Please visit the Library and see the new exhibit on the First World War, inspired by the conference, “WWI, Nationalism, and Jewish Culture,” sponsored by the Yeshiva University Center for Israel Studies, on April 25, 2018. Even if you miss the conference, the exhibit will be available on the fourth floor of the library for the coming months.

Yeshiva University Libraries and Museum hold artifacts reflecting endeavors by the American Jewish community to aid American Jewish Armed Services personnel and Jews suffering overseas in the war zones. Reproductions of selections from the collections are on view in the exhibit. The items focus on two efforts on the home front during the war: the work of the Central Relief Committee (CRC), an organization founded by the Orthodox Union to aid Jews suffering in war-torn Europe and Palestine; and the Jewish Welfare Board, established after the United States entered the war, to support Jewish soldiers in the US armed forces.

The CRC utilized novel fundraising techniques, such as pocket size dime savings banks, to encourage contributions. Another trail-blazing method was the CRC’s appeal to the President of the United States, Woodrow Wilson, who proclaimed National Jewish Relief Day on January 27, 1916. A historic photograph documenting the CRC delegation’s visit to the White House is in the exhibit. The photograph and additional information may also be viewed here.

In a noteworthy contemporary event in American Jewish history, Wilson nominated Louis D. Brandeis as a Supreme Court Justice on January 28, 1916, a day after National Jewish Relief Day. Brandeis became the first Jew to serve on the Supreme Court.

The confluence of events and achievements in American Jewish communal life during the First World War are evidence of the community’s increasing level of confidence and acceptance in the United States.

Posted by Shulamith Z. Berger


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