Publication of the American Jewish Archives Journal Volume LIX 2007 Number 1 & 2

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives (AJA) has just published The American Jewish Archives Journal Volume LIX 2007 Numbers 1 & 2. Edited by Gary P. Zola, Ph.D., the AJA Journal features an article by Mark K. Bauman, numerous documentary analyses, book reviews, and recent archival acquisitions.

The historical reconstruction of southern Jewish history has changed dramatically over more than a century. In his pioneering historiographical essay, “A Century of Southern Jewish Historiography,” Bauman explicates the development of the field, poses critical questions, and suggests directions for future research. His close reading of the sources sheds light not only on this burgeoning area of study, but on the border patterns of American Jewish historical literature. 

“Rabbi Morris Newfield: Ambassador to the Gentiles, a Balancing Act” by Scott M. Langston considers Jewish-Christian relations through the analysis of two documents written by Rabbi Morris Newfield of Birmingham, Alabama. Langston’s examination of these documents reveals that as an ambassador to the gentiles, or ethnic broker, the rabbi had to delicately balance the necessity of occasionally challenging Christians with the need for working together with them. Diversity among Christian groups further complicated matters, causing Newfield to seek ways to successfully negotiate these issues without creating a backlash against the local Jewish community.

“A.E. Frankland’s History of the 1873 Yellow Fever Epidemic in Memphis, Tennessee” by Alan M. Kraut describes how in 1873, Memphis, Tennessee, suffered a yellow fever epidemic. A.E. Frankland, an office in the local chapter of B’nai B’rith and President of the Hebrew Hospital Relief Association, risked his life to relieve the suffering of Jewish and gentiles alike. Kraut analyzes Frankland’s personal history of the epidemic and frames the memoir in the context of Southern Jewish history and the history of American medicine.

Shuly Rubin Schwartz’s “From Rebbetzin to Rabbi: The Journey of Paula Ackerman” analyzes one of the most moving episodes in this history of women’s ordination, as found in the short-lived rabbinical career of Paula Herskovitz Ackerman, a rebbetzin who served as rabbi in Mississippi for three years in the early 1950s after her husband’s sudden death. Thanks to Ackerman’s sense of history, we can today read the letters she wrote shortly after her husband’s passing. Through them, we learn of the various factors that went into her decision to serve as rabbi. Her words, as analyzed by Schwartz, provide a rare window into the challenges and possibilities initially associated with the pulpit rabbinate as a career for women.

Maury Wiseman’s documentary analysis, entitled “Judah P. Benjamin and Slavery” focuses on historians having often ignored or mitigated Judah Benjamin’s views on slavery. Benjamin’s speech on the Kansas Bill of 11 March 1858 provides the most comprehensive legal articulation of his views on the topic and upholds the interpretation that he was a firm proponent of slavery. Wiseman’s careful examination of the speech within the context of Benjamin’s life and times adds to our understanding of this important and complex historical figure.

Book reviews cover twelve recent books exploring a broad range of American Jewish history: Jewish Women pioneering in the American West, the autobiographies of Eastern European Jewish Immigrants, Jewish camping in America, Yiddish socialists in New York, the Eastern European Orthodox rabbinate in Montreal, the role of the Rabbi’s wife in American Jewish life, German Jews in America, American Jewish leadership and Israel, and several volumes on Holocaust related topics, including Holocaust consciousness in America during 1957-1965, the recovery of Nazi-confiscated cultural treasures, and Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Holocaust.  

The AJA Journal lists a wide array of significant acquisitions during 2007 from alumni, faculty, and organizations and institutions throughout North America.

The AJA Journal can be downloaded in pdf format at: http://www.americanjewisharchives.org/journal/

The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives is committed to preserving a documentary heritage of the religious, organizational, economic, cultural, personal, social and family life of American Jewry.

The Archives was founded by the late Dr. Jacob Rader Marcus in 1947 in the aftermath of World War II and the Holocaust. It was created at a time when the Jews of America, now the largest and best educated Jewish community in history, faced the awesome responsibility of preserving the continuity of Jewish life and learning. For over a half century, the American Jewish Archives has been preserving American Jewish history and imparting it to the next generation.

The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, located on the Cincinnati Campus of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, houses over ten million pages of documentation. It contains nearly 8,000 linear feet of archives, manuscripts, nearprint materials, photographs, audio and video tapes, microfilm, and genealogical materials.

The Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives is open to all researchers. The reading room hours are 9:00am to 5:00pm, Monday thru Friday.


Founded in 1875, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is North America's leading institution of higher Jewish education and the academic, spiritual, and professional leadership development center of Reform Judaism. HUC-JIR educates men and women for service to North American and world Jewry as rabbis, cantors, educators, and nonprofit management professionals, and offers graduate programs to scholars and clergy of all faiths. With centers of learning in Cincinnati, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, and New York, HUC-JIR's scholarly resources comprise the renowned Klau Library, The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, research institutes and centers, and academic publications. In partnership with the Union for Reform Judaism and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, HUC-JIR sustains the Reform Movement's congregations and professional and lay leaders. HUC-JIR's campuses invite the community to cultural and educational programs illuminating Jewish heritage and fostering interfaith and multiethnic understanding. www.huc.edu