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Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston Records

 Collection
Identifier: I-123 and I-123A

Scope and Content Note

The collection contains materials regarding the internal proceedings, activities, conferences, and publications produced by the the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston. The bulk of the collection dates from 1944-1971 and contains memoranda, meeting minutes, published articles, news clippings, financial reports, police reports, personnel files, membership lists, and correspondence during the organization's various incarnations as the JCC of Metropolitan Boston.

Series related to the JCRC's internal proceedings and finances contain materials on the initial formation of the JCRC out of the ashes of the Central Advisory Committee, as well as Board minutes, committee meeting minutes, histories of the Council, financial papers, staff files, and correspondence.

Series related to the JCRC’s relations with other agencies provide information on the numerous Jewish Community Councils across America, as well as other Jewish organizations and their activities. Materials within each folder vary; some have newsletters, pamphlets, newspaper clippings, correspondence, or ephemera.

Series related to the JCRC’s activities contain files on notorious antisemites, including Father Leonard Feeney, Charles Lindbergh and Father Coughlin, as well as the measures taken against antisemitism by Gordon Hall. These series also include materials regarding the Council's involvement in college quotas, religious observances in public schools, adoption cases, and World War II. Files on the JCRC’s organizing efforts of Israel and Zionist organizations, involvement with the Civil Rights Movement and the anti-war movement, and Soviet Jewry are also included in these series.

Series related to the JCRC’s publications, releases, and photographs include information on a myriad of publications, news items and photographs relating to the JCRC and other events of significant importance to their work and Jewish Americans.

Finally, series related to the JCRC’s public conferences and general files contain materials on conferences organized by and participated in by JCRC, as well as pamphlets, news clippings and ephemera.

Some folders in this collection are restricted.

Dates

  • undated, 1933-2008

Language of Materials

The collection is predominantly in English, with Hebrew, Russian, and Ukrainian.

Access Restrictions

This collection is open for researcher use. Please contact us to request access or to make an appointment to view this collection at jhcreference@nehgs.org.

Use Restrictions

There may be some restrictions on the use of this collection. For more information contact jhcreference@nehgs.org.

Historical Note

To address community concerns surrounding the increase in antisemitic attacks in primary Jewish neighborhoods, the Associated Jewish Philanthropies organized an interim committee in 1938 to examine interfaith cooperation in Boston. After this committee dissipated, the Associated Jewish Philanthropies organized the Central Advisory Committee during World War II. This committee, led by Isaac Seligson, established the Jewish Community Council of Metropolitan Boston in 1949, headed by Robert Segal. The Council was comprised of representatives from central Jewish organizations in the area, including B'nai B'rith, Anti Defamation League, Associated Jewish Philanthropies, Rabbinical Association, Jewish War Veterans, American Jewish Committee, American Jewish Congress, Associated Synagogues, B'rith Abraham, Combined Appeal, Jewish Labor Committee, Jewish National Workers Alliance, Mizrachi, Pioneers of Palestine, Poale Zion, Workmen's Circle, Vaad Haraborum, Vaad Hoir, Zionist Groups, Young Israel, League of Jewish Women, and Council of Jewish Women.

The Council continually modified its goals and purpose to reflect the changing political and economic landscape. After World War II, focus shifted to include Jewish representation in non-sectarian community or public groups, civil rights, community relations, and fund solicitation practices. Throughout the 1950s, and 1960s, committee work also addressed religious liberties, intercultural education, Israel and the Middle East, civil liberties, immigration, legislation, and discrimination. In the 1970s, council committees continued to focus on Middle East affairs, Church and State, human rights and Jewish concerns, as well as Soviet Jewry, media, and the Boston Holocaust Memorial.

The Council played a large role in the community, providing education on antisemitism and, later, civil rights. The years preceding, during and immediately following World War II were marked by virulent antisemitism in the Boston area as well as nationally. To combat this, the Council ensured members clandestinely attended meetings and rallies held by Fathers Feeney and Coughlin, as well as other well-known antisemites. The Council also subscribed to many publications that carried false and antisemitic information about Jews, including those publications created and endorsed by Coughlin and Feeney.

The college quota system was also heavily discussed and studied during the earlier years of the Council. Questionnaires were sent to alumnae of local schools to assess the number of Jewish, African-American and Italian students in classes from the early 1920s to 1940s. The Council followed the discussion of the Fair Education Act closely and eventually succeeded in eliminating the college quota system at area schools.

The role of Israel and its development as a statehood was also of interest to the Council. The Council planned Israel Anniversary Celebrations and situations were closely monitored, including hijackings, Israel's relationship with Palestine, and the overall political climate regarding Israel in the United States. In addition to supporting the statehood of Israel, the Council focused on the plight of Soviet Jewry, educating and connecting local Jews to Soviet Jews trying to leave Communist Russia for resettlement in Israel. Many Soviet Jews in contact with the Boston Council had relatives and friends held in the Soviet prison system. Many of these people were writers, scientists and teachers.

Presidents and Executive Directors of the Council were influential community members in their own right. Presidents include Casper M. Grosberg, Judge Matthew Brown, Judge David A. Rose, Benjamin Ulin, Lewis Weinstein, Henry C. Berlin, Aaron J. Bronstein, Joseph B. Greenfield, Albert Horowitz, Morris Michelson, Morris J. Rabinovitz, Howard Rubin, Mrs. Carl Spector, F. Frank Vorenberg, Joseph L. Wiseman, Rabbi Roland Gittelsohn, Rabbi Manuel Saltzman, and Justin Wyner.

Presently, the Council, now known as the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston, focuses on continuing the tradition of mobilizing the Jewish community around issues of social justice and support for Israel and Jewish people around the globe.

References

  1. Material from the collection.
  2. Solomon, Barbara Miller. Pioneers in Service: History of the Associated Jewish Philanthropies of Boston. Boston: Associated Jewish Philanthropies, 1956.

Chronology

1938
Interim Committee is organized by the Associated Jewish Philanthropies.
1944
JCRC is organized by the Central Advisory Committee of the Associated Jewish Philanthropies.
1949
Robert Segal is first Executive Director of the newly formed Jewish Community Council of Metropolitan Boston
1955
The Council received the financial support of Combined Jewish Appeal
1969
25th Anniversary of the Council

Extent

191.1 linear feet (255 manuscript boxes, 60 document boxes, 2 oversized boxes)

Abstract

This collection includes material preceding and relating to the founding of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston (JCRC), including early papers of the local American Jewish Committee and the Central Advisory Committee (a predecessor agency),the constitution and by-laws of the JCRC, material relating to organizational membership in and representation in the organizations, correspondence of the officers and staff, minutes of meetings and proceedings of its Administrative Committee and other committees; and the organization's finances. Also included are material on the relationships between the JCRC and other Jewish agencies, including the American Jewish Committee, the American Jewish Congress, the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith, Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston, National Community Relations Advisory Council, and community councils and local agencies in other communities, as well as extensive material on the activities of the organization, including antisemitism and antisemitic organizations, individuals, writings, and incidents; civil liberties and political extremists; civil rights, black-Jewish relations, and changing neighborhoods; Christian-Jewish relations, especially with the local Catholic community and Church hierarchy; church-state problems relating to education, Sunday blue laws, dietary laws, and adoption; crime and law enforcement; discrimination in housing, employment, and university admissions; immigration; intergroup relations; Israel and the Middle East, including material on Arab propaganda, boycotts, terrorism, Christian attitudes toward Israel, United States policy, Jews in Arab countries, and pro-Israel organizations and activities; Israel anniversary celebrations; Nazism, the Holocaust, and World War II; political campaigns and organizations. In addition, this series includes extensive correspondence with local and national government officials, rabbis and synagogues, and Soviet Jewry, as well as material on the public conferences of the organization, JCRC publications and releases, and photographs of JCRC activities and individuals connected with the organization.

Physical Location

Located in Boston, Mass.

Acquisition Information

Donated by the Jewish Community Relations Council of Boston in November 1993. Addendum materials were donated by the Jewish Community Relations Council of Boston in November 2006, March 2007, August 2007, and at an unknown date.

Processing Information

Reprocessed by Judith Garner, Stephanie Call, and Margaret Whiteside. Addendums processed by Stephanie Call, 2018.
Title
Guide to the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston Records, I-123 and I-123A
Author
Reprocessed by Judith Garner, Stephanie Call, and Margaret Whiteside. Addendums processed by Stephanie Call.
Date
2018
Sponsor
Processed by Judith Garner, Archivist and Stephanie Call and Margaret Whiteside, Assistant Archivists, made possible by a grant from the Schilder Family Fund. This collection has been digitized, made possible by a grant from the Trustees u/w of Herman Dana

Repository Details

Part of the Wyner Family Jewish Heritage Center at New England Historic Genealogical Society Repository

Contact:
99-101 Newbury Street
Boston MA 02116 United States
617-226-1245