HUC’s American Jewish Archives to house JFNA’s multi-million Document Collection

The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives (AJA) at the Cincinnati campus of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR), has announced that the AJA has been awarded a $500,000 matching grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to construct a new four-story archival facility adjacent to its current 52,000 square foot Marcus Repository Building to house The Jewish Federations of North America’s (JFNA) multi-million document collection. The collection includes historic documents from JFNA’s predecessors: The United Jewish Appeal and the Council of Jewish Federations.

The collections comprise 8,000 archival boxes, and approximately 6500 linear feet of documents and related materials.

The AJA’s award is among the NEH’s $30.9 million in grants for 188 humanities projects nationwide.

Andrew Rehfeld, Ph.D., President of HUC-JIR, says that the significance of the JFNA collection is difficult to overstate – as is the collection’s value to the understanding of how the activities of Federated communities helped shape American Jewish experience and culture. “Jewish Federations sustained the institutional structures required to build strong Jewish communities – where individuals could live with dignity, meaning and purpose, and where Judaism in all of its variety was part of a life well lived.  The model of communal collective responsibility begun in the late 19th century would become the model of the United Way in the United States. These papers tell the story of our people’s confrontation with modernity in North America: from our immigrant roots, to our connection with world Jewry throughout the urgent existential crises of the 20th Century. These priceless records will uncover new insights into the evolution of American Jewish communal life.”  

Once JFNA’s collection comes to the American Jewish Archives, Cincinnati will be the home of the world’s largest cataloged collection of documentary evidence on the history of American Jewry. HUC-JIR and the AJA are currently engaged in efforts to match the requested NEH Challenge Grant ($500,000) with non-federal funds of $1.5 million.