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Records of the Sephardic Jewish Brotherhood of America

 Collection
Identifier: ASF AR-33

Scope and Content Note

The collection consists of notecards, membership and dues receipts, correspondence, drafts, address stencils, carbon copies, photocopies, membership booklets, membership and scholarship applications (complete and incomplete), photos, receipts, gravestone drawings, grave rubbing, wills, newspaper clippings, court documents, a sound reel, a photoplate of the 1966 administrative committee, telegrams, passports, ketubahs, conversion certificates, death certificates, form letters, handwritten notes, bank statements, balance sheets, vouchers, letters of recommendation and academic progress, matching gift forms, committee and board meeting minutes, shareholder and stock information, deposit slips, academic transcripts, thank-you letters, acknowledgment letters, programs, invitations, Sephardic Brother newsletters, and letters to contributors and donors.

Much of the collection is made up of information about membership, burial, monument and sick benefits, academic scholarships given by the Brotherhood, financial assistance provided to needy members, and community events in the greater New York area and in Miami after a branch was established there in 1950. There is also some information about gravestones, funeral expenses, medical services, immigration and naturalization, marriages, conversions, social welfare, divorces, and other legal issues. Many of the earlier death records contain information about the members and their wives, which is reflected in folder dates that end several years after the date of the primary member’s death.

The materials in this collection date from 1913-2004 with the bulk dating from 1932-2001. The dates of the subseries for Series I and Series II refer to the dates of death and resignation or expulsion, rather than the dates of the materials in the folders. For example, Series I, subseries 1 is Deaths 1918-1969, but the materials date from 1913-1988. Victor Besso’s records only go until 1995 although he did not die until 2006, which is why the death dates go through 2006 although the dates of the materials only go through 2004.

The majority of the collection is in English, although various official documents are in Spanish, Ladino, French, Greek, Italian, and Hebrew. The collection consists of 81 Paige boxes comprising 81 linear feet.

Dates

  • 1913-2004
  • Majority of material found within 1940-2000

Creator

Language of Materials

The collection is in English, Spanish, Greek, French, Italian, Ladino, and Hebrew.

Access Restrictions

Open to researchers.

Use Restrictions

There may be some restrictions on the use of the collection. For more information, contact:

American Sephardi Federation, Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, New York, NY 10011

email: ASFinquiries@cjh.org

Historical Note

The Sephardic Jewish Brotherhood of America began as the Salonican Brotherhood of America, Inc. which was founded in Manhattan in 1915 as a society to help Sephardic immigrants from Salonica become accustomed to life in the United States, as well as to have a place of Sephardic worship and community. It was incorporated on April 3, 1916. Over the years, the Salonican Brotherhood merged with various other Sephardic groups, including the American Sephardic Alliance, Affika Yehuda, Chain of Life Association of Constantinople, Brotherhood of Rhodes, Centro Judio Sephardi, Inc., Brotherhood of Adrianople, and the United Sephardim of New York. A New Jersey branch was established in New Brunswick in 1917, partially in response to members' employment in New Jersey's war industries during World War I. A mass immigration from Salonica in the years 1919-1921 helped to swell the organization's membership. By 1921, the Salonican Brotherhood’s leadership recognized that its focus and membership had moved beyond its roots as a society concerned with the interests of immigrants solely from Salonica. Subsequently, the society changed its name to the Sephardic Jewish Brotherhood of America, Inc. on December 10, 1921.

The Brotherhood’s original stated purpose was “to promote the industrial, social, educational and religious welfare of its members and to engage in philanthropic endeavors for the welfare of Sephardic immigrants.” Two branches, one in Harlem and one on the Lower East Side, were established in 1922, as was a Secret Relief Fund to assist needy families, and funds were raised to help the Jewish community of Salonica. By 1933, there were four branches, Downtown and Brooklyn, Long Island and Manhattan, New Brunswick, New Jersey, and the Bronx and Washington Heights. A scholarship committee was set up in 1934 which continues to give out monetary awards.

By 1933, members were steadily leaving Harlem and so, in 1935, the Brotherhood moved its offices to the Bronx in order to remain closer to its members. Between 1938 and 1940, the Bronx Social Club and the Bronx Ladies Auxiliary were established. In 1939, the Secret Relief Fund was renamed the Henry J. Perahia Funds for the Needy in honor of the man who had provided so much of the money to help out needy members during the Depression. In 1941, the Brotherhood needed more space and so it moved into new headquarters at 1380 Jerome Avenue, Bronx. This move allowed the Synagogue, the Junior League, which was established in 1935, the Bronx Social Club, and the Brotherhood to have separate accommodations under the same roof. The same year, the Sephardic Jewish Brotherhood was a founding member, along with several other Sephardic organizations, of the Central Jewish Community of America, Inc., an institution intended to serve as a link with the world Jewish community and to promote Sephardic unity.

After World War II, the Brotherhood organized a Jewish War Veterans Post, the Brotherhood Memorial Post Number 454. On August 26, 1946, the American Sephardic Alliance, Inc., itself the result of several mergers between Sephardic organizations, merged with the Brotherhood, further unifying the American Sephardic community. The following year, on April 3, 1947, the Brotherhood merged with the Centro Judio Sephardi, Inc (the Sephardic Jewish Center, Inc.) to form the Sephardic Jewish Brotherhood of America, Inc.

More members began retiring to the greater Miami area in the years after World War II and some of these members helped to establish a benevolent society known as the Sephardic Jewish Brotherhood of Greater Miami. The leaders of the Sephardic Jewish Brotherhood of Greater Miami requested to become part of the Brotherhood and, on April 20, 1950, the Florida branch was established, with its own cemetery plot. In 1949-1950, fundraising efforts began for a nursing home for Sephardim, the Sephardic Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, also known as the Sephardic Home for the Aged, which opened in 1957. Although the Brotherhood is affiliated with the Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, the Center has always been an autonomous organization.

After a fire destroyed the headquarters at Jerome Avenue in late 1952, the Brotherhood temporarily moved into the Sephardic Jewish Center of the Bronx, Inc. Later the Brotherhood moved into property bought from the Sephardic Jewish Center at East 169th Street, Bronx, where ground was broken for a new community center in 1955. In 1956, the Brotherhood's official publication, The Sephardic Brother, was launched to help keep members informed of the Brotherhood's activities. The Brotherhood moved to Rego Park, Queens in 1977-1978 and later moved to Forest Hills, Queens. Today there are branches in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Florida offering death and monument benefits, scholarships and funds for the needy.

Extent

81 Linear Feet

Overview

This collection contains the institutional records of the Sephardic Jewish Brotherhood of America, a fraternal organization founded in New York in 1921 to serve and unify the American Sephardic Jewish community. These records primarily pertain to issues of membership, including mortuary and sick benefits, scholarships and access to charitable funds, as well as information about community receptions and various other cultural activities.

Arrangement

At the time of accession, the materials were arranged into five series with the death and resignation records organized into subseries by date of death or resignation. The boxes containing the death and resignation records were originally arranged in loose alphabetical order, with all of the records for each letter or group of letters in the same box although the folders were not alphabetical within the boxes. These records have been alphabetized within each subseries. When there is more than one person with the same name, the folders are listed chronologically by date of death or expulsion. The boxes containing records of applicants for scholarships were originally arranged in rough chronological order. These records have been arranged alphabetically by date. The materials about the Perahia Fund for the Needy have been divided into two subseries, Administrative Information and Recipients’ Records, and have been alphabetized within each subseries. The Sephardic Brother newsletters have been arranged chronologically.

Many of the family names in these records have multiple spellings, sometimes even within a single folder. Members with similar names, such as Moche, Mosche and Moshe, may or may not be from the same family. Some names have been changed on the folders, often making the names conform to each other more closely and these changed names are the folder titles used. Folders are listed according to the name and date written on the folder, which is not always the same as all of the documents within that folder, both in terms of name and date of death. Members who changed their names are listed according to their newest name and previous names are written in parentheses. Similarly, if the date of death is somewhat unclear, alternate dates are also in parentheses. For many of the resignation and expulsion records, the date of expulsion is not known. In these cases, the date of the last dated document is listed. Folders are arranged in chronological and alphabetical order.
  1. Series I: Death Records (materials: 1913-2004)
  2. Subseries 1: 1918-1969 (materials: 1913-1988)
  3. Subseries 2: 1970-1989 (materials: 1921-1993)
  4. Subseries 3: 1990-2006 (materials: 1929-2004)
  1. Series II: Resignations, Transfers and Expulsions (materials: 1935-2004)
  2. Subseries 1: Seniors, 1946-1996 (materials: 1935-1997)
  3. Subseries 2: Juniors, 1959-1992 (materials: 1955-1994)
  4. Subseries 3: Recent, 1993-2003 (materials: 1943-2004)
  1. Series III: Scholarships (1956-1999)
  2. Subseries 1: Administrative Information (1956-1999)
  3. Subseries 2: Applicants Records (1971-1999)
  1. Series IV: Henry J. Perahia Funds for the Needy (1965-2002)
  2. Subseries 1: Administrative Information (1965-1993)
  3. Subseries 2: Recipients Records (1979-2002)
  1. Series V: Sephardic Brother Newsletter (1960-1976)

Acquisition Information

The collection was transferred by Bernard Ouziel, President of the Sephardic Jewish Brotherhood to the American Sephardi Federation between May 27, 2005 and July 7, 2005.

Related Material

The American Sephardi Federation has CDs containing these records as well as the booklet put out by the Brotherhood for its 50th anniversary, entitled Golden Anniversary. In addition, ASF has several sound recordings of lectures and speeches made to the Brotherhood in its Henry V. Besso Collection. Henry V. Besso was a member of the Sephardic Jewish Brotherhood, and among his collection, there is some information about his activities there. ASF also holds the Records of the Central Sephardic Jewish Community of America, which has an online finding aid.

Separated Material

A sound reel of an event honoring Hyman Nadjari and a photoplate of the 1966 administrative committee have been removed for proper storage.
Title
Guide to the Records of the Sephardic Jewish Brotherhood of America 1913-2004 ASF AR-33
Status
In Progress
Author
Processed by Rachel S. Harrison and Tamar Zeffren as part of the Leon Levy Archival Processing Initiative, made possible by the Leon Levy Foundation.
Date
©2009
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Language of description note
Description is in English.

Repository Details

Part of the American Sephardi Federation Repository

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