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Jewish Federation Council of Greater Los Angeles, Community Relations Committee Collection, Part 2
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  • Historical Note:
  • Scope and Contents
  • Arrangement of Materials:
  • Existence and Location of Copies
  • General
  • Conditions Governing Access
  • Conditions Governing Use
  • Accruals
  • Immediate Source of Acquisition
  • Preferred Citation

  • Contributing Institution: Special Collections & Archives
    Title: Jewish Federation Council of Greater Los Angeles, Community Relations Committee Collection, Part 2
    Creator: Jewish Federation Council of Greater Los Angeles. Community Relations Committee
    Identifier/Call Number: URB.CRC2
    Extent: 124.32 linear feet
    Date (inclusive): Circa 1920-1950
    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. It consists primarily of administrative records, documentation of fact finding and community relations activities. Part 2 of the collection continues the documentation of the CRC's activities under the leadership of Leon Lewis through the end of his tenure in 1946.
    Language of Material: English, German

    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.

    Scope and Contents

    Part 2 of the CRC Collection documents the period circa 1920-1950, with the bulk of the material within the 1938-1946 range. The files contain the papers of both Executive Director Leon L. Lewis and Joseph Roos, Lewis's staff assistant, who took over the responsibility of maintaining the records of the JCC following Lewis' tenure. Roos was also placed in charge of informant debriefings, creating the Master File system, and wrote the newsletter of the News Research Service (NRS). The series, subseries and file structure of Part 2 is consistent with the arrangement found in Part 1 of the collection. The collection is divided into three major series: Administration (1938-circa 1949), Fact Finding and Community Relations (circa 1920-1950), and Leon L. Lewis (Personal and Law Practice) (1938-1945).
    Series I, Administration, is divided into five subseries. Subseries A, Los Angeles Jewish Community Committee (LAJC Committee) (1938-1946), consists of the incomplete minutes as well as correspondence between committee members and the executive secretary. It documents the JCC's subcommittee structure, which reflects the important areas of concern to the Jewish community. Subseries B, Los Angeles Jewish Community Committee - Executive Office (1938-circa 1949), consists of the correspondence, inter-office memoranda, and reports of staff members, as well as contact lists for mailings, and files of literature distributed from the JCC office. Much of the executive office correspondence related to fact-finding and community relations is filed in Series II. Subseries C, Los Angeles Jewish Community Committee - Supported Groups (1938-circa 1949), consists of materials pertaining to the cooperative community relations campaign undertaken with both Jewish and non-Jewish groups in the region. Subseries D, Los Angeles Jewish Community Council - Parenting/Funding Organizations (1938-1946), consists of materials that document the close ties  developed with the Jewish Community Council during this period. Subseries E, Motion Picture Division (1938-1946), consists of materials that document the relationship between the JCC and the motion picture industry. The Hollywood Committee of earlier years became the Motion Picture Division in 1938 and played a major role in establishing the News Research Service, Inc.
    Series II, Fact Finding and Community Relations, is divided into eleven subseries. Subseries A, Complaints, Inquiries and Investigations (Complaints) (1938-1946), consists of materials that document the investigations of individual complaints received about anti-Semitism and discrimination in the Jewish community. Subseries B, Court Cases and Legislative Hearings (Cases & Hearings) (1935-1946), consists of materials that document the JCC's participation in several legal and legislative activities, and includes files disseminated to state and national investigators, testimony by JCC informants in sedition cases during World War II, the Summary Report prepared for the Dies Committee, and background information provided for the motion picture industry's defense in 1941. Subseries C, Frauds and Rackets (1938-1946), documents investigations of organizations and individuals who were brought up on fraud charges. It includes files on the Benjamin Franklin forgery perpetuated by a number of fascist and anti-Semitic organization already under investigation by the JCC. Subseries D, Informant Files (1933-1946), consists of correspondence with informants and their reports back to the JCC, as well as some of the printed materials and letters they collected while on assignment. Folder titles include the code names assigned to various informants to help protect their identities. Groups infiltrated include the German-American Bund operating out of the German House in downtown Los Angeles, isolationist organizations such as America First, and the Ku Klux Klan. Subseries E, Investigated Groups and Individuals (1930-1949), consists of correspondence, reports, and printed matter on groups and individuals suspected of fascist, communist, and/or anti-Semitic activities. The files range from volumes on the most active groups in Southern California such as the German American Bund, to a few pieces of literature collected at meetings or received in the mail from less active or out-of-state organizations.
    Subseries F, Issues and Projects (1938-1946), consists of background information on numerous issues including discrimination, fair employment practices, intercultural education, and race relations. It also documents special projects the committee directed or participated in, such as the Bureau of War Records. Subseries G, J ewish Groups and Individuals (1938-circa 1949), consists of correspondence, reports, and printed matter documenting cooperation and disagreements within the Jewish community on issues and tactics used by the JCC to combat right wing activities. Subseries H, Master Files (1938-1946), reflect Joe Roos's reorganization of the JCC filing system to facilitate finding and the use of collected information. The Master File system can be seen also as special Exhibition documents used by the JCC to state its case to the outside world. Many of the general files contain cross-reference (or removal) sheets leading to a document located in the Master File. Documents numbered 1 to 9,999 cover the period from April 1938 through February 1944. After February, the numbering system changed to an annual system: i.e. 44-1 to 44-517, 45-1 to 45-656, etc. The Master File system was maintained through 1968 when Joe Roos left the Community Relations Committee. The subseries also includes a digest version, and a card file that indexes names of individuals and organizations found in the Master Files. The Master Files for this period are complete except for documents No. 9651-9700, which survived only in the digest version. Only the alphabetical card index from Sho-Z survived for the 1938-1946 period. Subseries I, News Research Service, Inc. (NRS) (1933-circa 1949), consists of materials that document the NRS, an entity first established and funded by the Motion Picture Division to disseminate information collected by the JCC. It includes a complete run of the News Letter from January 1939 through December 1941, when it ceased publication. Also included is an alphabetical name and topic index, as well as Roos's extensive NRS correspondence. Subseries J, Reports (1938-1946), consists of topical reports prepared from informant information and other sources for internal purposes, or at the request of other agencies of government investigators. Of particular interest are reports written about Henry D. Allen, Leslie Fry, the Motion Picture Industry, and Gerald L.K. Smith. Subseries K, Secular/Interfaith Cooperating Groups and Individuals (circa 1920-1950), consists of correspondence, reports, and printed matter that document JCC's cooperation with the non-Jewish community on special projects and joint committees.
    Series III, Leon L. Lewis (Personal and Law Practice), is comprised of the personal papers of Executive Director Leon Lewis and consists of reports, correspondence, memos, and speeches. The papers include two subseries: Subseries A, Personal Correspondence (1938-1945), and Subseries B, Law Practice Files (1938-1945).

    Arrangement of Materials:

    Series I: Administration, 1938-circa 1949
        Subseries A: Los Angeles Jewish Community Committee (LAJC Committee), 1938-1946
        Subseries B: Los Angeles Jewish Community Committee – Executive Office, 1938-circa 1949
        Subseries C: Los Angeles Jewish Community Committee – Supported Groups, 1938-circa 1949
        Subseries D: Los Angeles Jewish Community Council – Parent/Funding Organizations, 1938-1946
        Subseries E: Motion Picture Division, 1938-1946
    Series II: Fact Finding and Community Relations, circa 1920-1950
        Subseries A: Complaints, Inquiries and Investigations (Complaints), 1938-1946
        Subseries B: Court Cases and Legislative hearings (Cases & Hearings), 1935-1946
        Subseries C: Frauds and Rackets, 1938-1946
        Subseries D: Informant Files, 1933-1946
        Subseries E: Investigated Groups and Individuals, 1930-1949
        Subseries F: Issues and Projects, 1938-1946
        Subseries G: Jewish Groups and Individuals, 1938-circa 1949
        Subseries H: Master Files, 1938-1946
        Subseries I: News Research Service, Inc. (NRS), 1933-circa 1949
        Subseries J: Reports, 1938-1946
        Subseries K: Secular/Interfaith Cooperating Groups and Individuals, circa 1920-1950
    Series III: Leon L. Lewis (Personal and Law Practice), 1938-1945
        Subseries A: Personal Correspondence, 1938-1945
        Subseries B: Law Practice Files, 1938-1945

    Related Material

    Existence and Location of Copies

    Digital reproductions of items in this collection are available electronically as a part of the In Our Own Backyard   exhibit.


    Other Information: Processing for portions of this collection was funded by a grant from the J. Paul Getty Trust.

    Conditions Governing Access

    The collection is open for research use.

    Conditions Governing Use

    The collection is open for research 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.


    1983, 1987, 1997, 2005

    Immediate Source of Acquisition

    Jewish Federation Council, 10/29/1979.

    Preferred Citation

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

    Subjects and Indexing Terms