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Abraham Silverstein Papers

 Collection
Identifier: P-947

Scope and Content Note

The papers of Abraham Silverstein contain documents pertaining to the creation and operation of the Academy of the Air for Jewish Studies. The materials include correspondence, memos, project descriptions and reports, news clippings, transcripts of lectures, research materials and 18 audiocassettes with recordings of the programs.

The collection consists of one manuscript box.

Dates

  • undated, 1975-1976, 1985, 1987-1989, 1994

Creator

Language of Materials

The collection is in English, Russian and Hebrew.

Access Restrictions

The collection is open to all researchers by permission of the Director of Library and Archives of the American Jewish Historical Society, except items that are restricted due to their fragility.

Use Restrictions

Information concerning the literary rights may be obtained from the Director of Library and Archives of the American Jewish Historical Society. Users must apply in writing for permission to quote, reproduce or otherwise publish manuscript materials found in this collection. For more information contact:

American Jewish Historical Society, Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, New York, N.Y., 10011 email: reference@ajhs.org

Historical Note

The Papers of Abraham Silverstein is 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 movement 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.

A Russian-born engineer of White Plains, NY, Abraham Silverstein co-founded and co-chaired the Academy of the Air for Jewish Studies, an American agency that prepared educational shortwave radio programs for Jews in the Soviet Union. The project was initiated when Silverstein—an American Jewish Committee to Moscow delegation member in 1983—met with Soviet Jews to discuss their cultural and spiritual needs.

The several hundred half-hour programs produced by the Academy were researched by leading American and Israeli scholars, translated to Russian, and recorded by Russian actors. They focused on Jewish literature, religion, history, culture and philosophy and were broadcast by Kol Israel, the Israel Broadcast Authority. The subject covered by the programs included the history of the Second Temple, Yiddish literature, portraits of Biblical figures, Jewish mysticism, including cabala and Hasidism, American Jewish writers and other topics.

The agency's academic advisory board was headed by Jane Gerber, professor of Jewish Studies at the City University of New York and included Elie Wiesel, who contributed programs on the Holocaust. Working for a community that had been deprived of any possibility of Jewish education for decades, the Academy offered to the Soviet Jews the opportunity to connect with their heritage and the much needed moral support. The regular listeners included Refuseniks and Prisoners of Conscience, such as Ida Nudel, who tuned in to the programs while she was in Siberian exile.

Extent

0.5 Linear Feet

Overview

The collection contains papers Abraham Silverstein, an American Soviet Jewry movement activist who co-founded and co-chaired the Academy of the Air for Jewish Studies, an agency that prepared educational shortwave radio programs for Jews in the Soviet Union. The materials include correspondence, memos, project descriptions and reports, news clippings, transcripts of lectures, research materials and 18 audiocassettes with recordings of the programs.

Acquisition Information

Donated by Heda Silverstein in 2009.

Digitization Note

The cassettes in box 1 folder 12 and 13 were digitized and made available in their entirety.

Related Material

The Papers of Abraham Silverstein 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), Houston Action for Soviet Jewry (I-500), Bay Area Council for Soviet Jews (I-505), Seattle Action for Soviet Jewry (I-507), The Jewish Chronicle Soviet Jewry Collection (I-523), B'nai B'rith Klutznick National Jewish Museum Soviet Jewry Movement Collection (I-529), Chicago Action for Soviet Jewry (I-530), Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism (I-538), 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), Leah Lieberman (P-869), Si Frumkin (P-871), Elaine Pittell (P-873), Sanford A. Gradinger (P-880), Shaul Osadchey (P-882), Leonard S. Cahan (P-883), Doris H. Goldstein (P-887), David H. Hill (P-888), Margery Sanford (P-889), Pinchas Mordechai Teitz (P-891), David Waksberg (P-895), Pamela B. Cohen (P-897), Moshe Decter (P-899), William Korey (P-903), Morey Schapira (P-906), Charlotte Gerper Turner (P-907), Myrtle Sitowitz (P-908), Kathleen M. Hyman (P-911), Babette Wampold (P-912), Rabbi David Goldstein and Shannie Goldstein (P-918), Leslie Schaffer (P-923), Arthur Bernstein (P-925), Dolores Wilkenfeld (P-927), Sylvia Weinberg (P-928) , Irwin H. Krasna (P-934) , Constance S. Kreshtool (P-935), Betty Golomb (P-938), Grace Perlbinder (P-942), Mort Yadin (P-943), Ann Polunsky (P-886), Lillian Foreman (P-945) and Marilyn Labendz(P-946).

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 Papers of Abraham Silverstein, undated, 1975-1976, 1985, 1987-1989, 1994 *P-947
Status
In Progress
Author
Processed by Andrey Filimonov
Date
© 2012
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Language of description note
Description is in English.

Repository Details

Part of the American Jewish Historical Society Repository

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