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Robert Rifkind Papers

Identifier: P-980

Scope and Content Note

Robert Rifkind’s papers indicate his tremendous involvement in American Jewish advocacy and philanthropy, as well as his activism in Conservative Judaism. Most of the collection is made up of Rifkind’s correspondence in his role as president, board member or trustee of a number of organizations, which offers an inside look at the operations of the various Jewish institutions with which he was involved. The collection also includes a number of newspaper clippings, blueprints and publications related to various Jewish organizations, as well as photographs from official functions that Rifkind attended.

The activities of the American Jewish Committee (AJC), and Rifkind’s involvement therein are particularly well documented in the collection. While the papers span the time period between the early 1980s and early 2010s, they are particularly rich for the mid-1990s, when Rifkind served as president of the AJC. Additionally, the papers concerning the Schechter Institute provide insight into the development of the Israeli Center for Masorti (Conservative) Judaism, as well as the growing divide between the Israeli Masorti and American Conservative movements. A number of other institutions are significantly represented in Rifkind’s papers, including the Jerusalem Foundation, the Jewish Theological Seminary, the Charles H. Revson Foundation and the Leo Baeck Institute.

Rifkind’s papers also include research and correspondence relating to an article he published in American Jewish History, entitled “Confronting Antisemitism in America: Louis Marshall and Henry Ford.” The collection therefore includes a great deal of discussion and information about Marshall, Herman Bernstein and Aaron Sapiro.


  • Creation: 1913-2013
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1981 - 2011


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

Robert Singer Rifkind was born in New York in 1936 to Simon and Adele (Singer) Rifkind. His father Simon was a renowned lawyer and was notable for his support of Jewish causes, including helping Jewish refugees after the Holocaust. After attending Yale College, from which he graduated summa cum laude in 1958, Robert Rifkind went on to attend Harvard University Law School and received his J.D. in 1961 (cum laude). In 1962, he joined the law firm of Cravath, Swaine & Moore. From 1965-1968 he served as an Assistant to the Solicitor General in the United States Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., where he was involved in the civil rights case South Carolina v. Katzenbach. He then returned to Cravath, where he specialized in general litigation and was named a partner in 1971. He retired from the firm in 2001, but was named Senior Counsel in 2002, and continues to work in the field of transnational arbitrations. Robert Rifkind is married to Dr. Arleen (Brenner) Rifkind, a professor of pharmacology at Weill Cornell Medical College, and the couple lives in New York City. Their daughter, Amy Rifkind, is married to Bruce Brown and is a real estate lawyer in Washington, D.C. A second daughter, Nina Rifkind, is married to Professor Marc Lerner and is a lawyer in Oxford, Mississippi.

Apart from his legal career, Rifkind is also active in many Jewish philanthropic organizations. He has a long-standing affiliation with the American Jewish Committee, serving as its president and the chairman of its Board of Governors, as well as the chairman of the AJC’s Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights. Rifkind has also been a member of the boards of the Leo Baeck Institute, The Jewish Week, Brandeis University, the Jewish Theological Seminary, the Jerusalem Foundation, the Center for Jewish History, Cardozo Law School, the United Nations Association and the National Foundation for Jewish Culture. He was the chairman of the boards of the Charles H. Revson Foundation, Celebrate 350: Jewish Life in America and the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies. 1


  1. Information from materials in the collection.


14.7 Linear Feet (9 Manuscript Boxes and 1 OS1 Folder)

Language of Materials





The Robert Rifkind Papers document the Jewish philanthropic and lobbying activities of Robert Singer Rifkind. Robert Rifkind was born in New York City in 1936 and became a partner at the law firm of Cravath, Swaine and Moore in 1971. He served on the boards of many Jewish philanthropic and activist organizations, including the American Jewish Committee, the Jewish Theological Seminary and the Schechter Institute for Jewish Studies. The collection includes correspondence, photographs and publications from Rifkind’s involvement in these and other organizations, primarily dating from the 1980s to the 2010s.


The collection is arranged into five series.

Physical Location

Located in AJHS New York, NY

Acquisition Information

Donated by Robert Rifkind, 2013.

Related Material

Louis Marshal Papers, P-24

National Foundation for Jewish Culture Records, I-527

American Jewish Archives, Cincinnati, Ohio; The American Jewish Committee Records

American Jewish Archives, Cincinnati, Ohio; The Celebrate 350 Records

Separated Material

The following books were separated from the collection and housed with the AJHS book collection:

Rifkind, Simon H., Adam Bellow, and William Keens. One man's word: selected works of Simon H. Rifkind [edited by Adam Bellow and William Keens]. New York: Keens Co., 1986. Print.

Szyk, Arthur, and Irvin Ungar. Justice illuminated: the art of Arthur Szyk. [2nd ed. Berkeley, CA: Frog, Ltd., 1999.] Print.

Corrsin, Stephen D., and Amanda Seigel. Jews in America: from New Amsterdam to the Yiddish stage. New York: The New York Public Library, in association with D Giles Limited, London, 2012. Print.

Guide to the Robert Rifkind Papers, 1913-2013   *P-980
Processed by Rina Eisenberg
© 2014
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
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

15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States