MS 76 Baltimore Zionist Federation Records

Posted on April 19th, 2012 by

The following collection is made up entirely of archives – no objects and no photographs.  The images that you will see in this post represent some of the organizations that fell under the Baltimore Zionist Federation, but here at the JMM the activities of the BZF can only be found in the written word.  The written word is, of course, very important, but it can only give us a partial understanding of a person or an organization, just has having a lone photograph can tell us some but not all of the story.  Having written documents, photographs and objects supporting each other can be extremely important in order to understand the past.  It’s also more visually interesting.  I’m an archivist so I love letters and diaries and meeting minutes, but I like putting faces to the names I read, or seeing the object they discuss.  Think about that as you go about your day-to-day life at home and at work – how much are you documenting and in what way?

Tzedakah box issued by Hadassah, 1993. 1993.92.2

Baltimore Zionist Federation

Records, n.d, 1972-1978

MS 76

       The Jewish Museum of Maryland


The Baltimore Zionist Federation Records were donated to the Jewish Museum of Maryland by Mrs. Sylvia Goldman in 1985 as accession 1985.73. The collection was processed in July 2001 by Alisa Rose.

Access to the collection is unrestricted and is available to researchers at the Jewish Museum of Maryland. Researchers must obtain the written permission of the Jewish Museum of Maryland before publishing quotations from materials in the collection. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.

Tzedekah box for the Jewish National Fund. 2000.54.4


The American Zionist Federation was established in 1970 as an “umbrella” organization to unite all American Zionist organizations.  It sponsors and promotes Zionist and Israel-related youth activities, educational programs, and public and communal affairs. The Baltimore branch of the American Zionist Federation, the Baltimore Zionist Federation, was established in 1971 to serve as the “umbrella” organization for many local organizations including Hadassah, the Baltimore District of the Zionist Organization of America, Mizrachi Men, Mizrachi Women, the American Labor Zionist Alliance Pioneer Women, and the Jewish National Fund.  The Baltimore Zionist Federation has implemented many ongoing projects such as Aliyah Conferences, Ulpanim, publications of Zionist interest, and scholar-in- residence programs.  In addition, they offer scholarships to Jewish students for travel and study in Israel.

Possible Baltimore Zionist District gathering. 1996.68.24.


The Baltimore Zionist Federation Records include correspondence with community leaders, local congregations, government officials, and scholarship applicants, newspaper clippings, articles relating toIsrael, and information relating to Baltimore Zionist Federation fundraisers and events. Folders titled “Baltimore Jewish Council” contain minutes from Baltimore Jewish Council Board Meetings which were attended by representatives from several local organizations including Baltimore Zionist Federation representatives.  Collection also includes a petition that was sent to the Maryland Congressional Delegation requesting that they support H.R. 12203, the Foreign Assistance Contingency Resolution, which was intended to provide funds toIsrael. Folders are arranged alphabetically by folder title.


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MS 37 Rabbi Benjamin Szold Papers

Posted on December 29th, 2011 by

Over the fifty years that the Jewish Museum of Maryland has been in existence we have received a large number of materials related to Benjamin Szold and his descendents, which have been organized into three manuscript collections.  Two of those collections (MS 37 and MS 38 the Henrietta Szold and Bertha Szold Levin Papers) are completely processed with finding aids and a third (MS 17 the Levin Family Papers) is having new materials added to it, and should be complete within a few weeks.  The Szold family is pretty amazing – their activities had an impact, not only onBaltimoreJewish history, but on world Jewish history.  My favorite part of these collections is the amazing number of letters.  Each collection is full of letters written between siblings, parents and children, grandparents and grandchildren, and friends and acquaintances.

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Cantor Alois Kaiser (left) and Rabbi Benjamin Szold (right), taken at the Oheb Shalom Synagogue in 1868. 1989.79.74

Rabbi Benjamin Szold (1829-1902)

Papers, n.d., 1846-1940

 MS 37

Jewish Museum of Maryland


The Rabbi Benjamin Szold Papers were donated to the museum as accession 2004.076. The collection was reprocessed by Rebecca Levitan in the summer of 2007.

Access to the collection is partially restricted.  Photocopied materials in the collection either do not belong to the Jewish Museum of Maryland, or have uncertain title.  Researchers must obtain the written permission of the Jewish Museum of Maryland before publishing quotations from materials in the collection.  Papers may be copied in accordance with the library’s usual procedures.

Parlor in the Szold house, c. 1899.


Benjamin Szold was born in Nemiskert, Hungaryon November 15, 1829.  He was the son of Chaile and Boruch Szold but was raised by his uncles after the deaths of his parents.  He moved to Pressburg, Hungary to study at the Yeshiva.  He later studied and worked in Vienna during the Revolution of 1848.  He also tutored students while living and studying in Breslau (now Poland).  On August 10, 1959 Benjamin married Sophia (Sophie) Schaar and the two moved to Baltimore, Maryland.

Sophie Szold. 1989.79.54

Szold came to the United States to take a job as Rabbi at Oheb Shalom Synagogue in Baltimore and rose to prominence in the coming years.  He unsuccessfully lobbied President Abraham Lincoln to commute the execution order of a Jewish soldier during the American Civil War.  He also served with the Baltimore Association for the Education and Moral Improvement of the Colored People at the war’s end.

Oheb Shalom on Hanover Street after the rebuilding, n.d. 1985.114.1

Rabbi Szold modernized the practices of his congregation.  He eventually delivered sermons in English rather than German, he eliminated the requirement for head coverings in the synagogue, and he introduced family pews.  Szold’s writings also brought fame to his tenure.  His interpretation of The Book of Job, published in 1886, was studied throughout the United States and Europe.

Temple Oheb Shalom on Eutaw Place, n.d. 1992.242.6.53

Benjamin and Sophie had five daughters.  Henrietta was born on December 21, 1860 (died 1945), followed by Estella and Rebecca who died in infancy, Rachel born in November of 1865 (died 1926), Sara/Sadie on February 14, 1868 (died 1893), Johanna born in 1871 (died 1875), Bertha born in 1873 (died 1958), and Adele born in 1876 (died 1940).  Henrietta Szold, his first daughter, later achieved fame as a prominent Zionist and founder of the Youth Aliyah & Hadassah movements.  Rabbi Benjamin Szold died in Berkeley Springs,WV on July 31, 1902.

Szold Family composite photograph. 1989.79.76


The Rabbi Benjamin Szold Papers consists of five series: Series I. Correspondence, Series II. Sermons & Speeches, Series III. Newspaper Clippings, Series IV. Sophie Szold Papers, and Series V. Miscellaneous Articles.  Some of the papers in the collection are photocopies of documents belonging to other institutions.  Series I. Correspondence are between Rabbi Szold and other theologians, as well as his family. The letters are in various languages. He wrote in Hungarian, German, Yiddish and English. Series II. Sermons & Speeches are from throughout Rabbi Szold’s career in Europe and the United States. Series III. Newspaper Clippings are from both the United States and Europe. The Clippings are printed in a variety of languages. Series IV. Sophie Szold Papers include letters, the majority of which were written by her daughter Bertha Szold during her time at Bryn Mawr College to Sophie and the rest of the family.  Other letters include siblings and in-laws writing to Sophie and Ben from Germany, and a few letters written by Sophie to various people. The folder titles reflect descriptions of the majority of the correspondence within although individual letters from other family and friends might be included.  The collection includes other materials related to Sophie’s life and estate.  Although the letters are separated by year they are not organized chronologically within the folders.  Some of the letters written in German have been translated or synopsized. Series V: Miscellaneous Articles consists of articles related to Zionism, etc., but mostly from after the death of Benjamin Szold.

Benjamin Szold, c.1899. 1992.242.6.54a


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MS 13 Dr. Herman Seidel Papers

Posted on May 19th, 2011 by

The following finding aid describes one of our early collections.  It is an important record of the work of a single person, but also contains extensive records related to several organizations of the early twentieth century.  Some of our dedicated readers might recognize the name of one of them — the Labor Zionist Organization of America.  Several weeks ago we post the finding aid for MS 21 League Chaper of Labor Zionist Organization of America.  The Jewish Museum of Maryland has collections from individuals as well as organizations, and sometimes the inviduals appear in the archives of the organizations, or the organizations appear in the papers of the individuals.  By looking at multiple manuscript collections researchers can find the details they need to create a full and rich story.

Herman Seidel in his University of Maryland medical school graduation photo, 1910. 1993.043.070

Dr. Herman Seidel Papers


 MS 13


 The Dr. Herman Seidel Papers were donated to the Jewish Museum of Maryland by Dr. Arthur Leslie as accession 1989.82.  Myrna Siegel processed the collection in December 2009.

Access to the collection is unrestricted and is available to researchers at the Jewish Museum of Maryland.  Researchers must obtain the written permission of the Jewish Museum of Maryland before publishing quotations from materials in the collection.  Papers may be copied in accordance with the library’s usual procedures.


 Dr. Herman Seidel was born on April 12, 1884 in Lithuania on the Latvian border.  His education had prepared him to become a teacher of Hebrew, a profession he pursued after arriving in Baltimore in 1903.  He brought his interest in Zionism with him, and in 1905 was chairman of the committee to convene the first Labor Zionist convention in Baltimore.

In 1906 Dr. Seidel entered medical school at the former College of Physicians and Surgeons (affiliated with the University of Maryland), and graduated in 1910. In 1914 Dr. Seidel entered into active medical practice.  While in practice he maintained his interest in community activities.   He was active in Zionist activities on the local and national levels and Jewish education on the local level.

Among his Zionist activities were organizing and recruiting for the Jewish Legion for Palestine in 1917 and 1918; acting as a participant in the organization of the American Jewish congress and as a delegate to its preliminary conference in 1916 and subsequent years; organizing the first National committee for Investments in Israel in 1932; acting as a delegate to the 19th World Zionist Conference in Lucerne, Switzerland in 1935; acting as a participant in the organization of the American Palestine Trading Corporation (AMPAL) in 1940; and acting as President of the League for Labor Palestine of  America from 1940-1947.

Dr. Seidel’s interest in Geriatrics began in the early 1930’s when he read a paper on the problems facing the aged.  In 1948 at Dr. Seidel’s suggestion, the Baltimore City Medical Society organized its first Committee on Geriatrics.  Dr. Seidel was appointed Chairman and remained so until 1961.  He was a fellow of the American Geriatric Society from its inception in 1954 and a member of the American Gerontological Society from 1948.

In 1950, Dr. Seidel organized the first full-day citywide conference on Geriatrics in Baltimore.  Subsequently, Mayor Thomas D’Alessandro of Baltimore appointed a Commission to study the problems of aging in the City of Baltimore to which Dr. Seidel was appointed. Dr. Seidel later served on the Commission appointed by Mayor D’Alessandro to study the problems of aging in Baltimore, on the Maryland Commission for the Aging, and on the Committee on Geriatrics appointed by the Maryland State Medical Association.

Dr. Seidel died in 1969.

Dr. Herman Seidel outside a hotel in Israel, 1957. 1989.82.6


The Labor Zionist Organization of America-Poale Zion was founded in 1905 and held its first convention in Baltimore.  The national mission of the organization was to support the establishment of Israel.  Once Israel became a county in 1948, the LZOA became active in continuing to support the growth of Israel.  One of the main campaigns that came out of Labor Zionism in America was the Histadrut campaign which sent money to border settlements in Israel as well as helping new immigrants and financing the development of Israel.

In the early 1970s the Labor Zionist Organization of America-Poale Zion merged with two other labor Zionist organizations, Farband, a labor Zionist fraternal order, and the American Habonim Association, a labor Zionist youth organization.  These three groups newly merged together became known as the Labor Zionist Alliance.  The newly formed Alliance continued to work for progress in Israel and in 2004 changed its name to Ameinu which continues to work for the same goals.

The League Chapter, the Baltimore chapter, of the Labor Zionist Organization of America began in 1945.  When it was formed it was called the Zionist Guild but by the end of 1946 it was being called the League Chapter of the LZOA.  While the chapter itself did not begin until then, labor Zionist activities had begun much earlier.  The founder of the national organization, Dr. Herman Seidel, was from Baltimore and did much work in Baltimore and in America to spread the Labor Zionist viewpoint.  In 1934 Jacob Janofsky allowed labor Zionists to use his land as a training farm so that young people could learn agricultural skills to take with them to Israel.  Camp Gordonia, which was also a labor Zionist camp was formed in 1935 but soon merged with Habonim in 1938.  However, an official chapter did not exist until 1945.

In the mid 1950s, the League Chapter changed its name to League for Israel but the change was in name only.  When the organization became Labor Zionist Alliance it seems that a Baltimore chapter still existed however it is unclear if Ameinu still has different chapters.

Dr. Herman Seidel with a Zionist group believed to be Poalei Zion, c. 1905. 1963.9.1

Scope And Content

The Dr. Herman Seidel Papers are comprised primarily of papers relating to Dr. Seidel’s wide ranging Zionist activities as well as his professional activities as a physician.  The papers are divided into three series: Series I. Personal and Professional Life, n.d., 1910-1969; Series II. Major Zionist Activities, n.d., 1932-1962; and Series III. Subject Matter and Correspondence Files, n.d.,

Series I.  Personal and Professional Life, n.d., 1910-1969 includes material relating to Dr. Seidel’s personal life relating to financial activities, celebrations and personal correspondence.  There is also material relating to his medical practice and subsequent interest and actions in the field of gerontology.

Series II. Major Zionist Activities, n.d., 1932-1962 includes material relating to the four Zionist organizations with which Dr. Seidel was primarily involved.  Those four are the Labor Zionist Organization of America – Poale Zion, AMPAL, the American Palestine Trading Co., Heirut Beth and Histadrut.

Series III. Subject Matter and Correspondence Files, n.d. includes correspondence with individuals and organizations as well clippings of interest to Dr. Seidel.

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