was late meeting up with a refugee family, the volunteer could offer an apology, “prostite chto opozdal” (forgive me for being late) and then “rad vas videt” (I am glad to see you). If a volunteer preferred the New York Mets to the Yankees, the volunteer could remark to a Yankees fan that “ya ne soglasen s vami” (I don’t agree with you). Although the phrase booklet is very basic, it would likely have been very helpful for facilitating some communication between the volunteer and the newly arrived Soviet Jewish refugee family.

And if the phrase booklet was not, in fact, very helpful, perhaps the volunteer could explain that “ya ne vinovat” (It’s not my fault), “ochen zhal” (I am very sorry), “ya ne govoryu po ruski” (I don’t speak Russian).

In addition to the Joseph Langer files that I am processing, another project archivist is concurrently processing a large chunk of archival material related to special funds procured by the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies for Russian resettlement. Within these files, there should be some additional details about the services and programs that Federation provided to Soviet Jews before Federation’s merger with United Jewish Appeal of Greater New York.

After more archival material has been processed, described, and made available through our finding aid, we want to invite researchers and those interested in the UJA-Federation of New York Collection to “prihodite pozhalusta k nam” (please come and see us).

November 7, 2014

Herman Wouk’s link to Federation

Filed under: Federation people, found in the archives — susanwoodland @ 1:20 pm

Rabbi Isaac Trainin started Federation’s Commission on Synagogue Relations and Religious Affairs Committee, and remained as head of the Commission for several decades.  (To see previous blog posts on Rabbi Trainin and his work at Federation, search the blog on “Trainin”.)  While processing his papers, the names Victor Wouk and Herman Wouk turned up.

Although the records are incomplete, it appears that Victor was chairman of the Religious Affairs Committee at some point in the 1950s and 1960s.  Herman was his brother, the author whose book, “This is My God”, sat on the bookshelves of many Jewish families in those decades.  It is no doubt because of Victor’s connection to Federation, and to the Commission on Synagogue Relations, that there was an attempt to pull Herman into the Federation family as well.

Rabbi Trainin received this letter from Herman Wouk in 1959, indicating his support for Federation even in the absence of a physical presence in New York:

Letter from Herman Wouk to Rabbi Trainin, 1959

Letter from Herman Wouk to Rabbi Trainin, 1959

Victor, younger by 4 years, was successful in his own right.  His obituary in the New York Times, June 12, 2005, describes his work in developing early electric and hybrid cars.  He was born in the Bronx in 1919 and received his doctoral degree from the California Institute of Technology in electrical engineering in 1942.

His connection with Federation extended beyond the Religious Affairs Committee.  According the New York Times, Victor was an “active philanthropist”, a board member of the 92nd Street Y (a Federation agency), and a “chairman” of the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies (presumably the chairman of an FJP committee).  Victor died in 2005.

In addition to “This is My God”, Herman Wouk is perhaps best known for his novels “The Caine Mutiny” (1951) and “Marjorie Morningstar” (1955).  His most recent novel, “The Lawgiver”, was published in 2012.

October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween from the UJA-Federation Archival Team!

Filed under: audio-visual material, found in the archives — Tags: , — Heather Halliday @ 12:03 pm
Residents of the Jewish Home and Hospital for the Aged celebrate the autumn season, 1978.

Residents of the Jewish Home and Hospital for the Aged celebrate the autumn season, 1978.

October 30, 2014

Judaica Libraries

Beginning in the early 1980’s and continuing through the mid 1990’s, UJA-Federation’s Task Force on Art and Literature in Jewish Life (housed under the Commission for Synagogue Relations) worked with consultant Marcia Posner to help Jewish institutions in the greater New York City area set up Judaica libraries. Posner visited community centers and YM-YWHA’s, hospitals, homes for the aged, and camps, and worked with staff to either establish a library, or reinvigorate the institution’s existing library. With support from the Joseph Reiss Memorial Judaica Libraries Fund, UJA-Federation was able to provide grants for the purchase of Judaic materials relevant to each institution’s population.

One institution that benefitted from such a grant was the Mid-Island Y in Plainview, New York. In 1984, Posner visited the Y’s library and met with staff members Dorothy Savitt, Claire Raskin, and Ruth Cohen. In a June 20th letter to “Mesdames Savitt, Raskin, & Cohen,” Posner writes, “Without exaggeration, I declare the visit to your library and meeting with you an unmitigated delight.” Perhaps one reason for this was the dedicated and creative staff themselves, who wrote the lovely poems about the library and each other—in beautiful calligraphy—seen below.

Poem001 Poem002 Poem003 Poem004


On May 27, 1986, the Mid-Island Y was awarded $150 to purchase Judaica books. Find these poems and files on other Judaica libraries in the UJF subgroup.

October 28, 2014

Welcome to the team, Leah!

Filed under: Uncategorized — thiscangobacktothearchives @ 10:46 am

Susan, Marvin, Heather, and I would like to welcome Leah Edelman to the UJA-Federation of New York Archives Project! It will be very nice to have another processing archivist of her caliber on the project for the final year.

Leah received her Master of Science in Library and Information Science in 2014 from Simmons College with a concentration in Archives Management. Over last summer, she was a Junior Fellow at the Library of Congress and, while completing her graduate degree, she was a processing and outreach intern at the Schlesinger Library on the History of Women at Harvard University and, also, an archives assistant for the Tufts University Digital Collections and Archives.

In the coming months, in addition to processing, Leah will join us as another contributor to this blog and will contribute archival description to our finding aid for the UJA-Federation of New York collection.

Again, welcome, Leah, we are glad to have you as a new member of our team!

October 23, 2014

Cultural Arts at Federation

The files of the Cultural Arts Department in the Community Services Division (8 Bankers boxes) at Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of New York (FJP) were recently processed. From 1979 to 1986, the date range of files in the collection, the Cultural Arts Coordinator (CAC) position at Federation was held by three people: Terry E. Sutton (1979-1981), Jeanne B. Siegel (1981-1984), and Rabbi Daniel Landsman (1984-1986). The CAC position was established under the Community Centers and Y’s umbrella and it is unclear whether the position continued after the merger of Federation with UJA in 1986. No additional files have been found.

According to the documentation, prior to 1979 FJP and its agencies had limited involvement or interest in Jewish arts and culture programming. It was not until the 1970s that Federation began to encourage agency programming that emphasized a Jewish component. For example, in the field of Jewish Education, outreach to unaffiliated Jews and informal Jewish education was a low priority goal. In 1979 FJP began to expand its role into the area of Jewish arts and culture when they obtained a grant from the New York State Council on the Arts for $5,000. It was this grant that served as the leverage for obtaining an additional $22,500 from three outside foundations. In 1980, the Cultural Arts Committee of Federation created an incentive grant program to see if seed grants could influence new initiatives in agency programming in the Cultural Arts.

From 1980 to 1985, the CAC compiled the “Guide to the Arts and Culture: The New York Jewish Experience”, a listing of Jewish art events in New York. It was published in The Jewish Week, and cosponsored by the National Foundation for Jewish Culture (NFJC) and the Jewish Art Subsidy Fund (JASF). It started out as a quarterly four page supplement and became a weekly full page feature. Even if one could not attend the concerts, plays, lectures, or special events, it made one feel that there was something exciting going on. In 1983, the first of three Jewish Arts Festivals of Long Island was held, and the William Petschek Music Fund was established, both demonstrating Federation’s new commitment to the Jewish arts.

The Cultural Arts Coordinator was a leader and specialist in the cultural and arts worlds. The CAC acted on behalf of Federation to carry out a variety of functions in providing assistance to agencies and coordinating activities throughout the metropolitan area. The Coordinator provided technical assistance to arts workers at Federation’s community centers and other agencies, through individual consultation, workshops and seminars. Topics included the use of media, grantsmanship and public relations. In addition to coordinating activities and programs among the community centers, the CAC created a clearinghouse for the performing artists who joined Federation’s affiliate artists program, to encourage the development of programs by individual centers throughout the New York City area. In 1984, the clearinghouse turned into a directory of Jewish Artists, a published resource guide for agencies’ use. Finally, the Coordinator participated in fundraising to help agencies submit proposals to government sources.

The Cultural Arts files are interesting for their coverage of different facets of arts and culture and for giving a flavor of the Jewish arts scene in the 1970s and early 1980s. There are many files on the directory, which was called, “In The Jewish Tradition: Directory of Performing Artists.” Included are the files and photographs of artists who were included in the Directory as well as files of artists to be published in its Supplement. The artists were exclusively performing artists, including actors/actresses, singers, mimes, storytellers and poets. Below are several images from the Artists’ directory files.

Aida Weiss

Aida Weiss, international songstress

Donald Heller, The Hurdy-Gurdy Man (puppet theater)

Donald Heller, The Hurdy-Gurdy Man (puppet theater)

Joe Elias (folksinger)

Joe Elias, folksinger

The Kol Golan Duo, folksinging duo

The Kol Golan Duo, folksinging duo

The Western Wind, Vocal Ensemble

The Western Wind, Vocal Ensemble

October 13, 2014

Tubby Stayman

Filed under: audio-visual material, the process of archival processing, UJF people — Heather Halliday @ 9:47 am

During the course of processing a set of UJF portrait photographs recently, I discovered these two images of Mrs. Samuel M. Stayman, a.k.a Tubby Stayman.

Two portraits of Tubby Stayman from 1970 and 1983, found in UJF / Marketing and Communications/ Photographs / Portraits

Two portraits of Tubby Stayman from 1970 and 1983, found in UJF / Marketing and Communications/ Photographs / Portraits

Regular readers of this blog will recall mention of Mrs. Stayman as the principal organizer of the annual UJA-Federation Bridge Tournament event, which has been a highly successful Women’s Division fundraising tool for UJA and UJF over the years. Coming across pictures of Tubby was one of those gratifying moments of collection connection that happen relatively rarely during the course of routine archival processing. Few things are more satisfying to an archivist than finding additional material on a previously noted person or event in a completely different part of the collection months later.

It is likely that this group of nine boxes of portrait photographs will present many opportunities for future researchers to make such connections in their own work since the UJF – Marketing and Communications – Photographs – Portraits subsubseries holds the images of over 6600 people, who will all be individually identified and searchable within the collection finding aid when our project is complete.


October 1, 2014

New American Jewish Historical Society Website and a New Project Webpage

Filed under: resources — Tags: , , — thiscangobacktothearchives @ 10:55 am

Last week, the American Jewish Historical Society’s brand new, bells-and-whistles website went live and it looks wonderful.

New American Jewish Historical Society website, screen shot, accessed on October 1, 2014

New American Jewish Historical Society website, screen shot, accessed on October 1, 2014

When you visit the new website, please also visit our new webpage by clicking on the icon, “UJA-Federation of NY Collection”

Icon to the new UJA-Federation of New York Archives Project webpage, screen shot, accessed October 1, 2014

Icon to the new UJA-Federation of New York Archives Project webpage, screen shot, accessed October 1, 2014

There are many resources related to our ongoing project available on our new webpage, including links to our Flickr album, the blog that you are currently reading, and links to a collection of digitized oral histories of Federation and UJA-Federation staff, leaderships, and volunteers. The webpage features hyperlinks to the partial finding aids for Subgroup I: Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of New York, 1916-1986 and, post-merger,  Subgroup IV: United Jewish Appeal-Federation of Jewish Philanthropies, 1986-2000. And that’s not all, there are links to the digitized minutes of the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies, Board of Trustees (1916-1986) and Executive Committee (1973-1986), as well as minutes and other materials from the Brooklyn Federation of Jewish Charities (1916-1944) and minutes from the UJA-Federation’s Board of Directors meetings (1986-1992).

New UJA-Federation of New York Archives Project webpage, screen shot, accessed October 1, 2014

New UJA-Federation of New York Archives Project webpage, screen shot, accessed October 1, 2014

Congratulations to the American Jewish Historical Society for its new website and we hope that you will visit our new webpage on that website soon!

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