Records of the Buffalo Board of Rabbis
Scope and Contents
List of rabbis associated with the Buffalo Board of Rabbis appear in several folding demonstrating how membership changed over time. (Folders 1.1; 1.11; 1.26, 2.6; 2.15; 3.1 and 3.15). Over the period represented by these records, the BBR issued a number of statements or resolutions on various issues that ranged from opposition to the death penalty (folder 1.30), and support for the inclusion of the disabled in Jewish community activities with funding provided for support (folder 2.19).
As an institution, and as individual members, rabbis were involved in interfaith organizations (folders 1.9; 1.21; 2.1; and 3.8) and warm relations members of various religious institutions in Buffalo, is illustrated in the Bishop Henry J. Mansell correspondence (folder 3.5).
The Buffalo Board of Rabbis was also involved in community educational programming and often undertook joint programming with the Bureau of Jewish Education (folders 2.2-2.3; 2.14; 2.25; 3.10). A discussion about a University at Buffalo, Interdisciplinary Center for Jewish Studies is a significant document given the eventual creation of the Institute of Jewish Thought and Culture that launched at the University at Buffalo in 2008 (folder 3.12).
Some issues are discussed at regular intervals including the problems associated with holding events on dates that coincide with Jewish religious holiday. This includes various school districts, the University at Buffalo and Erie County public meetings (see folders 2.27 and 3.9). Other topics discussed happen as an issue arose, such as the changes around the use of the former community mikveh in Kenmore, and kashrut certification and programs at Jewish institutions including the Jewish Community Center on Delaware Avenue and Menorah Campus (folders 1.8, 2.28). Menorah Campus was an expanded geriatric campus located in Getzville that included the former Rosa Coplon Home and Infirmary. In the late 1990s, Menorah Campus was renamed Weinberg Campus.
The Buffalo Board of Rabbis was involved in chaplaincy at both hospitals and prisons and programs associated with such facilities such as the Jewish Family Service Hospice Program (folder 1.5). It also played a role in bereavement programming (1.24).
Jewish community calendar events were a regular topic of planning, especially around commemoration of Yom HaShoah (Holocaust) and celebration of Yom Ha’atzma’ut (Israel Independence Day) or Jewish New Year messages. These topics are discussed in folders 1.17, 1.25, 2.4).
- Buffalo Board of Rabbis (Organization)
Language of Materials
Collection material in English.
Terms of Access
The Records of the Buffalo Board of Rabbis, 1985-2001 are open for research.
Copyright of papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns. Researchers must obtain the written permission of the holder(s) of copyright and the University Archives before publishing quotations from materials in the collection. Most papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures unless otherwise specified.
The Buffalo Board of Rabbis (BBR) has been active at various times since 1955 although not always continuously. Creation of the Buffalo Board of Rabbis is attributed to Rabbi Isaac Klein. While the Board has existed since the mid-1950s there has been limited centralized record keeping. It is likely that many more BBR materials will be found in each rabbi's associated synagogue records.
As of 2000, the mission of the BBR is to serve the Jewish Community of the Buffalo region “in a spirit of respect, tolerance and mutual support.” It operates as a forum for cooperation, collegiality and camaraderie among rabbis across the various branches of Judaism. It also works to raise and responds to issues of concern within the Jewish community as a whole, lend a voice and support to local Jewish communal agencies, facilitate communication between Jewish organizations and their constituencies, as well as to serve as representatives to the general community and advocate for Jewish communal needs in the public square.
Membership of the BBR is open to Rabbis ordained by recognized seminaries including the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion, Jewish Theological Seminary, University of Judaism – Ziegler School, The Metivta, Yeshiva University (REITS). It is also open to as rabbis who are members of professional organizations associated with these rabbinical schools.
Members of the Buffalo Board of Rabbis hold positions on various Jewish organizational boards or special committees, including: Yom HaShoah (community wide observation of the Holocaust), Yom Ha’atzma’ut (community wide celebration of the foundation of Israeli State), Jewish Federation of Greater Buffalo, Bureau of Jewish Education, Jewish Community Centers, Jewish Family Service, Kadimah School of Buffalo, Weinberg Campus (formerly Menorah Campus), Holocaust Resource Center, Hillel and Yad B’Yad.
BBR members are active as prison chaplains at local penitentiaries and correctional centers including Attica, Wyoming, Albion, Orleans, Wende, Collins and Lakeview. Members of the BBR also served as chaplains in area hospitals and participate in annual Thanksgiving festivities along with Christian, Baha’i, Hindu, Islamic and Sikh participants. BBR members lead annual Passover seder programs open to the entire community at Temple Beth Zion coordinated by the Jewish Federation of Greater Buffalo. As part of a commitment to inter-faith relations, members of the BBR and the BBR as an organization are also active in a number of interfaith initiatives and groups including the Network of Religious Communities (a fusion of the former: Buffalo Area Metropolitan Ministries and Buffalo Area Council of Churches).
1.25 Linear Feet (3 manuscript boxes)
Records documenting activities of the Buffalo Board of Rabbis. Includes minutes, correspondence, newspaper clippings and policy documents relating to the activities within the Jewish community, broader Buffalo community. It also contains materials that deal with issues relating to Jewish life within the University at Buffalo.
This collection is arranged in eight series: seven by presidential term in date order and the eighth containing separated Jewish Federation materials. This order preserves original order. Arrangement has also preserved administrative styles of each president. Presidential terms began mid year in June/July during the 1980s and 1990s and lasted for two years. There is discontinuity between Rabbis Schwartz and Feshbach.
- President: Rabbi Jeffrey Bennett
- President: Rabbi Steven Mason
- President: Rabbi Eliot Marrus
- President: Rabbi Robert J. Eisen
- President: Rabbi Joshua Aaronson
- President: Rabbi Barry Schwartz
- President: Rabbi Michael Feshbach
- Jewish Federation.
Rabbi Alexander Lazarus-Klein donated the Buffalo Board of Rabbis materials in 2013. The collection was first surveyed in June 2009 and it was processed in January 2014. It was deposited at the University Archives, Special Collections by the Jewish Buffalo Archives Project in February 2014. The collection was expanded in January 2014. The Jewish Buffalo Archives Project was founded in late 2007 under the auspices of the Bureau of Jewish Education of Greater Buffalo with a seed grant from the Foundation for Jewish Philanthropies. The Archives Project collects mainly twentieth century documentation relating to the diverse histories, religious traditions and cultures of Jewish communities within the Greater Buffalo area of Western New York, encompassing the geographic areas of Erie and Niagara Counties and partners with the University Archives at the University at Buffalo to make these records accessible.
Accruals and Additions
No further accruals are expected to this collection.
Processed by Chana Revell Kotzin, January 2014.
- Finding Aid for the Records of the Buffalo Board of Rabbis
- Finding aid prepared by Chana Revell Kotzin, February 2014.
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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- The arrangement and description of the Records of the Buffalo Board of Rabbis was made possible by funding obtained through the Foundation for Jewish Philanthropies and the Bureau of Jewish Education.