Archive - Jerome Abrams Papers
Scope and Contents Note
Abrams' papers consist of a mixture of material gathered by him in the process of preparing his doctoral dissertation on the Cejwin Camps; material produced or gathered by him in the course of his own career at camps Cejwin and Ramah; and material acquired as a result of his activities in the Rabbinical Assembly.
The strength of this collection is in its early documentation of the Central Jewish Institute and its summer camps. Of particular interest are two scrapbooks containing an array of printed and circular material from the CJI Camps and Cejwin Camps from the 1920s. Abrams' doctoral dissertation on Cejwin provides useful background material about the camp. Material from Camp Ramah and from the Rabbinical Assembly is largely published educational material gathered by Abrams in the course of his work. One exception of note is a group of copies of documents concerning the founding of the first Camp Ramah in Wisconsin in 1947.
In the summer of 1998 Abrams located another cache of material that he had earlier gathered from the Central Jewish Institute and Cejwin for use in his doctoral dissertation. This group of papers is particularly rich in its documentation of the early years of the Central Jewish Institute and the founding and early operation of its camps.
- Creation: circa 1920-1979; 1994
- Abrams, Jerome (Person)
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Materials are available by appointment only. To make an appointment and request materials in advance, contact email@example.com.
There are no restrictions to accessing this collection, however researchers need written permission to print or publish from it.
Historical Note on the Camps
The Central Jewish Institute was founded in 1916 in Yorkville on New York's Upper East Side by the Orthodox synagogue Kehilath Jeshurun. Mordecai Kaplan, founder of the Reconstructionist movement in Judaism, was the rabbi at Kehilath Jeshurun, 1903-1909, and he inspired the CJI's founding. The CJI subsequently developed into an independent Jewish community center that aimed to integrate Judaism with the American way of life. In particular, it strove to vitalize Jewish education, then in decline as a result of the forces of assimilation. The CJI operated a school for children (Talmud Torah), a Hebrew high school, clubs for youth, an extension department, cultural activities for adults, and in 1919 began a program of summer camping which ultimately evolved into the Cejwin (CEntral JeWish INstitute) Camps in Port Jervis, New York. The founder and first president of CJI was Samuel I. Hyman of Kehilath Jeshurun, and its director until 1923 was educator A.P. Schoolman.
The CJI camp was begun by the CJI's Women's Auxiliary in 1919. Tillie Hyman, widow of Samuel I. Hyman, founder and president of the CJI, was particularly active in the founding of the camp. The first camp, referred to in the records as a vacation home, was located in Parksville, New York. In search of a permanent home, the camp moved to Warwarsing, New York in 1920, and then to Central Valley in 1921. In 1923 it settled in Port Jervis where, with different camps for each sex and age group, it remained. In 1930 it was incorporated as the Central Jewish Institute Camps, and in 1934 it was renamed Cejwin. Led by A.P. Schoolman from 1923 until the 1970s, the camps, while not Hebrew speaking, had a Jewish educational program.
Camp Ramah, administratively centered at the Jewish Theological Seminary with camps in the United States, Canada, and Israel, was founded in 1947. Like the Cejwin Camps, Ramah offers a Jewish educational program yet, unlike Cejwin, it puts a particular emphasis on Hebrew speaking.
Jerome Abrams (1926 - ), rabbi, camp director, educator, and educational administrator, received his BA and Hebrew Teachers' degree from Yeshiva University in 1948, a masters degree in educational psychology from Teachers College, Columbia University, 1953, and rabbinic ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary in 1953.
Abrams was the director of several Ramah camps, 1955-1991, and of the Cejwin Camps, 1967-1978. He also served as the director of personnel for the Ramah camps, 1960-1964, as a visiting instructor in education at the Jewish Theological Seminary, 1960-1963, and in administrative positions at the Metropolitan Leaders Training Fellowship and the Melton Center for Jewish Research, both at the Jewish Theological Seminary.
Abrams began a doctoral dissertation on the Cejwin Camps at New York University in the early 1970s. The material from the Central Jewish Institute and the Cejwin Camps in this collection was gathered by Abrams while doing research on his dissertation.
2.1 Linear Feet (in five document boxes.)
Jerome Abrams was a rabbi, educator, and educational administrator. He was the director of several Ramah and Cejwin camps and served as the director of personnel for the Ramah camps, as a visiting instructor in education at the Jewish Theological Seminary, and in administrative positions at the Metropolitan Leaders Training Fellowship and the Melton Center for Jewish Research, both at the Jewish Theological Seminary. The collection consists of a mixture of material gathered by Abrams while researching his doctoral dissertation on the Cejwin Camps, plus materials generated by his own work with the Cejwin camps, and with the Rabbinical Assembly. Materials include: correspondence; minutes; reports; printed material; programs; scrapbooks; historical essays; photographs; publications; essays on educational topics by Abrams and others; educational, training, programming, and planning materials; copies of documents dating from the founding of the first Camp Ramah (provisionally called Camp Solomon Schechter); memorandum describing plans for the camp; a press release; transcript of speeches; instructions for camp staff members; postcards; clippings of newspaper advertisements; informational brochures; circular letters to parents and campers; examples of campers; baggage tags and labels; examples of forms, including applications, medical and camper records, and housing forms; and items which documents the CJI's relationships with the other New York City Jewish organizations with which it cooperated. Rabbinical Assembly material consists of a miscellany of circular letters, correspondence, and memoranda.
Series I. Central Jewish Institute, 1920-1947
Series II. Cejwin Camps, 1924-1976
Series III. Camp Ramah, ca.1947-1976; 1994
Series IV. Rabbinical Assembly, 1961-1979; n.d.
Series V. Louis Finkelstein File, 1963-1985
Series VI. Additional Material, 1913-1971
Sub-series A. Central Jewish Institute, 1913-1940s
Sub-series B. Cejwin Camps, 1920s-1971
Sub-series C. Odd Items, 1917-1963
Materials are available (by appointment only) at The Special Collections Reading Room, The Library of the Jewish Theological Seminary, 3080 Broadway, New York, NY 10027. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source of Acquisition
Gift of Jerome Abrams, July, 1994; June, 1998.
- Rabbinical Assembly (Organization)
- Finkelstein, Louis (1895-1991) (Person)
- Camp Cejwin (Organization)
- Central Jewish Institute (New York, N.Y.) (Organization)
- Camp Ramah (Organization)
- Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of New York (Organization)
- Training School for Jewish Social Work (New York, N.Y.) (Organization)
- National Jewish Welfare Board (Organization)
- Schoolman, Albert, P. (Person)
- Guide to the Jerome Abrams Papers
- ca.1920-1979; 1994
- RP; Julie Miller.
- August, 1994; rev. September 1994, November 1998
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- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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- Funding for the retrospective conversion of the original finding aid documents to produce this guide using Archivists’ Toolkit was made possible by a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).
- Edition statement
- 3rd Edition