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Center for Jewish History


CENTER FOR JEWISH HISTORY , consortium established in New York in 2000 of five American Jewish research and cultural institutions, each of them a leading repository for documentation on a major geographic area and cultural period in the history of the Jewish people: (1) the *yivo Institute for Jewish Research, whose library and archive are recognized internationally for their vast and varied collections relating to East European and Yiddish-speaking Jewry, (2) the *Leo Baeck Institute, the preeminent source of documentation on German Jewry, (3) the *American Jewish Historical Society, the oldest ethnic historical society in the United States, focusing on the American Jewish experience, (4) the *American Sephardi Federation, concentrating on the study of Sephardi and Oriental Jewry worldwide, and (5) the *Yeshiva University Museum, which mounts educational exhibitions promoting the unity of the Jewish experience.

Through the cohabitation of these five institutions in a single building (the realization of a visionary plan by its founder and chairman Bruce Slovin), the Center has unique resources for the study, research, and contemplation of Jewish history and culture. Uniting the various factions of contemporary Jewish life, the Center also serves to effectively challenge the forces of divisiveness within the Jewish community. Its combined collections constitute a trove of more than 100 million archival documents, 500,000 books, and thousands of pieces of artwork, textiles, and ritual objects which together represent the largest repository of Jewish archival materials on a single site outside of Israel. By virtue of its broad range and the magnitude of its combined holdings, the Center has been accurately described as the "Library of Congress of the Jewish Diaspora."

Staffed by librarians, archivists, and academics, including subject and language specialists in various areas of Jewish culture, the Center for Jewish History and its constituent research institutes have served researchers from over 50 countries. The Center also provides annual research fellowships to advanced students and scholars from universities in America, Europe, and Israel. Aside from assisting researchers in situ, the Center's online catalogues, guides, and digitized collections mounted on the Internet provide scholars and students around the world with easy access to books, documents, and images. A number of the Center's collections of books, newspapers, archival documents, and photograps have been filmed, microfiched, or digitized. State-of-the-art temperature- and humidity-controlled storage facilities are complemented by preservation work carried out in an on-site laboratory.

Located in the Manhattan neighborhood of Chelsea, near historic Union Square, the Center is also a lively forum for Jewish and artistic life in New York City. Its educational public programming includes films on a variety of Jewish themes, lectures by prominent Jewish writers and academics, conferences and colloquia in every area of Jewish studies, and concerts. The Center's kaleidoscope of exhibitions in various galleries, visited by school groups as well as the interested public, presents unusual aspects and hidden facets of Judaic culture that are left unexplored by other institutions.

Serving both the academic community and the general public, the Center for Jewish History functions as both a research institute and a focal point of intellectual and cultural life. By ensuring the physical survival of the documents of Jewish history, and at the same time stimulating public interest in every element of the Jewish experience, this consortium of institutions promotes a broad understanding and appreciation of Jewish history and civilization.


[Brad Sabin Hill (2nd ed.)]

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