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Guide to the Jewish Federation Council of Greater Los Angeles, Community Relations Committee Collection, Part 1, 1921-1937
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Overview of the Collection
  • Historical Note:
  • Access Terms
  • Administrative Information
  • Arrangement of Materials:
  • Scope and Contents

  • Overview of the Collection

    Collection Title: Jewish Federation Council of Greater Los Angeles, Community Relations Committee Collection, Part 1
    Dates: 1921-1937
    Bulk Dates: 1933-1937
    Identification: URB/CRC1
    Creator: Jewish Federation Council of Greater Los Angeles. Community Relations Committee
    Physical Description: 14.72 linear feet
    Language of Materials:


    Repository: Urban Archives
    Abstract: In response to the spread of organized anti-Semitism in the United States during the 1930s, leaders of Los Angeles' Jewish community formed a special defense organization known as the Los Angeles Jewish Community Committee. The committee later changed its name to the Jewish Federation Council of Greater Los Angeles, Community Relations Committee. The collection documents the committee's efforts to combat prejudice and educate the public through cooperation with both Jewish and non-Jewish groups, from its formation in 1933 through the early 1990s. Part I includes the years 1921-1937 and consists primarily of administrative records, documentation of fact finding and community relations activities, and also contains the personal papers of Leon Lewis, the committee's Executive Director.
    Other Information:
    Initial inventory of this collection was funded in part through a gift from Sol Lesser, a member of the Jewish Community Committee. The J. Paul Getty Trust provided an additional grant to continue processing the collection.

    Historical Note:

    In response to the spread of organized anti-Semitism in the United States during the 1930s spearheaded by domestic groups like the Ku Klux Klan and international ones like the propaganda arm of Hitler's Third Reich in Germany, leaders of Los Angeles' Jewish community formed a special defense organization known as the Los Angeles Community Relations Committee. The committee's purpose was to work with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), B'nai B'rith, the American Jewish Committee (AJC), the American Jewish Congress, the Council of Jewish Women, and other Zionist organizations to fight anti-Semitism in the United States.
    Mendel Silberberg, a respected community leader and motion picture industry attorney, served as the first chairman of Los Angeles Jewish Community Committee, which consisted of approximately forty representatives from various Jewish organizations. The committee adopted the strategy set forth by the ADL in 1933 for combating "un-Americanism," which was to infiltrate and expose pro-Nazi and anti-Semitic organizations and, if necessary, turn the information over to federal government agencies. The Community Relations Committee met on a biweekly basis to set policy and report on right wing activities in Los Angeles. It had subcommittees on research and fact-finding, public relations, legal and legislative matters, internal Jewish relations, interfaith activities, and education.
    The Committee maintained close relationships with other like-minded groups, even sharing an office suite with the Southern California Anti-Defamation Council during the 1940s. The Committee collected a massive amount of propaganda literature, primarily from anti-Semitic, pro-Nazi, and other right wing organizations. Undercover agents and informants were recruited from the American Legion and Disabled American Veterans, and planted among suspect groups in the Los Angeles area.
    The Americanism Committee of the Los Angeles County Council of the American Legion presented information gathered by the Community Relations Committee to the House Un-American Activities Committee (also known as the Dies Committee or HUAC), showing the connections between local groups including the American German Bund, Friends of the New Germany, and the German government in Europe. The Committee's work in the 1930s was so effective that both the AJC and ADL considered it their Los Angeles branch.
    The committee also worked closely with national Jewish groups such as the American Jewish Committee and United Jewish Welfare Fund to fight the Nazi threat, and to coordinate Jewish civic defense activities nationwide. It provided information on right wing activities to the FBI, military and naval intelligence, and state and federal government prosecutors. The evidence they gathered and reports they wrote were used in trials involving naturalization proceedings, sedition and espionage.
    In 1938, Joseph Roos, a newspaperman and screenwriter who had served as a volunteer informant, joined the Community Relations Committee's staff. He set up a master file system for the committee’s records, and edited the CRC's News Letter, which provided "intelligence" news reports and analysis of propaganda to committee, government officials, teachers, churchmen, influential journalists, and radio commentators across the United States. Radio broadcaster Walter Winchell and newspaper columnist Drew Pearson obtained many of their sensational "scoops" about American extremist groups from the News Letter. Under the News Research Service, Roos also directed the CRC's Radio Project and produced news releases and newspaper columns. The last issue of this noteworthy publication went to press on December 7, 1941.
    With the United States' entry into World War II, the Committee's intelligence gathering activities and investigative journalism were superseded by new activities with patriotic organizations, veterans groups, inter-faith religious organizations, and local schools and colleges to combat rising bigotry and discrimination. In 1941 the committee changed its name to the Community Relations Committee (CRC) of the Jewish Federation Council of Greater Los Angeles.
    At war's end, the CRC again reorganized itself in an attempt to better serve the larger Los Angeles community. Some of the most important issues the CRC addressed in the post-World War II period included resettlement of refugees from Eastern Europe on the West Coast, de-nazification in Germany, immigration legislation, religion in public schools, communism, civil liberties, discrimination in housing, fair employment practices, inter-racial relations, stereotyping in the motion picture industry and religious tolerance. The CRC also kept in close contact with the motion picture and television industries in an attempt to limit the cast stereotyping of Jews and other ethnic groups.

    Access Terms

    This Collection is indexed under the following controlled access subject terms.

    Corporate Name:

    American Jewish Committee
    B'nai B'rith, Anti-defamation League
    Hollywood Anti-Nazi League for the Defense of American Democracy
    Ku Klux Klan (1915- )
    United States. Congress. House. Committee on Un-American Activities

    Genre/Form of Material:

    Paper records
    Photographic material

    Personal Name:

    Dilling, Elizabeth Kirkpatrick, 1894-1966
    Pelley, William Dudley, 1890-1965
    Roos, Joseph, 1908-
    Silberberg, Mendell


    Newsletter (News Research Service, Inc.) Protocols of the Wise Men of Zion

    Topical Term:

    Anti-Nazi movement -- California -- Los Angeles
    Anti-Semitism -- United States
    Discrimination in housing -- California -- Los Angeles
    Espionage, German -- United States
    Fascist propaganda -- United States
    Propaganda, German -- United States
    Religion in the public schools -- California

    Administrative Information


    1983, 1987, 1997, 2005

    Processing Information:

    Robert G. Marshall, Sharon Howe, Katherine Cannarozzi, Wenceslao Quiroz, and Autumn Hayner

    Conditions Governing Use:

    Copyright for unpublished materials authored or otherwise produced by the creator(s) of this collection has not been transferred to California State University, Northridge. Copyright status for other materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

    Conditions Governing Access:

    The collection is open for research use.

    Electronic Format:

    Digital reproductions of items in this collection are available electronically as a part of the In Our Own Backyard  exhibit. For more information please see https://digital-library.csun.edu/.  

    Preferred Citation:

    For information about citing items in this collection consult the appropriate style manual, or see the Citing Archival Materials  guide.

    Related Materials:

    Arrangement of Materials:

    Series I: Administration, 1932-1937
        Subseries A: Hollywood Committee, 1933-1937
        Subseries B: Los Angeles Jewish Community Committee (JCC), 1933-1937
        Subseries C: Los Angeles Jewish Community Committee – Executive Office, 1933-1936
        Subseries D: Los Angeles Jewish Community Committee – Supported Groups, 1932-1937
        Subseries E: Los Angeles Jewish Community Committee – Parent/Funding Organizations, 1933-1937
    Series II: Fact Finding and Community Relations, 1921-1937
        Subseries A: Complaints, Inquiries and Investigations (Complaints), 1933-1937
        Subseries B: Court Cases and Legislative Hearings (Cases and Hearings), 1932-1937
        Subseries C: Informant Files, 1932-1937
        Subseries D: Investigated Groups and Individuals, 1921-1937
        Subseries E: Jewish Groups and Individuals, 1931-1937
        Subseries F: Secular/Interfaith Cooperating Groups and Individuals, 1933-1937
    Series III: Leon L. Lewis (Personal and Law Practice), 1933-1937

    Scope and Contents

    The Jewish Federation Council of Greater Los Angeles, Community Relations Committee Collections are divided into three parts. Part 1 of the collection documents the Community Relations Committee's efforts to combat prejudice and educate the public through cooperation with both Jewish and non-Jewish groups, from 1921 to 1937. It provides a wealth of documentation regarding the fight against prejudice by the Jewish community, and many other individuals and organizations in the Los Angeles area, nationally, and even internationally. For the period between 1933 and 1937, the CRC collection documents the formation of a spy network and reporting system that often proved highly successful in infiltrating and exposing Nazi and other fascist organizations operating in the Los Angeles area, as well as these groups’ national and international connections. The collection is organized into three series: Administration (1932-1937), Fact Finding and Community Relations (1921-1937), and Leon L. Lewis (Personal and Law Practice) (1933-1937).
    Series I, Administration, documents the JCC’s relationship with sponsors, other Jewish community organizations, and the motion picture industry. It includes correspondence, minutes, publications, editorials, and reports of the Jewish Community Committee (JCC) and its related support groups. The series is divided into five subseries which are each arranged in alphabetical order covering the period 1933 to 1937. Subseries A, Hollywood Committee (1933-1937), documents the relationship between the JCC and Jewish executives in the motion picture industry, as well as the monetary support the Hollywood Committee provided to the JCC. The most extensive file is for Henry Herzbrun of Paramount Productions, who was the Hollywood Committee’s liaison member to the JCC. Other prominent people whose participation is documented in the collection include Eddie Cantor, Carl Laemmle, Sr. of Universal Pictures, David O. Selznick, and Irving Thalberg of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Subseries B, Los Angeles Jewish Community Committee (JCC) (1933-1937), includes incomplete files of minutes, as well as correspondence between committee members and the executive secretary. Subseries C, Los Angeles Jewish Community Committee - Executive Office (1933-1936), includes indexed files for some of Leon L. Lewis’s correspondence for the first year of committee operations. Subseries D, Los Angeles Jewish Community Committee - Supported Groups (1932-1937), documents the cooperative community relations activities the JCC undertook with Jewish and non-Jewish groups. Subseries E, Los Angeles Jewish Community Committee - Parent/Funding Organizations (1933-1937), documents  relationships with Los Angeles Jewish organizations that provided direct funding and administrative support to the JCC.
    Series II, Fact Finding and Community Relations, documents JCC activities that include the gathering and dissemination of information regarding fascist and anti-Semitic groups and individuals, responding to community complaints of specific acts of discrimination, and contributing information to court proceedings and legislative hearings. The series is divided into six subseries each of which is arranged alphabetically. Subseries A, Complaints, Inquiries and Investigations (Complaints) (1933-1937), consists of materials pertaining to the investigations of individual complaints received regarding anti-Semitism and discrimination. Subseries B,Court Cases and Legislative Hearings (Cases and Hearings) (1932-1937), consists of materials that document the JCC’s participation in legal and legislative issues on the state and federal level. Most notable are files created by the JCC that provided information and testimony by its informants in a legal battle to oppose Nazi control of the Los Angeles German-American League [or Alliance, also known as the Stadt Verband]. The subseries also contains extensive documentation of investigations conducted by the House Un-American Activities Committee [HUAC], commonly referred to as the McCormack Committee during this period. Subseries C, Informant Files (1932-1937), consists of correspondence with and reports by informants working undercover for the JCC. It also includes documents and printed matter collected by informants while in the field. Subseries D, Investigated Groups and Individuals (1921-1937), consists of correspondence, reports, and printed matter of groups and individuals suspected of fascist, communist, and/or anti-Semitic activities. The files reflect those instances when an investigation absolved groups or individuals of right wing allegations. Subseries E, Jewish Groups and Individuals (1931-1937), consists of correspondence, reports, and printed matter that document cooperation as well as disagreement within the Jewish community on issues and tactics of the JCC. Subseries F, Secular/Interfaith Cooperating Groups and Individuals (1933-1937), consists of correspondence, reports, and printed matter that documents JCC cooperation with the non-Jewish community.
    Series III, Leon L. Lewis (Personal and Law Practice), is comprised of the personal papers of Executive Director Leon Lewis and includes Lewis' reports, correspondence, memoranda, and speeches. For several years the JCC used the offices of Lewis’s law practice before getting their own offices, consequently Lewis’s personal papers were intermingled with those of the JCC. The series is arranged in alphabetical order by personal name.