TABLE OF CONTENTS
Manuscript Collection No. 501
Founded in 1931 as a board of lay-persons and rabbis, the Jewish Conciliation Board sought to fill a void in American society of a Jewish issues court. The Board is a descendent of the Beth Din (a Jewish court of law) and as such is a free court allowing immigrants to avoid potentially costly litigation. Early leaders of the organization were Louis Richman and Dr. Israel Goldstein (founder of Brandeis University).
Publicity in the New York Yiddish press led to a steady increase in the number of cases by the 1960s. In 1964, the City Family Courts division was legally enabled to transfer "specifically Jewish cases" to the Board. Fundraising for additional staff was a continual concern for the organization. During its early years the Jewish Educational Alliance provided space for case hearings.
The Jewish Conciliation Board brought about a settlement of disputes using justice, compassion and benevolence. In its first 50 years of existence, the Board solved over 27,000 cases. Originally most cases related to rabbis, fraternal orders and burial societies. More recently the caseload has shifted to more family oriented cases. Disputants file a case before the board, and a full report is drawn up by the judges. Where applicable, referrals are made to governmental agencies or private organizations such as the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies. If not, the Board acts as a mediator. Each panel includes a businessman, lawyer, and rabbi with consultation of psychiatrists. Panelists are volunteers, and mediation is not rigidly structured. Decisions are binding in accordance with the arbitration laws of New York State.
The Jewish Conciliation Board of America currently evaluates and mediates disputes within the Jewish community, including those involving interpersonal and family matters, marital problems, business conflicts, and disagreements among organizations. The program also provides legal information and referral to Russian-speaking émigrés with a focus on their special needs and concerns. The majority of disputants in cases come from New York State but the Board does not limit itself to New York residents.
The Jewish Conciliation Board of America records detail the early years of the board, established in 1931 by Rabbi Israel Goldstein, replacing New York's Jewish Court of Arbitration. The Board, supported through contributions, served as a Jewish "domestic relations court." It conducted court sessions with various judges presiding on a voluntary basis.
The vast majority of this collection consists of the case files of the Board. A typical case file includes a statement of grievance, reports compiled in the investigation of the complaint and a copy of the decision of the Court. Not all cases were actually sent in person to the Conciliation Board.
The annual reports give statistics about the cases processed and a sampling of a typical case. There is also correspondence from the Executive Director (1934-1959), financial records (1950-1961), speeches and addresses (1939-1953), reports and newsclippings, (1920-1936). The pre-1930 material reflects the activities of the Jewish Court of Arbitration.
The papers are organized in a single series.
Terms of Access
The collection is restricted to the Executive Director of the American Jewish Archives.
Terms of Reproduction and Use
Copyright restrictions may apply. Authorization to publish, quote, or reproduce, with exceptions for fair use, may be obtained through the American Jewish Archives, Cincinnati, Ohio. Please address queries to the Executive Director of the American Jewish Archives. For more information, see the American Jewish Archives copyright information webpage.
Footnotes and bibliographic references should refer to the Jewish Conciliation Board of America Records and the American Jewish Archives. A suggestion for at least the first citation is as follows:
[Description], [Date], Box #, Folder #. MS-501. Jewish Conciliation Board of America Records. American Jewish Archives, Cincinnati, Ohio.
The Jewish Conciliation Board of America Records were received from Jewish Conciliation Board, New York, New York.
Processed by American Jewish Archives staff.
The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the AJA's online catalog.
Jewish Court of Arbitration
Genres and Forms