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Arthur Waskow Papers

 Collection
Identifier: P-152

Scope and Content Note

This collection documents the professional activities and personal life of Arthur Waskow, a Jewish Renewal rabbi and political activist. The collection includes printed materials such as brochures, booklets, clippings, correspondence, financial documents, photographs, and writings by Arthur Waskow; as well as other authors. Materials in the collection reflect various aspects of Arthur Waskow’s personal and professional life, including teaching, involvement in the human and civil rights movements, and the peace process in the Middle East.

The Collection also includes: clippings; articles; magazines; scholarly journals; flyers; brochures; and materials pertaining to a number of conferences, events, and gatherings that Arthur Waskow participated in. The collection also holds materials related to organizations Waskow was involved with; one of the most well-represented organizations in the collection is the Shalom Center (founded by Arthur Waskow) and ALEPH (co-founded by Arthur Waskow). In addition to his own writings on Judaism, Jewish Renewal, environmentalism, civil rights, and other activist efforts, Waskow collected writings by others for publications run by the Shalom Center/ALEPH.

Other materials in the collection include: a small amount of personal materials, mostly correspondence with family members; materials dealing with Arthur Waskow’s resistance to paying taxes; court documents; efforts to publish his writings; photographs; and materials pertaining to his education.

Dates

  • 1948-2009
  • Majority of material found within 1967 - 2004

Creator

Language of Materials

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

Access Restrictions

The collection is open to all researchers, except items that may be restricted due to their fragility, or privacy; four folders (Box 43, Folders 8-11) are restricted due to privacy concerns.

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

Biographical Note

Arthur Ocean Waskow was born on October 12, 1933 in Baltimore, MD. He received a B.A. from Johns Hopkins University in 1954, and an M.A. (1956) and PhD (1963) in United States history from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. As a student, from 1959-1961, he worked as assistant to Robert Kastenmeier, a Congressman from Wisconsin. In 1963, together with Richard Barnet and Marcus Raskin, Arthur Waskow helped found the Institute for Policy Studies. For the next 14 years, he served as Resident Fellow. From 1977 to 1982, Waskow was a Fellow of the Public Resource Center in Washington, D.C.

As an activist, Waskow was arrested for sit-ins and protests against racial discrimination, South African Apartheid, and the Vietnam War. Waskow was also involved with social justice and civil rights groups, such as Breira, Jews for Urban Justice, and the New Jewish Agenda. In 1969, he wrote the Freedom Seder, a Passover haggadah that addressed contemporary issues, such as the civil rights and women's movements.

In 1982, Arthur Waskow moved to Philadelphia, and in 1983, founded the Shalom Center, a progressive and liberal organization focusing on ecology reflected through the mirror of Judaism, the civil rights movement, interfaith relations, the Middle East Peace process, lesbian and gay rights, and immigrant rights. Arthur Waskow was also a faculty member at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, and taught courses on modern day theology and practical rabbinics. He also taught at Vassar College, Temple University, Swarthmore College, and Drew University. In 1993, the Shalom Center merged with P'nai Or, founded by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, to form ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal, an organization that works to raise awareness of the Jewish Renewal movement. In 2005, the Shalom Center separated from ALEPH and became an independent organization once more.

Arthur Waskow is a prolific writer who has written numerous articles and essays as well as larger scale works, most notably Godwrestling (1978), Seasons of Our Joy (1982), Down-to-Earth Judaism: Food, Money, Sex, and the Rest of Life (1995), and Godwrestling — Round 2: Ancient Wisdom, Future Paths (1996).

Extent

21.5 Linear Feet (43 manuscript boxes and 1 oversize folder)

Overview

This collection documents the professional activities and personal life of Arthur Waskow, a Jewish Renewal rabbi and political activist. The collection includes such printed materials as brochures, booklets, clippings, correspondence, financial documents, photographs, and Waskow's writings. Materials in the collection reflect various aspects of Arthur Waskow’s personal and professional life, including teaching, involvement in the human and civil rights movements, and the peace process in the Middle East.

Physical Location

Located in AJHS New York, NY

Other Finding Aid

A concordance documenting the original box and folders was created for this collection. The concordance can be viewed here: http://digital.cjh.org/4632431.

Acquisition Information

This collection was donated to AJHS in multiple accessions. Materials in Box 1 through Box 12, Folder 7 make up the primary accession and were donated to AJHS in the 1980s. After the primary accession, the rest of the collection came in three additional accessions: Addenda 1 (Box 12, Folder 8 through Box 35, Folder 11, Boxes 39-43), Addenda 2 (Box 35, Folder 12 through Box 36, Folder 10, and Addenda 3 (Box 36, Folder 11 through Box 38, Folder 7, Boxes 39-43). These materials were donated to AJHS circa 2009-2012.

Digitization Note

Eleven folders were digitized in 2017 through the Digitization-on-Demand program (Box 2, Folders 5, 8, and 9; Box 3, Folder 9; Box 12, Folders 3-7; Box 36, Folders 1-2). These folders have been made available in their entirety.

Processing Information

In 2012, the collection was processed by Yakov Illich Sklar with the assistance of Anya Quilitzsch. Prior to 2017, the collection was arranged as follows:
  1. Series I: Correspondence, 1962-1980
  2. Series II: Legal Cases, 1967-1977
  3. Series III: Organizations, 1967-1985
  4. Series IV: Various, 1962-1980
  5. Series V: Writings, 1969-1977
  6. Addenda 1, 1956-2009
  7. Series I: Personal, 1956-2006
  8. Series II: Correspondence, 1957, 1980s-2008
  9. Series III: Events, Campaigns, Conferences, 1997-2007
  10. Series IV: Organizations, 1980-2006
  11. Series V: Publishing Efforts, Arthur Waskow, 1981-2000
  12. Series VI: Shalom Center/ALEPH, 1990-2008
  13. Series VII: Printed Materials, 1980-2009
  14. Subseries 1: Waskow, Arthur, undated, 1980-2007
  15. Subseries 2: Other Publications, 1980-2009
  16. Series VIII: Writings, 1948, 1980-2007
  17. Subseries 1: Waskow, Arthur, 1990-2005
  18. Subseries 2: Other Authors, 1848, 1980s-2007
  19. Series IX: Various, 1980s-2004
  20. Addenda 2: Freedom Seder, 1969-1976
  21. Addenda 3, 1970, 1990-2009
  22. Series I: Correspondence, 1990-2009
  23. Series II: Printed Materials, 1970, 1990-2009
  24. Series III: Various, 1999-2009
  25. Series IV: Writings, 2008-2009
In 2017, the boxes and folders were consolidated to reduce the underfilling of boxes. Record cartons were replaced with manuscript boxes. The addenda series (original boxes 15-30, current box 12, folder 8 through box 43) was processed as follows:

Addenda 1, Series II and Addenda 3, Series I were incorporated into current Series I. Addenda 1: Series IV were incorporated into current Series III. Addenda 1: Series IX and Addenda 3: Series III was incorporated into current Series IV. Series IV were also renamed Series IV: Subject Files. Addenda 1: Series VII, Addenda 1: Series VIII, and Addenda 3: Series IV was incorporated into current Series V. Addenda 2 was renamed Series VI. Addenda 1: Series I was renamed Series VII: Personal. Addenda 1: Series III and Addenda 3: Series II: Printed Materials were incorporated into current Series VIII. Addenda 1: Series V was renamed Series IX: Publishing Efforts. Addenda 1: Series VI was renamed Series X: Shalom Center/ALEPH.

Folders from Addenda 1 and 3 titled "Various" were mostly made up of events and writings by Waskow and others; those folders were arranged, described, and incorporated in the appropriate series. Other folder titles were retained.
Title
Guide to the Arthur Ocean Waskow Papers, 1948-2009 P-152
Status
Completed
Author
Processed by Yakov Illich Sklar with the assistance of Anya Quilitzsch. Additional processing by Nicole Greenhouse in 2017.
Date
© 2017
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

  • March 2017: Boxes and folders were consolidated to reduce underfilling and additional description was added by Nicole Greenhouse.
  • September 2017: dao links for DOD folders and digitization note added by Leanora Lange.
  • April, September 2020: EHyman: 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