Skip to main content

National Foundation for Jewish Culture Records

 Collection
Identifier: I-527

Scope and Content Note

The records of the National Foundation for Jewish Culture (later known as the Foundation for Jewish Culture) show how it supported Jewish scholarship, art, and community services. Materials cover the period between 1959, when the original study resulting in the creation of the NFJC was conducted by the Council of Jewish Federations and Welfare Funds and 2015, when the Foundation ceased operations.

Included in the collection are correspondence, by-laws, legal and financial documents, mailings, minutes, memoranda, reports, surveys, audio-visual materials, and printed materials such as brochures, clippings, magazines, and newsletters.

Both the original accession and the addendum are organized into two distinct parts of the collection. The first deals with the administrative aspect of the organization. The second pertains to the organization’s work in the fields of Jewish Scholarship, culture, and community relations.

There are many documents relating to the Board of Directors, budget and budget allocations, Joint Cultural Appeal (the JCA was created by nine Jewish Cultural agencies joining together in 1971, with the National Foundation for Jewish Culture serving as its administrative arm); also included here are legal and financial documents, minutes, by-laws, and reports, materials related to a large number of Committees, memoranda, general mailings, and surveys. These materials show how NFJC was able to reach its goals of supporting Jewish scholarship, art, and optimizing the relationship between cultural institutions and local Jewish communities.

There are many records dealing with the NFJC's support for academia, including Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship Grants and summer stipends, as well as materials pertaining to NFJC’s involvement with archival, journalism, and publication projects. There are also materials dealing with associated national agencies such as the Council of American Jewish Museums and the Council for Jewish Theatres; materials pertaining to numerous community oriented projects, as well as materials related to the Newman Incentive Awards Program, a community oriented program that encouraged maximum use of local resources in fostering projects that local communities otherwise would not undertake. Additionally, there are materials pertaining to music and film festivals, conferences, scholarly symposia, national programs, and other scholarly and cultural events.

NFJC arts initiatives in areas such as music and dance, visual, fine, and performing arts, and theater and film, are well documented in this collection. Six Points, Kroll Fund for Jewish Documentary Film, New Jewish Cultural Network, The Maurice and Marilyn Cohen Fund for Doctoral Dissertation Fellowships in Jewish Studies, Fund for Jewish Cultural Preservation, and the Jewish Studies Expansion Program are amongst the foundations whose records are found here. Documents include a large number of applications, both accepted and rejected. These include application forms, correspondence, evaluations of applications and funding initiatives, individual and organizational reports, Advisory Panel discussions, and work samples. Additionally, there are membership materials pertaining to the Council of American Jewish Museum and materials dealing with conferences, symposia, film festival, and retreats organized by NFJC.

Additionally, there are materials pertaining to New Jewish Cultural Network, an initiative to support new Jewish music, materials dealing with the American Academy in Jerusalem, and materials pertaining to materials pertaining to artist retreats, national as well as international.

Dates

  • 1942, 1952-2015

Creator

Language of Materials

The collection is in English with some Hebrew, Yiddish, Italian, and German.

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.

Subsubseries B: Personnel is closed to researchers. Some restrictions may also apply to Subsubseries A: Grants. For more information please contact AJHS at reference@ajhs.org.

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<extptr title="Foundation for Jewish Culture logo (2014)" href="http://digital.cjh.org/webclient/DeliveryManager?pid=2974346" show="embed" altrender="NFJC logo" actuate="onload"/>

The National Foundation for Jewish Culture (later the Foundation for Jewish Culture) supported Jewish scholarship, art, and the relationships between cultural institutions and local Jewish communities, primarily through grants.

Founded in 1961, NFJC regarded development, strengthening, and support of Jewish scholarship, art, and community services to be its major responsibility. It encompasses a broad range of activities, from providing research grants and scholarships to organizing seminars and conferences, from providing programs and cultural resources to local Jewish communities to organizing national programs designed to explore all aspects of Jewish creativity and to bring a better understanding of contemporary Jewish culture to a broad range of public audiences in the United States.

The National Foundation for Jewish Culture owes its creation to the survey report initiated by the Council of Jewish Federations and Welfare Board in 1959. The study was headed by Julian Freeman and Arthur Gelbert and also included twenty-nine community leaders. The findings and recommendations were approved in a resolution on November 13th, 1959. NFJC was "to become a “face” for the total Jewish cultural enterprise in America instead of the current fragmentation,” to bridge a gap between the local communities and Jewish agencies, and foremost to support and nurture newly emerging Jewish scholars in America.

The encouragement of individuals to enter the field of Jewish scholarship continued to be one of the major tasks of the Foundation for Jewish Culture until the early 1980s, when its focus shifted to the arts and humanities. The Foundation worked closely with Colleges and Universities, helping to found Jewish Studies Departments and supporting already existing departments, organizing symposia and scholarly conferences, arranging lectures for Jewish scholars, and maintaining its close interest and support in the area of publications.

In 1971, the National Foundation for Jewish Culture was instrumental in founding the Joint Cultural Appeal, a consortium of nine Jewish agencies entrusted to present a unified budget and allocation requests to the Federated Jewish communities. The National Foundation for Jewish Culture served as its administrative arm.

In the 1970s, the Federation continued its efforts to enhance Jewish scholarship and in 1971 co-founded Council of Archives and Research Libraries in Jewish Studies in order to improve cooperation in the efforts to enhance preservation and access to Jewish archives and libraries. The Council was responsible for coordinating a number of important projects related to the preservation of Jewish cultural heritage in the United States and Canada.

In 1977 the National Foundation for Jewish Culture helped found The Council of American Jewish Museums and provided administrative assistance to the Council. CAJM provides support for collaborative efforts to promote scholarship and preservation of Jewish art on behalf of over thirty member institutions. CAJM membership represents a wide spectrum of Jewish community museums, galleries, and art museums in the United States.

The Council of Jewish Theatres was established by the National Foundation for Jewish Culture in 1985 to serve as a coordinating body for Jewish theatres in the United States and Canada.

Starting in the 1980s, the main focus of the Foundation’s work was to support other aspects of Jewish culture such as “programs and initiatives based on arts and humanities.” It did so via granting organizations and initiatives such as Six Points, Kroll Fund for Jewish Documentary Film, New Jewish Cultural Network, The Maurice and Marilyn Cohen Fund for Doctoral Dissertation Fellowships in Jewish Studies, Fund for Jewish Cultural Preservation, the Jewish Studies Expansion Program, and the Council of American Jewish Museums. It also organized numerous music, theater, and film festivals in addition to conferences and general cultural events.

Extent

165.5 Linear Feet (226 manuscript boxes, 47 Hollinger boxes, one OS3 box, five SB 2 boxes, one SB3 box)

Overview

From its inception in 1961, the National Foundation for Jewish Culture (later known as the Foundation for Jewish Culture) supported Jewish scholarship, art, and community services. The collection primarily covers the period between 1959, when the original study proposing the creation of the NFJC was conducted by the Council of Jewish Federations and Welfare Funds (CJFWF) and 2015, when the Foundation ceased operations. The materials document organization’s support for Jewish scholarship, art, culture, and its work in strengthening the relationships between cultural institutions and local Jewish communities. The collection also documents the organization’s shift in the 1980s from scholarship to more involvement in Jewish arts and culture.

Arrangement

The original accession was arranged into five series. The addendum was also arranged into five series.
  1. Series I: Organizational Materials, 1954-1998
  2. Subseries 1: Board of Directors, 1960-1998
  3. Subsubseries A: Presidents and Executive Directors, 1960-1996
  4. Subsubseries B: Board Members, Individuals' Files, 1960-1995
  5. Subsubseries C: Committees, 1960-1998
  6. Subsubseries D: Meetings, Minutes, Memoranda, and General Materials, 1960-1993
  7. Subseries 2: Administrative, 1954-1997
  8. Subsubseries A: Financial Documents, 1954-1996
  9. Subsubseries B: Personnel, 1975-1993
  10. Subsubseries C: Various, 1958-1997
  11. Subseries 3: Joint Cultural Appeal, 1957-1995
  12. Subsubseries A: Allocations and Contributions, 1960-1995
  13. Subsubseries B: General, 1960-1993
  14. Subsubseries C: Member Agencies, 1957-1988
  15. Series II: Activities: Scholarship, the Arts, and Community Services, 1942-1997
  16. Subseries 1: Scholarship, 1942, 1952, 1959-1997
  17. Subsubseries A: Grants, 1959-1997
  18. Section a: Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship Program, Approved Applications, 1962-1997
  19. Section b: Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship Program, Rejected Applications, 1965-1994
  20. Section c: Other Scholarships and Grants, 1959-1994
  21. Subsubseries B: CARLJS, 1967-1996
  22. Section a: Administration, 1973-1995
  23. Subsection 1 a: Correspondence, 1973-1995
  24. Subsection 2 a: General, 1973-1995
  25. Subsection 3 a: Membership, 1985-1995
  26. Section b: General, 1967-1996
  27. Section c: Projects, 1970-1995
  28. Subsubseries C: Organizations and Other Projects, 1942, 1952, 1960-1988
  29. Subseries 2: The Arts, 1960-1997
  30. Subsubseries A: Council of American Jewish Museums, 1977-1995
  31. Section a: Administrative, 1977-1995
  32. Subsection 1 a: General, 1979-1995
  33. Subsection 2 a: Meetings, 1977-1995
  34. Subsection 3 a: Membership, 1980-1995
  35. Section b: Conferences, 1982-1995
  36. Section c: General, 1977-1995
  37. Section d: Traveling Exhibits, 1981-1989
  38. Section e: Printed Materials, 1979-1995
  39. Subsubseries B: Council of Jewish Theatres, 1974-1997
  40. Section a: Administrative, 1974-1997
  41. Subsection 1 a: General, 1974-1997
  42. Subsection 2 a: Membership, 1988-1997
  43. Section b: Awards and Grants, 1981-1988
  44. Section c: Conferences and Festivals, 1979-1996
  45. Section d: General, 1980-1995
  46. Section e: Projects, 1982-1995
  47. Section f: Printed Materials, 1982-1995
  48. Subsubseries C: Various, 1960-1995
  49. Subseries 3: Community Services and Cultural Events, 1962-1995
  50. Subsubseries A: Newman Incentive Awards, 1962-1992
  51. Section a: General, 1962-1992
  52. Section b: Beneficiary organizations and Individuals, 1970-1987
  53. Section c: Projects, 1972-1989
  54. Subsubseries B: Various Projects, 1962-1995
  55. Section a: Creativity and Continuity: Jewish Culture in America, 1974-1987
  56. Section b: Independence and Interdependence: Israel - North America Cultural Exchange, 1974-1988
  57. Section c: Institute in Jewish Arts Administration, 1975-1995
  58. Section d: Various, 1962-1992
  59. Series III: Various, 1954-1997
  60. Series IV: Printed Materials, 1961-1997
  61. Series V: Audio-Visual Materials, 1969-1995
  62. Addendum, 1983-2015
  63. Series I: Organizational Materials, 1987-2015
  64. Subseries 1: Board of Directors, 1990-2015
  65. Subseries 2: Administrative, 1987-2011
  66. Subsuberies A: Financial Documents, 1987-2011
  67. Subsuberies B: General, 1991-2011
  68. Series II: Activities
  69. Subseries 1: Scholarship
  70. Subsubseries A: Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship, 1999-2012
  71. Subsubseries B: Fund for Jewish Cultural Preservation, 1997-2006
  72. Subsubseries C: Jewish Studies Expansion Program, 2005-2012
  73. Subsubseries D: Other Scholarships, 1993-2011
  74. Subseries 2: The Arts
  75. Subsubseries A: Six Points, 2006-2010
  76. Subseries B: Council of American Jewish Museums, 1991-2006
  77. Subsubseries C: Film, 1996-2010
  78. Section a: Fund for Jewish Documentary Filmaking, 1996-2009
  79. Section b: Lynn and Jules Kroll Fund for Jewish Documentary Film, 1997-2010
  80. Section c: Other, 2002-2004
  81. Subsubseries D: Theater, 1999-2008
  82. Section a: New Play Commission in Jewish Theater, 1999-2008
  83. Section b: New Jewish Theater Projects, 2001-2008
  84. Subsubseries E: Other, 1991-2013
  85. Series III: Various, 1983-2013
  86. Series IV: Photographs, 1980s-2000s
  87. Series V: Printed Materials, 1992-2008

Physical Location

Located in AJHS New York, NY

Digitization Note

Box 44, Folders 1 and 2 were digitized in 2017 through the Digitization-on-Demand program and have been made available in their entirety.

Related Materials

The FJC website was captured by the Internet Archive Wayback Machine from 1998 to 2013. The snapshots can be viewed here: https://web.archive.org/web/*/http://jewishculture.org. Please note that the Wayback Machine may not render the website exactly as it appeared on the live web at the time, and that AJHS has no control over how often the site was crawled or how it displays now.

Separated Material

Two award statues, the 2006 Gabriel Award (AJHS.2014.027.01) and the 2007 Kitka and Davka in Concert award (AJHS.2014.027.02) were removed to the AJHS Museum collection.

The following boxes of audiovisual and electronic media were physically separated and placed in the AVC collection: 221-226; 276-281. The boxes are described below in the finding aid.

Three plaques, two medals, a pin, and a small printing plate were discarded.

The following published books were discarded:
  1. Polner, Murray. Rabbi: The American Experience (1977)
  2. Singer, I.B. The Seance (1964)
  3. Singer, I.B. Shosha (1978)
  4. Spiegelman, Art. Maus (1987)
Duplicates of commercially produced DVDs and CDs were discarded.

Processing Note

The original accession was processed in 2013. The addendum was processed in 2014-2015.

The 2015 addendum to the records includes a substantial body of electronic records, ranging from e-mail and word processing documents to photographs, web sites, and social media. These materials are being arranged and described and will be incorporated into this finding aid once complete.
Title
Guide to the Records of the National Foundation for Jewish Culture 1942, 1952-2015 I-527
Status
In Progress
Author
Processed by Yakov Illich Sklar
Date
© 2012
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Sponsor
as part of the Leon Levy Archival Processing Initiative, made possible by the Leon Levy Foundation

Revision Statements

  • September 2017: dao links to DOD folders added by Leanora Lange.

Repository Details

Part of the American Jewish Historical Society Repository

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