The NYPL Librarian Who Spied on the Nazis

Florence Mendheim was a Jewish librarian for the New York Public Library, and in 1933 she went undercover to spy on Nazi-associated groups in the United States. Her collection, featuring a large amount of antisemitic propaganda, is held by the Leo Baeck Institute, and is an invaluable window into the spread of fascist propaganda in America leading up to World War II. Florence, the…

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The Records of HIAS (I-363) are officially live!

AJHS and CJH Archivists are happy to announce that the finding aid for the records of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) I-363 is online and ready to use! After three years of surveying, organizing, rehousing, and encoding, the American Jewish Historical Society and the Center for Jewish History are proud to present a processed collection of documents, photographs, and audio/visual materials representing nearly 100…

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Chaim Potok, Out of the Depths

“Out of the Depths” by Chaim Potok is a play about memory. It’s a play about reconciling cultures, how they might co-exist within ourselves and outside of ourselves at the same time. It’s a play about another play, which in itself is a play about love and longing and death. It’s a play about a writer, S. Ansky. It’s also a play about another writer, Chaim Potok.    “Out of the Depths” came to be…

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New York Neighbors: The Shared Jewish and Chinese Immigrant and Refugee Experience Grant funded by CLIR

The Center for Jewish History has been awarded a $364,824 grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources for a three-year project titled “New York Neighbors: The Shared Jewish and Chinese Immigrant and Refugee Experience.” In collaboration with the Center’s in-house partner, the American Jewish Historical Society, and project partner, the Museum of Chinese in America, the grant will showcase understudied intersections of…

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Building on Jewish History – Cyrus Lazelle, Warner Eidlitz, and Adolph Ochs

The near freezing weather and packed crowds aren’t enough to deter the thousands who cram into Times Square every December 31st to watch the ball drop from the top of One Times Square. The New Years Eve event often has nearly a billion people watching, but there’s more to the building than the flashy billboards and crystal ball. Adolph Ochs was born to two…

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May Your Days Be Merry and Bright

In 1941, ‘A Reader from the Bronx’ wrote into the Jewish Daily Forward asking their opinion on Christmas trees. She and her husband had stopped into their son’s house on 24 December after having dinner with friends nearby. They were greeted by their son and family decorating a Christmas tree and their grandchildren welcoming them with shouts of “Merry Christmas”. Her husband immediately ‘turned…

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Building on Jewish History – Jarmulowsky’s Bank

A couple of doors down from the Forward Building (and notably two stories taller) stands Jarmulowsky’s Bank. Sender Jarmulowsky immigrated to America from Russia, and by 1873 he had set up his bank on the Lower East Side. In addition to the Jarmulowsky Bank Building, he was also instrumental in the construction of the Eldridge Street Synagogue and subsequently served as its first president….

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Not Just a Bundle of Letters

Dear Mr. Editor, I have been in the country only two months, and I find myself in such terrible circumstances that I need your advice. So begin many of the letters submitted to the Bintel Brief. In 1897, Abraham Cahan founded the Jewish Daily Forward, a Yiddish newspaper based on the Lower East Side of New York City. Included in the newspaper was a…

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A Brief History of Jewish Philanthropy

The other day while procrastinating and scrolling through my Facebook feed, I came across two friends raising money for charities for their birthdays and three fellow students promoting the non-profits they’re interning at. In the day and age of social media campaigns, hashtags, and endless GoFundMe’s, giving has become a lot more personal. Jewish giving in America finds its roots in the landsmannschaften and…

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