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John Steinbruck Papers

 Collection — Container: Consolidated Box P27, Folder: P-951
Identifier: P-951

Scope and Content Note

The collection contains materials reflecting the work of the Lutheran minister John Frederick Steinbruck on behalf of Soviet Jewry. The materials include news clippings, correspondence, photographs, pamphlets and a memoir manuscript.

The collection consists of one folder.


  • Creation: undated, 1976-1978, 1980, 1984-1985, 1990, 2008


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

The Papers of John Steinbruck 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 Movement 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.

Reverend John Frederick Steinbruck served for 28 years as the senior Pastor of Luther Place Memorial Church (Memorial Evangelical Lutheran Church) in Washington, D.C. and became well known for his work confronting the effects of racism, discrimination, homelessness, economic inequality, and other injustices of American society. A firm believer in interfaith solidarity, in 1968 he co-founded a Protestant-Jewish-Catholic interfaith coalition "ProJeCt of Easton," to cooperate in solving social problems of each community. The coalition marked the beginning of Rev. Steinbruck's life-long partnership with the Jewish community and involvement in the Jewish causes, including that of the Soviet Jewry. From 1970 until 1990 Rev. Steinbruck and his congregants participated in the Soviet Jewry Vigil, a daily demonstration across the street from the Soviet embassy in Washington, D.C., protesting the treatment of Soviet Jews. In the 1970s, at the initiative of Rev. Steinbruck, the Luther Place Memorial Church adopted several Soviet Jewish Prisoners of Conscience and managed to attract enough attention to the injust and inhumane imprisonments enough to result in the early release of one of the prisoners and the improved conditions for the others. In the 1980s Rev. Steinbruck was repeatedly arrested for protesting the plight of Soviet Jews in front of the the Soviet Embassy in Washington D.C. One of the arrests resulted in a 15-day suspended jail term. On two occasions, in 1980 and in 1985, Pastor Steinbruck visited Refuseniks in various regions of the Former Soviet Union. During his first visit he was detained upon arrival in the Moscow airport and later harrassed by the KGB for attempting to deliver materials on Judaism and Hebrew and other gifts to the Refuseniks trapped in the USSR. For his efforts on behalf of Soviet Jews and his work to unite Jewish and Christian communities Reverend Steibruck received a string of leadership awards from Jewish organizations such as Washington Jewish Week, B'nai B'rith, Hadassah, American Jewish Committee and the Washington Board of Rabbis.

Rev. Dr. John Steinbruck died on March 1, 2015 at an assisted living facility in Lewes, Del.


1 Folders

Language of Materials



The papers of Reverend John Frederick Steinbruck, an ordained Lutheran minister and humanitarian activist, reflect his involvement in the American Soviet Jewry movement. The materials include news clippings, correspondence, photographs, pamphlets and a brief manuscript of memoirs.


The collection is arranged into a single series.

Physical Location

Collection is located in Consolidated Box P27.

Acquisition Information

Donated by John Steinbruck in 2008.

Related Material

The Papers of John Steinbruck 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 Jewish Defense League (I-374), the Union of Councils for Soviet Jews (I-410, I-410A), Houston Action for Soviet Jewry (I-500), Bay Area Council for Soviet Jews (I-505), Seattle Action for Soviet Jewry (I-507), The Jewish Chronicle Soviet Jewry Collection (I-523), B'nai B'rith Klutznick National Jewish Museum Soviet Jewry Movement Collection (I-529), Chicago Action for Soviet Jewry (I-530), 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), Leah Lieberman (P-869), 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), Margery Sanford (P-889), Pinchas Mordechai Teitz (P-891), David Waksberg (P-895), Pamela B. Cohen (P-897), Moshe Decter (P-899), William Korey (P-903), Morey Schapira (P-906), Charlotte Gerper Turner (P-907), Myrtle Sitowitz (P-908), Kathleen M. Hyman (P-911), Babette Wampold (P-912), Rabbi David Goldstein and Shannie Goldstein (P-918), Leslie Schaffer (P-923), Arthur Bernstein (P-925), Dolores Wilkenfeld (P-927), Sylvia Weinberg (P-928) , Irwin H. Krasna (P-934) , Constance S. Kreshtool (P-935), Grace Perlbinder (P-942) and Mort Yadin (P-943), Ann Polunsky (P-886), Lillian Foreman (P-945) and Marilyn Labendz (P-946).

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).

Guide to the John Steinbruck (1930-2015) Papers, undated, 1976-1978, 1980, 1984-1985, 1990, 2008 P-951
Processed by Andrey Filimonov
© 2012
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

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New York NY 10011 United States