Guide to the Records of the Farband Labor Zionist Order, Boston, Massachusetts Branch, undated, 1941-1984

Processed by Kora Welsh

Jewish Heritage Center at NEHGS

99-101 Newbury St.

Boston, MA 02116



© 2019  Jewish Heritage Center at NEHGS, Boston, MA. All Rights Reserved.
Machine-readable finding aid created by Kora Welsh as MS Word document, March 19, 2013. Finding aid was encoded by Christine McEvilly on November 9, 2013. Description is in English.

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Farband Labor Zionist Order, Boston, Massachusetts Branch
Title: Farband Labor Zionist Order, Boston, Massachusetts Branch, Records
Dates:undated, 1941-1984
Abstract: The Farband Labor Zionist Order was a Jewish fraternal organization founded in 1910 and chartered in New York in 1913. With branches across the United States and Canada, it functioned as a mutual aid society aligned with the Socialist and Zionist political party Poale Zion. The material in the collection includes correspondence, newspaper clippings, publications, press releases, photographs, meeting minutes, brochures, and memos.
Languages: The collection is in English, Yiddish, and Hebrew.
Quantity: 4 linear feet (4 Banker's Boxes)
Identification: I-534
Repository: American Jewish Historical Society
Location: Located in AJHS Boston, MA
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Historical Note 1

Farband Labor Zionist Order

The Farband Labor Zionist Order was a Jewish fraternal organization founded in 1910, chartered in New York State in 1913, and initially known as the Jewish National Workers’ Alliance. Eventually developing branches across the United States and Canada, it functioned as a mutual aid society aligned with the Socialist and Zionist political party Poale Zion. The central ideology governing the Farband's activities focused on an actively positive approach to and rehabilitation of Jewish life and culture, as well as the democratization of the organized Jewish community. As a benefit society, responsibilities to members and their families primarily involved supplying aid in times of sickness, distress, or death; educational programs in the community; and participation in national activities for the defense of Jewish and labor rights, as well as the development of Israel. The organization officially changed its name to the Farband Labor Zionist Order in 1950, and again in 1972 to the Labor Zionist Alliance when it united with Poale Zion and the American Habonim Association.

The Farband was the first Jewish organization in the United States to establish a scientific fraternal benefit system of insurance policies where members paid fixed premiums based on actuarial tables. By 1953, there were over 300 branches throughout the United States and Canada, responsible for millions of dollars in cooperative insurance coverage and benefits plans. These plans included life insurance, funeral and cemetery benefits, hospital visits, illness, and accidents. Their medical centers offered members free examinations and low cost medical and dental treatments.

Reflecting the comprehensive scope of its activities, one of the most vibrant aspects of the Farband's activities was its participation in the cultural life and education of its members. Many branches across the country organized holiday celebrations and parties, maintained choral and drama groups, sponsored lectures, discussion groups and other forms of self-expression. The Farband established folk schools that educated Jewish students in their history, traditions, texts and current affairs, as well as Jewish elementary schools, high schools, and summer camps for both adults and children. Money from the organization was also used to sponsor scholarship awards to students in universities and colleges that offered Jewish studies courses, and the Jewish Teachers’ Seminary in New York. The Farband also published many informational publications, including a series dedicated to current affairs, a newsletter documenting organization activities, and a Yiddish newspaper, the Yiddisher Kemfer.

The Farband supported various Jewish volunteer based, philanthropic, and Zionist organizations and campaigns, such as the United Jewish Appeal, the Histadrut campaign, the Jewish National Fund, and many other active groups. They assisted in the foundation of the American Jewish Congress and regularly sent delegates to the World Zionist Congress. The Farband emphasized Israel as the national center of the Jewish people, energetically supporting their activities spiritually, financially, and politically from the United States. Farband members were active participants in State of Israel bond campaigns, and sought to influence U.S. foreign policy through resolutions established at regional and national conventions, as well as communications with their congressmen.


1910The Jewish National Workers’ Alliance is formed.
1913JNWA receives a charter from New York State and elects its first officers, including its president, Gershun Avrunin and general secretary, Meyer Brown.
1917First Boston branch organized.
1950The JNWA is renamed the Farband Labor Zionist Order.
1950Ben Hyams is elected chairman of Farband’s District 10 (Massachusetts and Rhode Island) based in Boston.
1972The Farband combines with the political party Poale Zion and the American Habonim Association to form the Labor Zionist Alliance.
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Scope and Content Note

The Farband Labor Zionist Order Collection contains the organization's records and publications documenting its activities and policies. Administrative records include meeting minutes and notices, financial records and budget reports, correspondence, and memos discussing Farband policy and direction. Member activities and Farband sponsored events are documented through newspaper clippings, press releases, posters, and newsletters. Information on the organization’s annual concerts is available through souvenir programs, flyers, licenses, receipts, and photographs depicting Jewish artists. Many documents also contain information on the activities of related organizations, including committee rosters, brochures and pamphlets, publications, reports, resolutions, and legal documents. These documents also reflect the context of the Farband’s involvement in Boston’s Jewish community and the scope of its policies and politics relating to the national and international community. The organization’s relationship with government entities, such as the Israeli consulate in Boston and various United States congressmen, is presented through correspondence and informational flyers.

Some folders contain restricted materials, primarily information relating to specific members of the Farband. These records cannot be accessed without permission from the archivist.

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The collection is arranged into six series as follows:

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Access and Use

Access Restrictions

The collection is open to all researchers by permission of the Director of Collections and Engagement of the American Jewish Historical Society, except items that are restricted due to their fragility.

Use Restrictions

Information concerning the literary rights may be obtained from the Director of Library and Archives of the American Jewish Historical Society. Users must apply in writing for permission to quote, reproduce or otherwise publish manuscript materials found in this collection. For more information contact:
American Jewish Historical Society, Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, New York, NY, 10011

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Related Material

Boston Workmen’s Circle (Brookline, MA), I-494

Combined Jewish Philanthropies, I-220

Concerned Jewish Students of Greater Boston, I-157

Greater Boston Committee of the Massachusetts Observance of the American Jewish Tercentenary, I-63

Jewish Culture Club (Boston, MA), I-179

Kehillath Israel Synagogue (Brookline, MA), I-488

Zionist House of Boston, I-286

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Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:
Identification of item, date (if known); Farband Labor Zionist Order, Boston, Massachusetts Branch, Records; I-534; box number; folder number; Jewish Heritage Center at NEHGS.

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Acquisition Information

Gift of Mark H. David, 2012.

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Access Points

This collection is indexed under the following controlled access subject terms.

Click on a subject to search that term in the Center's catalog. Return to the Top of Page

Container List

The following section contains a detailed listing of the materials in the collection.

Click the box in the request column to learn more about viewing materials at the Jewish Heritage Center at NEHGS.


Series I: Activities, undated, 1941-1984

Box 1

Arranged alphabetically by activity.

Scope and Content:

This series contains documents relating to the Farband’s social and cultural activities in Boston. The most prominent endeavor was a yearly fundraising concert showcasing talents in Yiddish drama and music and open to the general public. Recurring artists included Ben Bonus, Minna Bern, and the touring Farband Ensemble. Notes, correspondence, licenses, leases, and venue diagrams outline the organization and scope of the concerts. Other concert materials include publicity documents, such as flyers, press releases, artist photographs, and post cards. Logistical items from the concerts include tickets and planning committee ribbons. The Farband also sponsored and administered lectures and holiday gatherings, described through press clippings and releases, correspondence, flyers, and programs. Other flyers and correspondence describe political rallies, celebrations of Israel’s anniversary, memorials to the Warsaw ghetto uprising and Holocaust, lectures at Harvard and with Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis, and other community events. The Silver Jubilee, held in 1951, honored Louis Segal in his 25th year of service as the Farband’s General Secretary. Celebrated in Boston’s Hotel Bradford, the program recognized Segal’s achievements in both the organization and abroad, noted in press releases, news clippings, correspondence, and souvenir programs dedicated to the event.

1 1-8 Annual Concert 1950-1974 request_box
1 9 Community Events undated, 1952-1984 request_box
1 10 General undated, 1941-1971 request_box
1 11 Louis Segal Silver Jubilee 1951 request_box
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Series II: Correspondence, undated, 1947-1983

Box 1

Arranged alphabetically by corespondent name.

Scope and Content:

This series documents the personal correspondence of Ben Hyams, Farband District 10’s chairman to individuals both in the Farband and in the greater community. His correspondents include Kitty Dukakis, Massachusetts Governor Francis Sargent, and Boston Mayors John Hynes and Kevin White. This series also consists of the correspondence from prominent officers in Farband’s national administration, located in New York City. These officers include Rabbi Silbermen, the National Director for Organization and Education; Jacob Katzman, who served as both Assistant General Secretary and Executive Vice-President; Meyer Brown, the organization’s president and one of its founding officers; and Louis Segal, General Secretary. The letters are primarily addressed to Ben Hyams, and pertain to administration and policy on both the District and Branch level. The general correspondence in Yiddish has not been translated.

1 12 Ben Hyams 1951-1983 request_box
1 13 Jacob Katzman undated, 1947-1974 request_box
1 14 General (Yiddish) undated, 1950-1965 request_box
1 15 Louis Segal undated, 1948-1963 request_box
1 16 Meyer Brown 1949-1958 request_box
1 17 Morris Fisher 1957-1969 request_box
1 18 New York 1958-1983 request_box
1 19 Rabbi Morris Silberman 1954-1956 request_box
1 20 Shmuel Lapin 1955-1960 request_box
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Series III: Financial Records, undated, 1949-1984

Boxes 1-2

Arranged alphabetically by subject.

Scope and Content:

This series contains documents relating to the wide range of financial activities the Farband. Correspondence sent and received from Ben Hyams and other members describe common transactions, including advertising in local papers, rentals, donations, and dues. The series also includes annually composed reports outlining the details of the Farband’s financial accounts, denoting the various sources of income and expenses. The Farband also supported a handful of scholarships for students participating in Jewish studies, the majority of which attended Brandeis University. There are The Labor Zionist Alliance Special Fund was established specially to fund scholarships, educational programs, youth and community programs, and cultural activities. This series is arranged alphabetically.

1 21 General undated, 1949-1984 request_box
1 22 Labor Zionist Special Fund 1974-1984 request_box
1 23 Reports 1950-1982 request_box
2 1 Scholarships undated, 1954-1972 request_box
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Series IV: Governance, undated, 1947-1984

Boxes 2 and 3

Arranged alphabetically by topic.

Scope and Content:

This series contains the documents relating to the Farband’s officers and administration, located in both Boston and New York City. The general management of District 10, based in Boston and primarily conducted by Chairman Ben Hyams, is recorded through his annual reports presented to the region’s district conference, his correspondence relating to Farband concerns, and his speeches, written for a variety of official proceedings. News clippings and press releases describe the activities of officers and prominent members. A large portion of this series documents the annual district conference, gathering delegates from branches in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. The materials pertaining to conference logistics include correspondence, reports, press releases, program materials, and memos. Other activities conducted by the Farband’s governing bodies include district committee meetings among prominent members managing the district’s branches, for which there are minutes and agendas, as well as more general membership meetings to discuss other matters of policy and organizational proceedings. The activities of Branches 515, 41, and 41B are detailed through press releases, resolutions, event flyers, and rosters. These branches were the primary local operations units of the Farband. The series also contains the documents District 10 received from the national office of the organization, located in New York City. These are primarily official program materials, resolutions, pamphlets and brochures, and information on national conferences. This series is arranged alphabetically.

2 2-8 Annual District Conference 1950-1966 request_box
2 9 Branch 41 and 41B undated, 1954-1975 request_box
2 10-11 Branch 515 (Louis Brandeis) undated, 1946-1970 request_box
2 12 Branches undated, 1951-1984 request_box
2 13 Cemeteries undated, 1950-1977 request_box
2 14-15 Chairman’s Annual Report 1950-1965 request_box
2 16 Committee Meetings undated, 1954-1984 request_box
2 17 General undated, 1949-1980 request_box
2 18 Meetings undated, 1949-1984 request_box
2 19 New York Office – English Speaking Department undated, 1947-1962 request_box
2 20 New York Office – General undated, 1947-1982 request_box
3 1 New York Office – Pamphlets undated, 1947-1964 request_box
3 2 New York Office – Program Materials undated, 1950-1961 request_box
3 3-5 Speeches undated, 1950-1977 request_box
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Series V: Organizations, undated, 1941-1984

Boxes 3 and 4

Arranged alphabetically by organization.

Scope and Content:

This series contains records of several organizations that the Farband frequently collaborated with and often supported financially. For philanthropic groups, such as the Combined Jewish Philanthropies, materials include pamphlets, flyers, and correspondence highlighting their particular needs and soliciting support for their causes. Other organizations, particularly the Labor Zionist Organization of America (Poale Zion) and the American Zionist Federation, were more politically motivated. Information from these groups is described in correspondence, brochures and publications, newspaper clippings, and press releases. Notable organizations include the Ampal-American Israel Corporation. Ampal meeting minutes, correspondence, and invitations to special events all highlight the nature of the company, as well as Ben Hyams’ and the Farband’s involvement. The Jewish National Fund (Keren Kayemeth Leisrael Inc.) also features prominently in the series. Records of fundraising activities include balance sheets, bonds, donation receipts, expense reports, annual dinner invitations and rosters, flyers, programs, and newspaper clippings. These also describe the establishment of a peace forest in Israel dedicated to President John F. Kennedy. Other materials document JNF policies, such as resolutions, correspondence, and agendas. Also included in these organizations is the United States Government, with whom Farband leadership actively communicated, primarily through Ben Hyams. Contemporary political discourse over relationships with Israel is described in public information notices the government issued and resolutions the Farband district committees passed, detailed in correspondence to many government officials and Massachusetts congressmen. Some correspondents of particular note include Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, John F. Kennedy, Henry Cabot Lodge, Thomas O’Neill, Edward Kennedy, John W. McCormack, John Joseph Moakley, and Margaret M. Heckler. This series is arranged alphabetically.

3 6 American Jewish Congress 1951-1976 request_box
3 7 American Zionist Council undated, 1953-1962 request_box
3 8 American Zionist Federation undated, 1971-1986 request_box
3 9 Ampal – American Israeli Corporation undated, 1954-1964 request_box
3 10 B’nai B’rith undated, 1964-1972 request_box
3 11 Combined Jewish Philanthropies undated, 1949-1982 request_box
3 12 General undated, 1941-1981 request_box
3 13 Habonim undated, 1949-1966 request_box
3 14-15 Histadrut undated, 1950-1979 request_box
3 16 Israeli Consulate undated, 1955-1985 request_box
3 17 Jewish Community Council undated, 1949-1984 request_box
3 18 Jewish National Fund – Committees undated, 1956-1973 request_box
3 19-20 Jewish National Fund – Events undated, 1947-1976 request_box
3 21 Jewish National Fund – Finances undated, 1952-1984 request_box
4 1 Jewish National Fund – General undated, 1950-1977 request_box
4 2 Jewish National Fund – Labor and Cemetery Committee undated, 1955-1961 request_box
4 3 Jewish National Fund – News Clippings undated, 1956-1976 request_box
4 4 Jewish National Fund – Resolutions undated, 1952 – 1971 request_box
4 5 Labor Zionist Committee for Relief and Rehabilitation undated, 1949-1950 request_box
4 6 Labor Zionist Organization of America undated, 1949-1961 request_box
4 7 New England Zionist Council undated, 1952-1966 request_box
4 8 Pioneer Women undated, 1951-1982 request_box
4 9 Shekel Campaign undated, 1949-1960 request_box
4 10 State of Israel Bonds undated, 1951-1972 request_box
4 11 United Jewish Appeal 1953-1965 request_box
4 12 United States Government undated, 1955-1980 request_box
4 13 Workman’s Circle undated, 1957-1977 request_box
4 14 World Zionist Organization undated, 1975-1979 request_box
4 15 Zionist Organization of America undated, 1967-1971 request_box
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Series VI: Personnel, undated, 1948-1984

Box 4

Arranged alphabetically by subject.

Scope and Content:

This series consists of records pertaining to the individuals associated with the Farband Labor Zionist Order. Information regarding Ben Hyams, chairman of Farband’s District 10, includes descriptions of his career, meeting schedule over the course of several years, and personal subscription to the Jewish Frontier. Other personnel records describe the activities of Farband members. These primarily consist of correspondence explaining specific policies and offering condolences for deceased members. Photographs are also included in this series, depicting members of the Farband Theatrical Caravan and prominent members of the Farband and Jewish community. Note that folder 18 pertaining to Farband members contains restricted materials. This series is arranged alphabetically.

4 16 Ben Hyams undated, 1951-1970 request_box
4 17 Deaths undated, 1951-1984 request_box
4 18 Members (Restricted) undated, 1948-1981 request_box
4 19 Miscellaneous undated, 1972 request_box
4 20 Photographs undated, 1952-1976 request_box
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Series VII: Publications, undated, 1947-1981

Box 4

Arranged alphabetically by title.

Scope and Content:

This series contains publications that the Farband and a number of Jewish and Zionist organizations issued. These include the official Farband Newsletter, Branch 515’s Brandeis Beacon, and the Yiddisher Kemfer. Also in the series are some excerpts from and issues of the New York Times, Time Magazine, the Near East Report, the Jewish Frontier, and the Jewish Advocate. Most of the content pertains to Zionism and Israeli affairs. The Israeli government issued official publications from its Office of Information. General publications in Yiddish have not been translated. This series is arranged alphabetically.

4 21 Brandeis Beacon undated, 1947-1949 request_box
4 22 Farband Newsletter 1947-1966 request_box
4 23 General 1947-1981 request_box
4 24 General (Yiddish) undated, 1949-1986 request_box
4 25 Israeli Government undated, 1958-1969 request_box
4 26-28 Yiddisher Kemfer May 27, 1966-Dec 30, 1966, 1967, 1983 request_box
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