New center helping trace roots of Jews in New EnglandNovember 15, 2017 5:38am

BOSTON (AP) — The vibrant and influential history of New England's Jewish population chronicled in a vast repository of documents stored at the New England Historic Genealogical Society is being celebrated Wednesday.

The Jewish Heritage Center at the Boston-based genealogical society is not just a resource for people tracing family roots, but a trove of information for scholars researching the Jewish influence on New England's economy and the history of anti-Semitism. It also preserves the records of Jewish philanthropies and synagogues.

"The information archived here provides some context and shows what part Jewish immigrants played in growing the community," said Stephanie Call, the center's manager.

The Jewish Heritage Center oversees the archives of the American Jewish Historical Society-New England, which has collaborated with the New England Historic Genealogical Society for several years. Wednesday's reception is the formal celebration of the partnership.

The archives have had several homes in the Boston area over the years, but moving them to the genealogical society permanently was a natural fit, because it is already considered the premier national resource for genealogists and family historians.

About 1.2 million documents have been digitized as part of an ongoing project to get the records online and available to the public, said Ryan Woods, the genealogical society's senior vice president.

The archives play a critical role in preserving the unique history of Jews in New England, said Jonathan Sarna, a professor of Jewish history at Brandeis University and a member of the Jewish Heritage Center's advisory council.

Boston was actually behind many other cities when it came to Jewish immigration, and the first synagogue in the area wasn't founded until the 1840s. But the region's Jewish population had increased to about 100,000 by about 1900, Sarna said.

The documents provide a better understanding of how Jewish immigrants fit into the history of the region as a whole, Sarna said.

"Telling the history of Jews in Boston is telling the story of the shoe trade, the garment trade, banking and was very important to the development of the U.S. generally," he said.

The archive is home to copies of the Boston Jewish Times newspaper, the records of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society and Combined Jewish Philanthropies, as well as the personal papers of some of the region's most prominent Jewish citizens including Abraham Ratshesky and the Rabb family.

The Rabbs founded the Stop & Shop supermarket chain and were also philanthropists who have buildings named in their honor at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Brandeis.

Ratshesky was a state senator and banker who led Massachusetts' relief effort to Halifax, Nova Scotia, in 1917 after a munitions ship exploded in the harbor, destroying a huge portion of the city and killing an estimated 2,000 people. Ratshesky's legacy lives to this day in Nova Scotia's annual gift of a Christmas tree to Boston.

Page 1 of 1

More Stories Like This

Workers who depict Pilgrims seek better pay, job securityUnionized workers at the living history museum that depicts Pilgrim and Wampanoag life in 1620 seek job security, better pay
Myanmar Foreign Minister Aung San Suu Kyi, center, poses with other counterparts of members of the Asia Europe Foreign Ministers (ASEM) for a group photo before their meeting at Myanmar International Convention Centre Monday, Nov. 20, 2017, in Naypyitaw, Myanmar. (AP Photo/Thein Zaw)
The Latest: Suu Kyi blames conflicts on illegal immigration
Trump asks Supreme Court for full enforcement of travel banThe Trump administration is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to allow the latest travel ban to take full effect
FILE- This Aug. 14, 2017 photo provided by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation shows Charles Manson. Authorities say Manson, cult leader and mastermind behind 1969 deaths of actress Sharon Tate and several others, died on Sunday, Nov. 19. He was 83. (California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation via AP, File)
Charles Manson, whose brutality made him face of evil, dead
FILE - In this March 12, 1971 file photo, Charles Manson, with a swastika on his forehead, walks to court in Los Angeles, during the the penalty phase of the Sharon Tate trial after being convicted of murder in the deaths of Tate and six others. Authorities say Manson, cult leader and mastermind behind 1969 deaths of actress Sharon Tate and six others, died on Sunday, Nov. 19, 2017. He was 83. (AP Photo, File)
The Latest: Plans for Manson's remains 'undetermined'
Man freed from death row blames conviction on racial biasA man freed from Louisiana's death row claims his case was corrupted by a biased autopsy and a prosecutor's racism and religious fervor
AdChoices

Related Searches

Related Searches

AdChoices