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Laymen’s Institute of the Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs, New England Region Records

 Collection
Identifier: I-477

Scope and Content Note

The records of the Laymen’s Institute were partially compiled by Mervin Gray, who was Treasurer of the New England Region of the Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs from 1958 to circa 1961 and acted as Chairman of the Laymen’s Institute from 1959 to 1961. The collection contains correspondence from this period related to the latter role, as well as speeches and short sermons delivered by Gray in the 1980s.

Also included is a non-continuous run of programs and ephemera from retreats held between 1954 and 1998 and cassette recordings of speeches and lectures delivered at retreats non-continuously between 1973 and 2005.

A scrapbook titled The Book of Memories and a framed photo collage are housed in an oversized box. The Book of Memories is a folio-sized bound volume containing photographs, newspaper clippings, and correspondence from Laymen’s Institute functions held between 1951 and 1994. The collage is framed behind glass and displays photographs from the 24th annual Laymen’s Institute in 1970.

Dates

  • undated, circa 1951-2005

Creator

Language of Materials

The collection is in English and Hebrew.

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

The Laymen’s Institute is a summer weekend retreat sponsored by the New England Region of the Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs. It began as an idea put forward by Rabbi Morris V. Dembowitz in 1946 and is the first and oldest retreat for Jewish men in the United States. The weekend offers summer amusements, such as biking and sporting, along with opportunities for prayer and learning from scholars in residence, who are often spiritual leaders in New England and/or faculty members at the Jewish Theological Seminary.

The Laymen’s Institute was originally held at Camp Tel Noar in Hampstead, New Hampshire, but it moved to Camp Ramah in Palmer, Massachusetts around 2001. In 2012, the Laymen’s Institute was renamed TheRetreat and the programming was updated for a modern audience.

References

  1. Material from the collection.
  2. “About.” New England Region – FJMC. Accessed February 11, 2017. /www.nerfjmc.org/theretreatabout>
  3. Baum, Stephen. “TheRetreat: Adults can have fun at camp, too!”
  4. “TheRetreat 2017 – June 8 to 11.” New England Region – FJMC. Accessed February 11, 2017. /www.nerfjmc.org/theretreat>

Chronology

1946
The Laymen's Institute is founded by Rabbi Morris V. Dembowitz and sponsored by the New England Region of the Federation of Jewish Men's Clubs.
1958-1961
Mervin Gray serves as Chairman of the Laymen's Institute.
Circa 2001
The Laymen's Institute moves from Camp Tel Noar to Camp Ramah.
2012
The Laymen's Institute is renamed TheRetreat.

Extent

3 linear feet (1 manuscript box, 2 cassette boxes, 1 OS box)

Abstract

The Laymen’s Institute (now known as TheRetreat) is a summer weekend retreat started in 1946 and sponsored by the New England Region of the Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs. The records include correspondence, speeches, short sermons, programs, ephemera, and cassette recordings of lectures. There is also a scrapbook and framed photo collage.

Physical Location

Located in Boston, Mass.

Acquisition Information

Donated by Richard Grey, 2013. Earlier materials donated by an unknown donor.

Processing Information

Processed by Shannon Struble, 2017
Title
Guide to theLaymen’s Institute of the Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs, New England Region Records, I-477
Author
Processed by Shannon Struble
Date
2017
Language of description
Undetermined
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

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