Table of Contents

Summary Information
Administrative Information
Collection Inventory
Series I: Soviet Jewry
Series II: Sephardic Jewry
Series III: General & Miscellaneous

Summary Information

Jewish Historical Society of Greater Hartford
Date [inclusive]
1.5 Cubic feet
Biographical/Historical note Soviet Jewry A large population of Jews from the former Soviet Union resides in the Hartford area. Much of the philanthropic work of the Jewish Federation and the Jewish Community Center has focused on helping these new arrivals to adjust to life in America. Note: the terms “Soviet Jewry,” “Russian Jewry,” “New Americans” and other terms are often used interchangeably to describe persons who came to the United States from the area formerly known as the Soviet Union. The files in this series pertain primarily to the era when the term “Soviet Jewry” was most often used. However, after 1991, when the Communist regime ended, it becomes appropriate to use term New Americans. Researchers looking for information on this population group should look under both terms. The Soviet Union was never hospitable to its Jewish citizens. Under the Soviet regime, Jews were forbidden to practice their religion, but often maintained their religious and cultural heritage in secret. Even those Jews who were nonobservant and completely assimilated suffered discrimination and abuse. From 1967-1975, the Israeli victory in the Six-Day War led to increased discrimination against the Jews in the Soviet Union. Soviet Jews began to look for ways to leave the USSR. Initially, Israel was their favored destination. Most of the Jews in this era were intensely Zionist and had a strong sense of cultural Judaism. From 1976 onward, the Soviet Union continued to be actively anti-Semitic. Additionally, severe economic problems led to increased hardship for Soviet Jews. After 1976. American Jewish resettlement agencies started to foster and support immigration. Thus, from1975 until 1981 the pattern of Soviet immigration shifted with more Soviet Jews seeking homes in the United States than in Israel. During these years, the Soviet government permitted some emigration. However, many potential emigrants were refused permission to leave and became known as “Refuseniks.” American Jewish organizations campaigned to “Free Soviet Jewry.” In 1982, the Soviet government further reduced the opportunity to emigrate and the years 1982-1987 were a time of great frustration among Soviet Jews. Many politicians, including Senator Christopher Dodd of Connecticut were active in the cause of Soviet Jewry. The United States offered arriving Jews “refugee” status. Many of the Jews in the Hartford area arrived during this time. From 1987-1991, with the rise to power of Gorbochev, relations between the United States and the Soviet Union began to change. Although the Gorbochev administration permitted Jews to leave the Soviet Union, President Ronald Reagan discontinued the practice of allowing Soviet Jews into the United States as “refugees,” making it harder for Soviet Jews to obtain American citizenship. President George H. W. Bush (1989-1993), however, increased the number of immigrants allowed each year, leading to a mass influx during his time in office. When the Communist regime fell in 1991, immigration escalated and approximately 300,000 Jews came to the U.S. The Soviet/New American immigrants of this later era possessed a sense of cultural Judaism, but were unlikely to have had any Jewish religious education. These new arrivals also maintained a strong affiliation with the cultural traditions of the area from which they arrived. The resettlement programs developed by American organizations focused on helping these immigrants to develop a stronger sense of specifically Jewish identity, an identity that had been denied to them under the Soviet regime. Sephardic Jewry The term “Sephardic Jewry” refers to those Jews whose culture derives from a blend of Spanish and middle-eastern culture. Literally, the word Sepharadim means “Spaniards”. Unlike the Ashkenazi Jews who traditionally spoke Yiddish, Sephardim of the Iberian Peninsula spoke a dialect called Ladino (Judeo-Spanish). Additionally, the artistic, musical, liturgical, and culinary traditions of the Sephardic Jews are very different from those of the Ashkenazim. Sephardic Jews are sometimes confused with the Mizrachi, those middle-eastern Jews who speak Arabic as their first language. The Mizrachi do not comprise any one nationality. Instead, they are often referred to as “Iraqi Jews,” “Egyptian Jews,” etc., depending on their point of origin. Although the Arabic speaking Jews have some cultural traditions in common with the Sephardim, they also represent a variety of other cultural traditions. Both Sephardim and Mizrachim have settled in the greater Hartford area. The Iberian Jews of Spain were expelled from the country in 1492. As exiles, they settled in the Turkish Empire, in the Balkans, North Africa, Italy, Egypt, Palestine, and Syria. Later these communities were joined by additional wave of refugees from Portugal. Many of the Sephardim later migrated further and settled in the Netherlands, the West Indies, and North America. The nineteen thirties and forties were a time of severe hardship, displacement, and insecurity for all Middle Eastern Jews. During the Holocaust, European Sephardic Jews were forced to flee their homes and many died at the hands of the Nazis. After the founding of Israel in 1948, Ladino and Arabic speaking Jews in the Middle East experienced a backlash of increased anti-Semitism and persecution. Eventually most of the Middle Eastern Jews sought refuge in either Israel or the United States. The cultural distinctions between the Sephardim and the Ashkenazim have often made it especially difficult for the Sephardim to carry on their traditions, which differ not only from mainstream American culture, but also from the dominant Ashkenazi Jewish-American culture. Moreover, due to their smaller numbers, Sephardic Holocaust victims and survivors have not always received recognition.
Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents note During 1992, a number of exhibits and programs were held to commemorate the exile of the Sephardim from Spain in 1492. Much of the Sephardim documentation in this collection stems from these commemorations. Most of the material in this collection relating to Soviet Jewry comes from the 1980s and early 1990s.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information
Jewish Historical Society of Greater Hartford

333 Bloomfield Avenue
West Hartford, CT, 06117

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Collection Inventory

Series I: Soviet Jewry
Soviet Jewry/Committee for the Enhancement of Jewish Identity for New Americans
Soviet Jewry/Committee on Jewish Communal Education, 1979
Soviet Jewry/Individuals
Soviet Jewry/Information re: helping New Americans
Soviet Jewry/Interfaith
Soviet Jewry/Magazine articles
Soviet Jewry/Miscellaneous
Soviet Jewry/New Americans Programs
Soviet Jewry/Newspaper Clippings, 1960s
Soviet Jewry/Newspaper clippings, 1970s
Soviet Jewry/Newspaper clippings, 1980s, undated
Soviet Jewry/Newspaper clippings, 1980
Soviet Jewry/Newspaper clippings, 1981
Soviet Jewry/Newspaper clippings, 1982
Soviet Jewry/Newspaper clippings, 1983
Soviet Jewry/Newspaper clippings, 1984
Soviet Jewry/Newspaper clippings, 1985
Soviet Jewry/Newspaper clippings, 1986
Soviet Jewry/Newspaper clippings, 1987
Soviet Jewry/Newspaper clippings, 1988
Soviet Jewry/Newspaper clippings, 1989
Soviet Jewry/Newspaper clippings, 1990s, undated
Soviet Jewry/Newspaper clippings, 1991
Soviet Jewry/Newspaper clippings, 1992
Soviet Jewry/Newspaper clippings, 1993
Soviet Jewry/Newspaper clippings, 1994
Soviet Jewry/Newspaper clippings, 1995-9
Soviet Jewry/New Americans/Newspaper clippings, 2000
Soviet Jewry/Pamphlets
Soviet Jewry/Rallies, Conferences, Petitions
Soviet Jewry/Russian, history of Jews in
Soviet Jewry/Yugoslavia, 1990s
Soviet Jewry/Women’s Plea, 1970s-1980s (see also Jewish Federation/JCRC
New Americans/Ukraine

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Series II: Sephardic Jewry
Sephardic Jewry
Sephardic Jewry/Exhibits/National/Voyages to Freedom, 1992
Sephardic Jewry/Exhibits/Sephardic Experience/Loans, 1992
Sephardic Jewry/Exhibits/Sephardic Experience/Miscellaneous, 1992, two folders
Sephardic Jewry/Heritage/Travel
Sephardic Jewry/Individuals/Levy, Henry
Sephardic Jewry/Newspaper clippings
Sephardic Jewry/Pamphlets
Sephardic Jewry/Programs/Sephardic Journey, 1492-1992, 1992

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Series III: General & Miscellaneous
General and Miscellaneous
Austria/Gross Family/Naturalization Papers
Benevolent Associations/Research papers/Alderman, Beatrice/The Expanding role of Early Jewish Charitable and Welfare Organizations, 1984
Benevolent Associations/Research papers/Whalen, William/The Evolution of Jewish Charity in the United States and Hartford 1820-1920, 1987
Connecticut Immigrant Day
Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe/Research paper/Cheffetz, Sandra r. /immigration and Assimilation of Eastern European Jews (1880-1924), 1987
Eastern Europe/Research papers/Fisher, Eric D. /The Residential Movement of the Jewish Population of Hartford, Connecticut, from Immigrant Ghetto to Suburbia, An Indicator of Ethnic Assimilation, 1981
Eastern/Europe/Research papers/Zivyon, Dorit/Samuel’s Story; My Great-Grandfather’s Immigration to America, 1994
Ellis Island, Life Magazine article, 1990 September
German and Eastern European/Research Paper/Alderman, Beatrice/The Hartford Section of the National council of Jewish Women, 1910-1920, as Affected by the Impact of Social Reform of the Progressive Era and Eastern
European Jewish Immigration, 1989
German/Research paper/Marks, Leta W. /The German Jewish Community of Hartford Connecticut and the Origin and Growth of Congregation Beth Israel, 1830-1876, 1983
Hartford/General/Research paper/Roswig, Ellen Cohen/the Immigrant Experience: Skilled Jewish Workers in Hartford, 1880-1930, no date
Immigration/U.S. Policy, early 20th
Iraq/Gara, Charlotte/Jews of Baghdad in the first half of the 20th century/ presentation, 2005
Russia/Lowengard Wagman Family/Naturalization papers, 19th c.
South Africa

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