Skip to main content

Young Judaea Records in the Hadassah Archives

Identifier: I-578/RG 8

Scope and Content Note

This collection consists of correspondence, office memos, educational program material, meeting minutes of various committees, manuals, newsletters, news clippings, pamphlets and brochures, financial and legal materials, song books, yearbooks, and official constitutions and bylaws. The topics covered include clubs, camps, Israel programs and Hadassah’s relationship with the Zionist Organization of America and local Zionist Youth Commissions that at various times sponsored and funded various Young Judaea clubs and camps.


  • Creation: 1911-2006
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1960 - 1999


Language of Materials

This collection is predominantly in English with some material in 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 fragility or as required by the agreement between Hadassah and AJHS.

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, NY, 10011


Historical Note<extptr actuate="onload" altrender="Cover of 'The Young Judaean Year' brochure, 1934-1935." href="" show="embed" title="Cover of 'The Young Judaean Year' brochure, 1934-1935."/>

Origins of Young Judaea

Young Judaea is the oldest Zionist youth organization in the United States. Upon Theodore Herzl's death in 1904, three boys—Abraham Hillel Silver, Max Silver, and Israel Chipkin, inspired by Herzl’s Zionist ideals and aspirations, formed a club in his name in New York City. Over the next five years, the Dr. Herzl Zion Club experienced a significant growth in membership and other Zionist youth societies were formed. At the prompting of Henrietta Szold in 1909, the Federation of American Zionists, who chartered the Dr. Herzl Zion Club, called for a junior Zionist convention to be attended by delegates from the expanded constituency of Zionist youth societies. It was at this convention in New York on June 10th and 11th, 1909, that Young Judaea was formally established as a national Zionist youth organization.

The major aims of Young Judaea, which have for the most part survived through its more than 90 years of existence, were established as the following: “To advance the cause of Zionism, to further the mental, moral, and physical development of the Jewish youth, and to promote Jewish culture and ideals in accordance with Jewish traditions.” Young Judaea was devoted to remaining a non-partisan and non-denominational organization that would embrace and recruit Jewish youth from all backgrounds.

Early Development

Through extensive leadership training, direction from the national level, and expansion of local clubs and regions, Young Judaea grew to an organization of 14,500 members in 715 clubs by 1919. Under the leadership of Henrietta Szold, the department of education was formed by the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), which briefly sponsored Young Judaea from 1918 to 1921. However, when the ZOA could no longer devote the necessary funds and the department of education was dissolved, Young Judaea once again became an autonomous organization and would remain so until 1941. During these twenty years, Young Judaea maintained a tenuous affiliation with the ZOA and Hadassah, both of which provided some funding.

In 1924 Young Judaea absorbed “Hadassah Buds,” Junior Hadassah’s club for young girls, and membership grew to 15,000 in 800 clubs across the nation.

Relationship with Palestine/Israel Scouts (Tzofim)

Also in 1924, Young Judaea agreed to raise funds for the Palestine Scout Movement, Tzofim, and launched the Scout Fund (later known as Keren Hanoar) in Young Judaea’s Palestine Projects Department. In addition to its dedication to financially support a youth movement in Palestine that worked towards the advancement of a Jewish state, Young Judaea wished to establish direct contact between the youth of the Young Judaea clubs in America and the Jewish youth in Palestine. Both of these aims were equally important and as ties were strengthened throughout the years, the Tzofim eventually became known as the brother movement of Young Judaea. Young Judaea’s establishment of programs in Israel for American youth, the delegations sent by Tzofim to the Young Judaean summer camps in the United States, and the “shlichim” who came to America to work with Young Judaea clubs, all helped to maintain the relationship between the Tzofim and Young Judaea.

Hadassah and ZOA Sponsorship

In 1940, Hadassah and the Zionist Organization of America agreed to channel their financial and advisory support through a joint commission, the Zionist Youth Commission. This agreement remained intact for 27 years. In 1967, a Youth Survey Commission initiated by Hadassah recommended that it would be in Hadassah’s best interest to assume sole sponsorship of Young Judaea as the ZOA had failed to meet its financial commitments, among other reasons. Hadassah voted to follow this recommendation and remained the sole sponsor of Young Judaea until 2011 when Young Judaea once again became independent.

Affiliation with American Zionist Youth Commission (AZYC)

In the 1940s, the American Zionist Youth Commission was a "Joint Agency of the Zionist Organization of America and Hadassah," and their letterhead included Young Judaea, Junior Hadassah, Masada, and Intercollegiate Zionist Federation of America. This Record Group includes limited files on the AZYC and its relationship with and function within Young Judaea as it affected Hadassah's work with Young Judaea.

Structural Changes


The decision for Hadassah to assume sole sponsorship in 1967 was accompanied by various organizational changes in Young Judaea. A notable change was that Hadassah decided to form one youth movement including both Young Judaea and Junior Hadassah. The newly united youth group soon took the name Hashachar, meaning “the dawn,” signifying the dawn of a new era for Young Judaea. Three levels of Hashachar were established: Bogrim (Graduates), grades 9-12; Tzofim (Scouts), grades 7-8; and Ofarim (Lambs), grades 4-6. These three levels came to be referred to as Senior, Intermediate, and Junior Young Judaea respectively.


Another monumental change instituted by Young Judaea was the formation of a college level of Young Judaea, Hamagshimim (the Fulfillers), in 1948. Hamagshimim chapters formed on college campuses throughout the Unites States. Hamagshimim provided aliyah support groups, Zionist activities, and Israel program opportunities to its members.

Summer Camps

In 1948, the first Young Judaean camp was established. A senior camp, Tel Yehudah was established in Hendersonville, North Carolina and moved to a permanent site in Barryville, New York by 1954. Tel Yehudah continues to serve as Young Judaea’s national leadership training camp. Other regional camps were formed throughout the years. By the 1990s the existing camps included Camp Young Judaea Sprout Lake (Verbank, New York); Camp Judaea (Hendersonville, North Carolina); Camp Young Judaea Midwest (Waupaca, Wisconsin); Camp Young Judaea Texas (Wimberly, Texas); and Camp Young Judaea Northwest (Seattle, Washington).

Young Judaea’s summer camps aim to provide a total Jewish living experience where Jewish and Zionist activities are at the forefront of the camping experience. Since 1959, a delegation of Israeli Tzofim have been sent each summer to participate in the Young Judaea camping program in an attempt to expose campers to important aspects of Israeli culture and to provide them with personal ties to Israel.

Year Course in Israel Programs

In 1956, Young Judaea began its Year Course in Israel Program for high school graduates who defer their entrance into college for one year in order to live in Israel. It is an educational experience combining field trips, formal academic studies based in Jerusalem, and volunteer/living opportunities in different Israeli communities.

The Hadassah Youth Center, which serves as the year course base in Jerusalem, was located in various sites around Jerusalem; as of 2010 it is located in the German Colony. Year Course participants have the opportunity to live and work at Kibbutz Ketura in the Negev, founded by Young Judaea members in 1973; live on a moshav; meet new immigrants to Israel from all over the world; explore nature on hikes; and cooperate in programs with the Tzofim.

Summer Programs

In 1951, Young Judaea was the first youth group program to send American teenagers to Israel for a summer. In 1954, Machon, an Israel trip aimed at leadership training for senior Judaeans, was instituted. In 1961, the first “Israel Tour for Teenagers” was launched. It came to be called “Israel Discovery,” and it is a program for teenagers who might not be active in Young Judaea or in Zionism. “Israel Discovery” focuses on exposing its participants to Zionism and Jewish life as opposed to leadership training.

Garin and Kibbutz Ketura

Garin Hamagshimim

In the late 1960s, Hamagshimim members formed a group committed to what they considered to be the self-fulfillment of the Zionist ideal—aliyah, or immigration to Israel. In 1968, the first “garin”—a collective group living in a communal setting was established, named “Garin Hamagshimim.” In 1970, these Young Judaea graduates moved to Israel, settled in Neṿeh Ilan, and created a moshav that would serve various economic and social needs of Israel.

Kibbutz Ketura

In 1973, thirty graduates of Young Judaea founded Kibbutz Ketura. It is located in Israel’s Negev desert and thrives with a diverse number of businesses including housing the Arava Institute.

Regions and Clubs

Through the 1990s, Young Judaea clubs were found in fifteen regions throughout the United States. Regions held yearly conventions and local clubs ran year-round activities to incorporate Judaism and Zionism in the Young Judaea experience.

Publications and Materials

Extensive educational material was created throughout the years for clubs, conventions, and camps. Numerous serials were published, including The Young Judaean, from 1911 to the 1990s and The Senior beginning in 1941. These serial publications are currently housed in RG 17—Printed Materials.


Abraham Hillel Silver, Max Silver, and Israel Chipkin. Original founders of the Dr. Herzl Zion Club in 1904 in New York City.

Henrietta Szold. First suggested that the Junior societies formed between 1904 to 1909 convene, which ultimately led to the establishment of Young Judaea in 1909.

Israel Friedlaender. Professor at the Jewish Theological Seminary—elected founding president of Young Judaea in 1909.

David Schneeberg. An original member of the junior Zionist society “Aids of Zion.” Schneeberg was appointed chairman of a special committee of the Federation of American Zionists, which led him to establish communication with various junior Zionist Societies in Philadelphia, New York City, and elsewhere, ultimately leading to the formation of Young Judaea. He was elected as the first Secretary of Young Judaea and was the first editor of The Young Judaean magazine. He is often considered the founder of Young Judaea.

Emanuel Neumann. Served as educational director and editor of The Young Judaean between 1916 and 1917. In addition, he assisted Henrietta Szold in directing the Department of Youth and Education under the ZOA.

Shlomo Bardin. Raised funds to start the Brandeis Camp Institute (BCI), 1939-1941; Hadassah affiliated with these camps until Camp Tel Yehudah began operating in 1948 on land purchased by the BCI committee the previous year.


22.75 Linear Feet (45 manuscript boxes and 1 half manuscript box)


Young Judaea is the oldest Zionist youth organization in the United States, established as a national organization in 1909 by the Federation of American Zionists. It was supported by Hadassah, including direct financial sponsorship from 1967-2011. The major aims of Young Judaea throughout its history have been to advance the cause of Zionism, to further the mental, moral, and physical development of Jewish youth, and to promote Jewish culture and ideals in accordance with Jewish traditions. Young Judaea has remained non-partisan and non-denominational, embracing and recruiting Jewish youth from all backgrounds.

Physical Location

Located in AJHS New York, NY

Acquisition Information

The Hadassah Archives, of which the Young Judaea Records (RG 8) are part, are on long-term deposit at the American Jewish Historical Society.

Related Material

The Guide to the Hadassah Archives on Long-term Deposit at the American Jewish Historical Society, which describes the entire collection, can found here:

Within the Hadassah Archives, Young Judaea material can be found in the following record groups: RG 5—Hadassah Council in Israel and the Hadassah Youth Services Records; RG 13—Executive Functions Records, particularly the papers of Charlotte Jacobson, who served as the National President of Hadassah as well as National Chair of Young Judaea; RG 15—Hadassah Functions and Operations Records (various series: Public Affairs; Fundraising; Program Department; Chapters); RG 18—Photographs; RG 20—Oral Histories; and RG 22—Artifacts and Memorabilia.

Young Judaea’s serial publications are found in RG 17—Printed Materials and Publications.

Several partners at the Center for Jewish History hold related material.


Books and other material related to Young Judaea can be found by searching the catalog of the Center for Jewish History.

Processing Information

The Young Judaea Records were partially processed by Susan Woodland in 2009.

In December 1999, Hadassah and the American Jewish Historical Society (AJHS) entered an agreement placing the Hadassah Archives on deposit at AJHS for its safekeeping and maintenance. In November 2000, the Hadassah Archives were moved to AJHS under the management of the Director of the Hadassah Archives, Susan Woodland. In 2014, under a new agreement between Hadassah and AJHS, the Hadassah Archives were placed on long-term deposit at AJHS.

In 2015, the Young Judaea Records were fully processed and intellectually arranged into three series. Description from the previous inventory was reused and incorporated into the 2015 finding as much as possible. Series description, notes pertaining to acquisition, processing, access and use, and related material were added. Some folder titles were revised.

The boxes were consolidated to save space and reduce damage to the material. Box and folder numbers were renumbered to create uniform numbering across the entire record group. Some boxes were replaced and many of the folders were also replaced.

Guide to the Young Judaea Records in the Hadassah Archives 1911-2006 I-578/RG 8
The finding aid was prepared by Andrey Filimonov in 2015. It is based upon a partial inventory created by Susan Woodland in 2009.
© 2012
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Processed as part of the Leon Levy Archival Processing Initiative, made possible by the Leon Levy Foundation

Repository Details

Part of the American Jewish Historical Society Repository

15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States