Bureau of Jewish Education of Greater Buffalo records
Scope and Contents
This collection documents the activities of the Bureau of Jewish Education of Greater Buffalo, a non-profit community-based educational institution. The records consist mainly of minutes, committee reports, financial and membership records, correspondence, and Jewish programs and pedagogical information. In general, activities and programs run from September to May.
I. Executive files, 1935-2009 consists of board minutes, correspondence, committee files, financial data, and membership information. Subseries A. Board Minutes contain board minutes and documents such as annual committee reports, bylaws, and the Bureau’s early publications. Even though Subseries E. Membership keeps track of the BJE’s members since 1979, the researcher can also find more detailed membership information from 1991 forward in Series III. Office Administrative Files.
There are four subseries in Series II. Administrative files; Subseries A. Federation files (Jewish Federation of Buffalo), Subseries B. Legal, Subseries C. Correspondence, and Subseries D. Publications. A variety of BJE-released reports, press releases, handouts, and presidential speech scripts can be found in Subseries D. Publications. Since self-study reports were prepared by the Self-Study Committee, the researcher can find drafts and notes, along with evaluation forms from teachers and synagogues, in Subseries D. Committees of Series I.
III. Office administrative files, 1993-2006 are from Mindy Ponivas, Office Manager and Program Administrative Assistant. Includes correspondence with rabbis, membership information, school calendar, special program files, teachers’ list, and affiliates’ directory. Photographs are also included.
IV. Education includes course bulletins, program brochures, and event flyers, from pre-school to adult school. This series also includes teachers’ event/program instructions and teaching resource materials.
Materials in the collection are mainly textual, including correspondence and newspaper and magazine clippings. Photographs and audio material are also included in the collection.
- Majority of material found within 1935-2009
- Bureau of Jewish Education (Buffalo, N.Y.) (Organization)
Language of Materials
Collection material in English.
Terms of Access
The Bureau of Jewish Education of Greater Buffalo records, 1933-2009 are open for research.
Access to portions of this collection is RESTRICTED.
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.
In 1929, after conducting a house-to-house canvass throughout the City of Buffalo, Herman Wile, President of Temple Beth Zion, became concerned that a large number of Jewish children of school age were receiving no Jewish education. Around the same time, the Citizens’ Committee of Buffalo Jewry also conducted a survey of Jewish communal life in Buffalo. Louis Hurwich, Director of the Bureau of Jewish Education of Boston, recommended the establishment of a bureau of Jewish education in Buffalo. With support from the Jewish Federation of Greater Buffalo, the Bureau of Jewish Education (BJE) was founded in the fall of 1929 with Herman Wile as President. In 1930, Ben Edidin was named its first Executive Director.
From the start, the purpose of the BJE was to unite the Buffalo Jewish community by fostering Jewish education for all children regardless of their parents’ financial or residential status, and to provide adult Jewish studies, as well as to offer informational, advisory, and teacher training services to area congregational schools. The BJE is a constituent agency of the Jewish Federation of Greater Buffalo. It is governed by a board composed of a rabbi selected by the Buffalo Board of Rabbis as well as appointed general members from the greater Jewish community. Both in the past and currently, the BJE has focused on coordinating Jewish educational activities and religious school programming in the Greater Buffalo area, conducting community outreach and education programs, organizing retreats and conferences for Hebrew school teachers, and fundraising for student scholarships.
There were many accomplishments in the BJE’s history. The High School of Jewish Studies, founded during the directorship of Dr. Uriah Z. Engelman (1939-1944), has evolved into a program in which students are exposed to interdisciplinary personal and professional approaches to prepare them for higher education and lifelong learning of Judaism. In 1944, new Director Dr. Mark M. Krug founded a Jewish Kindergarten and a College of Jewish Studies. Under the leadership of Reuben Resnik from 1959 to 1969, the BJE centralized all secondary Jewish education in the High School and College of Jewish Studies (later the Institute of Jewish Studies).
In 1979, the BJE changed its direction to build a new community relationship in Buffalo public schools. Staff visited classes to explain Jewish holidays and customs, and developed units on Judaism and Jewish history in secondary school social studies classes. This new focus included an emphasis on Jewish cultural identity within the entire Buffalo community. At the same time, the BJE's relationship with Buffalo State College and the State University of New York at Buffalo became official. Students could take college courses at the BJE’s Institute of Jewish Studies and were able to transfer credits to these SUNY institutions.
In the 1990s, the BJE enhanced its teacher training programs for affiliated congregational schools through workshops, seminars, and conferences at all levels, while its library expanded its collection of teachers’ instructions and teaching resource materials. The Pre-School Teachers Enrichment Program, Teachers Enrichment Day, and Fall Back into School are three major teacher in-service programs of the Bureau that began during this decade. Other 1990s initiatives include high school field trips to New York City and Washington, DC, and the Israel Teen Travel Program. The Yom Limmud programs, which offer weekend camp experiences for elementary and middle school students, gave each grade level, on an annual basis, the opportunity to sample cultural, ethical, financial, historical, political, and religious themes selected by the sponsoring synagogues. Under Cantor Mark Hurowitz, BJE Executive from 1997 to 2004, the merger of former Temple based high school programs under BJE auspicies was bought to fruition.
The Bureau of Jewish Education is currently a member of JESNA (Jewish Education Service of North America) and NAACCHS (North American Association of Community and Congregational Hebrew High Schools) and has previously been a member of the American Association for Jewish Education, the Association for Childhood Education International, the Coalition for the Advancement of Jewish Education, the National Council for Jewish Education, United Jewish Education, and the World Jewish Bible Society.
Under current Executive Director Evie Weinstein the Bureau of Jewish Education has integrated the Yad B’Yad program which provides outreach, advocacy and program support to individuals with disabilities to enable their full inclusion in Jewish life. The BJE also initiated the Jewish Buffalo Archives Project with the goal of documenting and making available the historical records of Jewish agencies, institutions, groups, families and individuals through a partnership with University at Buffalo Archives. Other new programs include A Taste of Hebrew High, College Caravan and leadership tracks within the High School, enabled by the Brandeis University Fellowship Program. Besides the above programs, the BJE supports the Florence Melton Adult Mini Schools, Buffalo Jewish Teen Scene, and the Jewish Civic Initiative.
The Bureau has collaborated with all Jewish agencies and synagogues as well as many non-Jewish organizations in Western New York.
In 2007, the office of the BJE moved to the Temple Beth Zion building at 805 Delaware Avenue, Buffalo, New York from North Forest Road, Amherst, New York. At earlier times in their history, the BJE offices have been in such locations as the Gerrans Building, 434 Prudential Building, 405 Chamber of Commerce Building, 2640 North Forest Road in Getzville, and 787 Delaware Avenue.
26.25 Linear Feet (21 cartons)
The Bureau of Jewish Education of Greater Buffalo records consist primarily of records documenting the activities of the Bureau, a non-profit community-based educational institution.
This collection is arranged in four series: I. Executive files, II. Administrative files, III. Office administrative files, and IV. Education.
Collection was received from the Bureau of Jewish Education in 2012. This collection is part of the Jewish Buffalo Archives Project, a collaboration between the Bureau of Jewish Education of Greater Buffalo and the University Archives in the University Libraries, State University of New York at Buffalo. 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 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. The collection is housed in the University Archives.
Accruals and Additions
No further accruals are expected to this collection.
Inventoried by Chana Revell Kotzin, February 2012. Processed by Kuniko Simon, April 2012.
Finding aid encoded by Danielle White, February 2015.
- Bureau of Jewish Education (Buffalo, N.Y.) -- Archives
- Bylaws (administrative records)
- Jewish archives -- New York (State), Western
- Minutes (administrative records)
- New York (State) -- Buffalo Region
- New York (State) -- Buffalo Region -- Archives
- New York (State) -- Buffalo Region -- History
- New York (State), Western -- Archives
- Résumés (personnel records)
- State University of New York at Buffalo -- Archives
- United States -- History
- Finding Aid for the Bureau of Jewish Education of Greater Buffalo records
- Finding aid prepared by Kuniko Simon.
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Code for undetermined script
- Language of description note
- The records of the Jewish Federation of the Bureau of Jewish Education were surveyed in 2009 with funding from the Documentary Heritage Program of the New York State Archives, a program of the State Education Department. The arrangement and description of the collection was made possible, in part, by a second grant from the Documentary Heritage Program of the New York State Archives in 2011/2012.