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Kadimah School of Buffalo records

 Collection — Box: 1-4
Identifier: MS-0209

Scope and Contents

The Kadimah School of Buffalo Records describe the governance and activities of the school between 1959 and 2010 as well as pre-opening materials from 1958. The bulk of the material dates from between 1957 to 1989. The collection contains minutes and administrative papers, budgets, student and faculty related materials, publications and publicity materials. The records are divided into six (6) series. There are respectively: Administrative Papers, Teachers and Students, Publications and Publicity, Programs, Photographs and Media. Many of the series are further subdivided into subseries that is detailed under Arrangement.

I: Administrative papers (1958-2009) consists of a wide range of records relating to the governance of the school that is grouped into subgroups. A small number of minutes are saved which include minutes for Board, Trustee, Education and other subcommittees. A brief history is included along with a copy of written recollections by a school founder, Nathan Back, in response to questions from a student researching the school’s origins. Series I also includes early correspondence materials by Nathan Back as he sought to establish the school and gain subvention from the Jewish Federation. Sources for a written constitution are collected alongside a printed version. During the 1970s, the Kadimah School of Buffalo recognized the Kadimah Teachers Association, NYSUT, NEA, AFT (AFL-CIO) as the exclusive bargaining agent for salaried classroom teachers. Agreement drafts and correspondence relating to the Association and Exchange Teachers hired from Israel are found in this subseries. Other materials include a parent manual, Kadimah image study for funding and relocation and site plans.

II: Teachers and Students (1970-2006) consist of personal correspondence from students to teachers, a single issue of Iton (Hebrew: Newspaper) produced by staff and students across the grades and two series of publications produced for and by the graduating eighth grade of the relevant year.

III: Publications and Publicity (1959-2009) consists of three subseries: Publicity materials and brochures (subseries A), and official publications – the Kadimah newsletter entitled HaKochav (The Hope) (subseries B) arranged by year with the Kadimah cookbook. Subseries C includes publicity materials in the form of submitted articles (press releases) as well as newspaper clippings over a 50-year period. The arrangement of all of the series is chronological.

IV: Programs (1962-2010). The largest grouping of materials is found in Series IV. Program activities are organized into two subseries. The first series (A) consists of a range of programs for which there are only limited copies. The Annual Dinner (Annual Ball or Dinner Dance) Ad Book started in 1960. Ad books in this collection date from 1962, the third year of the event and form a continuous unbroken series through 2009-2010. Program Ad Books for the Annual Dinner Balls contain a range of information. In addition to reproducing staff and student photographs for each grade, the Ad books include an annual letter from the President and Head of School that summarizes the year’s achievements, milestones, enrollment figures and future plans. Also provided are information about the year’s honoree, lists of staff, lists of committee members, board membership lists, annual member lists, among other factual information. The arrangement of subseries B is chronological.

V: Photographs (1979-2007). The arrangement of photographs is divided alongside size format (large, taken professionally) and informal shots (small size format). Informal photographs include various Jewish holiday observances and celebrations, field trips and class activities. Large photographic formats record official class photographs for each grade over specific years. The arrangement of the two subseries is chronological.

VI: Media (1989-2005) consists of various media including Betacam, VHS, CD and DVD. A CD, “Kadimah School Sings” includes a range of Hebrew and Jewish songs performed by the students at Kadimah as well as the Pledge of Allegiance and the anthem of the Unites States and Israel. DVDs and VHS include an informal film of first grade, Siddur presentations (annual event in the first grade) along with a community sing along (Zimria).


  • 1958-2009


Language of Materials

Collection material in English.

Terms of Access

The Kadimah School Buffalo Records, 1958-2009 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 th collection. Most papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures unless otherwise specified.

Historical Note

The idea of a Jewish Day school was first formulated in 1957 by Dr. Nathan and Toby Ticktin Back, Rabbi and Mrs. Alvin Marcus, Dr. and Mrs. Henry Hausdorf who turned to Rabbi Isaac Klein (Temple Emanu-el) and Henriette Klein to bring it to fruition. By the time Kadimah School of Buffalo opened in September, 1959, with 15 students, it had a small and dedicated group of benefactors that offered financial support, including the Backs and the Kleins. These individuals were celebrated in 1965 as “Founders” and also included Joseph Sapowitch, Max Yellen, Abraham Carrel, Harry Dosberg, Paul Dosberg, Isadore Lansky, Joseph Palanker, J. R. Morrison, Irving Levick and Jacob Lansky. From the outset, the founders sought to create the first non-denominational all-day Jewish school for Buffalo, and this was reflected with the choice of a modern Hebrew name that did not have religious overtones. “Kadimah,” meaning “forward,” took its inspiration from the rising popularity of Hebrew language in the wake of a newly-created Israeli state. It also encapsulated the ethos of the founders’ hopes for the school: Forward looking, forward thinking and dynamic. The Kadimah School was incorporated on August 17, 1959.

Opening at the Jewish Community Center at 787, Delaware Avenue in the city of Buffalo, with Kindergarten and two grades, students at Kadimah studied in a bicultural environment with daily Hebrew instruction. Joseph Sapowitch, furniture dealer, (and simultaneously President of the Bureau of Jewish Education) was appointed first President of Kadimah. Toby Back served as President of the PTA and Max Yellen undertook to support the school's financial base in its early years. Kadimah stressed a community school model, open to all streams of Judaism, and a place that emphasized “respect for all interpretations of Judaism.”

In 1962, Kadimah relocated into homes at Temple Emanu-El on Colvin Avenue and Ahavas Achim on Tacoma Avenue. The first Principal, Rabbi Moshe Weisberger, appointed for the opening year, was replaced by Rabbi Morton Summer. More grades were added in each successive year and by the end of the 1960s, Kadimah offered Kindergarten through sixth grade. After initial debates within the Jewish Federation about financial support for Kadimah, the mid 1960s saw the beginning of Federation subvention that remains in place today. In 1961, the PTA instituted Annual Dinners, that enabled parents and supporters to follow school progress and access local, national and international speakers. Enrollment increases led to relocation to larger premises and in 1968 Kadimah moved into the suburbs into Temple Beth El at Eggert Road. By the late 1960s, 70 percent of all Kadimah students lived in the suburbs. Mr. Isadore Levy was appointed Principal in 1968.

By the end of the 1970s student enrollment exceeded 200 students, and Kadimah had to split sites again. The Kindergarten relocated to Shaarey Zedek while the main school remained at Temple Beth El. The 1970s was a period of other transitions too. In 1972 the school celebrated its “bar mitzvah year” (13 years), and “Kadimah Day” was proclaimed. In this same year, the first eighth grade class graduated. The 1970s saw the institution of “in-service” learning for teachers, and Kadimah teachers joined the New York State Teachers Federation, AFL-CIO. To honor Rabbi and Henriette Klein, the PTA created a library in recognition of their support of the school. Kadimah moved again in the 1970s into a building at 300 Fries Road made available by excess public school stock. In 1975, Hannah Kaminker organized the nursery school (later named the Pearl and Mel Siegel Nursery School). Rabbi Harvey Silberstein was appointed Head of School in 1978.

By the beginning of the 1980s, support by the Jewish Federation increased, as the school accepted an influx of Russian émigré students. Relocation was forced again, when the local school district recalled Fries Road and Kadimah moved into 250 Athens Boulevard. A year later, in 1985, Kadimah moves into One, Cambridge Road with the help of Buffalo Jewish leaders including Nathan Benderson who helped purchase the building. In 1988 Kadimah is rated “excellent” in the New York State Elementary School Recognition Program, and Kadimah teachers were recognized at the school's 30th anniversary the following year. Rabbi Silberstein was succeeded by Rabbi Aaron Fink as principal. Leonard Kaminker was the recipient of the first Keter Shem Tov in recognition of his work over the decades on behalf of the school.

During the 1990s, Dr. Irving Fried replaced Rabbi Aaron Fink as Principal. In 1991, Rabbi Isaac and Henriette Klein are recognized posthumously for their multiple roles as founders, mentors, teachers and supporters. Rabbi Barry S. Bank replaced Dr. Fried midway through the decade. Rivke Klein Berkowitz, daughter of founders, Rabbi Isaac and Henriette Klein, was appointed Vice-Principal in 1995. Kadimah’s 36th year coincided with another move into split sites, with the Lower School and Nursery School moving to Temple Shaarey Zedek and the Middle School making a home at the Jewish Community Center in Getzville. The later 1990s focused on long range plans for Kadimah and moving the school onto a firmer financial footing. A new Headmaster, Mark Stolovitsky was appointed at the end of the 1990s.

In 2001, the class of 1976 celebrated its 25th anniversary and Kadimah embarked on a major capital campaign headed by Dr. Charles Niles and Richard Zakalik to build a new unified home for the school. Mark Stolovitsky was succeeded by Jeff Shapiro in the middle of the decade. Efforts to raise money for the building of a new school continued with a significant donation by Dr. Sol Messinger, long associated with financial support of the school. In 2005, Kadimah moved into a permanent building, that was named the Sam, Paul and Sol Messinger Building in recognition of Sol Messinger’s support of the school. In 2007, Joel Weiss was appointed Head of School.


4.17 Linear Feet (3 cartons, 1 clamshell box)


The Kadimah School of Buffalo Records describe the governance and activities of the school between 1959 and 2010 as well as pre-opening materials from 1958. The bulk of the material dates from between 1957 to 1989. The collection contains minutes and administrative papers, budgets, student and faculty related materials, publications and publicity materials.


The collection is arranged into six series:

  1. Administrative Papers
  2. Teachers and Students
  3. Publications and Publicity
  4. Programs
  5. Photographs
  6. Media

Acquisition Information

This collection was donated by the Kadimah School of Buffalo in July 2010. It consists of materials collected for a 50th anniversary project and a Documentary Heritage survey grant. The arranged and described collection was deposited at the University Archives, Special Collections, by the Jewish Buffalo Archives Project in January, 2012. 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 20th 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 records of the Kadimah School of Buffalo were first surveyed in 2009, which was made possible, in part, by a grant from the Documentary Heritage Program of the New York State Archives, a program of the State Education Department. The arrangement and description of the Kadimah School of Buffalo Collection was also made possible in part by a grant from the Documentary Heritage Program of the New York State Archives, a program of the State Education Department.

Accruals and Additions

Accruals are expected to this collection.

Related Materials

Processing Information

Processed by Chana Revell Kotzin, January 2012.


Finding Aid for the Kadimah School of Buffalo records
Finding aid prepared by Chana Revell Kotzin.
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 Kadimah School of Buffalo 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.

Repository Details

Part of the University Archives Repository

420 Capen Hall
Buffalo New York 14260-1674 US
716-645-3714 (Fax)