Abraham Silverstein Papers
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.
- undated, 1975-1976, 1985, 1987-1989, 1994
- Silverstein, Abraham (Person)
The collection is open to all researchers, except items that may be restricted due to their fragility, or privacy.
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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.
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Language of Materials
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.
Donated by Heda Silverstein in 2009.
The cassettes in box 1 folder 12 and 13 were digitized and made available in their entirety.
- Guide to the Abraham Silverstein Papers, undated, 1975-1976, 1985, 1987-1989, 1994 *P-947
- Processed by Andrey Filimonov
- © 2012
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- Description is in English.
- November 2020: RJohnstone: post-ASpace migration cleanup.
Part of the American Jewish Historical Society Repository
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