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Gerald Serotta Papers

Identifier: P-1023

Scope and Content Note

This collection mostly contains materials related to the founding and controversy surrounding Breira throughout the 1970s. Breira was founded in response to the Yom Kippur War in 1973 and called for a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine. In 1976, Breira members Max Ticktin and Arthur Waskow met with Sabri Jiryis, closely tied to the PLO, and Isam Sartawi, a member of the Fatah Revolutionary Council. This meeting led to an outcry from the Jewish press, most strongly from the newspaper Jewish Week. Other Jewish organizations denounced Breira, particularly the Jewish Defense League, which led protests outside of Breira's first national convention in Chevy Chase, Maryland on February 20, 1977. Breira continued to receive bad press, which led to their dissolution in 1979. Materials in the collection mostly focus on controversy, the lead up to the convention, and Breira's response to the press. In addition, the collection also holds Breira publications, newsletters, circulars, Breira's platform, committee meeting materials, and clippings.

The other half of the collection focuses on the founding of the New Jewish Agenda (NJA), a progressive multi-issue Jewish organization that focused on nuclear disarmament; peace in the Middle East, Central America, and South America; equal rights for women, gays, and lesbians; and the fight against racism and anti-Semitism. The records hold materials related to the founding conference in December 1980, the official establishment of NJA in 1982, and the formation of task forces within the organization. The collection also holds newsletters, chapter handbooks, correspondence, and clippings. In addition to Breira and NJA, there is also some material in the collection on the Havurah movement, Jewish socialism, and other Jewish left organizations.


  • 1973-1987


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

For reference questions, please email:

Biographical Note

Gerald Serotta is a rabbi and Jewish activist. In 1968 he received his undergraduate degree from Harvard. He was ordained Rabbi in New York in 1974 by Hebrew Union College. In 1973 he co-founded Breira, an organization that called for a two-state solution in Israel and Palestine. When Breira dissolved, Serotta was a founder of the New Jewish Agenda, a progressive Jewish grassroots organization active in the 1980s. Serotta served as a university chaplain and Hillel rabbi for 28 years, including twenty years of service at George Washington University. Serotta served as a rabbi in Maryland at Temple Shalom and Shirat HaNefesh Congregation in Chevy Chase, Maryland and as Executive Director of Clergy Beyond Borders. As of this writing (2016), Serotta is the Executive Director of the Interfaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington.


1.75 Linear Feet (4 manuscript boxes)

Language of Materials




This collection contains the papers of Rabbi Gerald Serotta, a founder of Breira and the New Jewish Agenda. The materials found in the collection date from the 1970s and 1980s and mostly document the founding of and controversy surrounding Breira and the founding of the New Jewish Agenda.


Arranged alphabetically.

Physical Location

Located in AJHS New York, NY

Acquisition Information

This collection was donated to AJHS in 2006 by Gerald Serotta. The accession number associated with this collection is 2006.18.

Processing Information

In 2016, a full DACS compliant finding aid was written for the collection and materials in the collection were arranged and put into archival folders. When possible, folder titles were maintained.

Guide to the Gerald Serotta Papers, 1973-1987 P-1023
Processed by Nicole Greenhouse
© 2016
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.

Revision Statements

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

Repository Details

Part of the American Jewish Historical Society Repository

15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States