Howard Lenhoff Papers
Scope and Content Note
The collection chronicles Lenhoff’s participation in AAEJ; his relationships with other activists and organizations; Israeli government officials’ responses to AAEJ pressure; requests for help and stories of trauma from the Ethiopian Jews; the range of publicity AAEJ authored and disseminated; and American Jewish press coverage of the struggles of Ethiopian Jewry. The three individuals aside from Lenhoff most represented in the collection are Graenum Berger (Series I-II, IV, VI), Rahamim Elazar (Series II-IV, VI, VIII) and Nate Shapiro (Series I-II, IV-VI).
Little in the collection pertains substantially to Lenhoff’s personal life or many other endeavors outside of AAEJ, excepting in Series I one folder of correspondence between him, his wife Sylvia and daughter Gloria, and in Series II the “University of California Irvine” folder and biographical materials under his and his wife’s name.
Lenhoff used his papers during the writing of his 2007 book, and throughout the collection, the notes he took in the early to mid-2000s are likely related to preparation of the book. Dates of photocopies in the collection correspond to the known or estimated date of the creation of the photocopy, not to the date of the original item that was photocopied. The original dates of the material he photocopied go as far back as 1851. Many of the Hebrew and Amharic items in the collection are accompanied by English translations.
- Majority of material found within 1974 - 2006
- Lenhoff, Howard M. (Person)
For reference questions, please email: email@example.com
Howard Lenhoff’s interest in Ethiopian Jews began in Israel in the spring of 1974, when he met Rahamim Elazar, an Ethiopian Jewish student who had recently immigrated to Israel. Following that meeting, Lenhoff became active in the American Association for American Jews, which was also incorporated that same year as a non-profit merger of the former American Pro-Falasha Committee and the Friends of Beta-Israel (Falasha) Community in Ethiopia. Lenhoff served as western regional director and national vice president while Graenum Berger was president. Lenhoff was then elected president in September 1978 and held the position until his resignation in July 1982.
During his four-year tenure as president, AAEJ’s membership and reach grew, and its budget and operations were professionalized and streamlined. It was also during this time when AAEJ began executing missions to bring Ethiopian Jews to Israel, and by July 1982, the organization had carried out three such missions. AAEJ also placed great pressure on Israel and on American Jewish organizations to act on behalf of the Jews in Ethiopia and the Ethiopian Jewish refugees in Sudan. Lenhoff generated extensive publicity around his cause and brought American Jewish attention to the Ethiopian Jews. Also during his tenure, AAEJ started up a program in Israel to assist Ethiopian Jewish refugees with housing, educational and medical needs.
Following his presidency and the entrance of Nate Shapiro as president, Lenhoff continued on in leadership roles in AAEJ for a few years, heavily engaged in publicity and writing up until about 1987. By the early 2000s he was working in earnest on his book, Black Jews, Jews and Other Heroes: How Grassroots Activism Led to the Rescue of the Ethiopian Jews (2007), an autobiographical account of his activities with AAEJ. Lenhoff died on July 12, 2011.
41.6 Linear Feet (82 manuscript boxes, 1 card file box, 1 MAP-1 folder)
Language of Materials
- Series I: Correspondence, 1966-2006
- Subseries 1: General Correspondence, 1973-2006
- Subseries 2: Correspondence from Ethiopian Jews, 1966-2001
- Series II: Subjects, 1947-2006
- Series III: Writings, 1970-2007
- Series IV: Notes, 1972-2005
- Series V: Board and Administrative, 1969-2002
- Series VI: Clippings, 1958-2006
- Series VII: Audio, 1973-1987
- Series VIII: Photographs, 1973-1987
In 2017-2018, archival material from the Howard Lenhoff Papers was selected by the Friends of Ethiopian Jews and folder-level digitization has been made possible through a generous grant from Howard and Sylvia Lenhoff.
The following Amharic language learning materials were removed from the collection and placed in the AJHS Library: Amharic Basic Course Units 1-50, Foreign Service Institute, Department of State, Washington, D.C., 1964; Amharic Basic Course Units 51-60, Foreign Service Institute, Department of State, Washington, D.C., 1964; An Amharic Conversation Book by Wolf Leslau [photocopy], 1965; An Amharic Dictionary, Amharic-English, English-Amharic, compiled by Wolf Leslau for the Peace Corps Training Program for Ethiopia [photocopy - 2 copies], 1965; Hebrew-Amharic – Amharic-Hebrew Dictionary, compiled by Itzhak Bodinger [photocopy], 1967; Hebrew Cognates in Amharic by Wolf Leslau [photocopy], 1969.
- American Association for Ethiopian Jews
- Berger, Graenum
- Clippings (information artifacts)
- Drafts (documents)
- Elʻazar, Raḥamim
- Ethiopia -- Ethnic relations
- Greenfield, Murray S.
- Israel -- Emigration and immigration
- Israel -- Ethnic relations
- Jews, Ethiopian -- Israel
- Lenhoff, Howard M.
- Notes (documents)
- Shapiro, Nate, 1936-
- Speeches (documents)
- Tartakower, Aryeh, 1897-1982
- Guide to the Howard Lenhoff (1929-2011) Papers, 1947-2007 P-902
- Arranged by Marvin Rusinek, with assistance from Josh Warhit. Description and further arrangement by Rachel Miller.
- © 2010
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note
- Description is in English.
- Processed with the financial contributions of Howard Lenhoff and as part of the Leon Levy Archival Processing Initiative, made possible by the Leon Levy Foundation.
- 2012: Added dao links by Eric Fritzler.
- 2015-11-25: Updated with AVC box number for audiovisual materials by Kevin Schlottmann.
- January 2016: Corrected dao links and errors by Eric Fritzler.
- November 2020: RJohnstone: post-ASpace migration cleanup.