Guide to the Records of Jewish Center of Williamsbridge (Bronx, New York), undated, 1921-2002
 
I-509

Processed by Adina Anflick and Marvin Rusinek

American Jewish Historical Society

Center for Jewish History

15 West 16th Street

New York, N.Y. 10011

Phone: (212) 294-6160

Fax: (212) 294-6161

Email: reference@ajhs.org

URL: http://www.ajhs.org

© 2016, American Jewish Historical Society, Boston, MA and New York, NY. All Rights Reserved.
Machine-readable finding aid created by Marvin Rusinek as MS Word document, May 2011. Finding aid was encoded by Marvin Rusinek on May 17, 2011. Description is in English.

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Jewish Center of Williamsbridge (Bronx, N.Y.)
Title: Jewish Center of Williamsbridge (Bronx, New York), records
Dates:undated, 1921-2002
Abstract: Contains the Bulletin of the Jewish Center of Williamsbridge from the 1940s to the 1970s and gift books bound with yearbooks of the Center bound inside. Also includes material regarding Doctor Rabbi Akiba Predmesky (d. 1998), who served the Jewish community and the Jewish Center of Williamsbridge for over fifty years.
Languages: The collection is in English, Hebrew, and Yiddish.
Quantity: 6.2 linear feet (9 manuscript boxes, 1 oversized box, 2 oversized folders)
Identification: I-509
Repository: American Jewish Historical Society
Location: Located in AJHS New York, NY
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Historical Note
Group portrait of members of the Williamsbridge Jewish Center

Group portrait of members of the Williamsbridge Jewish Center, 1978

Jewish Center of Williamsbridge (Bronx, New York)

Williamsbridge is a neighborhood in the north central Bronx, centered on Gun Hill Road and bounded to the north by East 233rd Street, to the east by Edenwald, to the south by the neighborhood of Pelham Parkway, and to the west by the Bronx River.1 The opening of subway lines in the 1930s and 1940s gave momentum to large scale public and private housing developments in new areas. As a result of this affordable housing, large numbers of Jews moved to Pelham Bay Park, Edenwald, Wakefield, Gun Hill Road, Williamsbridge, Olinville, Eastchester, Unionport, Throggs Neck and Woodland.2

The Jewish Center of Williamsbridge was founded in 1924 by Harry Brettholtz. Brettholtz, a devout Jew, realized the need for a place of spiritual growth for the Jewish community. He called together a meeting of ten men at his home and explained the need for a house of worship and a Talmud Torah for the children. They discussed the building of a Jewish Center, where their children could be brought up in a Jewish atmosphere and the adults can enjoy a pleasant social life.3

To begin, Brettholtz had his electricity connected to an unsold house adjoining his and synagogue services were temporarily held there. The official organization to be called the Jewish Center of Williamsbridge was soon launched and Mr. Brettholtz became its first President. The Jewish Center of Williamsbridge officially started in July of 1924 on 2910 Barnes Avenue, located opposite of the Botanic Gardens of Bronx Park in Williamsbridge.4

Julius Pezenik donated two lots and a temporary wooden building was erected under the leadership of Brettholtz. Other neighbors joined the Center and the women of the community organized a Ladies Auxiliary that worked diligently to assist with the social activities of the Center. The auxiliary later became the Sisterhood.5

From a small Congregation, Talmud Torah and Center, the Jewish Center of Williamsbridge grew to serve hundreds of Jewish families living in the neighborhood. The Center provided religious education for their children and spiritual guidance for their families. At the time, the Center became one of the largest synagogues in the United States.

The Center participated in the war effort in World War II, by taking part in the Red Cross, War Bond Drives, Civilian Defense Volunteer Office and any other war activity. The Jewish Center of Williamsbridge assisted the United Jewish Appeal (UJA) and Bonds for Israel, and cooperated in philanthropic and Yeshivah campaigns.6 The Modern Orthodox synagogue flourished until the 1960s, when its members began to age or move to other neighborhoods.7

Rabbi Akiba Predmesky served the Jewish Center of Williamsbridge and the neighboring community for over fifty years.8 Upon his death in 1998, the Center's trustees decided to deconsecrate the building and sell it.9 The Jewish Center of Williamsbridge closed in 2006.10

Footnotes

1 Jackson, Kenneth T. The Encyclopedia of New York City. (AJHS Call #: REF F128.3.E75 1995)

2 Israelowitz, Oscar. Synagogues of New York City: History of a Jewish Community. Israelowitz Publishing, 2000: (AJHS Call #: REF BM225.N49 I85 2000)

3 30th Anniversary Banquet Souvenir Programme 1924-1954 (I-509 collection, Box 5, Folder 1)

4 ibid

5 ibid

6The Rabbi's Message from the 35th Anniversary Journal (I-509, Box 5, Folder 2)

7 American Jewish Historical Society Living History, vol. 2, issue 2, Summer 2006 (http://www.ajhs.org/images/LivingHistory.pdf).

8http://old.yuhsb.org/currentyr/admission/newsltr/2008-2009/5-28%20newsletter.pdf

9 American Jewish Historical Society Living History, vol. 2, issue 2, Summer 2006 (http://www.ajhs.org/images/LivingHistory.pdf).

10 ibid

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Scope and Content Note

The records of the Jewish Center of Williamsbridge (Bronx, New York) represent the synagogue's administrative, religious, educational and social activities throughout the twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty-first century (1924-2006).

The records contain the Bulletin of the Jewish Center from the 1940s to the 1970s, yearbooks and gift books bound with yearbooks of the Center inside them. Also included are material regarding Doctor Rabbi Akiba Predmesky (d. 1998), who served the Jewish community and the Jewish Center of Williamsbridge for over fifty years.

Types of material found in the collection include blueprints, brochures, bulletins, calendars, correspondence, drafts, gift books, invitations, journals, news clippings, notes, photographs, plaques, posters, publications, sheet music, telegrams, and yearbooks.

The collection is in English, Hebrew, and Yiddish. The collection is arranged into five series.

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Arrangement

The collection is arranged into five series as follows:

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Access and Use

Access Restrictions

The collection is open to all researchers by permission of the Director of Library and Archives of the American Jewish Historical Society, except items that are restricted due to their fragility.

Use Restrictions

Information concerning the literary rights may be obtained from the Director of Library and Archives of the American Jewish Historical Society. Users must apply in writing for permission to quote, reproduce or otherwise publish manuscript materials found in this collection. For more information contact:
American Jewish Historical Society, Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, New York, NY, 10011
email: reference@ajhs.org

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Separated Material

Nine objects donated from the Jewish Center of Williamsbridge were separated and moved into the Museum Collection: Three banners, two rabbinical robes and three hats, one tallit bag and one shofar, collection 2006.016.001-09.

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Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:
Identification of item, date (if known); Jewish Center of Williamsbridge (Bronx, New York), records; I-509; box number; folder number; American Jewish Historical Society, New York, NY, and Boston, MA.

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Acquisition Information

Jewish Center of Williamsbridge, 2006.

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Access Points

Click on a subject to search that term in the Center's catalog. Return to the Top of Page

Container List

The following section contains a detailed listing of the materials in the collection.

Click the box in the request column to open the form that allows you to request a box for onsite viewing in the reading room at the Center for Jewish History, New York, NY.

 

Series I: Rabbi Predmesky, undated, 1946-1981

The Series is in English.
Box 1, Folders 1-5.
Arrangement:

Arranged alphabetically by folder title.

Scope and Content:

The series contains material about Doctor Rabbi Akiba Predmesky, who was the rabbi of the Jewish Center of Williamsbridge and participated in the Jewish community for over fifty years. Types of material found within this series include correspondence, honors and testimonials, telegrams from Jewish agencies regarding Palestine, and documents concerning his involvement with the Rabbinical Council of America. Also included in the series are papers from his wife's involvement with Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations.

BoxFolderTitleDateRequest
1 1 Rabbi Akiba Predmesky, correspondence undated, 1946-1948, 1965-1967, 1981 request_box
1 2 Rabbi Akiba Predmesky, Honors and Testimonials 1946, 1959, 1964 request_box
1 3 Rabbi Akiba Predmesky, Rabbinical Council of America 1947-1948 request_box
1 4 Rabbi Akiba Predmesky, telegrams from Jewish agencies re: Palestine 1947-1948 request_box
1 5 Mrs. Predmesky, Women’s Branch, Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations 1948 request_box
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Series II: Publications, undated, 1921-2002

The Series is in English, Hebrew, and Yiddish.
Box 1, Folder 6 -- Box 8.
Arrangement:

Arranged into four subseries.

Scope and Content:

The series consists of general publications, journals, yearbooks, and gift books. The general publications include Bulletins of the Jewish Center of Williamsbridge. The journals are souvenir journals from Graduation Exercises held at the Jewish Center of Williamsbridge. The Center's yearbooks are from the 1960s. The gift books contain yearbooks of the Center inside them.

Subseries A: General Publications, undated, 1921-2002

The Subseries is in English, Hebrew, and Yiddish.
Box 1, Folder 6 -- Box 4, Folder 6.
Arrangement:

Arranged alphabetically by folder title.

Scope and Content:

The subseries consists of publications of the synagogue and those also collected by the synagogue. Of significance are the bulletins of the Jewish Center of Williamsbridge which document the activities of the synagogue. Other publications include those for the Sisterhood and publications for rallies and support of Israel. Other items of interest include the hagadot and publications about Jewish customs such as the "Grace after Meals" and readings for Sabbath Eve.

BoxFolderTitleDateRequest
1 6 “Bar Mitzvah Study,” by Prof. G. Selkowitz undated request_box
  (contains Yiddish)   
1 7 Book of Life undated, 1962-1963 request_box
1 8 Bulletin November 1943-February 1945 request_box
1 9 Bulletin November 1964-December 1965 request_box
1 10 Bulletin 1966 request_box
1 11 Bulletin 1967 request_box
1 12 Bulletin 1968 request_box
1 13 Bulletin 1969 request_box
1 14 Bulletin 1970 request_box
1 15 Bulletin 1971 request_box
1 16 Bulletin 1972 request_box
1 17 Bulletin 1973 request_box
1 18 Bulletin February 1974, 1976, September 1977 request_box
BoxFolderTitleDateRequest
2 1 Grace After Meals, Bar Mitzvahs 1958, 1977, 1980, 1997 request_box
2 2 Grace After Meals, various undated, 1960 request_box
  (contains Hebrew)   
2 3 Grace After Meals, Weddings 1958, 1963, 1970, 1973, 1978-1980, 1983 request_box
2 4 Hagadot, Maxwell House Coffee undated request_box
  (contains Hebrew)   
2 5 Hagadot, Orphan Hospital Ward of Israel undated, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1975, 1987 request_box
  (contains Hebrew)   
2 6 Hagadot, Matza bakers, Bordens, Waldbaums undated, 1952, 1957-1958, 1962, 1997, 1999 request_box
  (contains Hebrew)   
2 7 Hagadot, various 1921, 1960, 1966, 1994-1995 request_box
  (contains Hebrew)   
BoxFolderTitleDateRequest
3 1 “Haggath for the American Family” 1958 request_box
3 2 Hebrew School, Purim Show and Graduation 1944, 1960 request_box
3 3 High Holiday Newsletter September 2002 request_box
3 4 Holiday Bulletins, other synagogues undated, 1952 request_box
3 5 Holidays, various publications undated, 1947, 1969 request_box
3 6 Index Cards: Name Lists for Religious Services undated request_box
3 7 Israel Tour, “Passport” 1965-1966 request_box
3 8 “Jacob’s cattle and Modern Genetics,” William Etkin undated request_box
3 9 Jewish Education Committee of New York, publication undated request_box
3 10 “My Men’s Club,” Nathan Drazin undated request_box
3 11 National Jewish Welfare Board, publications for Serviceman undated, 1943 request_box
3 12 Noar Mizrachi of America, publications undated request_box
3 13 Prayers for Unveiling a Tombstone, compiled by Rev. D. Greenberg undated request_box
3 14 Rallies for Israel undated, 1944 request_box
3 15 Readings and Songs for Sabbath Eve undated request_box
3 16 Shaare Torah News undated, 1960, 1963-1964 request_box
3 17 Sisterhood 1946-1948, 1963, 1967 request_box
3 18 Societies and Lodges, various bulletins and newsletters 1946-1947, 1950 request_box
3 19 Support for Israel, various publications (contains oversized poster) undated, 1946-1947, 1952, 1958, 1982 request_box
BoxFolderTitleDateRequest
4 1 “Talmud Torah Scroll,” vol. 1, no. 1 and 2 1955 request_box
4 2 Talmud Torah, Model Seder undated request_box
4 3 The Eternal Light, radio transcripts 1945, 1948 request_box
4 4 Yeshivath Adath B’nai Israel, Safira Book undated request_box
4 5 Young Leaders Manuals, various publishers 1941, 1965 request_box
4 6 Young People’s League, publications undated, 1940-1941 request_box

Subseries B: Journals, undated, 1944-1968

The Subseries is in English.
Box 4, Folder 7 -- Box 5, Folder 5.
Arrangement:

Arranged alphabetically by folder title and chronologically.

Scope and Content:

The subseries has souvenir journals of graduation exercises, 30th Anniversary Banquet journal, and the 35th Anniversary Journal.

BoxFolderTitleDateRequest
4 7 Graduation Exercises, Souvenir Journals 1944-1947 request_box
4 8 Graduation Exercises, Souvenir Journals 1948, 1950-1951 request_box
4 9 Graduation Exercises, Souvenir Journals 1952-1953 request_box
4 10 Graduation Exercises, Souvenir Journals 1955-1957 request_box
BoxFolderTitleDateRequest
5 1 30th Anniversary Banquet 1954 request_box
5 2 35th Anniversary Journal 1959 request_box
5 3 Annual Journal 1960 request_box
5 4 Annual Journal ads, open letters undated request_box
5 5 Benny Troy, 75th Birthday Souvenir Journal 1968 request_box

Subseries C: Yearbooks, 1961-1967

The Subseries is in English.
Box 5, Folders 6-9.
Arrangement:

Arranged chronologically.

Scope and Content:

The subseries is composed of yearbooks of the Jewish Center of Williamsbridge during the years 1961 to 1967, with gaps.

BoxFolderTitleDateRequest
5 6 Yearbook 1961 request_box
5 7 Yearbook 1962 request_box
5 8 Yearbook 1965 request_box
5 9 Yearbook 1967 request_box

Subseries D: Gift Books (with their Yearbook inside), undated, 1958-1974

The Subseries is in English and Yiddish.
Boxes 6-8.
Scope and Content:

The subseries consists of gift books with yearbooks bound inside them and published during the years from 1958 to 1974.

BoxFolderTitleDateRequest
6 “Sholem Asch Fun Der Noent” (Face to Face with Sholem Asch), by Shloyme Rosenberg (contains Yiddish) 1958 request_box
6 “The High Holy Days,” compiled by Naphtali Winter 1973 request_box
6 “Family,” compiled by Hayyim Schneid 1973 request_box
6 “The Return to Zion,” compiled by Aryeh Rubinstein 1974 request_box
6 “Equal Justice Under Law: The Supreme Court in American Life,” by The Foundation of the Federal Bar Association 1965 request_box
6 “Israel,” by Robert St. John and Editors of Time-Life Books 1968 request_box
6 “Partners in State-Building: American Jewry & Israel,” by Jacob A. Rubin undated request_box
BoxFolderTitleDateRequest
7 “Treasures of Judaica,” by Harry M. Rabinowicz 1971 request_box
7 “Pictorial History of Israel,” by Jacob A. Rubin and Meyer Barkai (2 copies) 1958 request_box
7 “The Jewish People: A Pictorial History” 1974 request_box
7 “Heroes of American Jewish History,” by Deborah Karp 1972 request_box
7 “The Junior Jewish Encyclopedia,” edited by Naomi Ben-Asher and Hayim Leaf undated request_box
BoxFolderTitleDateRequest
8 “Portrait: The emergence of John F. Kennedy,” by Jacques Lowe 1961 request_box
8 “Let My People Go: A Haggadah,” by Mark Podwal 1973 request_box
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Series III: Ephemera, undated, 1931-1992

The Series is in English.
Box 8, Folders 1 to 8.
Arrangement:

Arranged into two subseries.

Scope and Content:

The series consists of ephemera of the Jewish Center, including invitations and calendars.

Subseries A: Invitations, undated, 1946-1981

The Subseries is in English.
Box 8, Folders 1-5.
Arrangement:

Arranged alphabetically by folder title.

Scope and Content:

The subseries contains invitations to annual breakfasts, dedication ceremonies, invitations to M'Lava Malka (the Sabbath Saturday evening dinner meal), Zionism invitations, and other various invitations.

BoxFolderTitleDateRequest
8 1 Annual Breakfasts, Invitations 1956-1962, 1964-1965, 1981 request_box
8 2 Invitation, Dedication Ceremonies 1961 request_box
8 3 Invitations, various undated, 1966-1967 request_box
8 4 M’Lava Malka, Invitations 1962-1969, 1971-1972, 1976 request_box
8 5 Zionism Invitations 1946-1947 request_box

Subseries B: Calendars, 1931-1992

The Subseries is in English.
Box 8, Folders 6-8.
Arrangement:

Arranged alphabetically by folder title.

Scope and Content:

The subseries consists of various calendars such as a 24 Year Calendar Conversion, calendars by funeral directors, and Hebrew calendars.

BoxFolderTitleDateRequest
8 6 24 Year Calendar Conversion 1931-1955 request_box
8 7 Calendars, Funeral Directors, Wallet-size 1953-1957, 1959, 1963-1964, 1966-1968, 1970, 1972, 1975, 1979-1990 request_box
8 8 Hebrew Calendars 1989-1992 request_box
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Series IV: Miscellaneous, undated, 1924, 1944-1999

The Series is in English.
Box 8, Folder 9 -- Box 9, Folder 7.
Arrangement:

Arranged alphabetically by folder title.

Scope and Content:

This series contains material that could not be placed into other series. Types of material that can be found here include bar mitzvah and wedding guides, an application for membership to the Lincoln Park Jewish Center, sheet music, and information about the Holocaust and Soviet Jewry.

BoxFolderTitleDateRequest
8 9 Bar Mitzvah and Wedding guides 1964, 1999 request_box
8 10 Chanukah Entertainments and Playing Cards undated, 1924 request_box
8 11 Friday Evening Forums undated, 1951-1952, 1954, 1956-1957 request_box
8 12 Holocaust undated, 1944, 1946, 1950 request_box
BoxFolderTitleDateRequest
9 1 Lincoln Park Jewish Center (Yonkers, N.Y.): Application for Membership undated request_box
9 2 Newsclippings undated, 1947, 1960, 1962, 1964 request_box
9 3 The Rabbi’s Corner, manuscript draft undated request_box
9 4 Sheet Music: “Agudah Ahat” (“We are One”) 1975 request_box
9 5 Soviet Jewry, Solidarity Sunday undated request_box
9 6 Yizkor, Memorial Services, various, and Funeral Parlor bookmark undated, 1957, 1963 request_box
9 7 Yizkor Service, Yom Kippur War undated request_box
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Series V: Photographs and Plaques, undated, 1963

Box 9, Folders 8-10.
Arrangement:

Arranged alphabetically by folder title.

Scope and Content:

The series contains photographs, photographs on CD-ROMs, and plaques accompanied with notes and brochures.

BoxFolderTitleDateRequest
9 8 Photograph undated request_box
9 9 Photographs on CD-ROMs undated request_box
9 10 Plaques, correspondence, notes and brochures undated, 1963 request_box
BoxFolderTitleDateRequest
9Plaque: "Joint Defense Appeal"undatedrequest_box
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Series VI: Ledgers, undated

The Series is in English.
Box 9 and Box 10(OS1).
Scope and Content:

The series contains undated members ledgers and an undated "Alyias Donation Book" ledger.

BoxFolderTitleDateRequest
9 Members Ledger undated request_box
9 Members Ledger undated request_box
BoxFolderTitleDateRequest
10(OS1) “Alyias Donation Book” Ledger undated request_box
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Separated Oversized Material, undated

English and Hebrew.
OS1F Folder 1 and OS2F Folder 1.
BoxFolderTitleDateRequest
OS1F 1 Membership Signs (contains Hebrew) undated request_box
BoxFolderTitleDateRequest
OS2F 1 Interior Architectural plan undated request_box
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