American Jewish Historical Society
Inclusive Date: undated, 1962, 1964-1996
Date: (Bulk 1971-1995)
The records of the North American Jewish Students Appeal (NAJSA or APPEAL) contains documents on two levels of concern: those documents dealing with the NAJSA as a student-run organization promoting Jewish identity among college-aged youth; and those documents dealing with the APPEAL as a fundraising organization for several well-known student constituent organizations. The Constituents were: the Jewish Student Press Service, Lights in Action, the North American Jewish Students Network, the Progressive Zionist Caucus,, Yavneh Religious Students Organization, and Yugntruf Youth for Yiddish. Documents include correspondence, financial records, minutes, press releases, information on grants awarded to student organizations for programming and publishing, student journals and newspapers, photographs, and ephemera.
The events leading up to the formation of the North American Jewish Students Appeal (NAJSA or APPEAL) began in May 1969 when the World Union of Jewish Students (WUJS) sponsored a conference in Brewster, NY. The conference, attended by a collection of students, young adults and student activists, focused on issues concerning the state of Judaism among American youth, organization of the students into a viable movement, and from the student's viewpoint, how to conduct effective and meaningful communications between them and the older generation of the Federations. Out of this conference arose the North American Jewish Students NETWORK, a communications, information and resource arm of the WUJS. As an umbrella service providing information on strategies and tactics through NETWORK, Jewish students and young adults were able to coordinate and plan for organized disruptions at the Council of Jewish Federations and Welfare Fund's (CJFWF) General Assembly (GA) in Boston from November 12-18, 1969, coinciding with the 75Anniversary of the founding of the American Federation movement.
The students, not originally scheduled to speak at any sessions, were exceptionally vocal at the Boston assembly, staging sit-ins and protests and disrupting the normal functions of the yearly gathering. The students were empowered by two factors in staging their disruptions at the Assembly. The Black Power Movement, which some of the students had been involved with, had introduced "the concept that strong ethnic identification was not only good, but necessary," and the 1967 War in the Middle East caused young and old Jews to "express openly their Jewish identity." The students also viewed themselves as up against an "entrenched Federation system" that was slow to act and that Synagogue-associated youth groups such as Hillel were ill-equipped, financially or with the manpower, to address a vocal and somewhat radicalized activist generation of Jewish youth who felt both 'turned-off' to their Jewish identity and 'tuned-out' by established youth groups.
The vocal students were allotted time to speak at a Luncheon session of the GA, choosing as their representative Rabbi Hillel Levine. Levine was a Ph.D. Candidate at the Department of Social Relations at Harvard and a Graduate of the Rabbinical College at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America (JTS). Rabbi Levine began by stating that:
Rabbi Levine then offered a definition of the students - how they viewed themselves in the community of American Jews:
Gordon Zacks, the 1969 Chairman of the United Jewish Appeal's (UJA) Young Leadership Cabinet (YLC) and former Chair of the CJFWF Leadership Development Committee, addressed the delegates in a regularly scheduled meeting of the Luncheon Session of the Assembly. Zacks, in a forum entitled "Young Leadership Looks at the Future of the Jewish Community" urged the Assembly to pass a resolution calling for the creation of a body with a six-prong plan addressing certain issues facing the Jewish community within a 12-month period. This body, proposed as the "Foundation for Jewish Identity", would undertake, develop and provide seed money to harvest "the best Jewish brainpower in support of those kinds of activities which will produce a multiplier effect on creative Jewish living and identity." One of the six specific areas in which Mr. Zacks urged plan development was in presenting a "bold new activities-oriented approach to reach and involve university students."(Zacks and Neil Norry (the Special Promotions Chairperson of the national UJA office), working on the Federation side, became two of the prime initiators and backers of the APPEAL, providing moral, organizational and financial support to NETWORK in establishing the groundwork for the APPEAL.)
After the General Assembly, the students were unorganized and unincorporated, had no budget, or central strategy for receiving or allocating funds they might receive from the Federations. The student leaders met at a December 1969 UJA meeting, but were unable to press their efforts to raise funds from the Federations until some semblance of organization occurred. In June of 1971, NETWORK, using its connections through the WUJS, organized meetings with the leaders of the six original Constituents to discuss their varying financial crises and how to organize and present a united fundraising plan to the CJFWF. Those initial Constituents, the Jewish Student Press Service (organized 1970), Response (organized 1967), NETWORK (1969), the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry (1964), Yavneh (1965) and Yugntruf: Youth for Yiddish (1965) banded together to form the North American Jewish Students Appeal.
The thrust of this work was primarily fundraising and allocating to the Constituent organizations, of which, over time, there were eight not including a few small 'satellite' Constituents. NETWORK and YAVNEH eventually left the APPEAL, with the Progressive Zionist Caucus (PZC, organized 1987) and Lights in Action (LIA, organized 1992) taking their places. In addition to the allocating of funds and fundraising for the Constituent organizations, the APPEAL administered under its own name a Beneficiary Grants program. The grants, ranging from $50 to $500, were awarded primarily to campus student organizations requiring funding for campus programming or publications promoting Jewish identity and news among students.
The structure of the APPEAL included an Executive Director and executive assistant, with occasional field workers and interns. The Executive Director ran the everyday operations of the APPEAL, including allocations distribution, compiling Constituent presentations, writing grants, fundraising, and advertising the APPEAL. The Executive Directors of the APPEAL included Robert Goldman, Edward (Avi) Lyons, Mark Mishan, Steven Cohen, Susan Dessel, Roberta Shiffman and Brenda Gervetz.
The advisors of the APPEAL consisted of a Board of Trustees and a Governing Board. Friends of the Students, or Friends, were named for those people who donated money but had no say in the workings of the APPEAL. Rabbis and congregations were regularly called upon for donations and spiritual support.
Trustees acted as an advisory board to the APPEAL, and lobbied their local and national Federations to fund the APPEAL. As an advisory board, Trustees had no say in the internal workings of the Constituents, or the APPEAL allocation formula. Money received from the Federations was divided between the Constituents and the Beneficiary Grants program according to an allocation formula decided by the Constituents and Governing Board. Trustees acted as a buffer between the Federations and the NAJSA students and were arbiters of any internal disputes between the NAJSA and Constituents. The collective Trustee membership consisted of community members and delegates from the Governing Board, who were primarily students at the time of their Trusteeship. These students served as both Trustees and Governing Board members, though once they left the Governing Board for reasons of graduation or resignation they had the option of remaining Trustees.
The majority of the Trustees were older men and women who had worked within the Jewish community for many years, and knew the finer points of approaching the Federations. The APPEAL strove to develop and maintain ties with at least one vocal, well-placed Trustee that held the ear of local Federations. The Trustees were particularly useful during each Federation's allocation evaluation time, based on the fiscal year. After the NAJSA submitted their allocation applications to a Federation, the local Trustee would follow-up, making phone calls, visiting or conducting presentations to the Federation as possible or advisable. The Trustees were vital in initiating new Federations into giving to the APPEAL, encouraging Federations to increase an already confirmed allocation or maintaining an allocation over time.
The Trustees did not hold regularly scheduled meetings. Meetings of the Trustees were attempted during quarterly CJF sessions, but attendance was relatively poor as Trustees were more willing to travel to the larger General Assembly conferences than quarterly meetings. Trustees also donated to the APPEAL with their own Tzedakah, or charitable contribution. Current Trustees recruited new Trustees, with Trustees Michael and Natalie Pelavin and Steven Schwarz being the most active in this regard. Gordon Zacks encouraged the actor Theodore Bikel (,,,) to become a Trustee. Trustee Chairpersons included Zacks, Michael Pelavin, Jacqueline Levine, Steven Schwarz, Alan H. Molod, Suzanne Perelman, Magda Leuchter-Shenberg, and Gerald Flanzbaum.
The Governing Board consisted of seven constituent delegates, and six at-large delegates. The Constituents selected delegates and previous Board members, Trustees, and Constituents nominated at-large delegates. At-large delegates were students under the age of 30 years at the time of election and served one-year terms; staff from the APPEAL could be appointed as non-voting delegates. The Governing Board met during the school year from September to June on a monthly basis to review each Constituent's programming and prepare for Spring budgeting and the Fall allocation formula vote. The Governing Board reviewed Beneficiary Grants proposals, recommending or denying funding for each grant proposed. The Governing Board elected a President and an Executive Committee, which included the President, Executive Director and three Board members. In addition to the Executive Committee, the Board elected a Steering, Allocations and Internal Review Committees.
In the structure of the Federation system, the APPEAL presented budget materials and financial reports, along with Constituent presentations, to the Large City Budgeting Conference (LCBC), an independent division of the CJFWF representing the larger, local Federations according to population size. The CJFWF based Federation divisions on local population sizes by large, intermediate and small budgeting councils representing local cities and towns. The LCBC would then certify to the Federations, a recommended target budget to be allocated from the local Federations to the APPEAL. The CJFWF/LCBC issued a 'Budget Digest,' containing the combined report of the CJFWF and the APPEAL, including a description of the activities of the APPEAL and Constituents, a brief history and scope of the organization, along with a report on the APPEAL's financial standing, based on financial documentation presented by the APPEAL. For instance, based on the APPEAL's presentation, its financial documentation and plans for the following fiscal year, the LCBC would certify the APPEAL's allocation from Federation funds at $120,000. (The APPEAL also received certification from the Intermediate and Small Cities Budgeting Conferences.) After certification, the Federations viewed the APPEAL as a legitimate allocation entity. Based on the local Federation budget, an allocation was then made to the APPEAL, spread throughout the fiscal year or in one lump sum. The APPEAL attended the annual GA, mingling with Federation representatives on the national and local levels, attending forums on student-related issues and to present their budgets for certification. The GA was held in a variety of host cities designated by the number of the annual event. The CJFWF later became the Council of Jewish Federations (CJF) and then merged with the United Israel Appeal (UIA) and the United Jewish Appeal (UJA) to form the United Jewish Communities (UJC).
The APPEAL was active on several CJF committees, including the College Youth and Faculty Committee, the Leadership Development Committee, the Task Force on Services to Jewish University Students, and the Women's Committee on Russian Women. The NAJSA served on the United Jewish Appeal's Student Advisory Committee and the Young Leadership Cabinet. During the 1970s, the APPEAL attempted to merge with the Joint Cultural Appeal (JCA), a fundraising entity for several organizations including the American Jewish Historical Society, Histadruth Ivrith of America, the Leo Baeck Institute, the National Foundation for Jewish Culture and the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research.
The APPEAL disbanded in June 1995 due to the shrinking of Federation funds, the changing structure of the CJF and tensions between the APPEAL and Hillel. As money disappeared from the Federations, the trickle down effect made it difficult for the Federations to justify funding two National student organizations.
The collection documents the working proceedings of the North American Jewish Students Appeal, including the organization's work in the area of promoting Jewish identity among college youth as well as NAJSA's work on behalf of its eight primary and smaller, satellite Constituents. The collection covers the period of NAJSA's existence, from 1971 to 1996, though a few materials derive from the 1960s, mostly concerning RESPONSE, SSSJ, YAVNEH and YUNGTRUF and the founding history of NAJSA. However, the material for these four Constituents and the founding history of the NAJSA is sketchy within the collection prior to 1971. The collection can be grouped into several categories: 1) correspondence and records dealing directly with the NAJSA and its Trustees, Board, and national Jewish organizations and the interaction between the NAJSA and its Constituents; 2) financial, activity, fundraising, and promotional records of the Constituents; 3) financial and fundraising records regarding the NAJSA, including national and local Federations, constructing budgets and allocating funds to Constituents; 4) beneficiary grants awarded by the NAJSA and their impact on Jewish-related programming and publishing on the University student level; and 5) ephemera, magazines, and journals from the Constituents, beneficiaries and national Jewish organizations.
The series is arranged according to the original filing system of the records of the NAJSA, though in some cases, series have been artificially constructed by rearranging yearly records into more coherent categories, particularly in the case of organizational financial records, Constituent, and Beneficiary Grant files. Publications, ephemera, posters, photographs, and video and audio tape series have been created from the original series by pulling certain publications, printed matter, posters, and ephemera (buttons, t-shirts, etc.) from folders for preservation purposes and to highlight these items in conjunction with the Jewish student movement. Each series contains arrangement notes relevant to the particular series below.
The collection is organized into ten series as follows:
Inclusive Date: undated, 1971-1995
Series I documents correspondence, memos, and minutes of the APPEAL, as well as the APPEAL's solicitation campaigns regarding Trustees, Friends and Rabbis. Series I documents the inner workings of the APPEAL, including advice solicited from its Trustees, the interaction of the Governing Board and Trustees and the workings of the Governing Board. The monetary and spiritual support received from the wider Jewish community towards the basic ideals of the APPEAL's social and political agenda is reflected in the subseries concerning Friends and Rabbis. The series is documented in four parts, as follows.
Inclusive Date: undated, 1971-1995
This subseries is informally divided into General Records () and Trustee Correspondence and Member Lists (). General Records include memos, reception arrangements for Chairpersons Alan Molod and Madga Leuchter-Shenberg, minutes, Trustee solicitation materials, a development plan from 1993, and responses from Trustees concerning attendance at the final meeting of the NAJSA from April 1995. Trustee Correspondence and Member Lists includes two folders () of Trustee membership lists and correspondence from Trustees. Correspondence is divided into correspondence by infrequent Board correspondents (A-Z,), and those Trustees who maintained a closer working relationship with the organization. Correspondence with former Executive Directors Susan Dessel and Edward Lyons and all former Chairpersons of the APPEAL are included. Minutes relating to Trustee meetings are incomplete, covering only the years between 1974-1978 and 1983-1985. Actions and ideas relating to the Trustees may be obtained from a combination of records: correspondence and memos found in this Subseries, notes and memos of meetings with individual Trustees at General Assemblies (), Trustee group and individual meetings held at LCBC quarterly board meetings (), correspondence laced throughout individual Federation correspondence in U.S. cities and Canada () and fromminutes regarding discussions of Trustee advice.
Inclusive Date: 1971-1973, 1975-1995
The first area, Committees and Memos) documents memos and minutes from four Governing Board Committees: the Allocations, Executive, Internal Review and Steering Committees. General memos to the overall Governing Board are included as is Governing Board meeting documentation concerning NETWORK. Although the committees were initiated under the mandate of the NAJSA's By-Laws, special committees met irregularly, or informally at regularly held Governing Board meetings. Box 10, Folder 2 relates to a 1981 Governing Board special meeting held to determine how to handle NETWORK's non-compliance with the By-Laws of the APPEAL in dealing with the solicitation of funds by a Constituent directly from a funding source. For further information on the non-compliance motion and issues regarding it, please see Series III: Constituents, Subseries 3: NETWORK,.
Date: 1971-1973, 1975-1995
Inclusive Date: undated, 1971-1992
Friends of the APPEAL were primarily those persons who did not actively participate as a Trustee or Governing Board member would, but those who financially supported the APPEAL either through large grants over a period of time, or smaller, personal donations. Included in this section is correspondence from Edgar Bronfman, who supported the NAJSA with two grants in the 1970s, as well as Moses Hornstein, a longtime supporter of the APPEAL. As the majority of Friends were solicited from newspaper ads, direct mailings or through the Trustees and Governing Board members of NAJSA, thank you letters to Friends regarding their donation have mostly been discarded. The thank you acknowledgements kept within the collection (Box 15, Folders 1-6) are a sample of form letters sent over the years. Letters of a more personal nature from Friends to the APPEAL remain in the collection. Folders regarding Friends are arranged in alphabetical order.
Inclusive Date: undated, 1971-1991
Rabbis were an essential part of the spiritual life of the APPEAL, and were also regularly solicited for donations from their congregations. This subseries primarily contains a snapshot of the interaction of the APPEAL and various Rabbis though mailing lists, solicitations and a representative sample of thank you letters sent from the APPEAL to Rabbis. For related material on the early involvement of rabbis, see Box 20, Folder 16 for the Rabbi Irving Greenberg Parlor Benefit held in 1973 for the APPEAL.
Inclusive Date: undated, 1971-1996
The Organizational Records subseries was created by combining three original file organization schemes: boxes labeled "NAJSA," boxes called "National Organization," and miscellaneous files labeled "General Misc. Files" and "Old Records." Both "NAJSA" and "National Organizational" records were filed by program year, but are now arranged in alphabetical order. As the majority of materials seem to fit together, or overlapped, it was decided to combine the three into one General Records category. Records pertaining to Constituents were moved to Series III: Constituents and Financial Records were combined and moved to Subseries 2, Financial Records. Five boxes of Chronological Files (copies of outgoing office mail), 1983-1995 were discarded after confirming that outgoing copies or originals were included in the appropriate files.
Inclusive Date: 1970-1996
The General Records subseries focuses on the inner workings of the organization, such as the NAJSA's Constitution and By-Laws, campus campaign drives, direct mail campaigns, rental and telephone leases and bills, and promotional materials for the NAJSA. The subseries documents the organization's contact with the wider Jewish community such as the American Jewish Congress, American Zionist Youth Foundation, B'nai B'rith/Hillel (filed under Hillel), the Jewish Association for College Youth, the National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council, the World Jewish Congress and the World Union of Jewish Students (WUJS). (WUJS applied for constituent status to the APPEAL in 1989, see Box 37, Folder 10.) NAJSA became involved with several conferences, some sponsored by their Constituents (particularly NETWORK, RESPONSE and JSPS), as well as the Spitzer Forum on Public Policy from 1990-1994. Other conference materials include an Intermarriage Symposium in 1990, the "Visions and Voices" Interfaith Marriage Symposium in 1993, Hillel conferences, and conferences focused on women and leadership. Of note also is Box 24, Folder 2 concerning the organization Breira, of which the APPEAL and NETWORK participated in discussions sponsored by Breira concerning issues of U.S. Jewish dissent on Israeli policies toward Arabs. (See also Box 108, Folder 14 for the pamphletby Rael Jean Issac.) Information regarding Direct Marketing Campaigns may be found in this subseries,. The folders contain draft correspondence to established Friends and potential donors, while the contributions records from marketing campaigns (1983-1989) is located in Subseries 2: Financial Records in. In 1991, NAJSA contracted with Heartland Marketing Corporation to embark on a new, more organized campaign drive. Information regarding the Heartland campaign can also be found in Subseries 2: Financial Records,.
Inclusive Date: 1971-1995
The NAJSA acted primarily as an umbrella fundraising arm for its Constituents. Therefore, a large portion of the collection in several series is devoted to financial matters. The most concentrated of these records can be found in Subseries 2: Financial Records, which document the overall financial transactions of the NAJSA including allocations received from Federations, income, deposit and expenditures records, financial statements of the APPEAL (Constituent statements may be found in), accountants correspondence, tax returns (the 1975 return was not found in the collection), Trustee and Friend contributions and employee records (restricted material). In accordance with records management procedures, certain unnecessary information regarding financial records have been discarded. Among these records are: cancelled checks and check stub registers, deposit slips, payroll registers, petty cash receipts, banking statements and bills for messengers; office supplies, computer equipment, and telephone bills. (Telephone bills regarding disputes between NAJSA and their Constituents have been retained.) Cancelled checks regarding tax payments (federal, quarterly and payroll) have been retained. Related financial records may be found in: Constituents and Series V: Federations (: Council for Jewish Federations,: Large City Budgeting Conference and: U.S. Cities and Canada). Documentation relating to fundraising conducted by the NAJSA to garner grants from national foundations may be found in.
Inclusive Date: undated, 1967-1996
The provenance of this Collection Addendum is as follows: Brenda Gervertz, Executive Director of the organization from 1989-1995, donated the Records of the North American Jewish Students Appeal to the American Jewish Historical Society. Gervertz donated this additional collection, mostly detailing the latter years of the organization, in 2004.
Date: undated, 1971-1995
Date: undated, 1993
Date: undated, 1971-1996
Date: undated, 1967-1995
Date: undated, 1971-1996
Date: undated, 1974-1996;
Date: (Bulk 1993-1994)
Date: undated, 1971-1995
Date: circa 1995
Date: undated, 1972-
Date: undated, 1969, 1971-1995
Date: 1973, 1975
Date: undated, 1971-1995
Date: undated, 1969, 1971-1995
Date: undated, 1974-1975, 1992-1995
Date: undated, 1969, 1971-1995
Date: undated, 1990s