January 30, 2015

Jewish Education at UJA-Federation

Filed under: Uncategorized — thiscangobacktothearchives @ 10:40 am

The files of Howard Wasserman (15.5 Bankers Boxes), Director of Jewish Education at UJA-Federation from 1989 to 1995, were recently processed. Approximately half of Wasserman’s files, 8 Bankers boxes, are requests from agencies for funding from the Fund for Jewish Education (FJE) – what we are calling agency proposals. The Fund for Jewish Education was created under the auspices of UJA-Federation in 1978 through the contribution by Mr. and Mrs. Joseph S. Gruss of $1 million per year for a five-year period, matched by the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies and the United Jewish Appeal of Greater New York. Eventually Gruss gifted more than $30 million as a “life monument” to perpetuate Jewish religious education in the New York region. According to the documentation, FJE’s goals are “to help insure the stability of Jewish schools, improve the quality of educational programs, help increase the number of children receiving a Jewish education, and encourage and support outreach programs.”

The agency proposal files are arranged alphabetically under “Fund for Jewish Education” and include agency proposals, both accepted and rejected, from 1984 to 1995 as well as general proposals from 1993 to 1995 while he served as Director of FJE. Wasserman was Director of FJE while Director of Education at UJA-Fed.

Below is a transmittal form from the Five Towns School of Jewish Education for the Special Child for a program called, “Community outreach to families of pre-school to young adults” in February of 1989, an example of the types of proposals that the Fund for Jewish Education received. Unfortunately, this proposal was later rejected.

The Five Towns School of Jewish Education for the Special Child

The Five Towns School of Jewish Education for the Special Child

Below is a scan of a 1990 acceptance letter to Parents for Torah for All Children (P’Tach) for $25,000 for a program entitled, “Early Childhood Screening Program”, accompanied by a renewal request in October 1989 that discusses the purpose of early childhood screening.

P'Tach acceptance letter for 1989-1990

P’Tach acceptance letter for 1989-1990

P'Tach, early childhood screening, 1989

P’Tach, early childhood screening, 1989

Below is an example of correspondence between the Executive Director of the Shorefront Jewish Community Council and Debbie Niderberg, Coordinator of Outreach and Special Projects for the Fund for Jewish Education, addressing the need for additional funds. Note that the first letter was blind carbon copied (bcc) to Howard Wasserman and that the second letter was on stationery where Howard Wasserman was listed as Director of FJE (Wasserman was FJE’s Director of Outreach from 1991 to 1992). The third scan below is the first page of a grant application by the Shorefront JCC to FJE for $14,300 in the 1994 to 1995 fiscal year.

Correspondence between Judah Klein (ED of Shorefront JCC) and Debbie Niderberg, August 3, 1994

Correspondence between Judah Klein (ED of Shorefront JCC) and Debbie Niderberg, August 3, 1994

FJE final installment letter to Shorefront JCC

FJE final installment letter to Shorefront JCC

Shorefront JCC Grant Application

Shorefront JCC Grant Application

After leaving UJA-Federation and the Fund for Jewish Education, Wasserman was Executive Vice President (EVP) at the Edith and Carl Marks Jewish Community House of Bensonhurst from 1997 to 2010. According to John Ruskay, EVP and CEO of UJA-Federation, “Howard provided extraordinary professional leadership in transforming an agency – from one challenged in terms of finances, program quality, its physical plant, and its board – to a thriving agency.” ( In the late 1990s, Howard Wasserman served as Consultant to the Israel Experience, Inc. (Israel in Jewish Communal Leadership) in which older students can experience an educational trip to Israel. (


January 23, 2015

Hippies in the Village

Filed under: Uncategorized — Leah Edelman @ 10:05 am

While processing the files of Stephanie Newman, a Social Planning Consultant that helped secure funding for the community service initiatives of Federation agencies in the late 1970s and early 1980s, I came across an interestingly titled project proposal in the Jewish Family Service folder: “Village Project: Therapy Training Program in Dealing with ‘Hippie’ Youth” (c. 1970).

The Jewish Family Service of New York, one of the organizations that merged to form the current Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services, was a counseling agency staffed by social workers and mental health professionals that served individuals and families in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Staten Island. Though the organization had Jewish roots, a 1968 project proposal notes that “among latter-day developments of the Jewish Family Service has been its readiness to move beyond its sectarian, Jewish base and assume responsibilities for serving the non-sectarian, interracial community.”

Indeed, this 16-page project proposal describes the hippie population of the Village as part of a nation-wide youth phenomenon, and addresses the specific needs of this population and the challenges of providing social services for them. The project aimed to “produce a corps of therapists who are specifically and especially trained for dealing with a clientele of ‘hippie’ youth whose unsolved problems constitute one of the major problems facing not only the mental health professions, but our society at large.”

Take a look at some of the other language in the proposal used to describe hippies …

“Hippies, love people, street people, flower children…”

“Hippies, love people, street people, flower children…”

“escape from the square world, its hypocrisy, discipline and commitments…”

“escape from the square world, its hypocrisy, discipline and commitments…”

And used to describe the problems hippies posed…

“shrink [as] an agent of the square world… who wishes to brainwash the hippie…”

“shrink [as] an agent of the square world… who wishes to brainwash the hippie…”

“[the hippie] rejects the discipline of time, place, and of external rational routines and rhythms to his life. He will rarely go to the therapist…or a clinic removed from his ‘natural’ ambience…”

“[the hippie] rejects the discipline of time, place, and of external rational routines and rhythms to his life. He will rarely go to the therapist…or a clinic removed from his ‘natural’ ambience…”

The proposal really paints a certain picture of what was going on in some neighborhoods of New York in the 1960s and 1970s. And while it does not indicate whether the project was actually funded, a separate 1973 proposal for mobile van service for youth in Brooklyn notes that “… in 1969 we set up a ‘rap’ room, reach-out storefront service in Greenwich Village of New York, with interdisciplinary staff and ‘indigenous’ youthful workers also employed.” So, it appears that the Village hippies did indeed receive some mental health services from the Jewish Family Service.

January 9, 2015

Federation’s UMTA grants

Filed under: Uncategorized — Leah Edelman @ 2:24 pm

The Urban Mass Transportation Act of 1964 authorized the New York State Department of Transportation to administer a capital grants program which provided assistance to non-profit organizations in purchasing vehicles for transportation of the elderly and handicapped. The Urban Mass Transportation Administration (UMTA, later renamed the Federal Transit Administration) provided 80% of the cost of the vehicle, and grant recipients were responsible for providing the remaining 20%, as well as the subsequent costs of operation, insurance, and maintenance of vehicles.

In 1976, under the direction of Social Planning Consultant Rachel Radlo Lieberman (and later, Stephanie Newman), nine Federation agencies—the Bronx-Lebanon Hospital, the Bronx House, the Bronx House Emanuel Camps, the JCC of Staten Island, the Gustave Hartman YM-YWHA, and the YM-YWHA’s of Central Queens, Riverdale, Washington Heights-Inwood, and Williamsburg—applied for and received grants to purchase a variety of vehicles.

These agencies, serving all five boroughs, used vehicles to transport frail and elderly passengers, those living far from public transportation, and those needing special assistance, to Federation agency sites, to clinics, to senior citizens clubs, and to do daily chores such as grocery shopping or going to the bank. Many of the agencies still provide transportation services today.

Applying for the UMTA grants was part of an initiative by Lieberman and others to seek additional sources of funding for Federation projects. Working more with government and non-Jewish foundations, Federation sought to persuade these funding sources that they should have an investment in Jewish needs as part of the health of New York City.

Below find information about the vehicles purchased by the nine Federation agencies, as well as rough costs of additional expenses in a memo to Lieberman from William Doll, Executive Director of the Joint Purchasing Corporation (a division of Federation that provided discounts to agencies when purchasing items such as paper, furniture, and fuel).

buses costs

(Just for comparison to 1976, take a look at what gas prices and fuel economy look like today!)

December 31, 2014

2014 in review

Filed under: Uncategorized — susanwoodland @ 12:37 pm

Below is the WordPress annual report of 2014 stats for This Can Go Back to the Archives.

Please continue to enjoy reading our blog as much as we enjoy writing the posts.  The project is scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2015, so many more posts to come.  Click below for complete report.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,200 times in 2014. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Best wishes for a happy new year from the UJA-Federation archives project team.

Susan, Marvin, Leah, Heather and Eric


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!

September 11, 2014

Welcome back, Marvin!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — thiscangobacktothearchives @ 1:30 pm

One of the archivists working on the UJA-Federation of New York Archives Project broke his foot in July and was, unfortunately, unable to get into work. After several weeks of recovery, we are happy to have Marvin back to work, processing, smiling for the camera, and recording the order of folders in boxes ready to go to off-site storage.

Welcome back, Marvin!

Welcome back, Marvin!

The American Jewish Historical Society was kind enough to throw Marvin a welcome back lunch party with falafel, baba ghanoush, and hummus.

A plate in lieu of a smile at Marvin's welcome back lunch--falafel and baba ghanoush

Welcome back lunch–falafel and baba ghanoush

Welcome back, Marvin, hope that you fully recover and thank you for all of the work that you do for the project!


September 2, 2014

UJA-Federation of New York Collection – Archivist

Filed under: Uncategorized — thiscangobacktothearchives @ 12:13 pm


Date:                              September 2014
Department:                   Library & Archives
Title:                               UJA-Federation of New York Collection – Archivist
Schedule:                       F/T through end of project, September 30, 2015
FLSA Status:                  Non-exempt
Supervisor’s Title:          Senior Project Archivist
Salary:                           TBD depending on experience, with benefits
Application Deadline:     September 22

SUMMARY: Performs arrangement and description, rehousing and basic preservation of the United Jewish Appeal – Federation of New York Records. This is a temporary (one-year) position funded by a grant from UJA-Federation of New York, at the American Jewish Historical Society.

ESSENTIAL FUNCTIONS (approx. 80%): Processing of institutional papers in a team with 4 other project archivists

  • All work performed according to MPLP processing standards, including processing rate for this project at an average of 6 boxes per week. (required)
  • Arrange records according to series and subseries lists developed by the Project Archivist in consultation with members of the project team. Establish order of and within folders as directed. (required)
  • Write complete, well-edited historical notes, scope notes and other documentation for finding aid series as they are processed. (required)
  • Create folder-level contents lists for inclusion in the finding aid. (as needed)
  • Prepare records for archival storage by performing preservation procedures as appropriate, such as refoldering and reboxing of the materials into acid-free folders and boxes, and selective fastener removal; mark boxes for later preservation photocopying as needed. (required)
  • Identify and separate oversize items, photographs, audio, film and video materials within the collections to ensure preservation and proper archival storage. (required)
  • Must be able to lift full bankers boxes (up to 40 pounds), and pull them on and off the shelves (required)
  • Perform other duties as required.


  • Work with other members of the project team to coordinate the arrival of unprocessed boxes from off-site storage and the transfer of processed boxes to off-site storage. (required)
  • Contribute to refinement of project workflow. (as needed)
  • Contribute to project blog ( on a regular basis. (desired)
  • Assist with selecting visual materials from the collection for scanning, for AJHS publications, exhibits and special events. (required)


Skills and Abilities:

  • Familiarity with archival theory and techniques, specifically in using MPLP – More Product/Less Process – (minimal processing) to work with very large collections.
  • Proven ability to understand hierarchical relationships between series and subseries within a collection and to survey numerous boxes to discover the original order, if one exists.
  • Previous experience working with large collections and/or organizational records.
  • Proficiency in MS Word and Excel
  • Ability to work both independently and collaboratively.
  • Reliability and accuracy in maintaining records.
  • Excellent communication skills and good rapport with colleagues.
  • Ability to complete tasks in a reasonable amount of time and able to multitask.
  • Capable of learning new skills.

Education and Training: MLS from an accredited school.

Work Experience: Experience in processing archival collections required.


  • Expertise with Extensible Markup Language (XML), specifically creating electronic finding aid using Encoded Archival Description (EAD).
  • Ability to read Yiddish and/or Hebrew.


Physical Demands: Ability to lift 40 pounds.

Special Environmental Factors: Periodic exposure to dusty and moldy materials.

Please send resume, cover letter and sample finding (link or attachment) to: / Subject: UJA-Federation position

The American Jewish Historical Society is an equal opportunity employer.

August 25, 2014

The Role of the Consultant

While working on this collection over the past three years one thing we initially found confusing was the label “consultant” applied to the professional staff who headed Federation’s Community Services Department, particularly in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.  Various staff members, experienced professionals all and at the top of the their respective subject fields in New York’s social services realm, included Martha Selig, Donald Feldstein, Graenum Berger, Joseph Harris and Al Schwarz.  The work and papers of a number of these consultants have been discussed in previous blog posts.

The Role of the Consultant, by Al Schwarz, circa 1982 [duplicate copy with archivists notes included]

“The Role of the Consultant”, by Al Schwarz, circa 1982 [duplicate copy with archivists notes included]

Eric recently located a thought piece by Al Schwarz from circa 1982; Schwarz was then the Director of Community Services for Medicine in that subseries of Federation’s Community Services material. In this informal report, entitled “The Role of the Consultant,” presumably written for discussion in a department meeting, Schwarz teases out the role of the consultant and ponders a change in title.  He describes the report as “tongue in cheek,” announces that he wanted by writing it to “provoke some serious discussion” and that “some of what is said is absolutely true.”  The manner is very breezy and irreverent, no doubt reflecting Schwarz’s familiarity and exasperation with the subject and, perhaps, with Federation’s existing organizational structure.

The consultants ran departments, supervised Federation support staff and served as links between Federation and the agency executives in the consultant’s specific functional field (medical, childcare, education, etc.)  In his paper, Schwarz notes that they are not in fact consultants to the agencies, because “our agencies don’t think so terribly well of us” and because they are not on the agencies’ payrolls.  He thinks they are not consultants to “management” at Federation either – “they know how to take care of themselves.”  Schwarz continues, “then the only thing that’s left is that we’re Consultant to Lay Leadership at Federation.  Although that can’t be true, because as we all know, the Lay Leaders are all experts. The crux of the problem, appears to me, to be the term itself.  I don’t think we’re Consultants all.”

After a brief discussion of what Schwarz actually sees as their role, he comes to the conclusion that “the role of the Consultant, then, is one of a facilitator; one who brings people together to facilitate problem solving”, and he speculates that Federation would be better served if consultants were more generalists than field specialists: “the role of the specialist is downplayed and … the relative success of our work is very often dependent upon the personality of the Consultant and his or her ability to interact in a meaningful way with fellow professionals and lay people.”

Schwarz believes that the consultants are “teachers and facilitators, moderators and arbitrators”, and that a healthy ego is “perhaps the most important single trait by which a Consultant is measured,” because there is very little ego gratification to the job.  By page 5, he concludes with the thought that “Consultant is a misnomer, and leads to misunderstandings both internally and externally to Federation.”

Eventually the term “consultant” was retired, having evolved into the more usual titles of Director and Executive Director. By the time of the merger with UJA in 1986 most departments and divisions had also changed names.  As our project moves more completely into the post-merger portion of the collection, we find ourselves attempting to correlate the functions of the professionals and their departments that have become familiar to us, with what those same people and functions eventually became.

August 14, 2014

Neighborhood Preservation Program

Filed under: Uncategorized — thiscangobacktothearchives @ 4:21 pm
NPP Letterhead, 1985

Letterhead for the Neighborhood Preservation Program (NPP), 1985

In the early 1980s, Federation adopted a new strategy for assisting the Jews of metropolitan New York. In a survey of the program, Joseph Langer, director of the program, explains that the

“Neighborhood Preservation Program reflects a significant departure from the traditional approaches to serving Jewish communal needs. Rather than allocating our dollars … by type of service, [Federation has] made a decision to allocate a substantial portion of resources on an explicitly geographical basis…and for non-traditional purposes.”

With the assumption that neighborhoods are the basic building block of vibrant Jewish communal life in the metropolitan area, the Federation provided aid, both technical and financial, to specific neighborhoods and Jewish Community Councils within those neighborhoods in Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and the Bronx. The Federation worked proactively with “neighborhoods that are at risk of decline, yet are still basically healthy” to ensure that the Jewish population in that respective neighborhood would continue to thrive, commercially and communally.

Target neighborhoods, at the time, included: Co-op City (Bronx), Kingsbridge-Moshulu (Bronx), Pelham Parkway (Bronx), Bensonhurst (Brooklyn), Boro Park (Brooklyn), Canarsie-Starrett City (Brooklyn), Crown Heights (Brooklyn), Flatbush (Brooklyn), Kensington (Brooklyn), Williamsburg (Brooklyn), Lower East Side (Manhattan), Washington Heights-Inwood (Manhattan), Forest Hills-Kew Gardens-Rego Park (Queens), Flushing (Queens), Jackson Heights (Queens), and Far Rockaways (Queens).

The program was funded, in part, through the Project Renewal program that was part of the UJA-Federation Joint Campaign. The program’s funds were limited, but Langer’s survey contends that the Federation’s “contribution supplies seed money, enabling local communities to attract private investment and government funding that would not other have been forthcoming.”

One such relationship that developed between Federation and the local community happened in the Bronx with the Jewish Community Council of Pelham Parkway. In 1984, Federation and the Jewish Community Council of Pelham Parkway coordinated the “Bronx is Blooming” tours to showcase some of the program’s achievements in Pelham Parkway. Achievements that included new housing for the elderly at Beth Abraham Hospital, coordinating renovations and co-op conversions, assisting with the revitalization of the shopping district near Lydig Avenue and White Plains Road.

Front exterior of "Bronx is Blooming" invitation, 1984

Front exterior of “Bronx is Blooming” invitation, 1984

We are processing the files of Joseph Langer, Director of the Neighborhood Preservation Program and Project Renewal, and expect to receive another large shipment of materials related to Langer and the program later next week. Neighborhood Preservation Programs and their associated activities, including Federation’s own program, are not without controversy, but we aim to provide description and access to the archival material that document Federation’s efforts to re-invigorate specific neighborhoods in Queens, Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the Bronx.

There was no mention of Staten Island neighborhoods in the folder titled “Neighborhood Preservation — Target Neighborhoods, 1982-1983”. If there is an inference to made based on the exclusion of Staten Island from the list of target neighborhoods, it is unclear what that inference might be.  

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