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Histadruth Ivrith of America, records

 Collection
Identifier: I-365

Scope and Content Note

The following records document the Histadruth Ivrit's early history to the present, representing a significant portion of its work in spreading the Hebrew language in the United States in the second half of the twentieth-century. The records include substantial amount of material regarding the organization's history, administration, public events, publications, and reports.

Some information of the early history of the Histadruth Ivrit can be found in the records kept by the writer Daniel Persky. Persky collected personal and professional records that include correspondence with friends, readers, and writers; a partial collection of the drafts of his own publications, and a collection of photographs and newspaper clippings.

The functions and activities of the Histadruth Ivrit are documented through Board of Trustees and Board meetings agendas and minutes; various programs for events, conventions, conferences, and celebrations; documents related to fundraising; public relations, press releases and brochures; correspondence with different individuals, organizations, and foundations; Histadruth Ivrit's publications among them the newspaper Hadoar and Tov Lichtov; a large collection of photographs, and scrapbooks.

The records of the Histadruth Ivrit represent the large majority of the organization's activities dating from the 1980s to the present. Records for the earlier years of activities are fragmented and incomplete. The records related to the life of Daniel Persky are also partial and copies of many of his publications are missing.

This collection included brochures, correspondence, financial records, flyers, grant applications, invitations, lists, minutes, news clipping, orders, periodicals, photographs, press releases, reports, and scrapbooks.

The collection has been organized into a set of series. These series are arranged as follows: Series I: Daniel Persky; Series II: Subject Files; Series III: Publications; Series IV: Photographs; and Series V: Scrapbooks.

Dates

  • undated, 1900-2005

Creator

Language of Materials

The collection is predominantly in English, with Hebrew, German, Spanish, and Yiddish.

Access Restrictions

The collection is open to all researchers by permission of the Executive Director of the American Jewish Historical Society, except items that are restricted due to their fragility.

Use Restrictions

Information concerning the literary rights may be obtained from the Executive Director of the American Jewish Historical Society. Users must apply in writing for permission to quote, reproduce or otherwise publish manuscript materials found in this collection. For more information contact:

American Jewish Historical Society, Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, New York, NY, 10011

email: info@ajhs.org

Historical Note

The Histadruth Ivrit of America was founded during World War I in the year 1916. Its goal was to promote the Hebrew language and culture and to popularize spoken Hebrew and "Ulpanim" (language centers/studios) for the study of modern Hebrew. The organization's aim was to provide a formal structure through which North American Jewry could revive the Hebrew language and move towards developing its own indigenous culture definition. The Histadruth Ivrit was fed by the growing dynamics of renewal and cultural reawakening associated with Zionism in general and the establishment of Israel in particular. Hebrew-speaking societies existed in American since 1880. But it was not until Lag Ba'Omer of 1916 that the various groups were brought under one banner of the Histadruth Ivrit. Impetus to the strengthening of its organizational structure was given by the convening of a "Hebrew Day" at the Zionist conference held in Philadelphia during July 2-5, 1916 with the participation of Dr. Shmarya Levin, David Ben-Gurion and others. The founders of the organization viewed the deployment of Jewish culture through Hebrew language as the most vital and significant mean of maintaining the cohesion of the Jewish people and fostering Jewish identity. The hope was that the Hebrew language could serve as a rallying point around which Jews of diverse opinions and personal and political commitments could nevertheless unite.

In 1917 Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, father of modern Hebrew, attended the historical first annual conference in New York where, joined by prominent Jewish leaders including David Ben-Gurion and Itzhak Ben-Zvi, he helped further the cause for the Hebrew Movement in America. The founders set out to develop extensive programs to encourage the strengthening of Hebrew education, the speaking of Hebrew, and the publication of literary works in Hebrew. As part of this goal by 1922, a Hebrew language newspaper, established as a daily the previous year, began to appear weekly and has been published without interruption until the recent present by the Histadruth Ivrit under the name Hadoar ("The Post"). Hadoar has constantly provided a forum for Hebrew writers in America and all over the world, yet mostly dealt with topics relevant to Jewish life in America. To stimulate interest in younger readers Hadoar Lanoar ("The Post for the Young") was created in 1934. This illustrated bi-weekly supplemented to Hadoar contained vowels and was the forerunner of the popular Lamishpaha ("For the Family"). Lamishpaha was founded in 1963 as an informative monthly magazine directed to young and adult readers who were working towards fluency in Hebrew.

Over the years, the Histadruth Ivrit provided a variety of channels for spreading Hebrew. Among the most important publications was Sefer Hashanah Le-Yehude Amerika ("The Yearbook for the Jews of America"); a large format yearbook that served as a showcase for literary and scholarly work. This annual publication, produced over a decade, featured a section on all aspects of Jewish religious and social life in America.

In 1926, Histadruth Ivrit established Ogen (anchor), its own publishing house where over 60 volumes of belles-lettres and research were produced, all of which reflected the contributions of American Hebrew writers in diverse fields. Of special note is the Anthology of Hebrew Poetry in America (1938), which represented the creative efforts of American Hebrew poets beginning with the immigration period down to modern times.

The early thirties saw an awakening of Hebrew culture amongst American youth leading to the creation of dance groups, choral groups, and a theater group named Pargod. As result, the Hebrew Arts Foundation was established leading in 1952 to the foundation of the Hebrew Arts School. This revival moment was formalized into the Histadruth Hanoar Haivri in 1936; an organization that eventually became a department of the Histadruth Ivrit running its parallel independent meetings. Since 1941 the Histadruth Ivrit promoted the Massad Camps in which Hebraic culture was celebrated; an experience that profoundly influenced thousands of individuals1. Furthermore, the Histadruth Ivrit had worked to popularize spoken Hebrew and pioneered in "Ulpanim" for the study of the modern Hebrew. In the last two decades of the twentieth century the Histadruth Ivrit continued to sponsor activities and events to American Jews of all ages including Jewish Month2; Hebrew Week; Hebrew Sabbath; Ulpanim; academic conferences; Hebrew clubs; collegiate activities; cultural programs, and the publication of Hadoar and Lamishpacha3. Since 1986 it had produced the "Tov Lichtov" (It is Fun to Write) project, working with dozens of schools throughout the United States, Canada, and South America whose students were sending written works in Hebrew. Complied annually, it was a collection of creative writing in Hebrew by American schoolchildren4. In the 1990s, Histadrith Ivrit of America began having financial difficulties. An attempt to affiliate with the Hebrew College in Newton Centre, MA, failed after one year, and in 2005, Histadruth Ivrith ceased all operations. Its closing marked a suspension of efforts to reinforce and develop the connection of the American Jewish Community with the language of its heritage and culture5.

Footnotes

  1. 1 See the brochures Shlomo Shulsinger, Hebrew Camping in the United States and Hebrew Education thought Camping (undated); Massad Camps: Aleph and Beth; This is the Massad Story, Box 8, Folder 16.
  2. 2 See Box 13, Folder 5.
  3. 3 The information outlined in the Historical Note is directly taken from "Histadruth Ivrit: Past and Present," in Histadruth Ivrith of America: Anniversary Concert and Reception Brochure (New York, December 15, 1986), Box 7, Folder 17; David Mirsky, The Histadruth Ivrith of America (undated), and National Task Force on Hebrew (1991), Box 15, Folder 4.
  4. 4 See Histadruth Ivrit of America (undated, circa 1990), Box 15, Folder 3; Histadruth Ivrith: Past and Present (undated, circa 1990), Box 15, Folder 4.
  5. 5 Letter by Aviva Barzel (March 12, 1990), Box 8, Folder 16.

Extent

28.3 Linear Feet (39 manuscript boxes and 5 oversized boxes)

Abstract

The records document the Histadruth Ivrit's early history to the present, representing a significant portion of its work in spreading the Hebrew language in the United States in the second half of the twentieth-century. The records include substantial amount of material regarding the organization's history, administration, public events, publications, and reports. Some information of the early history of the Histadruth Ivrit could be found in the records kept by the writer Daniel Persky. Persky collected personal and professional records that include correspondence with friends, readers, and writers; a partial collection of the drafts of his own publications, and a collection of photographs and newspaper clippings. The functions and activities of the Histadruth Ivrit are documented through Board of Trustees and Board meetings agendas and minutes; various programs for events, conventions, conferences, and celebrations; documents related to fundraising; public relations, press releases and brochures; correspondence with different individuals, organizations, and foundations; Histadruth Ivrit's publications among them the newspaper Hadoar and Tov Lichtov; a large collection of photographs, and scrapbooks. The records of the Histadruth Ivrit represent the large majority of the organization's activities dating from the 1980s to the present. Records for the earlier years of activities are fragmented and incomplete. The records related to the life of Daniel Persky are also partial and copies of many of his publications are missing. This collection included brochures, correspondence, financial records, flyers, grant applications, invitations, lists, minutes, news clipping, orders, periodicals, photographs, press releases, reports, and scrapbooks.

Acquisition Information

Donated by previous President, Moshe Margolin, in 2001.
Title
Guide to the Records of Histadruth Ivrith of America, undated, 1900-2005   *I-365
Status
In Progress
Author
Processed by Marvin Rusinek and Michal Shapira
Date
© 2008
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Language of description note
Description is in English.

Repository Details

Part of the American Jewish Historical Society Repository

Contact:
15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States