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Finding Aid to the American Jewish Congress, Northern California Division records, 1957-1988
BANC MSS 2010/702  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Collection Summary
  • Information for Researchers
  • Administrative Information
  • Biographical Information
  • Scope and Content of Collection

  • Collection Summary

    Collection Title: American Jewish Congress, Northern California Division records
    Date (inclusive): 1957-1988
    Collection Number: BANC MSS 2010/702
    Creators : American Jewish Congress. Northern California Division
    Extent: Number of containers: 10 cartons, 1 box (Linear feet: 10.4)
    Repository: The Bancroft Library
    University of California, Berkeley
    Berkeley, California, 94720-6000
    Phone: (510) 642-6481
    Fax: (510) 642-7589
    Email: bancref@library.berkeley.edu
    URL: http://bancroft.berkeley.edu/
    Abstract: The collection documents the activities of the American Jewish Congress' Northern California Division from 1960 through the mid-1980s. It contains minutes (1960-1982, incomplete), financial records, membership records, annual reports, articles, programs, newsletters, press releases, clippings, correspondence, briefs and published material, and some photographs.
    Languages Represented: Collection materials are in English
    Physical Location: Many of the Bancroft Library collections are stored offsite and advance notice may be required for use. For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.

    Information for Researchers

    Access

    Collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    All requests to reproduce, publish, quote from or otherwise use collection materials must be submitted in writing to the Head of Public Services, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, 94720-6000. Consent is given on behalf of The Bancroft Library as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission from the copyright owner. Such permission must be obtained from the copyright owner. See: http://bancroft.berkeley.edu/reference/permissions.html. 
    Restrictions also apply to digital representations of the original materials. Use of digital files is restricted to research and educational purposes.All requests to reproduce, publish, quote from or otherwise use collection materials must be submitted in writing to the Head of Public Services, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, 94720-6000. Consent is given on behalf of The Bancroft Library as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission from the copyright owner. Such permission must be obtained from the copyright owner. See: http://bancroft.berkeley.edu/reference/permissions.html. 
    Restrictions also apply to digital representations of the original materials. Use of digital files is restricted to research and educational purposes.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], American Jewish Congress, Northern California Division records, BANC MSS 2010/702, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.

    Alternate Forms Available

    There are no alternate forms of this collection.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    American Jewish Congress. Northern California Division --Archives
    American Jewish Congress
    Western Jewish History Center
    African Americans--Relations with Jews
    Education--California--San Francisco
    Jews--California, Northern
    Jews--Soviet Union
    Jews--California--San Francisco
    Jews--Europe, Eastern
    National socialism
    Oral history
    Religion and state
    Social service--California, Northern
    Zionism
    California, Northern--Social life and customs--20th century
    Press releases
    Administrative records.
    Annual reports.
    Financial records.
    Minutes.
    Photographs.
    Programs.
    American Jewish Congress. Commission on Law and Social Action
    American Jewish Congress. East Bay Chapter
    Western Jewish History Center. 006
    Judah L. Magnes Museum. WJHC 1969.001
    Bancroft Library. Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life

    Administrative Information

    Acquisition Information

    The American Jewish Congress records were given to The Bancroft Library by the Judah L. Magnes Museum in 2010.

    Accruals

    No additions are expected.

    System of Arrangement

    Arranged to the folder level.

    Processing Information

    Processed by the Judah L. Magnes Museum staff in 1999. Additional processing by The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life Staff in 2011.

    Biographical Information

    The American Jewish Congress (AJC) was founded in 1916, and reorganized in 1920 and 1938. The groundwork for the Northern California Division was laid in the 1930s by Rabbis Saul White of Beth Sholom and Elliot Burstein of Beth Israel when they organized a boycott of German goods. The Division was officially founded in December 1943. The AJC's mission shifted somewhat over the years but the core was the promotion of "Jewish rights and freedom" within the U.S. and the support of the "Jewish Homeland." The organization's Civil Rights stand broadened over the years from a concern for Jewish Rights (American Jewish Yearbook, 1922) to the "elimination of all forms of racial and religious bigotry" (American Jewish Yearbook, 1995) and was referred to by one member as a Jewish ACLU. One of the AJC's primary money making activities was the sponsoring of tours of Israel and Jewish themed tours to other cultural and religious sites around the world.
    The Northern California Division grew tremendously under the leadership of Executive Director Ephraim Margolin (1960-1964) and Divisional Director Joel Brooks (1967-199?). In 1960 Ephraim Margolin, Yale educated lawyer and former Israeli Supreme Court Clerk, was recruited as both the West Coast Director of the AJC's Commission on Law and Social Action (CLSA) and Executive Director of the Northern California Division of the AJC. Margolin worked to expand the AJC's base, increasing membership and promoting the creation of numerous local chapters. Margolin recruited a number of the emerging leaders in the progressive legal community to the AJC including Joe Grodin (later an AJC President). The AJC's Law Commentary published the first articles by a number of lawyers who would later become nationally prominent. Margolin held annual retreats with AJC members and leading legal authorities including the Attorney General which led to a number of major legal cases on employment, housing and church/state issues. The AJC was instrumental in the drafting of the first Fair Employment Practices Commission (FEPC) legislation and filed 30-40 briefs in progressive cases expanding out from the National AJC focus on Church/State issues. Margolin stepped down as director in 1964, but later served as President and remained active in the legal activities of the AJC and the CLSA. In 1967 Joel Brooks became Northern California Divisional Director. Under Brooks the AJC expanded rapidly and branched out into a variety of service areas. The Experience Reserve Bank (ERB) was founded in 1969 to give free management and technical assistance to minorities, new immigrants, and veterans interested in owning and operating their own businesses. The Legal Assistance to the Elderly Project, established in 1974, provided free legal and social services on a non-sectarian basis to San Francisco's elderly poor. The AJC's Committee on Law and Social Action (CLSA) filed friend of the court briefs and worked on a variety of legal and social action issues. The AJC was also at the forefront of struggles on the behalf of both Soviet and Ethiopian Jews. Brooks, whose former service included a stint in the Israeli Army and work with a number of other Jewish agencies, liked the idea of doing things differently. He is proud of having recruited Hal Lipset, the nation's number one private eye (inventor of the martini microphone, authenticator of the Watergate Tapes, and head of a number of law enforcement associations), as President of the Division. The AJC was the only Jewish organization with which Lipset was involved. Brooks also lectured as an expert on the Black Jews of America.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    This collection contains minutes (1960-1982, incomplete), financial records, membership records, annual reports, articles, programs, newsletters, press releases, clippings, correspondence, briefs and published material, and some photographs. One sound recording on a thin plastic disc is also included in the collection. The material is divided into five series: Corporate Records, Newsletters and Press Releases, Oral History Project, Subject Files and Correspondence. Most of the materials cover the 1970s through the mid 1980s, with some material from the early 1960s as well.
    The collection documents the activities of the AJC from 1960 through the mid-1980s. The majority of the material concerns events from the mid to late 1970s. The largest series consists of subject files containing of correspondence, flyers, clippings, pamphlets and other background materials relating to AJC events, programs and areas of interest. Correspondence files provide additional information on AJC activities and concerns, as well as documenting the organizational structure and the relationship between the national and local offices. Of special interest are materials relating to the Falashas (Ethiopian Jews), Soviet Jewry, Black-Jewish Relationships, Affirmative Action, Black Jews in the United States, church-state affairs, Zionism, education, and Nazism in San Francisco. The Experience Reserve Bank (ERB) and the Legal Assistance to the Elderly programs are also documented, as are the AJC's annual Kallah (retreat) and the activities of various chapters.
    Also of interest are documents pertaining to the Jews of Eastern Europe Oral History Project co-sponsored by the AJC and the WJHC. Other examples of Magnes Museum/AJC cooperation and connection are scattered throughout the collection.