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Elaine Pittell Papers

 Collection
Identifier: P-873

Scope and Content Note

The collection is arranged in two series.

Papers of Elaine Pittell cover the period from mid-1970’s to early 1990’s and document her and her husband’s Robert Pittell’s activities as the Chair of the Jewish Federation of South Broward’s Soviet Jewry Committee. The documents include correspondence, memos, minutes, publications, news clippings, audiocassettes, videocassette, disc negatives and pins.

Sweater with the word “Freedom” woven on the front, back and sleeves, worn by Elaine Pittell on a demonstration in Helsinki during the pre-Summit conference on Behalf of Soviet Jewry can be found in the American Jewish Society museum collection under the accession number 2009.033.

Dates

  • undated, 1974-1991, 1993, 1994
  • Majority of material found within 1975 - 1988

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 Elaine Pittell 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.

Elaine Pittell became inspired to get involved in the Soviet Jewry Movement in 1969, after reading an open letter from a group of Soviet Jews detailing the oppression and intolerance they were subjected to in the USSR. In 1974 she founded the Soviet Jewry Committee as a part of the Community Relations Committee of the Jewish Federation of South Broward, Forida. As the Chair of the Committee Elain Pittell supervised the implementation of programs such as Adopt-A-Family and Adopt-A-Prisoner, briefing of travelers to the USSR, phone calls and mass mailings of holiday postcards to the Soviet Jews, appeals on their behalf with the Soviet and the American authorities, education of Jewish communities on the Soviet Jewry Movement and many other activities. In 1984 Mrs. and Dr. Pittell traveled to the Soviet Union, visiting many Refusenik families in Moscow and Leningrad. Elaine Pittell was among the 50 representatives from the National Conference on Soviet Jewry who in 1988 flew to Helsinki and met there with the Secretary of State George Shultz, intending to focus the attention of the approaching Soviet-American Summit in Moscow on the plight of Soviet Jews.

Extent

0.75 Linear Feet (1 manuscript box, 1 half manuscript box)

Language of Materials

English

Russian

Finnish

Abstract

Papers of Elaine Pittell cover the period from mid-1970’s to early 1990’s and document her and her husband’s Robert Pittell’s activities as the Chair of the Jewish Federation of South Broward’s Soviet Jewry Committee. The documents include correspondence, memos, minutes, publications, news clippings, audiocassettes, videocassette, disc negatives and pins.

Acquisition Information

Donated by Elaine Pittell in 2008.

Digitization Note

Pins and pendants were digitized and made fully accessible online in 2014. The audiocassettes and VHS tape in Series II were digitized and made fully accessible online in 2017.

Related Material

The Papers of Elaine Pittell 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), 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).
Title
Guide to the Elaine Pittell (1934- ) Papers, undated, 1974-1991, 1993, 1994 *P-873
Status
Completed
Author
Processed by Andrey Filimonov
Date
© 2009
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Sponsor
The Elaine Pittell Papers, a collection of the Archive of the American Soviet Jewry Movement, is dedicated in honor of Elaine Pittell by her family. Digitization of ephemera was made possible through the generous support of the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). Digitization of audio and video was made possible through the generous support of the Blavatnik Foundation.

Revision Statements

  • July 2017: dao links for VHS added, filename simplified, and digitization note and sponsor statement updated by Leanora Lange.
  • October 2020: RJohnstone: post-ASpace migration cleanup.

Repository Details

Part of the American Jewish Historical Society Repository

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