Posts tagged American Jewish Historical Society Collections
Posts tagged American Jewish Historical Society Collections
by Elli Smerling, Reference Services Research Intern, Center for Jewish History
Official Jewish law requires 10 to be in attendance for communal prayer. Unofficial Jewish law requires that if 10 people are in a room, there must be food.
Every Jewish gathering, celebration or holiday revolves around food. You may ask: What about fast days? Well, they’re about food as well. Fact: Not eating food is just as much about food as eating it.
Americans like to eat too… I’m not talking about our bad reputations for unhealthy excess and obesity. Americans use food to celebrate. Though most of our holidays revolve around a grill (Memorial Day, Labor Day, Independence Day), one holiday really does come close to a Jewish celebration: Thanksgiving.
But this isn’t such a surprise. Some believe that the Pilgrims based the holiday on Sukkot. Known as the Feast of Tabernacles, this holiday predominantly occurs in the fall, for the Jews of the Northern Hemisphere. Like Thanksgiving, Sukkot is a time for giving thanks for a bountiful harvest. The holiday commemorates the 40 years the Israelites spent wandering the dessert and the fall harvest. It heavily revolves around meals, which are eaten in sukkot (temporary structures) to commemorate the structures used for shelter in the desert. These meals traditionally incorporate fall harvest vegetables, creating dishes appropriate for a Thanksgiving feast. It would be convenient for these holidays to fall together.
Instead, this year America’s signature Jewish holiday, Hanukkah, falls upon the most epic of American feasts, Thanksgiving. Hanukkah’s historic connection to Sukkot makes the holiday compatible with Thanksgiving. It commemorates the rededication of the Second Temple as a result of the Maccabean revolt. It is observed for eight days to celebrate the miracle of the oil lasting in the temple. The first celebration of this miracle, found in the Second Book of the Maccabees, describes this festivity coinciding with the observance of Sukkot. In essence, then, it is fitting for Hanukkah to fall on Thanksgiving, a holiday that resembles Sukkot.
Thanksgivukkah, as it is has become known, is a once-in-a-lifetime occasion. And what better way to celebrate “the American Feast” with Hanukkah than with food! As stated earlier, many dishes served on Sukkot resemble those of Thanksgiving, so they will fit quite well on the Thanksgiving table—including “Moroccan Pumpkin Soup with Chick-Peas” from Joan Nathan’s book Jewish Cooking in America (Nathan 128-129). Unlike Sukkot foods, Hanukkah treats place emphasis on oil. Fried delicacies such as potato latkes and jelly doughnuts are staples on this holiday.
Without doubt, families will be bringing traditional Hanukkah and Jewish dishes to the Thanksgiving table. They may even take it a step further by creating fusion recipes. Manischewtiz Company has created a whole website dedicated to the holiday with videos, e-cards, and recipes for the occasion. They are even holding a contest for best “Mashed Up Recipe.”
I decided to take on the challenge myself. I went through numerous resources in the Lillian Goldman Reading Room here at the Center for Jewish History to gain inspiration.
I found some interesting and helpful sources:
Page 86 of Jewish Cooking Boot Camp is dedicated to suggestions of toppings that could be put on potato latkes. Many of these toppings would be fitting for the Thanksgiving feast. In the picture below I have pointed out some of the suggestions that can be used to make your latkes more “harvesty.” Additionally, page 85 of the cookbook offered some quirky tips on latke making; they are also included below.
In Jewish Cooking In America, I discovered a recipe for “Curried Sweet Potato Latkes” on page 261. The recipe is a perfect use of traditional harvest vegetables eaten on Thanksgiving and fused with a Hanukkah favorite.
I was inspired by the topping options, and knew if I really wanted to go crazy, I would have to simplify my sweet potato latkes. I found some simpler recipes online and picked an awesome Thanksgiving topping, which lead me to this creation:
Sweet Potato Latkes with Marshmallow Topping
1 medium yellow onion, halved
1 large sweet potato, peeled
1 large russet potato, peeled
¾ cup panko bread crumbs
3 large eggs
¼ cup green onions, thinly sliced
¼ cup fresh parsley, minced
½ teaspoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 bag of marshmallow – large or mini
These can be baked or fried. If baking grease the baking sheet with butter or parve substitute to make them extra crispy. If frying use peanut or vegetable oil.
Grate onions and potatoes; drain and place into a large mixing bowl.
Add green onions, panko, eggs, salt and pepper into the mix.
Mix well and form into palm-sized round balls. Place on baking sheet and flatten.
Place in oven on 425 for 20 minutes each side. During the last 5 minutes of baking – turn to broil and place marshmallows on top of the latkes.
Heat a large pan and add 4 tablespoons of oil. Carefully drop sweet latkes into the pan to fry, turning when crisp. Put on paper towels to absorb excess oil. Place onto cookie sheet and add marshmallow on top. Broil for 5 minutes or until marshmallows have melted.
Enjoy hot, with cranberry sauce, apple sauce, or maple syrup.
Some Other Thanksgivukkah Ideas:
A Jelly Turkey:
Deep fried Turkey stuffed with cranberry jelly filling. Make sure to use enough oil to last 8 days.
Pumpkin flavored doughnuts stuffed with jelly filling.
Cranberry Apple Sauce:
What better way to top your latkes on Thanksgiving Day?
Pumpkin Hanukkah Cookies:
Pumpkin cookies can be made into Hanukkah cookies by using Hanukkah cookie cutters.
Manischewitz Cocktails (found in the Manischewitz Company Records here at the Center for Jewish History):
Try the Manischewitz Hi-Boy: Two to three jiggers of Manischewitz Concord Grape in a tall cup of ice with ginger ale and a slice of lemon.
Or try the Manischewitz Stinger:
Three parts Manischewitz Blackberry one part brandy.
Translating Charles Darwin
by Melanie J. Meyers, M.S., Senior Reference Services Librarian, Special Collections, Center for Jewish History
November 24 was the 154th anniversary of the publication of Charles Darwin’s most famous work, The Origin of the Species. The full title of the work was On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life, but this title was shortened for the sixth and subsequent editions. Charles Darwin—or Ṭsharlz Darṿin in Yiddish—wrote many other scientific books based on his extensive travels and observations, but Origin remains his most well-known work.
Here at the Center for Jewish History, we have a wealth of material by and about Darwin and his theories. We have copies of works such as The Structure and Distribution of Coral Reefs, The Expressions of Emotions in Man and Animals, and dozens of others including critical essays, biographies and collected letters. We also have copies of another famous Darwin work, The Descent of Man, in many different editions. The YIVO Library holds copies of Descent in both Yiddish and Russian, in addition to works discussing Darwin’s theories, written by Frederick Engels and translated into Russian. Both Leo Baeck Institute and The American Jewish Historical also hold works by and about Darwin, in both German and Yiddish. YIVO Library also holds what appears to be a complete set of Darwin’s works in English, published in New York by D. Appleton and Co. publishers. Appleton, founded in 1831, specialized in science books at moderate prices that were affordable for the layperson.
See above for pictures of The Descent of Man in Russian (courtesy of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research) and Yiddish (courtesy of the American Jewish Historical Society).
by Ilana Rossoff, Reference Services Research Intern, Center for Jewish History
This post is part of the Jews and Social Justice Series. To view all posts in the series, click here.
Since Israel’s emergence as an independent Jewish state, there have been few organizations to come out of Jewish communities in the United States that openly challenge Zionism or modern-day Jewish nationalism. Some ultra-Orthodox Jews, such as those belonging to the organization Neturei Karta, have rejected Israel as a Jewish nation on the basis of their belief that since the Messiah has not yet come to Earth, the Jewish nation should not exist in the historical Holy Land. Otherwise, few groups have come together under a non-Orthodox banner to express strong opposition to the Jewish state.
One group that did was the American Jewish Alternatives to Zionism, a small organization based out of Washington D.C. Between 1969 and 1988, it strongly criticized Israel’s actions with regard to Palestinians and explicitly rejected Zionism, in part on the basis of its presumption of global Jewry in the concept of the “Jewish nation.” American Jewish Alternatives to Zionism was founded by Elmer Berger, a rabbi once part of the Reform organization American Council for Judaism, which was the last remnant of anti-nationalism in American Reform Judaism.
The American Council for Judaism was formed by a group of Reform rabbis who split off from the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) in 1942. Their contention was that the CCAR, and Reform Judaism more broadly, was founded on the separation between national and religious identities, and the CCAR’s growth in support for Jewish nationalism and the formation of para-state Jewish agencies was a violation of this definitive principle of Reform Judaism. The American Council for Judaism firmly believed that American Jews were Jewish by religion, and American by nationality, and the two should not be confused.
Elmer Berg was still a young rabbi when he was one of the founders of the ACJ. He played a critical role in the organization as its first Executive Director. During his time in the organization, Berger underwent a different political evolution than his colleagues did. Even as he remained committed to opposing Zionism’s encroachment upon the American identification of Jews in the U.S., he also became increasingly concerned with Israel’s military actions and the plight of the Palestinians Arabs, particularly after the 1967 war.
As Jack Ross recounts in Rabbi Outcast: Elmer Berger and American Jewish Anti-Zionism, after great contention within the organization over Berger’s outspoken criticism of Israel’s actions during the war, Berger was voted out of the American Council for Judaism in 1968. The Council affirmed its position as concerned primarily with the impact of Zionism on “Americans of Jewish faith,” and not with events in the Middle East .
At the behest of the ACJ rabbis who had stood in Berger’s defense, Berger and others founded the new Jewish Alternatives to Zionism to serve as a vehicle for further writing and activism. Soon renamed American Jewish Alternatives to Zionism, the group was “established for religious and educational purposes” which would in part “giv[e] wider circulation to some of the views of others”—such as such as dissident Jewish-Israeli writers as well as some Arab and American writers—“who agree with our basic premises that enduring peace can be created in the Middle East only by the application of justice and equity” . The header of its second and all further reports summarizes its political beliefs at the founding of the organization:
[AJAZ’s] educational program applies Judaism’s values of justice and common humanity to the Arab/Zionist/Israeli conflict in the Middle East. In the United State we advocate a one-to-one human relationship between Jews and all Americans. In both areas of our concern we reject Zionism/Israel’s “Jewish people” nationality attachment of all Jews to the State of Israel. These political-nationality claims distort constructive humanitarian programs. They are inconsistent with American Constitutional concepts of individual citizenship and separation of church and state. They are also a principle obstacle to Middle East peace. Our program, we believe, helps advance peace in the Middle East. It also prevents Zionist/Israel from successfully achieving its legislated objective of reversing the integration of American Jews by “capturing the Jewish community” for its self-segregating “Jewish people” nationality attachment of Jews to the State of Israel .
For more on the history of this organization, check back for part 2 next Monday.
 Report #1, 1969, Page 3. Folder: Report #1-11. American Jewish Alternatives to Zionism archival collection, American Jewish Historical Society. The Electronic Finding Aid to the archival collection can be found here.
 Report #2, undated. Folder: Report #1-11. American Jewish Alternatives to Zionism archival collection, American Jewish Historical Society. The Electronic Finding Aid to the archival collection can be found here.
by David P. Rosenberg, M.P.A., Reference Services Research Coordinator, Center for Jewish History
November 9th -10th marks the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht, a series of attacks on Jews in Germany and Austria that was a turning point for the Nazi Party. Kristallnacht is often looked at as the beginning of the Holocaust.
Each of the five partners of the Center for Jewish History has material on Kristallnacht or the Holocaust. A search of the library catalog, catalog.cjh.org, reveals over 730 records with the word “Kristallnacht” in the description, and over 15,000 with the word “Holocaust.”
The amount of digitized material available to anyone with an internet connection is similarly vast, with 550 results containing the word “Kristallnacht,” including over 100 photographs and over 40 oral histories. Using “Holocaust,” there are over 1,900 results, including more than 300 photographs and 300 oral histories.
The following is a small sampling of relevant holdings from each of our five partners.
American Jewish Historical Society
The oral history of Fred Margulies contains memories of Kristallnacht. It has been digitized and is available online.
There are digitized letters on the conditions in the displaced persons camps. This material was originally in Box 1, Folder 26 of the Abraham Klausner Papers, available here.
American Sephardi Federation
Leo Baeck Institute
One example of the many memoirs in the LBI collections is Kristallnacht and Aftermath, November 1938: German original and English translation of notes written in March 1939, in London, three months after release from Dachau concentration camp by Siegfried Koppel. This material has been digitized and is available online.
One example of the many photographs memorializing the event that have been digitized is Wiesbaden Synagogue Burning; Kristallnacht (see above).
Yeshiva University Museum
YIVO Institute for Jewish Research
These ten items are a very small selection of items concerning the Holocaust held by the partner organizations here at the Center. The types of material are as impressive as the scope; the collections contain newspapers, memoirs, ephemera, archival material, oral histories, photographs, artwork, books and other types of material. Click here to explore the materials. You can also start a reference chat here, send an inquiry here or book a librarian here.
The Center’s project, "American Soviet Jewry Movement in New York: Posters and Photographs," will involve the digitization of dozens of political posters and rare photographs from the archives of American Jewish Historical Society, one of its partner organizations. The materials to be digitized document numerous protests, rallies, boycotts, and other acts of civil disobedience that united activists to create awareness of the plight of Soviet Jews. When digitized, these materials will be accessible online at no cost via the Center’s Digital Collections.
Above image: “Speak out for Silent Soviet Jewry,” Created by the Greater New York Conference on Soviet Jewry. From the National Conference on Soviet Jewry Records held by AJHS here at the Center.