Guide to the Harold M. Jacobs Papers

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Collection Overview

Creator: Jacobs, Harold
Title: Harold M. Jacobs papers
Inclusive Dates:1888-1994
Bulk Dates:1950-1994
Size: 18.5 Linear feet
Number of Boxes:37 boxes
Abstract:The Harold M. Jacobs Papers document the lifetime and activities of Harold Milton Jacobs (1912-1995), an important Jewish lay leader and businessman. The Papers largely document his career in communal service, both in the Jewish and general non-profit realms. The collection contains correspondence, reports, photographs and other material from Jacobs' numerous affiliations such as the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations, the National Council of Young Israel, and the Board of Trustees of the City University of New York, as well as correspondence documenting his relationships with many prominent local, national, and international politicians and leaders.
Languages:Materials are in English with some Hebrew and Yiddish.
Call No: 1995.006

About This Guide

Finding aid encoded April, 2009

Finding aid encoded in English.

Biographical Note

Harold Milton Jacobs (1912-1995) was an important Jewish lay leader and businessman. He studied economics at St. Johns University and Columbia University in New York and founded several successful businesses. Jacobs was also very active in Jewish and general communal affairs, and served as president of the Crown Heights Yeshiva (1953-1968), the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations (1973-1978), and the National Council of Young Israel (1981-1992). He also was on the Board of Trustees of the City University of New York (formerly the Board of Higher Education) from 1974-1992, serving as Chairman between 1976 and 1980.

Scope and Contents

The Harold M. Jacobs Papers cover the lifetime and activities of Harold Milton Jacobs (1912-1995), an important Jewish lay leader and businessman. The Papers largely document his career in communal service, both in the Jewish and non-Jewish non-profit realms. His involvement in the Crown Heights Yeshiva, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations (OU), the National Council of Young Israel, City College of New York (CUNY), and the Young Israel of Eastern Parkway are most heavily represented. Also included are some personal materials relating to Jacobs and his family, and a small amount of his business materials.

The personal materials contain a substantial amount of biographical items, such as profiles of Harold Jacobs written for local Jewish newspapers, an article about him for the New York Times, copies of his résumé, and a memorial article published in Viewpoint, the National Council of Young Israel journal. Drafts of Jacobs' speeches, both typed and handwritten, delivered on different occasions and ranging in topic from the current status of the Yeshiva movement in America, politics and American Jewry on occasions such as Yeshiva graduations and Chanukah, are also included in the collection. A number of Letters to the Editor Jacobs wrote to The New York Times, Daily News and the Jewish Press on political topics are included in the collection, together with his newspaper articles on the subject of a “Jewish seat” on the Supreme Court (1968). The collection contains miscellaneous material from trips to Israel (1986-1988) along with papers relating to Jacobs’ apartment in Hertzlia Heights in Israel. New Years cards from the Jacobs family, thank you letters, and condolence messages sent to the family after Jacobs’ passing are also included, some from leaders of important Jewish organizations, together with a compilation of the eulogies delivered for Jacobs at his funeral and memorial service.

The collection contains papers relating to Jacobs' wife Pearl’s affiliations with various Sisterhoods and the Mizrachi Women’s Organization. Also included are papers relating to members of Harold Jacobs’ family, such a family tree, photographs of his great-grandfather Pinchus Aaron Bruder and grandfather Morris Fried and condolence letters upon the deaths of his parents, Kate and Max Jacobs. A small portion of the collection covers Harold Jacobs’ business matters with his company, Precisionware Inc., and includes calendars, appointment books, and telephone messages.

The Crown Heights Yeshiva material documents Harold Jacobs’ activities as president of the school from 1953-1968. The collection contains letters congratulating Jacobs’ on start of his presidency in 1953, correspondence with the Crown Heights Yeshiva Sisterhood and papers regarding administrative matters. Graduation exercises (1956-1964) and journals from school dinners (1952-1964) are also included, together with memorabilia from a Seuda Shlishit (third Sabbath meal) fundraiser held in 1966 and materials from a Men’s Club Dinner Dance hosted in honor of Harold Jacobs in 1955. The collection contains copies of Highlights, the Yeshiva of Crown Heights Bulletin (1945-1963) and photographs of Jacobs together with some students in the classrooms (1954).

The collection covers Jacobs’ involvement with the United Jewish Appeal (UJA) from 1952 to 1982. He served as Chairman for the Brooklyn UJA and headed their Israel bonds campaign in 1958. The collection contains dinner material, correspondence, a program from a National Conference of the UJA, material from events cosponsored by Crown Heights Yeshiva, photographs of UJA honorees, and some excerpts from Appeal, the official UJA newsletter.

Among his many leadership positions Harold Jacobs served as president of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations (OU) from 1973-1978, and as Chairman of the Board from 1979-1980. The OU material ranges from routine correspondence and congratulatory notes to documents dealing with the OU’s activities in the larger Jewish community under Jacobs’ presidency.

A significant portion of the correspondence deals with numerous programs and initiatives organized by the OU. The collection includes letters, speeches and reports relating to National Council for Synagogue Youth (NCSY) activities, an OU outreach operation in which Harold Jacobs took a great interest. The documents cover NCSY’s efforts to secure grant money for American bicentennial funding, speeches by Jacobs in support of NCSY programming, and general progress reports from various officials in the organization. Routine correspondence relating to the OU's Kashruth (kosher food certification) division, one of its major enterprises, is also represented in Jacobs’ OU correspondence. The OU also interfaced with many other Jewish communal organizations with regards to Jewish affairs nationally and worldwide. Jacobs corresponded with Louis Bernstein, president of the Rabbinical Council of America about support for the Jackson-Vanik Amendment and other issues, and with the Jewish Funeral Directors of America (JFDA) about activities of Chevra Kadishas (Jewish burial societies). Other correspondents include Rabbi Dr Immanuel Jakobovits, Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom, and Maurice Jaffe, Executive Vice President of Heichal Shlomo (Israeli Chief Rabbinate) and coordinator of the Third World Conference of Synagogues and Kehilloth, in which the OU participated. The collection also contains the papers of a number of committees within the OU.

As president and chairman of the OU, Harold Jacobs engaged in advocacy on behalf of the rights of religious Jews in American public life. He wrote to New York City Mayor Robert Wagner arguing for allowances for Rosh Hashana observance by Jewish policemen (1960), and to Mayor Ed Koch about providing kosher food to Jewish inmates (1975). He argued for the minority status of Yiddish-speaking individuals for special protection by the Small Business Administration, and to the Board of Education for financial aid for recently-arrived Russian immigrants. A draft of a letter he wrote to Judge Jack Weinstein imploring him to be lenient on Meir Kahane is also included in the collection, as well as correspondence with the New York State governor’s office concerning voter registration dates that occured during the Jewish holidays (1975).

Many of the interests and activities of the OU under Harold Jacobs involved Israel and its relationship with the United States and other countries. Examples of this in the collection include correspondence with President Nixon on the subject of peace in Israel after the Yom Kippur War (1973), a telegram from Harold Jacobs to President Ford about the crisis in Sinai (1975), a letter from a member of the House of Representatives stating his opposition to the sale of planes to Saudi Arabia, and an invitation from President Carter to attend a 30th anniversary dinner at the White House for the State of Israel (1978), statements against the 1975 statement by the UN equating Zionism with racism, and correspondence with the president of the World Jewish Congress concerning his meeting with Egyptian President Anwar Sadat (1978). A 1978 speech by Harold Jacobs stating the support of American Jewry for Menachem Begin’s administration is also included.

The collection contains materials documenting the OU’s controversial withdrawal from the Synagogue Council of America in 1974. The OU decided to renounce its membership in the Council over the debate surrounding “Who is a Jew?” in the Israeli and American Rabbinate. It includes a statement by Arthur Levine, president of the Synagogue Council of America questioning the OU’s decision to withdraw, a pamphlet by Harold Jacobs describing the reasons for his position, and letters and telegrams from various individuals and organizations expressing mixed reactions to the OU’s choice.

After serving as president of the OU, Harold Jacobs was chairman for the National Council of Young Israel annual dinners for a number of years, and eventually became president of the organization in 1981. The collection contains papers and correspondence concerning Young Israel’s activities and its relationships in the wider Jewish community. Included are speeches by Harold Jacobs given on various occasions, correspondence with other Jewish communal leaders, and a draft of an agreement to establish a Young Israel scholarship in Harold Jacob’s name (1989). Jacobs also served as president of the his local Young Israel in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, the Young Israel of Eastern Parkway, from 1947-1950, and some material concerning the synagogue's activities are included.

Harold Jacobs served on the Board of Trustees of the City University of New York (formerly the Board of Higher Education) from 1974-1992, acting as its Chairman from 1976-1980. The collection contains routine correspondence, board minutes, and reports from during his years at CUNY. A portion of the material documents the controversy surrounding racial remarks made by City College professor Leonard Jeffries and the subsequent litigation between Jeffries and the CUNY Board of Trustees. Jeffries sued the CUNY Board of Trustees for demoting him from his position as Chair of the Black Studies Department. The collection includes newsclippings and letters by numerous individuals concerning the affair, as well as a copy of the court decision of 1993 which ruled in favor of Jeffries, allowing him to remain Chair of the Black Studies Department. That decision was overturned in 1995, when the court acknowledged the CUNY Board of Trustees' right to demote a professor from position of Chair for disruptive speech. Other CUNY material such as copies of Harold Jacobs’ remarks at the commencements of Brooklyn College and Queens College (1975-1994) is also included.

The collection contains routine correspondence between several Yeshiva University personalities such as Drs. Samuel Belkin and Norman Lamm, with Harold Jacobs, who counted Yeshiva among his many affiliations. The collection also documents Jacobs' relationships with many United States and Israeli government leaders, such as several US presidents, New York mayors and governors, and members of the Israeli government. Other items in the Harold Jacobs collection include annual dinner journals from various organizations, newsclippings, photographs of dinners and other events.

Index Terms

This collection has been indexed under the following terms:

Brooklyn College
City University of New York
City University of New York. City College
Crown Heights Yeshiva (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
Crown Heights Yeshiva Sisterhood (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
Jewish Funeral Directors of America
Mizrachi Women's Organization of America (New York, N.Y.)
National Conference of Synagogue Youth
National Council of Young Israel (U.S.)
Queens College (New York, N.Y.)
Rabbinical Council of America
Synagogue Council of America
Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America
United Jewish Appeal
World Jewish Congress
Yeshiva University
Young Israel of Eastern Parkway (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
Belkin, Samuel
Bernstein, Louis, 1927-
Carter, Jimmy, 1924-
Ford, Gerald
Jacobs, Pearl
Jaffe, Maurice A., 1917-
Jakobovits, Immanuel, Sir, 1921-
Jeffries, Leonard
Koch, Ed, 1924-
Lamm, Norman
Nixon, Richard M. (Richard Milhous), 1913-1994
Jewish businesspeople -- New York (State) -- New York
Jewish day schools
Jews -- Education -- New York (State) -- New York
Jews -- New York (State) -- New York
Jews -- United States -- Charities
Jews -- United States -- Politics and government
Judaism and politics
Orthodox Judaism -- New York (State) -- New York
Religious Zionism
Religious institutions -- New York (State) -- New York
Sabbath legislation -- New York (State)
Synagogues -- New York (State) -- New York
Universities and colleges -- New York (State) -- New York
New York (N.Y.) -- Religious life and customs
Document Types:
Appointment books
Greeting cards
Legal documents

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is available to researchers deemed to be qualified by the Archivist.

Conditions Governing Use

Restrictions may apply concerning the use, photoduplication, or publication of materials in this collection. Please contact the Curator of Special Collections for information regarding Yeshiva University's reproduction policies and fees.