The American Jewish Congress (AJC) was founded in 1916 and reorganized in 1920 and 1938. The groundwork for the Northern California Division was laid in the 1930s by Rabbis Saul White of Beth Sholom and Elliot Burstein of Beth Israel when they organized a boycott of German goods. The Division was officially founded in December 1943.
Western Jewish Americana
Beatrice Lowenstein was born in 1879 in New York City to Benedict and Sophia (Mendelson) Lowenstein. Benedict (1831-1879) was born in the Rhineland in 1831 and immigrated to the United States in the middle of the nineteenth century. He settled in Memphis, Tennessee, where he and he brothers established a dry goods business, B. Lowenstein & Bros. The brothers made frequent trips to New York to buy goods for their business. While in New York Benedict met Sophia Mendelson (1848-1884).
James Mack Gerstley and Elizabeth Lilienthal married at the home of Madeleine Russell in Atherton in 1934. In the mid-1930s, James Mack Gerstley started working for the Pacific Borax Company in Los Angeles. By 1950, he had become president of the company, which later became known as U.S. Borax and Chemical Co. The company was cemented in the popular imagination by its 20-mule team, which became an icon of the American West. James Mack and Elizabeth had two children, Ann and Jimmy (James).
Elie Jacques Tennenbaum was born in Krakow in 1917 to Leon Tennenbaum and Rose Stern. At the age of 22, driven by the restrictions on Jews studying medicine in Poland, Elie left his home for France and entered medical school. His parents remained in Poland and perished in the Holocaust. With the Nazi occupation of Paris, Elie was forced to flee France, securing passage from Marseilles to Shanghai, China in 1939. In Shanghai, Elie continued his medical studies at Aurora University, which was run by the Jesuits, and lived in a house in Hongkui owned by Mr. Rubin Goldberg.
Congregation Netivot Shalom was founded in 1989 in Berkeley, California as an egalitarian Conservative congregation. Its founding Rabbi was Stuart Kelman.
The collection consists of Congregation Netivot Shalom's archive from 1989 to 2007. Included are files on congregational buildings, education programs, events, membership, and committees, as well as a full run of the Congregation's newsletter.
Thérèse Jelenko was born Theresa Ehrman in 1884. The daughter of Jennie Rosenthal Ehrman and Herman Ehrman, Thérèse grew up in San Francisco, where she nurtured her talent as a pianist. Thérèse's parents were friends with Michael and Sarah Stein (the Steins were an East Bay family) and Thérèse taught piano to the Stein's son, Allan. When the Steins moved to Europe in 1903, they took Thérèse with them. She lived with the Stein family at 1 Rue de Fleurus (down the street from Leo and Gertrude Stein, who lived at 27 Rue de Fleurus).
The collection consists of a letter written, in 1855, by Julius Eckman, the rabbi of San Francisco’s Congregation Emanu-El, to Solomon Nunes Carvalho, who served as the official photographer of John C. Fremont’s expedition (1853-1854). (Magnes Small Western Collections)
Harold Edelstein was president of the Manasse-Block Tanning Company in Berkeley, Calif.; member of the Advisory Committee of the Office of Price Stabilization and served on the Berkeley War Council, where he helped that organization fulfill its mandate of initiating, coordinating, and directing all World War II activities that affected Berkeley and that required organized community action.
Lily Podvidz (1915-1981) was born in San Francisco and lived in Petaluma, California during the 1920s. She later worked in Washington, D.C. She was an educational administrator, author, editor, and an officer in national educational associations. In 1961, she became the director of B'nai B'rith's Department of Adult Jewish Education and she edited Jewish Heritage. Her husband, Nathan Edelman, was also her first cousin. Nathan was born in Paris in 1911 and immigrated to the U.S. in 1922.
Louis Elkus (1826-1904) was an early pioneer and merchant in the Sacramento area, as well as a president of Sacramento's Congregation B'nai Israel (1861-1890). The merchant Albert Elkus was a mayor of Sacramento (1921-1925), a founder and a director of the Sacramento Municipal Utilities District for twenty-three years, and a president of B'nai Israel (1897-1915, 1926-1933). In addition, he was also a grand president of B'nai B'rith District Grand Lodge No. 4 and a member of the David Lubin Lodge, No. 37.