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David H. Hill (1921-2019 ), Papers

 Collection
Identifier: P-888

Scope and Content Note

The collection is divided into three series.

David H. Hill Papers include materials from late 1950s to 2000 and the bulk of the collection represents the time period from 1963 to 1990. The documents include correspondence, memoranda, publications, news clippings, photographs with negatives, ephemera and a poster.

Dates

  • undated, 1958, 1963-1974, 1976, 1979-1998, 2000
  • Majority of material found within 1963 - 1990

Creator

Access Restrictions

The collection is open to all researchers, except items that may be restricted due to their fragility, or privacy.

Use Restrictions

No permission is required to quote, reproduce or otherwise publish manuscript materials found in this collection, as long as the usage is scholarly, educational, and non-commercial. For inquiries about other usage, please contact the Director of Collections and Engagement at mmeyers@ajhs.org.

For reference questions, please email: inquiries@cjh.org

Historical Note

The Papers of Rabbi David H. Hill represent one collection housed within the Archive of the American Soviet Jewry Movement (AASJM). These papers reflect the effort, beginning in the 1960s through the late 1980s, of thousands of American Jews of all denominations and political orientations to stop the persecution and discrimination of Jews in the Soviet Union. The American Soviet Jewry Movement (ASJM) is considered to be the most influential Movements of the American Jewish community in the 20th century. The beginnings of the organized American Soviet Jewry Movement became a model for efforts to aid Soviet Jews in other countries, among them Great Britain, Canada, and France. The movement can be traced to the early 1960s, when the first organizations were created to address the specific problem of the persecution and isolation of Soviet Jews by the government of the Soviet Union.

One of the pioneers of the American Soviet Jewry Movement, New York City based Rabbi and manufacturer of kosher meat products David Hill came to the USA from Latvia in 1930. Influenced by his family’s fortunate escape from the Holocaust, he became aware and concerned with the situation of the Soviet Jews in the late 1950’s. As the national president of National Council of Young Israel he made attempts to place the issue of Soviet Jewry on the agenda of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations as early as 1961. During that period the National Council of Young Israel began financially supporting Jewish life in the USSR by mailing the Soviet Jewish communities packages of goods with high value on the local black market, such as fur and leather garments. During the early 1960s, Rabbi Hill worked hard to explore new ways to help Soviet Jews and raised the issue in meetings with such notable religious and political figures as John F. Kennedy, Golda Meir, Ben Gurion and Menachem Mendel Schneerson.

In 1971 Rabbi Hill became an officer of the National Conference on Soviet Jewry, representing the National Council of Young Israel. Starting in the mid-1970s, he helmed Operation Lifeline, an independently funded outreach program created by NCSJ Commission on Education and Culture. The purpose of the program was to help Soviet Jews learn and practice Jewish religion and culture. For that purpose the program shipped and distribute kosher food and Jewish religious and cultural literature in the Soviet Union. It enlisted and subsidized qualified people to travel and teach Hebrew, religion and culture in Soviet Jewish communities. The program briefed and supplied American Jews traveling to the USSR to meet Soviet Jews, collect information on their situation and offer Soviet Jews material and spiritual aid. Among the many successful special projects of the program was supplying kosher food and Haggadot for annual Passover Seders held in the United States Embassy in Moscow and the special delivery of 10,000 pounds of matzo to Ukraine to fulfill a shortage during Passover of 1991. Rabbi David Hill with Operation Lifeline continued supporting Jewish Life in the Former Soviet Union after the collapse of the USSR.

Extent

2.5 Linear Feet (5 manuscript boxes)

Language of Materials

English

Russian

Hebrew

Ukrainian

Latvian

Abstract

The collection contains papers of a pioneer activist of the American Soviet Jewry Movement Rabbi David Hill. A New York City Rabbi and businessman Rabbi Hill served as the national president of National Council of Young Israel, member of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and an officer of National Conference on Soviet Jewry. Starting 1971 he ran Operation Lifeline, an independently funded outreach program created by NCSJ Commission on Education and Culture to support Jewish life in the USSR and Former Soviet Union. David H. Hill Papers include materials from late 1950s to 2000 and the bulk of the collection represents the time period from 1963 to 1990. The documents include correspondence, memoranda, publications, news clippings, photographs with negatives, ephemera and a poster.

Acquisition Information

Donated by Rabbi David H. Hill in 2006.

Related Material

The Papers of Rabbi David H. Hill is one individual collection within the Archive of the American Soviet Jewry Movement (AASJM) located at the American Jewish Historical Society (AJHS). Other Soviet Jewry Movement collections at AJHS include the records of Action for Soviet Jewry (I-487), the National Conference on Soviet Jewry (NCSJ; I-181 and I-181A), the Union of Councils for Soviet Jews (I-410, I-410A), Medical Mobilization for Soviet Jewry, the papers of Joel Ackerman (P-787), Julia Mates Cheney (P-806), Jerry Goodman (P-863), Laurel and Alan J. Gould (P-866), Carolyn W. Sanger (P-870), Si Frumkin (P-871), Elaine Pittell (P-873), Sanford A. Gradinger (P-880), Shaul Osadchey (P-882), Leonard S. Cahan (P-883) and Doris H. Goldstein (P-887).

Individual accounts of activities within the Soviet Jewry Movement are preserved in the UJA Oral History Collection (I-433), which includes accounts from members of the following organizations: the Union of Councils for Soviet Jews, Bay Area Council on Soviet Jews (BACSJ), Seattle Action for Soviet Jews, Houston Action for Soviet Jews, Chicago Action for Soviet Jews, Colorado Committee of Concern for Soviet Jews and the National Conference on Soviet Jewry. Interviewees include accounts by Lillian Forman (BACSJ), Ann Polunsky, Morey Schapira, Myrtle Sitowitz, Deborah Turkin, David Waksberg, Sylvia Weinberg and Dolores Wilkenfeld. In addition, posters related to the Soviet Jewry Movement can be found in the Jewish Student Organizations Collection (I-61).

Additional materials from other collections include records dealing with the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry (SSSJ) located within the North American Jewish Students Appeal (NAJSA, I-338) and the records of the National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council (NJCRAC, I-172). Related records are also located at the AJHS in Newton Centre, MA including memorabilia and ephemera of the New England Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry (I-237) and the Records of the Student Coalition for Soviet Jewry – Brandeis University (I-493).
Title
Guide to the David H. Hill (1921- 2019) Papers, undated, 1958, 1963-1974, 1976, 1979-1998, 2000 *P-888
Status
Completed
Author
Processed by Andrey Filimonov
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Language of description note
Description is in English.

Revision Statements

  • November 2020: RJohnstone: post-ASpace migration cleanup.

Repository Details

Part of the American Jewish Historical Society Repository

Contact:
15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States