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Jews for Urban Justice (Washington, D.C.) records

Identifier: I-159

Scope and Content Note

This collection contains the records of the Jews for Urban Justice, documenting their activities in Washington, D.C. from 1967-1971. The collection is mostly made up of articles and summaries of their campaigns and administrative history. The organization was involved in urban desegregation, urban renewal, demonstrations against war and Anti-Semitism, Jewish discussion series, and the politicization of religious rites. JUJ also organized in solidarity with the Chicago Seven, African-Americans, veterans, farm workers, and Soviet Jewry. Other materials in the collection include meeting minutes, newsletters, leaflets, program materials, calendars, correspondence, press clippings, press releases, reports, flyers, and membership materials.


  • 1967-1971


Language of Materials

The collection is in English.

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:

Historical Note

Jews for Urban Justice (JUJ) was founed in the summer of 1966 in response to the refusal of Rabbi Norman Gerstenfeld of the Washington Hebrew Congregation to take a stand against discriminatory housing practices of Allie Freed, a landlord who was also a member of the congregation.

To fight these practices, eight Jewish members of ACCESS (Action Coordinating Committee to End Segregation in the Suburbs) leafleted in front of the synagogue on Yom Kippur in 1966 and 1967. Their activities led to a letter condemning them for protesting on Yom Kippur, from Jason R. Silverman of the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith.

The letter demonstrated to the activists that there was a need for an official organization, leading to the formal establishment of JUJ in late 1967. The JUJ’s first major activity was the release of its study, “A Report on Social Action and the Jewish Community” in 1968, which found that Washington, D.C. area Jewish clergy and organizations were not sufficiently concerned with problems of social justice and intolerance found in the Jewish community at large.

JUJ's campaigns were organized in accordance with the results of the study. JUJ was involved in the Poor People’s Campaign, marched in the Mothers Day Welfare Rights March, publicized the sale of a local Jewish Community Center to the highest bidder, sponsored the Freedom Seder, and most notably, were involved in the National Grape Boycott.

In solidarity with the United Farm Workers strike, JUJ urged synagogues and rabbis in the D.C. area to not use California grapes in their sukkahs. By February 1969, JUJ had successfully pressured Joseph Danzansky to stop carrying California grapes in Giant Food store chain.

The activities of the JUJ came to a close by 1971.


.5 Linear Feet (1 manuscript box)


Jews for Urban Justice was founded in Washington, D.C., 1966, to combat social problems directly connected with Jews. The collection includes organizational materials, minutes of meetings, newsletters, program materials, correspondence, and press clippings. Also included is material regarding a proposed history of the organization by Harold Goldberg.


The collection is arranged alphabetically.

Physical Location

Located in AJHS New York, NY

Separated Material

The newsletter of the JUJ, Jewish Urban Guerilla, was separated into Collection I-61: Jewish Student Organizations Collection (I-61).

Processing Information

In 2016, materials were refoldered, top-level description was added, and a container list was created. Original folder titles were retained.

Guide to the Jews for Urban Justice (Washington, D.C.) Records, 1967-1971 I-159
Processed by Nicole Greenhouse
© 2016
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Revision Statements

  • December 2016: Container list and top-level description was added to the finding aid.
  • April 2021: EHyman: post-ASpace migration cleanup.

Repository Details

Part of the American Jewish Historical Society Repository

15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States