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Moshe Decter Papers

 Collection
Identifier: P-899

Scope and Content Note

The Moshe Decter Papers consist of materials dating from the late 1950s to the early 2000s, with the bulk of the collection dating from the 1960s-1970s. The documents include articles, correspondence, transcripts, notes, memoranda, publications, news clippings, broadsides and photographs.

Dates

  • undated, 1958-1980, 1982, 1989-1990, 1992, 1995, 1997, 2002-2003

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 Moshe Decter 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.

Moshe Decter was among the pioneer activists of the American Soviet Jewry Movement. He began his work on behalf of Jews in the U.S.S.R. by establishing and directing the Jewish Minorities Research bureau, and continued in the capacity of the executive secretary of the Conference on the Status of Soviet Jews and director of research at the American Jewish Congress. Despite opposition from the sizeable segment of the American Jewish community advocating policy of quiet diplomacy in dealing with the U.S.S.R., Mr. Decter instigated broad publicity campaigns to raise global awareness about the persecution of Soviet Jews. He authored hundreds of articles on the subject in a variety of publications. The report "Jews in the Soviet Union: A Report by the Editors," which he co-wrote and published in the capacity of the managing editor of the New Leader magazine, became one of the pivotal publications in the Soviet Jewry Movement in America and abroad. Mr. Decter was instrumental in influencing national and international politicians, intellectuals and other public figures, including Martin Luther King Jr., Bertrand Russell and Saul Bellow, to speak out against the oppression of the Soviet Jewry. After the collapse of the U.S.S.R., Mr. Decter continued to support Jewish life in the Former Soviet Union.

Extent

1.5 Linear Feet (3 manuscript boxes)

Language of Materials

English

Hebrew

French

Italian

Abstract

The collection contains papers of one of the pioneers of the American Soviet Jewry Movement. Starting in the early 1960s Moshe Decter instigated broad publicity campaigns to raise global awareness about the persecution of Soviet Jews and authored hundreds of articles on the subject in a variety of publications. Mr. Decter established and directed the Jewish Minorities Research bureau, served as the executive secretary of the Conference on the Status of Soviet Jews and as a director of research at the American Jewish Congress. Moshe Decter Papers consist of materials dating from the late 1950s to the early 2000s, with the bulk of the collection dating in 1960s-1970s. The documents include articles, correspondence, transcripts, notes, memoranda, publications, news clippings, broadsides and photographs.

Arrangement

The collection is arranged into a single series.

Acquisition Information

Donated by Joshua Decter in 2007.

Related Material

The Papers of Moshe Decter 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) , the Houston Action for Soviet Jewry (I-500) , 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), Doris H. Goldstein (P-887), David H. Hill (P-888), Margery Sanford (P-889), Pinchas Mordechai Teitz (P-891) and Pamela B. Cohen (P-897).

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).

Library of YIVO Institute for Jewish Research holds several publications by Moshe Decter on the subject of Soviet Jews.
Title
Guide to the Moshe Decter (1921-2007) Papers, undated, 1958-1980, 1982, 1989-1990, 1992, 1995, 1997, 2002-2003 *P-899
Status
Completed
Author
Processed by Andrey Filimonov
Date
© 2010
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:
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New York NY 10011 United States