Guide to the Records of American Jewish League for Israel (AJLI), 1927, 1957-2009

Processed by Carmen Hendershott

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



© 2018, American Jewish Historical Society, Boston, MA and New York, NY. All Rights Reserved.
Machine-readable finding aid created by Carmen Hendershott as MS Word document, November 2011. Finding aid was encoded by Marvin Rusinek on December 7, 2011. Description is in English.

Descriptive Summary

Creator: American Jewish League for Israel (AJLI)
Title: American Jewish League for Israel (AJLI), records
Dates:1927, 1957-2009
Abstract: Contains records on the formation, purpose, and activities of the American Jewish League for Israel, as reflected in organizational documents (including minutes), event literature, publications (including the AJLI newsletter, AJLI Bulletin, later called the AJLI News Bulletin and other titles), scholarship material, financial information, membership appeals, correspondence, media coverage, and photographs.
Languages: The collection is in English and Hebrew.
Quantity: 2 linear feet (4 manuscript boxes)
Identification: I-537
Repository: American Jewish Historical Society
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Historical Note

American Jewish League for Israel (AJLI) (New York) (1957- )

The American Jewish League for Israel (AJLI), headquartered in New York City, was formed in 1957 in New York State in reaction to what was perceived as an undemocratic and partisan approach to Zionism in the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), in which AJLI Zionists had formerly been members. In 1955, long-time Zionist leader Louis Lipsky had conceived "the idea of an organization to offer support to Israel but have no part in politics."1 By the time the ZOA held its annual convention in Miami in 1957, there were enough supporters around this non-partisan point of view that a splinter group had formed. The splinter group incorporated in New York State as a non-profit organization under the name Independent Zionists of America (IZA) on February 7, 1957, and the certificate was filed on February 11th.2 The Independent Zionists of America (IZA), held its founding assembly on May 18-19, 1957, just days before the May 21st ZOA convention in Florida. At that assembly, IZA voted to change its name to the American Jewish League for Israel. One of the reasons for the name change was the greater appeal of the word "Israel" than the word "Zionist" to American Jewish youth.3

The reaction of the Zionist Organization of America to the dissident group was swift - and negative. ZOA president emeritus Dr. Emanuel Neumann spoke against the splinter group at a meeting of the National Executive Council of the ZOA at the Miami convention, saying, "In truth, so far as the Zionist Movement is concerned - as in all democratic movements - you are either a party or you are nothing; you simply don't count."4 An AJLI pamphlet, published in August, 1957, The ZOA and Israeli Politics, answered Neumann and other ZOA attackers. In this pamphlet, AJLI detailed the close relationship between the ZOA and the General Zionist Party of Israel, an affiliation it said was denied by ZOA leaders.5 Text on the political affiliation of the ZOA with a specific Israeli political party indicated that ZOA food parcels were promised to Israeli voters who supported the election of representatives from the General Zionist Party to the Israeli Knesset in 1951.6 Further, the pamphlet alleged, the ZOA premises in Tel-Aviv were used as headquarters for the General Zionist Party during the 1955 elections, concluding: "No other Israeli party could even rent a room in this "neutral" outpost of American Jewry during that election."7 The pamphlet then recounted the failure of efforts to revise this policy of close party identification by reforming the ZOA from within, alleging suppression of any opposition by what had become a "party machine" organization.8

The preoccupation of the American Jewish League for Israel with non-alignment is the theme that shows up most often in statements about the organization. An undated letter starting "Dear Fellow Member" says: "…the philosophy of non-identification is essential for all Zionist Organizations in order best to serve the interests of the State of Israel and the Jewish people." It concludes:

The League stands on a platform calling for one united group of all friends of Israel, no matter what their social or political beliefs. It seeks to be the one voice for Israel in America.9

A "Statement of Policy" by AJLI president, Ezra Shapiro, says:

The League, as an organization believing firmly in the principle of non-identification with any political parties in Israel, will adhere undeviatingly to this principle, not only in word, but, more importantly, in act and deed. We mean to maintain our independence, as an organization of American Jews pledged to promote knowledgeable and abiding interest in Israel's welfare and closer, mutually meaningful relations between Israel and the American Jewish community.10

The preamble of the constitution of the American Jewish League for Israel says: "…We have joined to establish this organization composed of American Jews who stand above class or political party."11

Finally, an undated pamphlet entitled The American Jew and the State of Israel says:

The AMERICAN JEWISH LEAGUE FOR ISRAEL aspires to bring together those who, though they may differ among themselves in their philosophies of Jewish life, are united in a common commitment to the historic ideals that have ever clustered about the vision of Zion reborn. It stands above class or political party, and is dedicated to the welfare of Israel as a whole.12

As to specific activities, The American Jew and the State of Israel pamphlet states the intention of AJLI to publish a periodical, interest American Jewish youth in Israel, and establish special interest groups to promote Israel through local AJLI chapters in America.13

To some degree, the American Jewish League for Israel has accomplished all the aims set out in The American Jew and the State of Israel. It has published an organizational newsletter, originally entitled the AJLI Bulletin and currently called The Voice, since 1959; it has established a scholarship fund to send young American Jewish students to Israel for educational enrichment since 1988; and regional chapters of AJLI have been flourishing since the 1990s. Judging by the amount of material in the files, outreach to young American Jews has been a priority of AJLI.

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Scope and Content Note

The records of the American Jewish League for Israel represent its work to support the State of Israel without alignment to political parties. Its activities are documented in meeting events, minutes, platforms, proceedings, resolutions, and other historical documents, correspondence and publications.

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The collection is arranged into six 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

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Related Material

David Diamond Collection (P-59), Box 4, "American Jewish League for Israel" folder.
Louis Lipsky Collection (P-672), especially the text of the finding aid by Louise Sandberg.

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Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:
Identification of item, date (if known); American Jewish League for Israel (AJLI), records; I-537; box number; folder number; American Jewish Historical Society, New York, NY, and Boston, MA.

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Acquisition Information

Gift of the American Jewish League for Israel, donated on March 31, 2011 by AJLI Executive Director Jeff Scheckner.

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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.

Abbreviations used:
AJLI = American Jewish League for Israel
AZF = American Zionist Federation
AZYF = American Zionist Youth Foundation
IZA = Independent Zionists of America
ZOA = Zionist Organization of America

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: Minutes, 1957, 1962, 1986, 1989-1990, 2003

Box 1, Folders 1-3.

Scope and Content:

Meeting minutes and agendas from the AJLI National Board of Directors (1957, 1962, 1986, 1989-1999), the IZA Program Committee (1957), and AJLI Regional Meetings (1993, 2003).

1 1 Board of Directors (N.Y.) 1957, 1962, 1986, 1989-1999 request_box
1 2 Regional Meetings 1993, 2003 request_box
1 3 IZA Program Committee 1957 request_box
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Series II: Finances, 1957, 1971, 1990s, 2001-2003

Box 1, Folder 4-5.

General budget material comes first, followed by a separate folder for membership appeal budget material. Within each type, arrangement is chronological.

Scope and Content:

Includes balance sheet information and membership solicitations. Most material dates from the 1990s, with a small amount from 1957, 1971, and 2001-2003.

1 4 Budget (N.Y.) 1991, 1995, 1998-1999, 2001-2003 request_box
1 5 Membership Appeals undated, 1957, 1971, 1991-1995, 1997, 1999, 2003-2004 request_box
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Series III: Organizational Documents, undated, 1957-2007

English and Hebrew.
Scope and Content:

Includes correspondence on recipients of scholarships for study in Israel, including lists of recipients; correspondence related to financial contributions funding the scholarships; and students' letters responding to their experience in Israel. Material dates from 1989, 1991-1998, 2001, and 2004-2005.

Correspondence: Various organizational matters are reflected in this folder, including material on elections, event planning, and fund-raising.

Promotional Travel Material: This folder advertises trips to Costa Rica and Israel for AJLI, the former in 1999, the latter undated.

Media Coverage: This folder consists of newspaper clippings on AJLI and its members.

Documents: Contains, in the topical files, the organization's Certificate of Incorporation, Constitution, and various membership lists. Its yearly files at the national level include planning documents, correspondence, and announcements; those of outstanding interest are detailed in the scope and content note at the head of this finding aid. Regional Documents follow national ones.

Some folders contain material which is not evident from their labels. Series III: Organizational Documents, contain some materials of interest, including the following:

Correspondence contains a letter dated September 25, 1995, from U.S. President Bill Clinton; legal documents includes the Certificate of Incorporation for the initial incarnation of the American Jewish League for Israel, the Independent Zionists of America [IZA], dated February 7, 1957 (filed February 11, 1957) (Box 2, Folder 1).

Other content of interest is noted by year:

1957: Includes a statement by Louis Levinthal, Ezra Shapiro and Dewey Stone in defense of Louis Lipsky, in response to an attack by ZOA member Mortimer May. Also includes a statement by Louis Lipsky. (Box 2, Folder 6)

1958: Includes a Resolution on Jewish Education and Culture, [presented at the] AJLI First Annual Membership Meeting, June 20-22, 1958. (Box 2, Folder 7)

1960: Includes an address by AJLI president Ezra Shapiro, delivered at the AJLI Third National Membership Assembly, April 30-May 1, 1960. (Box 2, Folder 8)

1962: Includes a "Confederation and Merger" document, which refers to efforts made to unify two groups in the World Confederation of Zionists that are at odds regarding the "question of identification with political parties in Israel." (p.1) Includes names and addresses of officers and members of the Board of Directors. (Box 2, Folder 10)

1963: Includes a tribute to the recently-deceased Louis Lipsky by the current AJLI president, Samuel Daroff. (Box 2, Folder 11)

1970: Includes text on the February 3, 1970 birth of the American Zionist Federation (AZF), which represents thirteen American Zionist organizations, and a document entitled Guidelines for Establishment of Local Zionist Federations. (Box 2, Folder 16)

1974: Includes statements on the Yom Kippur War and the massacre in Maalot; the latter statement contains sections on the Jews in Syria and the Jews in South America. (Box 2, Folder 18)

1983-1984: Includes lists of officers and members of the Board of Directors elected at the AJLI national conventions in 1983 and 1984, respectively. (Box 2, Folders 19-20)

1986: Includes a letter from Reuben Katz, AJLI president, defending Ruth Popkin, president of Hadassah, against criticism by David Berkowitz. (Box 2, Folder 22)

1992: Includes text of agreement between the American Jewish League for Israel and the Israel American Zionist Youth Foundation. (Box 2, Folder 26)

1993: Includes a file of congratulatory correspondence on the election of Martin Kalmanson as AJLI president. (Box 2, Folder 27)

2003: Includes an undated list of provisional committee members (with their addresses) of the Independent Zionists of America; a 2003 list of the most common surnames, female first names, and male first names in Israel; and promotional literature, dated 2003, on the Kory Mandell Foundation. (Box 2, Folder 28)

1 6 Scholarship Material undated, 1989, 1991-1998, 2001, 2004-2005 request_box
1 7 Correspondence 1991-2005 request_box
1 8 Promotional Travel Material undated, 2003 request_box
1 9 Media Coverage 1983, 1992-1994, 1996, 2000 request_box
2 1 Constitution undated request_box
2 2 History undated, 1962 request_box
2 3 Legal 1957, 1960, 1962, 1965, 1971, 1991, 1994-1999, 2003, 2007 request_box
2 4 Membership Lists 1990-1991, 1999-2000, 2000 or 2001? request_box
2 5-7 National 1956-1958 request_box
2 8-14 National 1960-1966 request_box
2 15-17 National 1969-1971 request_box
2 19-24 National 1983-1988 request_box
2 25-27 National 1991-1993 request_box
2 28 National undated, 2003 request_box
2 29 Regional—Long Island, N.Y. 1992 request_box
2 30 Regional—Florida 1992-1993, 2003 request_box
2 31 Regional—Nassau, N.Y. 1992-1995 request_box
2 32 Regional—Suffolk, N.Y. undated, 1993-1994 request_box
2 33 Regional—New Jersey 1985 request_box
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Series IV: Publications, 1957-2009

Box 3, Folders 1-4 and Box 4, Folders 1-5.

Alphabetical by title of publication; then chronological, except that the various titles of AJLI's main newsletter, called the AJLI Bulletin for the greater part of its existence, have been grouped together in the first two folders of Box 3 for clarity and convenience, chronologically.

Scope and Content:

Contains the regular publications of the American Jewish League for Israel, including its newsletter under various titles (1957-1989; 1990-1996; 2004-2009), the American Israel Review (1957-1959) and the proceedings of its early annual meetings (1957-1958). There is also a folder of AJLI brochures and pamphlets. Finally, there are two folders of pamphlets and publications concerning Zionism by other organizations, especially the Zionist Organization of America, dating from 1927, 1957, and 2000 or 2001. Publications include: AJLI Bulletin 1959-1989; AJLI News Bulletin (and other changes of title) 1990-2009; American Israel Review 1957-1959; Independent Zionists of America [IZA] Proceedings 1957; American Jewish League for Israel Proceedings 1958; Zionist Literature by AJLI 1957, 1958, Undated; as well as Zionist Literature by Other Organizations 1927, 1957, 2000 or 2001.

Additionally, Series I, subseries H (Publications), Box 4, Folder 1 contains an address by Dr. Nahum Goldmann, president of the World Zionist Organization, and the text of eleven resolutions delivered at the AJLI National Founding Assembly, N.Y., May 18-19, 1957 (under its name of incorporation, Independent Zionists of America); Box 4, Folder 3 includes a pamphlet of addresses delivered at AJLI's National Founding Assembly, N.Y., May 18-19, 1957, and an analysis by Louis Lipsky of the 1957 ZOA Convention in Miami; and Box 4, Folder 4 contains an article from the November 18, 1927 issue of The New Palestine, "Farewell to Henrietta Szold," honoring this Hadassah leader. Also in this folder is a statement on the AJLI made by ZOA president emeritus Emanuel Neumann at the 1957 ZOA Convention in Miami in a 1957 pamphlet entitled "What's in a Name?"

3 1 AJLI Bulletin 1959-1989 request_box
3 2 AJLI News Bulletin 1990-May-June 1993 request_box
3 2 AJLI Newsletter 1993 October-1994 request_box
3 2 American Jewish League for Israel Newsletter September-October 1995-1996 request_box
3 2 The Voice 2004-2009 request_box
3 3 American Israel Review 1957-1959 request_box
3 4 IZA Proceedings (N.Y.) February 3, 1957 request_box
4 1 IZA Proceedings (N.Y.). Nat’l. Founding Assembly May 18-19, 1957 request_box
4 2 AJLI Annual Meeting, 1st, N.Y. Proceedings June 20-22, 1958 request_box
4 3 Zionist Literature by AJLI undated, 1957-1958 request_box
4 4 Zionist Literature by Other Organizations November 18, 1927, 1957, 2000 or 2001 request_box
4 5 Zionist Literature by Other Organizations -- The New Outlook (ZOA) March-April 1957 request_box
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Series V: Events, 1957-2009

Box 4, Folders 6-17.

Geographical, with the national (annual meeting) and New York City events first, followed by the regional events, arranged alphabetically by place, and then chronologically. The New York City events are arranged alphabetically by type and then within each folder chronologically.

Scope and Content:

Covers annual meetings (1986, 1989, 1991-1992); in the New York City material, covers the main activity, luncheon forums (1981, 1991-2000; 2004-2005), as well as sporadic dinner (1958), leadership conference (1965-1966), and other meeting events (1960, 1992). The regional events, all dating from the 1990s except for one luncheon forum in Massachusetts in 2004, originate mainly from the greater metropolitan area of New York City or from Florida, and are mainly of the lecture-panel discussion-seminar variety.

4 6 AJLI – Annual Meetings 1986, 1989, 1991-1992 request_box
4 7 New York—Dinner 1958 request_box
4 8 New York – Leadership Conferences 1965-1966 request_box
4 9 New York – Luncheon Forums 1981, 1991-2000, 2004-2005 request_box
4 10 New York – Meeting 1960 request_box
4 11 New York – Meeting – AJLI Convention Committee 1992 request_box
4 12 Regional – Florida 1992-1995, 1997-1999, 2003 request_box
4 13 Regional – Massachusetts – Luncheon Forum 2004 request_box
4 14 Regional – New York – Long Island 1986, 1994 request_box
4 15 Regional – New York – Nassau 1992, 1994 request_box
4 16 Regional – Washington, D.C. – Dinner 1999 request_box
4 17 External or Multi-Sponsored 1985, 1992 request_box
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Series VI: Photographs, undated

(Visual material)
Box 4, Folder 18.

None, as the photographs are undated and unattributed.

Scope and Content:

There are eight photographs in this folder, all group photographs. Three are in color, five are in black-and-white. Two of the color photographs identify the figures shown. None of them identify the events and none of them are dated. A CD accompanies these photographs.

4 18 Photographs undated request_box
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