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Pinchas Mordechai Teitz Papers

 Collection
Identifier: P-891

Scope and Content Note

Papers of Rabbi Pinchas Mordechai Teitz (1908-1995) cover the period from the late 1960s to the early 1980s and document his activities related to Soviet Jews. The collection contains correspondence, related to Soviet Jews, documentation of Rabbi Teitz’ trips to the USSR, his articles on Soviet Jews, the Russian-Hebrew religious books published for Russian-speaking Jews by the enterprise MOHIR (established by Teitz) records of shipments of books and religious items to the Soviet Union, a sound recording reflecting the visit of the Chief Rabbi of Moscow to the USA in 1968, and photographs related to Rabbi Teitz Soviet Jewry activities in the USA and the USSR. The documents include articles, correspondence, notes, prayer books, publications, news clippings, a trip report, photographs and a vinyl record.

Dates

  • undated, 1967, 1968, 1970, 1972, 1975, 1977-1982

Creator

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 Pinchas Mordechai Teitz (1908-1995) 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.

Rabbi Pinchas Mordechai Teitz, a descendant of a line of rabbis stretching back twenty generations, was born in Subat, Latvia in 1908 and moved to Elizabeth, New Jersey in 1933. Rabbi Teitz was a prominent religious leader, educator, broadcaster, and a tireless advocate of the Soviet Jewry. Starting in 1964 he made 22 trips to the USSR. Avoiding publicity of his travels and with careful diplomacy Rabbi Teitz was able to secure tacit approval of Soviet authorities for his more obvious activities in protecting Jewish life in the USSR. He was unfairly criticized for his cooperation with the leadership of the oppressive regime by the members of the Western Jewish establishment, who were unaware that many of Rabbi’s activities were done in secret from the Soviet officials, and without their approval. During each of his visits Rabbi Teitz strived to see as many Russian Jews as possible, conducted classes on Torah, arranged secret circumcisions, and gathered information on the Refuseniks that could be useful in helping them to emigrate.

Rabbi Teitz established MOHIR (Mifal Hatzloas Yehudei Russia—“an enterprise for saving Jews of Russia”), which was a publishing house for religious books in Hebrew, with modern Russian translation. Thousands of copies of MOHIR publications were sent to the Soviet Union and given out to Russian Jewish immigrants in the United States. Rabbi Teitz arranged large shipments of religious literature and supplies to the Soviet Jewish communities. He worked on preservation of the historic Jewish cemeteries in the Soviet Union and funded the creation of monuments on the graves of the prominent Jewish scholars and Rabbis, which to this day attract tours of their followers from all over the world.

Rabbi Teitz’s biography, Learn Torah, Love Torah, Live Torah (KTAV, 2001), authored by his daughter Dr. Rivkah Blau, contains a chapter dedicated to his work on behalf of Soviet Jews.

Extent

0.5 Linear Feet (1 manuscript box, 1 double LP in shared phono box)

Language of Materials

English

Russian

Hebrew

Abstract

Papers of Rabbi Pinchas Mordechai Teitz (1908-1995) cover the period from the late 1960s to the early 1980s and document his activities related to Soviet Jews. The collection contains correspondence, related to Soviet Jews, documentation of Rabbi Teitz’ trips to the USSR, his articles on Soviet Jews, the Russian-Hebrew religious books published for Russian-speaking Jews by the enterprise MOHIR ( established by Teitz) records of shipments of books and religious items to the Soviet Union, a sound recording reflecting the visit of the Chief Rabbi of Moscow to the USA in 1968, and photographs related to Rabbi Teitz Soviet Jewry activities in the USA and the USSR. The documents include articles, correspondence, notes, prayer books, publications, news clippings, a trip report, photographs and a vinyl record.

Arrangement

The collection is arranged into a single series.

Acquisition Information

Donated by Dr. Rivkah Blau in 2007.

Related Material

The Papers of Pinchas Mordechai Teitz 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), 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), Elaine Pittell (P-873), Sanford A. Gradinger (P-880), Shaul Osadchey (P-882), Leonard S. Cahan (P-883), Doris H. Goldstein (P-887), David H. Hill (P-888) and Margery Sanford (P-889).

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 Pinchas Mordechai Teitz (1908-1995) Papers, undated, 1967-1968, 1970, 1972, 1975, 1977-1982 *P-891
Status
Completed
Author
Processed by Andrey Filimonov
Date
© 2010
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

  • November 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