Access and Provenance

Biographical Sketch

Scope and Content Note

Box and Folder Listing

A Finding Aid to the

Robert M. Bleiweiss Papers 

Manuscript Collection No. 760

1931-2001 (bulk: 1978-1998) . 2.09 Linear ft.


 The Robert M. Bleiweiss Papers were donated to the American Jewish Archives by Robert M. Bleiweiss, of Calabasas, California, in January 2006. Robert M. Bleiweiss, by the act of donating the Robert M. Bleiweiss Papers to the American Jewish Archives, assigned the property rights to the American Jewish Archives. All literary rights to material in the collection are retained by the individual authors or their heirs. Questions concerning rights should be addressed to the Executive Director of the American Jewish Archives. The papers are available to researchers in the reading room of the Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives.


 Robert Morton Bleiweiss (b. 1934) earned a Bachelor of Arts in Literature and Philosophy from Colgate University in 1956, and a Masters in Literature and the Arts from the University of Southern California. For the first 18 years of his career, Bleiweiss was an executive in the commercial periodical publishing business, which he gave up after his return to Judaism under the tutelage of Dr. Shlomo Bardin at the Brandeis-Bardin Institute.

Bleiweiss was associated with the Institute from 1975-1981, serving first as a member of the Board and then as Executive Vice-President/Chief Operating Officer from 1978 through 1981. The Brandeis-Bardin Institute was founded in the 1940s by Dr. Shlomo Bardin; he originally founded the Brandeis Camp Institute to teach secular Jews about Jewish culture and Jewish religion. In 1977, it was renamed the Brandeis-Bardin Institute, and in 2007 it merged with the University of Judaism to form the American Jewish University.

Bleiweiss was the founder, Chairman, and Chief Executive Officer of Bleiweiss Communications Incorporated, which was the primary supporter of the Jewish Spectator magazine after Bleiweiss became the successor to Trude Weiss-Rosmarin in 1989. Founded in 1936, the New York-based quarterly journal of serious Jewish scholarship, thought, opinion, criticism, fiction, and verse, was widely acclaimed under the independent editor and scholar Weiss-Rosmarin. In the 1978, Weiss-Rosmarin moved to Santa Monica, California and was looking for a successor to her editorial position. She met Bleiweiss when she lectured at the Brandeis-Bardin Institute and when consulting with him for publishing advice requested that he partner with her on the Jewish Spectator. The Jewish Spectator was officially purchased and operated by the American Friends of the Center for Jewish Living and Values. The Center was created by Bleiweiss and Rabbi Pinchas H. Peli to replicate the experience of the Brandeis-Bardin Institute in Israel in 1981; the American Friends was the non-profit educational corporation that was established by the Bleiweiss family to raise the funds to support the Center in Israel; Bleiweiss rolled the Jewish Spectator into the existing educational corporation and took over editorship before Weiss-Rosmarin’s death in June 1989.

In 1997, on the editorship of the Jewish Spectator to Bleiweiss’s son, Rabbi Mark Bleiweiss; Dror and Ilan Greenfield, owners of Gefen Publishing of Jerusalem, took over the publication and business services of the magazine from Bleiweiss Communications. Bleiweiss continued as Chairman and Editor-in-Chief for a period. In 1998, the Friends of the Jewish Spectator became the new corporation operating the magazine, which was then owned by its publishers, the Greenfields and a new executive editor, Louis Gordon. Bleiweiss’s daughter, Ellen Anreder, who had been assistant to the editor, and his wife, Vida, who had been the administrator, were no longer associated with the Jewish Spectator. Mark Bleiweiss continued as Editor, and Robert Bleiweiss continued as Editor Emeritus, and became literary editor in 1999. The Jewish Spectator ceased publication in 2002.

Along with his editorial work on the Jewish Spectator, Bleiweiss has lectured on Jewish subjects throughout the United States and Israel, and has edited and authored numerous books, as well as over 1000 editorials and feature articles in American Labor Movement periodicals.

Bleiweiss is currently the Managing Partner of Gershom Productions and continues as the Chairman of Bleiweiss Communications, Inc. 

Related AJA Collections

The American Jewish Archives holds the papers of Trude Weiss-Rosmarin, (MS-12), as well as nearprint biographical file on Trude Weiss-Rosmarin, which relate to the Jewish Spectator files found within the Robert M. Bleiweiss Papers. Additionally, the AJA holds a nearprint special topics file on the Brandeis-Bardin Institute.


 The ROBERT M. BLEIWEISS PAPERS consist mainly of records documenting his editorship of the Jewish Spectator magazine, as well as his time as an executive at the Brandeis-Bardin Institute, through correspondence, legal and financial documents, and board minutes. The collection additionally contains some files of Trude Weiss-Rosmarin, the editor of the Jewish Spectator before Bleiweiss, which consist of her research and writing notes, as well as some published articles and papers. The papers are divided into two (2) series:

SERIES A, the Jewish Spectator Editorial Files Series consists of the files of Trude Weiss-Rosmarin, the initial editor of the magazine, and Robert Bleiweiss, who took over the editorship in 1989.

SUB-SERIES 1, the Trude Weiss-Rosmarin Files subseries, consists of Weiss-Rosmarin’s research and writing files, and includes copies of some her published editorials (mainly from the Jewish Spectator but also from other publications) as well as typescripts of articles and papers, handwritten and typed notes and source material on topics such as American Jews, choosing Judaism, and covenant. This sub-series also contains drafts of a book she edited on Bar Mitzvah as well as her research and some written material from her 1931 dissertation. While this material provides some documentary source material on Weiss-Rosmarin’s time as editor of the Jewish Spectator through her editorials and research, it does not contain any correspondence or material documenting the business aspects of the journal or submissions by other writers to the journal and as such presents a somewhat limited picture. This subseries is arranged alphabetically by subject.

SUB-SERIES 2, the Robert Bleiweiss Files subseries, consists mainly of correspondence to and from Bleiweiss regarding the editorship of the Jewish Spectator. The correspondence covers a broad range of topics including requests for financial assistance for the continued publication of the magazine, praise of Bleiweiss’s strong leadership at the helm of the journal after Weiss-Rosmarin’s death, business matters such as subscription and advertisements, and the actual physical appearance of the magazine. There is also a large amount of correspondence about submissions of articles, stories, and poetry for the magazine, although the items being submitted for consideration were usually not included in the records; the materials additionally include letters of criticism and rebuttal for materials published in the journal. Much of the correspondence has a personal tone, as Bleiweiss was socially friendly with many of the journal’s contributors, subscribers, supports, and critics. Later correspondence documents Bleiweiss’s resignation as editor and the transfer of the journal out of his hands. Also included in this sub-series is information on two Jewish Spectator Forums held in the 1990s and the prospective book review journal that Bleiweiss and other individuals hoped to spin off of the Jewish Spectator. Finally, this subseries includes a file of copies of legal documents regarding the magazine, including its non-profit tax exempt status, its sale from Weiss-Rosmarin to Bleiweiss’s organization, and a tax lien issue, along with other miscellaneous tax and financial papers. This subseries is arranged alphabetically by subject.

SERIES B, the Brandeis-Bardin Institute Records Series, documents the proceedings of that organization during Robert Bleiweiss’s association with it. Bleiweiss’s files on the Institute include photocopies of its articles of incorporation (from 1947-1982), bylaws, financial statements, and membership lists, as well as his copies of executive committee and board of directors minutes. The material reflects the difficulties in facing the institution after the death of its founder, Dr. Shlomo Bardin. The Brandeis-Bardin Institute series maintains its original order.


Box Folder	Contents


1	1		General Writings and Editorials. 1954, 1965-1967, undated.
1	2		American Jews - Editorials. 1948-1969.
1	3-4		Bar Mitzvah Book - Drafts of Chapters. n.d.
1	5		Bar Mitzvah Book - Chapter XIII, Reading for Pleasure, Articles from the Jewish 	        	Spectator. 1940-1946.
1	6-7		Biblical Research - Metaphors. 1931, undated.
1	8		Covenant - Notes and Published Sources. n.d.
1	9		Historical References. n.d.
1	10		Historical References. 1932-1969.
2	1		"Why Judaism" - Sources for Editorial. 1955-1984.
2	2		"Why Judaism" - Reworked Material. Circa 1984.
2	3		"Why Judaism" - Typescript. 1984.


2	4		Advertisement in The New Republic. 1996-1997.
2	5		Correspondence. 1989-1992.
2	6		Correspondence. 1989-1997.
2	7-8		Correspondence. 1990-2000.
3	1		Correspondence. 1991.
3	2-3		Correspondence. 1994.
3	4		Correspondence. 1995.
3	5		Correspondence. 1996.
3	6		Correspondence. 1998-1999.
3	7		Correspondence - Penna Peli. 1989-1994.
3	8		Forum - "Extremism in Judaism," 23 January 1991. 1990-1991.
3	9		Forum - "How to Motivate Our Congregants Jewishly," 22 February 1994. 1993-
3	10		Fundraising. 1990.
3	11		Interview Notes - "How I Changed My Mind." 1992.
3	12		Lecture - "United States Elections - Its Effect on Israel," Jewish Federation Leisure 		
			World Region Quarterly Meeting, 12 January 1996. 1996.
4	1		Legal Documents. 1980-1993.
4	2		Legal Documents - Merger with University of Judaism. 1994.
4	3		Jewish Spectator Book and Media Review. 1996.
4	4		Jewish Spectator Review of Books. 1999-2001.
4	5		Subscription Form Letters. 1989-1991.


4	6		Articles of Incorporations. 1947-1982.
4	7		Bylaws. n.d.
4	8		Ira Weiner Memo - Restatement of Bylaws. 1980.
4	9		Bleiweiss Contract. 1978.
4	10		Executive Committee Minutes. 1976-1981.
5	1		Membership, Directors, and Staff Lists. 1978-1980.
5	2		Operating Budget. 1981.
5	3		Reports on Examination of Financial Statements. 1976-1980.
5	4-7		Board of Directors Meeting Minutes. 1976-1980.
Copyright © 2008 Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives