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 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.


April 4, 2014

UJF EVP files complete!

Filed under: UJF people — Tags: , , , — thiscangobacktothearchives @ 1:28 pm

The processing of the files of the UJA-Federation (UJF) Executive Vice Presidents (EVP) is now complete! Ernest W. Michel (1986-1989), Stephen D. Solender (1986-1999), and Dr. John S. Ruskay (1999-2014) will soon be accessible and open to use by researchers, spanning the years of UJA-Federation’s existence, from 1986 through 2000.

The completed UJF EVP files constitute 167 linear feet. The files of Stephen D. Solender (SDS) and John Ruskay include chronological correspondence, general correspondence, and subject files. The alphabetical subject files of SDS alone are voluminous (over 100 linear feet in material). They arrived from storage in three separate shipments which were arranged separately and integrated intellectually.

Both Solender and Ruskay were visionaries in Jewish communal service. Upon his retirement from UJA-Federation in 1999, SDS became President and CEO of the United Jewish Communities (UJC), and the archive includes documentation of Solender’s early involvement with UJC. The United Jewish Communities was an organization incorporated in 1999 as a result of merger discussions held between representatives of the Council of Jewish Federations, (CJF), United Israel Appeal (UIA), and United Jewish Appeal (UJA). Pictured below is Solender at a public affairs event in 2000 (see also


Solender’s files cover a myriad of topics that UJF was involved with in its earliest years. Among them was the Capital Campaign, a campaign focused on earning funds for building and rebuilding the facilities of its beneficiary organizations. His files also document his involvement in UJA-Federation’s many committees. The files include his correspondence with international agencies such as the Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) and the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI), continuing UJA’s work overseas. Solender’s files contain discussion topics with other UJA-Federation leadership, and the first evidence appears of substantial, permanent correspondence by e-mail. It is clear from the contents of the files that the best way to archive e-mail in the late 1990s was by printing it out and filing it in subject folders. There is some material concern the year 2000 and the future vision of UJA-Federation. A significant amount of topical overlap exists between the UJF EVP Subject Files and the UJF Budget Department Subject Files.

John Ruskay’s files were also recently processed, comprising 7 linear feet of material, representing his files up to the year 2000. His later files are not part of this project as they are still current and in active use. His files include his involvement with UJF’s Program Services Department prior to his becoming EVP of UJA-Federation, as well as his correspondence with outside organizations affiliated with UJF such as the Taglit-Birthright Israel program. In his fifteen years as EVP and CEO, Ruskay helped raise $2.7 billion for UJA-Federation and increased its endowment from $330 million to $880 million. In his weekly newsletter “From the CEO,” Ruskay touches upon many important issues to the Jewish community, ranging from Jewish poverty, aging, disaster relief from Hurricane Sandy and government relations. Pictured below is an image of John Ruskay announcing his resignation (


A complete finding aid to the EVP files (both FJP and UJF) is currently in progress and we will post a link to it in a future blog post as soon as it is completed.

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