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Leventhal-Sidman Jewish Community Center Cultural Arts Department Records

Identifier: JHCI-001

Scope and Content Note

This collection contains meeting minutes, correspondence, publicity, press releases, planning materials, posters, photographs, slides, negatives, and audiovisual materials documenting the activities of the LSJCC's Cultural Arts Department LSJCC, from its founding in 1983 until 2015. Included are administrative records and general press, publicity, brochures, and newspaper clippings related to the Cultural Arts Department. Also included are committee meetings, planning materials, and budgets and financial materials for the Starr Gallery, as well as correspondence, publicity, and photographs in preparation and planning for the gallery's exhibits. Additionally, this collection contains documents related to the Jewish Theatre of New England, including general administrative records and correspondence, as well as photographs, actors' contracts, budgets, rehearsal schedules, and publicity for individual performances. Finally, this collection also includes planning and curriculum materials for Creative Judaica, as well as overviews, brochures, reports, and publicity for other activities the Cultural Arts Department organized, including those for Concerts on Campus, Magic Arts Children's Series, as well as performing and visual arts programming.


  • undated, 1983-2015


Language of Materials

This collection is in English.

Conditions Governing Access

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

Conditions Governing Use

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

Biographical / Historical

The Leventhal-Sidman Jewish Community Center (LSJCC), a branch of the Jewish Community Center of Greater Boston (JCCGB), was built on the Gosman Campus in Newton, Massacchusetts and opened in 1983. The LSJCC, and the JCCGB as a whole, is a non-profit organization with the aim to provide quality educational, fitness, cultural and social programs to serve and sustain the local Jewish community.

The same year of its opening, the LSJCC established its Cultural Arts Department. This department provided programming and instruction in the Jewish arts, and for many years was headed by David Mladinov, who served as its director for almost two decades. The goal of the department was to “stimulate creativity in the individual; to help develop new artistic talent; to bring traditional and new Jewish works to the attention of the greater community; and to use the arts to educate and involve the community in Jewish identity, heritage, and future.” To accomplish these goals, it established various programs, including but not limited to the Starr Gallery, the Jewish Theatre of New England, Creative Judaica, and Magic Arts Children’s Series, to serve the community’s cultural needs.

The Starr Gallery was the only Boston-area exhibition space focusing on the work of Jewish artists, as well as work relevant to the Jewish community and its history, culture, and heritage. It was established in 1983 and displayed more than 110 exhibits until it closed in 2005 after 21 years. Such exhibits include those on the work of artists Albert Alcalay and Sigmund Abeles; "Where Once We Lived," which showcased photographs of Jewish sites in towns where Jewish communities once thrived within Germany, Czech Republic and Slovakia; "Beta Israel," highlighting art made by the Ethopian Jewish community; and "The Power to Enchant," which displayed historical objects, fine Judaica, and artwork related to common Jewish superstitions and good luck charms, such as amulets and talismans. The gallery also annually exhibited the work of the LSJCC's visual arts faculty, as well as held a fine Judaica craft sale and exhibition.

The Jewish Theatre of New England (JTNE), founded in 1984 as the resident theatre company of the LSJCC, was the only professional company in New England focused on performing contemporary and classical Jewish theatrical works. Working under the Actors Equity Small Professional Theatre contract, the company typically presented two JTNE productions, as well as several booked concerts or theatrical productions, each year. JTNE productions include Wendy Wasserstein’s The Sisters Rosensweig, Esther: A Vaudeville Megillah, Beau Jest, A Bintel Brief, Social Security, That's Life! and Lies My Father Told.

The Cultural Arts Department established numerous programs specifically for children. Developed in 1989 in coordination with Boston-area religious school principals, artists, and educators, Creative Judaica was a curriculum that taught Jewish history and culture though an exploration of Jewish visual arts. The Magic Arts Children Series presented live performances from children’s entertainers, and Kaleidoscope Summers Arts Camp offered arts education experiences for children during their summer break (it eventually was renamed Kaleidoscope Arts & Science Camp to reflect the addition of science-based activities).

Additionally, the Cultural Arts Department developed various other activities and programs through their visual arts and performing arts programs, offering courses, workshops, and lectures on painting, ceramics, drawing, dance, music, and drama. In 2009, the Ryna Greenbaum JCC Center for the Arts was established to support these cultural arts programs.


  1. Material from the collection.
  2. Ritchie, Logan C. "JCC's Starr Gallery to close after 21-year run: plans are announced for remodeling at the Leventhal Sidman Jewish Community Center." Jewish Advocate [Boston, MA], 11 Mar. 2005, p. 4. Infotrac Newsstand, Accessed 10 Dec. 2018.


Leventhal-Sidman Jewish Community Center (LSJCC) opens in Newton, Mass.
LSJCC establishes a Cultural Arts Department.
Starr Gallery opens.
Jewish Theatre of New England is established.
Creative Judaica is developed.
Starr Gallery closes.
The Ryna Greenbaum JCC Center for the Arts is established.


13.5 linear feet (13 document boxes, 1 manuscript box, 1 OS folder)


This collection contains meeting minutes, correspondence, photographs, slides, playbills, and promotional materials documenting Leventhal-Sidman Jewish Community Center Cultural Art's Department, including materials on the Starr Gallery, the Jewish Theatre of New England, Creative Judaica and the Magic Arts Children's Series.

Physical Location

Located in Boston, Mass.

Acquisition Information

Donated by Barrie Keller and the Leventhal-Sidman Jewish Community Center, 2015.

Processing Information

Processed by Lindsay Murphy, 2018

Guide to the Leventhal-Sidman Jewish Community Center Cultural Arts Department Records, JHCI-001
Processed by Lindsay Murphy
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Wyner Family Jewish Heritage Center at American Ancestors Repository

99-101 Newbury Street
Boston MA 02116 United States