Guide to the Morris Brafman Papers

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Collection Overview

Creator: Brafman, Morris
Title: Morris Brafman papers
Inclusive Dates:1955-1992
Bulk Dates:1964-1990
Size: 58.0 Linear feet
Number of Boxes:54 record carton boxes and 1 flat storage box
Abstract:Morris Brafman was a journalist and businessman involved in Revisionist Zionism and active in Jewish causes, particularly Soviet Jewry. The collection consists of various records of the American League for Russian Jews, which he founded in the early 1960s, as well as numerous materials relating to Soviet Jewry, Mid-East issues, and other Jewish causes and professional interests with which he was involved.
Languages:Materials are in primarily in English, with some materials in Hebrew, Russian, and Yiddish.
Call No: 1992.020

About This Guide

Finding aid encoded March, 2010

Finding aid encoded in English.

Biographical Note

Morris Brafman was born in Tarnobrzeq, Galicia (currently Poland) in 1913. His family moved to Vienna during WWI, where Brafman was raised and studied international law. After surviving Kristallnacht, Brafman and his wife fled first to Switzerland, and then to Cuba, where he worked as a journalist. Upon settling in New York, Brafman worked in the textile business, eventually starting and operating his own firm, Flair Lingerie.

Brafman subscribed to the Jewish nationalism of the founder of Revisionist Zionism, Ze'ev Jabotinsky, and of Jabotinsky's philosophical heir, Menachem Begin, of whom he was an ardent follower. As such, Brafman closely followed events relating to Israel, the Middle East, and World Jewry, and was involved in various Jewish and Zionist organizations and causes. These affiliations as well as his own experiences during World War II influenced Brafman to eschew the quiet diplomacy employed by the established Jewish organizations in favor of more activist methods in his various advocacy efforts.

Brafman was particularly devoted to the cause of Soviet Jewry, and was an pioneer activist on behalf of Soviet Jews living under the discriminatory communist regime. In the early 1960s, when there was little public discussion of the issue, he founded the American League for Russian Jews, comprised largely of fellow Revisionist Zionists who shared his principles and methods. As President of the League, Brafman wrote editorials, delivered speeches, and organized events to raise public awareness of the condition of Soviet Jewry and to enlist government support for their plight. The League, and Brafman, remained active in this cause during the 1970s and 80s, even after it became a worldwide effort.

Brafman was a gifted orator, and a frequent lecturer at programs and conferences relating to Soviet Jewry and various issues affecting World Jewry. He wrote numerous journal articles and authored several books.

Scope and Contents

The collection primarily consists of materials relating to Brafman's work for Soviet Jewry and his interest and involvement in Middle East affairs. There are also items relating to his involvement with other Jewish organizations, in particular with a vocational training institute for Jewish youth, as well as some of his business records, writings, and other personal materials.

The materials relating to his work with Soviet Jewry include correspondence, reports, publicity, events and other records of the Americal League for Russian Jews. While most of these materials are from the 1970s and 1980s, there are also some records from the organization's early years in the 1960s, as well as proceedings from a 1964 Washington, D.C. conference on Soviet Jewry convened by Justice Arthur Goldberg attended by more than 20 major American Jewish organizations. Additionally, there are numerous articles, interview transcripts, clippings, essays and speeches relating to the Soviet Union, Soviet Jewry, and individual Soviet refuseniks, many by Brafman, as well as numerous ones that he collected.

Brafman's involvement and interests in Middle East affairs are likewise represented in the collection with numerous articles, reports, clippings, essays and speeches, both by him and others. While many represent the Revisionist Zionist perspective, Brafman also followed coverage of the issue in the mainstream Jewish and secular press. Of particular interest are photographs from the World Herut Conference (1960), many of which picture Brafman with Menachem Begin.

In addition, the collection contains correspondence, publicity and other items relating to a Jewish Institute of Technology that Brafman envisioned to provide vocational training for Orthodox Jewish youth as well as for recent Soviet emigres. Such an institute was eventually founded, entitled "Shevet Yehudah" (which later became known as SYRIT), and Brafman was involved during the 1970s and 1980s. There are also assorted business records of Flair Lingerie, Brafman's company, and correspondence and ephemera relating to various other Jewish organizations.

Finally, the collection contains numerous manuscript and typescript drafts of portions of works published by Brafman, as well as many handwritten notes of his on topics he was studying or involved with. Several diaries and daily planners are also included.

Index Terms

This collection has been indexed under the following terms:

Begin, Menachem, 1913-1992
American League for Russian Jews
Antisemitism -- Soviet Union
Jewish businesspeople -- New York (State) -- New York
Jews -- Persecutions -- Soviet Union
Jews -- Soviet Union
Jews -- United States -- Politics and government
Occupational training for Jews
Revisionist Zionists
Vocational education -- New York (State) -- New York
Zionists -- United States
Israel -- Emigration and immigration
Middle East -- Politics and government
Soviet Union -- Ethnic relations
Document Types:
Appointment books
Financial records
Manuscripts, typed
Notes (manuscript)
Printed ephemera

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Conditions Governing Access

Access limited as collection is unprocessed.

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.