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Freedman Family Papers

 Collection
Identifier: P-1044

Scope and Content Note

This collection contains photographs, correspondence, news clippings, vital records, genealogical materials, sheet music, recordings, and manuscripts documenting the personal and professional lives of the Freedman family of Springfield, Massachusetts. Included are materials on Joseph and Lena (Sakowitz) Freedman and their children Jacob Freedman, a rabbi, scholar, translator, and writer; Samuel Freedman; Martin Freedman; and Sarah (Freedman) Aizenstat. Also included are documents relating to Joseph and Lena’s family, the Poczkarnick (later changed to Freedman), Sakowitz, and Gans families. Of particular interest may be Jacob Freedman’s research and work on the Polychrome Historical Haggadah, a guide published in 1974 which illustrates via color coding the historical period of source from which text of the Hagaddah originates.

Dates

  • undated, 1901-2009

Creator

Language of Materials

The collection is in English, Hebrew, Yiddish, and Russian.

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.

Biographical Note

Joseph Freedman (born Josef Poczkarnick) was born on April 15, 1879 in Eišiškes, Lithuania. His family later relocated to the neighboring town of Truk (Trakai), and Joseph went on to study at the Yeshiva in Slobodka, Lithuania, eventually becaming a cantor, mohel, and shochet.

Lena Freedman was born in Butrimonys, Lithuania in 1884, the youngest of seven children to Joshua and Sara (Gans) Sakowitz. Joshua, a scribe of religious texts, was born in Butrimonys in 1845 to Levy and Lena (Cohen) Sakowitz; Sara was born to Meyer and Itta Gans in 1845 in Zosly (Žasliai), Lithuania.

Joseph and Lena married in 1903 and had a son, Jacob (known as Jack), born on December 18, 1903. The following year, in August of 1904, Joseph, Lena, and Jacob immigrated to the United States aboard the Potsdam and first settled in Hoboken, New Jersey. In 1905, Joseph was offered by Rabbi Samuel Rappaport the position of cantor at Springfield, Massachusetts’ Beth Israel Synagogue, and the family moved to Springfield, where Joseph and Lena remained for the rest of their lives. Joseph and Lena had three more children: Samuel, Martin, and Sarah.

Both Joseph and Lena were active in Springfield’s Jewish community. Joseph was especially involved in the Zionist movement and served as a delegate to two of the Zionist Organization of America’s national conventions. Lena was a charter member and principal fundraiser for the Daughters of Zion Home for the Aged (later known as Springfield Jewish Home for the Aged, Jewish Nursing Home of Western Massachusetts, and finally Jewish Geriatric Services), as well as actively involved in the local Mizrachi Women’s Organization (later AMIT Women). She also served as president of the Beth Israel Synagogue Sisterhood for eight years. Joseph Freedman died on February 10, 1958, and Lena Freedman died on April 12, 1965.

Jacob Freedman attended Springfield’s High School of Commerce, graduating in 1921. He then attended Harvard College for one year, after which he transferred to Columbia University, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts and won the Benjamin S. Romaine Prize for Greek Language and Literature in 1926. He later earned his Master of Arts from Columbia. Jacob then went on to attend the Jewish Theological Seminary, earning a Master of Arts in Hebrew Literature and a Doctor of Divinity and was ordained as a rabbi in 1930. After his ordination, he served as a rabbi at numerous congregations throughout his career, including Temple Sinai in Long Beach, California; Temple Beth El in Chelsea, Massachusetts; Temple Beth-El in Fall River, Massachusetts; and Congregation Knesses Israel in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

In addition to his rabbinical career, Jacob as also a prolific songwriter and translator. He wrote musical pieces including "Hatikvoh" (an English version of the Israeli national anthem), "Hail! Happy Purim", and "O God of Peace" and translated Hebrew writings, such The Great Madness, Eve, and Pinocchio in Israel.

Jacob is also known for his publication of the Polychrome Historical Haggadah, a color-coded guide to the Passover seder which illustrates the historical period or source from which text of the Hagaddah originates (for example, black for Biblical era, orange for Amoraic Period, brown for Middle Ages, purple for modern times, etc.), which was published in 1974. He also used the same concept for a prayerbook, called the Polychrome Historical Siddur or Siddur Bays Yosef, but the work was never completed or published before Jacob’s death on May 1, 1986.

Samuel King Freedman was born on August 15, 1908. He worked as an attorney (going by the name S. King Freedman) and married Sylvia Knecht. Together, they had four children: Marilyn, Martin, Richard, and Leslie. Samuel died on May 24, 1989.

Martin Freedman was born on January 7, 1910. He attended Springfield’s Central High School, graduating in 1926, and later enrolled at Harvard College. In the summer of 1928, just after completing his second year at Harvard, Martin fell ill and died on July 11 at the age of eighteen. In his memory, his parents and brother Jacob established the Martin Freedman Memorial Award, presented to Central High School students with the best scholastic record in English courses.

Sarah Freedman was born on December 20, 1913. She went on to graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Social Work in 1935, and later a Master of Social Services, both from Simmons College. Sarah worked as a social worker, including at the Jewish Social Service Bureau, where she helped to resettle displaced persons after World War II, until her retirement in 1973. On June 20, 1950, she married Harry Aizenstat. Sarah died on February 24, 2009.

References

  1. Materials in the collection.

Chronology

April 15, 1879
Joseph Freedman is born.
1884
Lena Sakowitz is born.
1903
Joseph Freedman and Lena Sakowitz marry.
December 18, 1903
Jacob Freedman is born.
August 23, 1904
Joseph, Lena, and Jacob immigrate to the United States.
August 15, 1908
Samuel King Freedman is born.
January 7, 1910
Martin Freedman is born.
December 20, 1913
Sarah Freedman is born.
July 11, 1928
Martin Freedman dies.
1930
Jacob Freedman is inducted as a rabbi.
1930-1931
Jacob Freedman serves as rabbi at Temple Sinai (Long Beach, Calif.).
1931
Jacob Freedman serves as rabbi at Congregation Sons of Israel (Amsterdam, N.Y.).
1932-1935
Jacob Freedman serves as rabbi at Temple Beth El (Chelsea, Mass.).
1935
Joseph Freedman becomes a naturized citizen of the United States.
1936-1937
Jacob Freedman serves as rabbi at Temple Beth Israel (Niagara Falls, N.Y.).
1937-1941
Jacob Freedman serves as rabbi at Temple Beth-El (Fall River, Mass.).
1942-1943
Jacob Freedman serves as rabbi at Congregation Ahavath Israel of Oak Lane (Philadelphia, Penn.)
1943-1944
Jacob Freedman serves as rabbi at Beth El Synagogue (New Rochelle, N.Y.).
1944-1946
Jacob Freedman serves as rabbi at Kew Gardens Jewish Center (Kew Gardens, N.Y.).
1946-1948
Jacob Freedman serves as rabbi at Jewish Community Center of Greenwich Village (New York, N.Y.).
1948
Jacob Freedman serves as rabbi at Congregation B'nai Sholaum/Ninth Street Temple (Brooklyn, N.Y.).
1948-1949
Jacob Freedman serves as rabbi at Temple Beth El (Asbury Park, N.J.).
June 20, 1950
Sarah Freedman and Harry Aizenstat marry.
1951
Jacob Freedman serves as rabbi at Fresh Meadows Jewish Center (Flushing, N.Y.).
1952-1955
Jacob Freedman serves as rabbi at Congregation Knesses Israel (Pittsfield, Mass.).
1955-1956
Jacob Freedman serves as rabbi at Congregation Beth Israel (Vancouver, B.C., Canada).
February 10, 1958
Joseph Freedman dies.
1958-1960
Jacob Freedman serves as rabbi at Temple Beth Sholom (Providence, R.I.).
1962-1963
Jacob Freedman serves as rabbi at Temple Beth Sholom (Stratford, Conn.).
April 12, 1965
Lena Freedman dies.
1966-1967
Jacob Freedman serves as rabbi at Temple Adas Israel (Hyde Park, Mass.).
May 1, 1986
Jacob Freedman dies.
May 24, 1989
Samuel King Freedman dies.
February 24, 2009
Sarah (Freedman) Aizenstat dies.

Extent

3.75 linear feet (1 document box, 5 manuscript boxes, 1 half-manuscript box, and 12 OS folders)

Abstract

This collection contains photographs, correspondence, news clippings, vital records, genealogical materials, sheet music, recordings, and manuscripts documenting the Freedman family of Springfield, Massachusetts. Included are materials on Joseph and Lena (Sakowitz) Freedman, and their children Jacob Freedman, a rabbi, scholar, translator, and writer; Samuel Freedman; Martin Freedman; and Sarah (Freedman) Aizenstat.

Physical Location

Located in Boston, Mass.

Acquisition Information

Donated by the Jewish Historical Society of Western Massachusetts, June 2016.

Processing Information

Processed by Lindsay Sprechman, August 2018.
Title
Guide to the Freedman Family Papers, P-1044
Author
Processed by Lindsay Sprechman
Date
2018

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