Jewish Historical Society of Greater Hartford

Jewish Historical Society of Greater Hartford

Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Community Services Building
333 Bloomfield Ave
Hartford, CT, USA

Our Collections

Collection ID: 0008.003.004
Collection ID: 0012.002.008a

Association of Jewish Registered Nurses, 1949-2000s

The Association of Jewish Registered Nurses was founded in November 1949 by three Jewish registered nurses. Their mission is to further their interest in nursing and familiarize themselves with the latest trends in medicine and the newest techniques in nursing procedure. Educational meetings are held and scholarships offered to help Jewish nursing students.
Collection ID: 0007.001.006a
Collection ID: 0008.002.004a
Collection ID: 0009.001.003a
Collection ID: Workmen's Circle
Collection ID: 0010.001.011
Collection ID: 0012.002.008b
Collection ID: 0012.003.016a
Collection ID: 0012.003.016k
Collection ID: 0011.002.008b
Collection ID: 0010.002.002
Collection ID: 0007.001.006b

Farband Labor Zionist Order, 1914-1989

This is a collection of manuscripts and documents related to the Farband Labor Zionist Order 61 of Hartford, CT. It contains journal ledgers, cemetery plot records, meeting programs, constitution and by-laws pamphlets, and other related letters and documents. In 1914, the Zionist cause in Hartford was strengthened through the formation of a Hartford Branch of the Jewish National Labor Alliance, later known as the Farband Labor Zionist Order 61. The charter members were Benjamin Bialeck, Isaac Garber, Abraham Glick, Isaac J. Jacobson, David Resident, Samuel Rosenthal, Davis Soifer and Abraham Weiner. In 1964, the Farband celebrated its fiftieth anniversary.
Collection ID: 0011.003.003b

Mount Sinai Hospital, 1922-2012

In Hartford, as elsewhere in the early part of the 20th Century, Jewish physicians were barred from practicing at most hospitals. This wide spread "gentleman's agreement" kept Jewish doctors out of the network of referrals, and forced them to put their patients on admittance waiting lists until a gentile colleague could take over. This situation created substantial financial hardships for the physicians. Once admitted to Gentile-run hospitals Jewish patients faced language barriers and lack of access to kosher food. Moreover, the wide spread discrimination in the medical profession meant that Jewish interns had difficulty obtaining training. To correct this situation locally, a group of concerned physicians and citizens established an association in 1918 called "The Abraham Jacobi Hospital." Although an option to purchase land for the hospital was obtained from the Keney Estate at the corner of Love Lane and Westland Street, the war delayed progress on the hospital for several years. In 1922, the association changed its name to Mt. Sinai Hospital and purchased the Morgan Brainard mansion at 119 Capitol Avenue. The first hospital facility opened in 1923 with 75 beds. Another problem faced by Jews was the difficulty of getting nurses to visit Jewish patients. In 1925, Mt. Sinai opened a nursing school to address this need. The school closed in 1936. In 1940, Mt. Sinai was able to obtain the former Hebrew Home for Children building on Blue Hills Avenue. It began a campaign to remodel and expand the site, but progress was again delayed by war until 1950. By the mid-1960s, Jewish residents were leaving the North End of Hartford in large numbers and moving to West Hartford and Bloomfield. Most other Jewish institutions followed their constituents, but Mt. Sinai continued to commit itself to its neighborhood and it expanded. This choice, though beneficial for the Hartford community as a whole, was nearly disastrous for the hospital. As the income-per-capita of the surrounding area declined, the percentage of Mt. Sinai's unreimbursed medical care rose dramatically. Though Hartford Hospital and St. Francis Hospital contributed funds to cut the shortfall, Mt. Sinai's financial problems grew more and more severe each year. In the late 1980s, Mt. Sinai started exploring opportunities to merge with another hospital. Mt. Sinai and St. Francis affiliated in 1990 and formally merged, under the name of St. Francis, in 1995. The great strength of the Mt. Sinai collection is the compilation of key documents made by Dr. Isidore S. Geetter for the 50th anniversary of the hospital. These include minutes for the early establishment of Abraham Jacobi Hospital and Mt. Sinai Hospital. Dr. Geetter also preserved annual reports and staff memos from the 1940s, 50s, and 60s that provide a continuous narrative during its major growth and decline cycle. Though compact, this collection offers a substantial amount of vital historical data.
Collection ID: 0009.002.005
Collection ID: 0011.002.008c
Collection ID: M 18

Businesses and Professions, 1920-2004

This collection consists of newspaper clippings, advertisements, and memorabilia documenting the activities of Jewish business people and Jewish professionals (physicians, attorneys, artists, musicians, etc.) throughout the Hartford area.
Collection ID: 0007.002.004

Rabbi Abraham J. Feldman, 1000

Abraham Jehiel Feldman, born in 1893 in Kiev, was one of the leading Reform rabbis in the country. He came to the New York in 1906 and received his ordination in 1918 from Hebrew Union College. He was invited to return to New York where he served for almost two years under Rabbi Stephen S. Wise. Following that, Feldman became the assistant of Joseph Krauskopf for five years at his congregation in Philadelphia. In an oral history recorded in 1974, Rabbi Feldman commented on the influences he received from serving under two extremely prominent rabbis who were so different in approach. From Wise, he learned to use the pulpit as a "completely free forum" to espouse his views without control from the congregation. Under Krauskopf, he learned skills for building and maintaining a congregation. Feldman was selected in 1925 to lead at Beth Israel in Hartford. From his boyhood, Feldman was an ardent Zionist, and he spoke out on the matter from the Beth Israel pulpit to his decidedly non-Zionist congregation. During the next few decades, Feldman was unable to convert many of his congregants to Zionism, but he did neutralize opinion and prevent them from joining anti-Zionist groups. He also played a leading role in changing the general attitude among Reform leaders nationally. Feldman acquired a national reputation as a major leader of Reform Judaism and served on the Board of the Hebrew Union College, the Executive Council of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, and as President of the Central Conference of American Rabbis. He retired in 1968 but continued serving as Rabbi Emeritus until his death in 1977. Rabbi Feldman was also very active in the local secular community. He served as Chaplain to the Connecticut State Guard, the Connecticut State Police, and the Veterans' Hospital. Feldman was involved with various other governmental agencies including the local Selective Service Re-employment Board, the National Recovery Administration in Connecticut, and Department of Defense post-war missions to the Pacific Rim. He was active in inter-faith activities that included the Connecticut Advisory Committee of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, lectures at the Hartford Seminary, and the founding of the Hartford Inter-Faith Committee. Rabbi Feldman was a prolific writer of numerous books and articles. He also co-founded the Jewish Ledger in 1929 and edited it for 48 years. In addition, Feldman was a member of the Publications Committee of the Jewish Publication Society, on the Executive Board of the Jewish Book Council of America, and a contributing editor of several Jewish encyclopedias. This is far too small a collection to provide an in-depth look at Rabbi Feldman's life and profession, but, together with material in the Beth Israel Collection, it provides insight into his relationship with the non-Jewish community.
Collection ID: 0012.001.005e
Collection ID: 0012.002.008k
Collection ID: 0012.001.005b
Collection ID: 0011.003.003
Collection ID: 0008.002.004

Solomon Schechter Day School, 1971-2012

The Solomon Schechter Day School was founded by a group of Conservative rabbis, parents, and educators in 1971. The school initially provided an extensive Judaic curriculum in addition to a full standard academic program for children in Kindergarten through grade six. Originally housed in Emanuel Synagogue on Mohegan Drive in West Hartford, the school is now housed in the renovated former public school building on s on Buena Vista Road in West Hartford. The school now provides a dual Jewish/secular education to students at the early childhood, elementary, and middle school levels.
Collection ID: 0007.003.005a
Collection ID: 0016.123.001

Annie Fisher & Family, 1918-1990

Annie Fisher (1883-1968) devoted her life to public school education in Hartford, instituting many reforms aimed at aiding immigrant children and those with special needs. Fisher became Hartford's first female district superintendent and first female principal. She also worked on gaining reforms in salary and pensions for both female teachers and teachers in general. When she retired in 1945, Fisher was held in great esteem and a Hartford elementary school was later named in her honor.
Collection ID: 0012.001.005a

Zionist Organization of America, 1919-1970

The Zionist Organization of America, founded in 1898, probably welcomed its Hartford chapter, known as the Hartford Zionist District, in 1917. Although the exact date is not recorded here, it is known that the Balfour Declaration prompted a group of Hartford businessmen to begin active fundraising, and those same names are part of the Hartford District minutes a few years later. Two years later, the ZOA appointed Abraham Goldstein as the paid director of the Connecticut Zionist Region or Bureau. Goldstein, intelligent and highly gifted as an orator, led the local ZOA activities to stunning success. According to Making a Life, Building a Community by David G. Dalin and Jonathan Rosenbaum, Goldstein was largely responsible for organizing Hartford into one of the most active and influential local districts in the United States. After Goldstein left the employment of the ZOA for a job in insurance, he continued to volunteer for the ZOA, becoming a national leader. One of the highlights in local ZOA history was the visit to Hartford in 1921 by Chaim Weizmann, later President of Israel, and Albert Einstein. The purpose of the visit was to raise funds for the Keren Hayesod (Palestine Restoration Fund) that Weizmann, as head of the World Zionist Organization, championed in opposition to the leaders of the national ZOA, who felt that Palestine should be developed through private investment, not public philanthropy. Local ZOA leaders supported Weizmann's view, however, and gave to the Keren Hayesod wholeheartedly. The Hartford ZOA purchased a house at 621 Albany Avenue in 1926 and used it as their office until selling it in 1933.
Collection ID: 0011.003.003a
Collection ID: 0012.003.016e

Sophie Tucker, 1889-1966

Sophie Tucker (1884-1966) known as the “Last of the Red Hot Mamas” was a popular vaudeville performer during the early and mid twentieth century. Her humorous, slightly bawdy renditions of Yiddish and English songs captivated large audiences on the stage, radio, and television. Although less well-known today in her own right, Tucker provided the inspiration for comedian Bette Middler’s stage persona and performance style. Tucker was born Sophie Kalish in Russia and grew up in Hartford from the age of three months. While traveling to the United States by ship, her father changed the family name to “Abuza.” Sophie’s musical career was launched when she began singing for customers in her parents’ kosher restaurant. After marrying Louis Tuck in 1903, Sophie changed her name to “Tucker.” She had one son, Burt, born in 1906, shortly before she divorced husband Louis. Sophie left for New York as a very young woman, leaving her son in the care of her family. Her career began slowly, but she eventually became a noted celebrity. Although she never saw herself as an iconoclast, today Sophie Tucker is regarded as a daring female pioneer in the entertainment field. During World War II copies of Tucker’s recordings of “My Yiddishe Momme” were destroyed by the Nazi in an effort to wipe out any traces of nostalgia for Jewish culture. Tucker never forgot her Hartford roots and frequently performed for local charity benefits. She was particularly loyal to the Hebrew Home, of which her mother was a founder.
Collection ID: 0012.003.016

Agriculture & Farming, 1890-2006

With deteriorating conditions in Eastern Europe, many Jews came to the United States with the dream of becoming farmers. Various charities, especially the Baron de Hirsch Fund provided guidance and support and Jewish farming communities appear throughout Connecticut. Many small farms eventually developed into hotels and resorts. This collection documents the Jewish farming community in the Greater Hartford area through family and oral histories, records, newspaper articles, and photographs.
Collection ID: 0007.003.004
Collection ID: 0007.023.005
Collection ID: SM 4
Collection ID: 0009.003.001

Holocaust, 1937-2008

The Holocaust collection consists of personal testimonies, newspaper clippings, pamphlets, and photographs. Most of the material focuses on the experiences of survivors and witnesses who settled in the Greater Hartford area. Some material is related to national and international Holocaust studies and commemorations. The most significant portion of the collection consists of audio and videotaped interviews of local Holocaust survivors.
Collection ID: 0008.003.004a
Collection ID: 0009.002.005a

Tikvoh Chadoshoh, Congregation, 1942-2000s

In 1942 Rabbi Hans Bodenheimer and other German Holocaust survivors founded Congregation Tikvoh Chadoshoh "New Hope" in Hartford. After meeting in borrowed space for many years, the Congregation's first building was dedicated in 1956. In 1971, following a series of anti-Semitic acts in Hartford, the congregation built a new synagogue in Bloomfield. Rabbi Bodenheimer served as spiritual leader of the Congregation until his retirement
Collection ID: 0011.001.003a