Posted on February 27th, 2017 by Rachel
Article by Dr. Deborah R. Weiner. Originally published in Generations 2009-2010: 50th Anniversary Double Issue: The Search for Social Justice.
The Baltimore Jewish community has produced many leaders who have worked to make the world a better place. The range of issues they have addressed is impressive: from women’s suffrage to civil rights, labor relations to helping the elderly, refugee resettlement to eliminating poverty, and much more.
This chronology traces the careers of ten Baltimoreans who stood up for social change, with each person’s entry revolving around a turning point—one for each decade of the twentieth century. This is by no means a “Ten Best” list. The people included here are remarkable for what they accomplished, but others, equally remarkable, could have been chosen as well. These profiles should be seen as representative of a larger group of Baltimore Jews who have made major contributions to their communities and to the broader society in myriad ways.
The 1970s: Harry Greenstein
Click here to start from the beginning.
1971: Harry Greenstein (1895-1971) dies, marking the end of an era in Baltimore’s Jewish communal history. Head of the Associated for almost four decades, Greenstein was a major player in international welfare work who always returned home to Baltimore after his relief missions.
Harry Greenstein (right) and William Bein (left) JDC Director for Poland, standing on rubble of Warsaw Ghetto, Poland, 1949. JMM 1971.20.214
After helping organize the YMHA and serving as president, Greenstein became executive director of the Associated in 1928 and served until 1965. During his tenure, the organization changed dramatically to meet the needs of the Jewish community. Services relocated from downtown to northwest Baltimore, agencies consolidated, and present-day institutions such as Levindale, the JCC, and Sinai Hospital took shape.
Greenstein’s local achievements were all the more remarkable considering that he was frequently “loaned out” by the Associated to state, federal, and international agencies, where his impact was substantial. Appointed Maryland’s first relief administrator in 1933, he set up the state’s public welfare structure. In 1939, with European Jewry in crisis, he prepared a report for American Jewish leaders which FDR termed a “model of constructive absorption of immigrants” and led to the creation of the National Refugee Service. For the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, he helped design and administer plans for helping Europe recover from World War II. Appointed advisor on Jewish affairs to the U.S. Army of Occupation in Germany and Austria in 1949, he was instrumental in liquidating the displaced persons camps and resettling Holocaust survivors.
Harry Greenstein (right) and General Lucius D.Clay (left) as General Clay welcomes his newly appointed Advisor on Jewish Affairs, in his Frankfurt, Germany headquarters, February 15, 1949. JMM 1985.174.4
The title of Greenstein’s biography, “Justice, Not Charity,” exemplified his approach to welfare work. Communal leader Paul Cordish captured his impact when he called Greenstein “the personification of the collective conscience of our community.”
Continue to The 1980s: Ruth Wolf Rehfeld
Posted on May 5th, 2016 by Rachel
Enjoy these photos from the 12th Seminar in Mexico, Committee on Cultural Relations with Latin America, from the Harry Greenstein collection, JMM 1971.20, MS 80. Check out Past Perfect Online to read about the individual images (start with 1971.020.055).
Posted on April 23rd, 2015 by Rachel
On April 23, 2015 Jews throughout the world celebrate Yom Ha’atzmaot, Israel’s Independence Day. In honor of Israel’s 67th birthday, today’s blog post highlights the contributions of Harry Greenstein who was involved in the resettlement of European Jews in Israel after the Holocaust. Thanks to the efforts of many, including Greenstein, Israel lived up to its mandate of serving as place of respite and shelter for Jews in need of a homeland.
Harry Greenstein was the Executive Director of the Associated Jewish Charities (today known as The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore) for 37 years from 1928-1965. His involvement in providing assistance to European Jewish refugees in the 1940s led to a federal appointment as the head of the UNRRA (United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration) for Greece, Albania and Yugoslavia. (For more information about the UNRAA, check out this article.)
In 1949, the Secretary of War appointed Greenstein Advisor on Jewish Affairs in post-war Germany. Part of his duties included assisting the United States Army in closing the Displaced Persons (DP) Camps in Germany and Austria, helping to rehabilitate Jewish life in Europe and aiding in the resettlement of Jewish refugees in Israel.
Harry Greenstein speaking in Munich on the first anniversary of Israel’s establishment, 1949 JMM 1971.20.156
In 1971 the JMM received a donation of Greenstein’s papers and photographs (MS 80). The collection includes photos from his visits to Israel and Europe on behalf of UNRRA as well as his efforts to resettle Jewish Displaced Persons in Israel in the late 1940s. The following is a selection of photos documenting his work:
Photo of document checking station taken during UNRAA trip to Middle East, 1944. JMM 1971.20.155
Photo taken during UNRAA trip to Middle East, 1944. JMM.1971.20.159
Jewish Displaced Persons board an airplane from Munich to Haifa, September 1948. JMM 1971.20.175
Young Jewish refugees who had been resettled in Holland by the JDC, on board the SS Negbah, on their way to Israel, Dec. 15, 1945. JMM 1971.20.176. For more information about the “Apeldoorn children” check out this article.
Greenstein was a recognized leader of the local, national and international Jewish community. The photos taken of him with Israeli dignitaries speak to his prominence on the global stage.
Greenstein (right) visits with President Chaim Weitzman at the President’s home in Rehovot, Israel, 1949. JMM 1971.20.233
Greenstein receiving a book from Prime Minister, David Ben Gurion, 1949. JMM 1971.20.192
Sixty-seven years later, Israel continues to serve as a homeland for Jews from all over the world.
A blog post by Assistant Director Deborah Cardin. To read more posts from Deborah click HERE.