Jewish Community Council of Greater Washington records
Collection Scope and Content
This collection consists primarily of papers and printed matter, including meeting minutes, memoranda, correspondence, reports, and press releases. It also contains a number of photographs and a single audio cassette. The material ranges in date from 1937 to 1988, but the bulk of the material ranges from 1965 to 1979.
The Administrative Files series contains documents such as the Constitution and By-Laws of the organization, meeting minutes, and budget reports, which provide a continuous record of the Council from 1938 to 1983. The Committees, Task Forces, and Working Groups series comprises almost half of the total collection, and contains material dealing with the plight of Soviet Jewry, Israel's relationship with countries in the Middle East, and committees formed to address social conditions within the Greater Washington Area. The Other Constituent Organizations series deals with organizations which address many of the same concerns the Council does, and which worked in collaboration with the Council in a number of ways. The Subject Files series covers a wide range of topics ranging from anti-Semitism to the Vietnam War. The Oversized Series contains a small number of materials too large to be kept in their original folders. The series arrangement established by the agency has been maintained, with the exception of moving materials on Isaac Franck from the Subject Files series to the Administrative Files series.
The collection contains significant material on various committees, namely the Executive Committee, the Intergroup Relations Committee, and the Soviet Jewry Committee. It contains less documenting the history of the Council's early years in the late 1930's and 1940's. In addition, with the exception of Isaac Franck, the collection lacks detailed information on the organization's members and presidents.
The Records of the Jewish Community Council of Greater Washington were donated to the Gelman Library in 1986. Additional accessions were accepted in 1988 and 1992, and future accessions are expected. The Jewish Community Council of Greater Washington and individuals whose work forms part of this collection retain literary property rights. The main offices of the Council are currently located in Rockville, Maryland. Previously, they were located in downtown Washington, D.C.
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Historical or Biographical Note
Since 1938, the Jewish Community Council of Greater Washington (now the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington) has served the Jewish community by responding to important issues and speaking out on behalf of the community's concerns. It aims to promote the cultural, social, economic, and philanthropic interests and advance the national and spiritual aspirations of Jewish people.
On March 6, 1938 twenty-five presidents of Jewish organizations in the greater Washington area joined together to consider the formation of a communal council capable of addressing the needs of the Jewish community in an organized and cohesive manner. From this initial meeting evolved the Jewish Community Council of Greater Washington, D.C. (It was known as the Jewish Community Council of Washington until the late 1940's). They created the organization to respond to certain immediate social concerns, including the fate of Jews in Nazi Germany, as well as the specter of rising anti-Semitism in the United States. On 31 January 1939, the group held its first formal meeting and 73 representatives from 39 organizations approved a Constitution and By-Laws.
Rabbi Solomon Metz, Hymen Goldman, and Rabbi Isadore Breslau were among the founders of the Council and served in succession as its first three presidents. Their contributions shaped the Council, along with those of Isaac Franck, who from 1948 to 1973 was its Executive Director and its guiding force.
Born in Russia in 1909, Franck came to America as a teenager and studied at New York University, Columbia University, and Harvard University, eventually earning a Ph.D in philosophy from the University of Maryland in 1966.
When Franck arrived in Washington to take over the Council in 1948, there were approximately 60 Jewish organizations participating. When he retired in 1973, there were over 170. During Franck's time the Council grew dramatically and worked with other organizations and faiths to address a wide range of social and political problems. Among these were issues of civil rights and desegregation, education, assistance to the poor, and Home Rule for the District of Columbia.
After Frank's retirement, in the 1970's and 1980's, the concern for the treatment of Soviet Jews and issues of war and peace in Israel and the Middle East occupied much of the Council's agenda.
46 Linear Feet
Language of Materials
Collection consists primarily of papers and printed matter generated by the Jewish Community Council of Greater Washington, including meeting minutes, memoranda, correspondence, reports, and press releases. It also contains a number of photographs and a single audio cassette. The material ranges in date from 1937 to 1988, but the bulk of the material ranges from 1965 to 1979.
Organized into six series: Administrative files; Committees, task forces, and working groups; Other constituent organizations; Subject files; Oversized material; and Accession 2007.
The Records of the Jewish Community Council of Greater Washington were donated to the Gelman Library in 1986. Additional accessions were accepted in 1988 and 1992, and future accessions are expected.
This finding aid was revised in 2022 to address harmful descriptive language. During that revision staff edited the description in the Collection Scope and Contents, as well as the Scope for Series 2. To see the description prior to revisions, please view the previous version of the Jewish Community Council of Greater Washington records finding aid.
- Antisemitism Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Audiotapes Subject Source: Art & Architecture Thesaurus
- Committees Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Franck, Isaac
- Israel Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Jewish Community Center of Greater Washington
- Jews Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Jews, Soviet Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Middle East Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Photographs Subject Source: Art & Architecture Thesaurus
- Vietnam war Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Washington (D.C.) Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Guide to the Jewish Community Council of Greater Washington records, 1937-1988
- Partially Processed
- Special Collections Research Center, The George Washington University
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note
- Finding aid written in English
Part of the Special Collections Research Center, The George Washington University Repository
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