Guide to the Records of the New England Jewish Music Forum, undated, 1953-1990

Processed by Lael Dalal

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 Lael Dalal as MS Word document, December 2013. Finding aid was encoded by Christine McEvilly on May 13, 2014. Description is in English.

Descriptive Summary

Creator: New England Jewish Music Forum
Title: New England Jewish Music Forum Records
Dates:undated, 1953-1990
Abstract: The New England Jewish Music Forum was a non-profit organization created in 1958 committed to presenting performances of Jewish music in the Boston area. The organization closed its doors in 1990 after thirty-two years due to financial hardship and low membership. The collection includes meeting minutes, by-laws, and finances, as well as photographs of forum events, performance programs and brochures, correspondence, newspaper clippings, and concert files.
Languages: The collection is in English.
Quantity: 3.5 cubic feet (7 manuscript boxes and 1 OS1 Folder)
Identification: I-270
Repository: American Jewish Historical Society
Location: Located in AJHS Boston, MA
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Historical Note1

The New England Jewish Music Forum was a non-profit organization created in 1958 committed to organizing and presenting performances of Jewish music in the Boston area. The mission of the Forum was to “promote interest in Jewish Music; elevate and maintain high standards of programming and performance; encourage writing of new works and to present young artists as well as established performers. Through a series of four varied concerts each season, featuring solo singers and instrumentalists, vocal and instrumental ensembles, operas, dancing groups, and lectures, the Forum reveals to its own eager and loyal membership as well as to the community at large, a rich treasury of Jewish culture.”

The founders of the Music Forum included Russian-born pianist and composer Lazar Weiner; his niece, Minuetta Kessler, a pianist, teacher and composer; her husband Michael Kessler; Cantor Alex Zimmer; Cantor Jack Seully; and his wife, Rose Seully; composer Herbert Fromm; and his wife, Leni Fromm. The concerts included performances by theater troupes, orchestras, concert choirs, and singers. Past presidents included Alex Zimmer, Cantor Michal (Michael) Hammerman, Mary Wolfman-Epstein, and Murray Coran. Most performances included spoken commentary on the work, and sometimes a small reception afterwards giving members an opportunity to meet the artists.

Concerts were held at various congregations including Temple Israel in Boston, Massachusetts, Congregation Kehillath Israel and Temple Ohabei Shalom in Brookline, Massachusetts, and concert halls at The Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University. Audiences often numbered well over 1,000 people. The organization scouted and hired performers for the concerts and critiqued each performance at their meetings. Artists were from across the country and around the world. Those featured at the New England Jewish Music Forum concerts included David Bar-Illan, Theodore Bikel, Jan Peerce, Nico Castel, Minuetta Kessler, Shlomo Mintz, Judith Raskin, and Mary Wolfman-Epstein. The organization closed its doors in 1990 after thirty-two years due to financial hardship and low membership. They gave the remaining funds to the National Center for Jewish Film in order to help underwrite their production of Great Cantors of the Golden Age, a film which debuted in 2006 and featured rare performances of renowned cantors from 1910 to the 1940s.


1958New England Jewish Music Forum created.
1958-1990NEJMF held four to five performances annually.
1990New England Jewish Music Forum closed.
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Scope and Content Note

The Records of the New England Jewish Music Forum include meeting minutes, by-laws, and finances, as well as photographs of Forum events, performance programs and brochures, correspondence, newspaper clippings, and concert files. Concert files include correspondence between the Forum and the artists, newspaper clippings, and professional photographs and promotional materials from the artist. Although there are no audio or video recordings of the events in the collection, one performance is available online on The Internet Archive: "A Chassidic Evening" by Rabbi Joshua Hammerman, performed by Cantor Alex Zimmer and Cantor Michal (Michael) Hammerman at Congregation Kehillath Israel in the mid-1960s.

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The collection is arranged into 4 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

Congregation Kehillath Israel (Boston, MA), I-488

Mary Wolfman Epstein Papers, unprocessed

Temple Israel (Boston, MA), I-458

Temple Ohabei Shalom (Brookline, MA), I-459

Internet Archive, “New England Jewish Music Forum: A Chasidic Evening Featuring Reb Schlomo Carlebach and Cantor Michael Hammerman"

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Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:
Identification of item, date (if known); New England Jewish Music Forum Records; I-270; box number; folder number; Jewish Heritage Center at NEHGS.

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Acquisition Information

Donated by Cantor Murray E. Simon, 1991.

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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: Correspondence, undated, 1958-1990

Box 1

Arranged into two Subseries by type of correspondent.

Scope and Content:

This series includes correspondence to and from members, the program committee and the board, as well as correspondence to agencies and artists regarding possible performance dates.

Subseries A: General, undated, 1958-1988

Box 1, Folders 1-8

Arranged alphabetically.

Scope and Content:

This sub-series includes correspondence between board members regarding event logistics, as well as correspondence between the Forum, event venue staff, and artist agencies.

11-8General undated, 1958-1988request_box

Subseries B: Members, 1958-1990

Box 1, Folders 9-10

Arranged alphabetically.

Scope and Content:

This sub-series includes correspondence between the Forum and its members regarding membership recruitment, upcoming concerts, and detailed newsletters of upcoming concert seasons.

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Series II: General, undated, 1966-1989

Box 2.

Arranged alphabetically by subject.

Scope and Content:

This series includes a large collection of news clippings regarding the Forum's upcoming events and reviews of performances from 1958-1990, sheet music catalogs, a list of recorded concert tapes (which are not part of the collection), event photographs, and information regarding the creation and the closing of the Forum.

2 1 American Conference of Cantors 1966 request_box
2 2 Closing of the New England Jewish Music Forum 1988-1990 request_box
2 3 Creation of the New England Jewish Music Forum undated, 1958-1959 request_box
2 4 Event Photographs undated, 1967 request_box
2 5 List of Concert Tapes undated request_box
2 6 Music Catalogs undated, 1953-1987 request_box
2 7-9 News Clippings undated, 1958-1990 request_box
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Series III: Governance, undated, 1966-1989

Box 3 and one OS1 folder.

Arranged alphabetically by type of document.

Scope and Content:

This series includes Forum meeting minutes from 1966-1986 which include critiques of past performances, information regarding the expense of the concerts, and ideas about upcoming events. The meeting minutes also include a graph of membership numbers on the back of a large black and white photograph of a young girl (located in a shared oversize box). Governance also includes lists of members of the executive board, program committee notes, financial statements of receipts and disbursements, a corporation document, and by-laws from various years.

3 1 By Laws undated request_box
3 2 Corporation 1967 request_box
3 3 Finances 1966-1989 request_box
3 4-6 Meeting Minutes 1966-1986 request_box
3 7 Members of Executive Board 1970-1988 request_box
3 8 Program Committee Meeting Notes 1977-1979 request_box
OS1 Consolidated Box Membership Graph Photograph undated request_box
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Series IV: Performances, undated, 1953-1990

Boxes 4-7.

Arranged into two subseries by type of performance.

Scope and Content:

This series contains materials relating to the events that the Forum conducted, including correspondence between the Forum, artists, or agencies; photographs of the artists; newspaper clippings regarding the artist and their performances; promotional materials from each artist; promotional fliers for the Forum's performances; and programs from each performance.

Subseries A: General, undated, 1953-1990

Box 4-7

Arranged chronologically by date of performance.

Scope and Content:

This sub-series contains materials from the four performances that the Forum held each year and are arranged by date of performance. Most concert files contain the program for the event, correspondence between the artist and the Forum before and after the concert, and various promotional materials that the artist sent to the Forum for publicity. These can be “glossies,” or professional photographs of the artist, and promotional brochures and fliers. There are concert files on most but not every performance. Some concert files are joined together by season instead of individual performance since there was a lack of material for some performances, such as the 29th Season (1986-1987). For a complete look at the performances held, see the Programs sub-series. The concert files include artists such as David Bar-Illan, Theodore Bikel, Mira Gilbert, Boris Goldovsky, Minuetta Kessler, Ruthi Navon, Jan Peerce, and Martha Schlamme.

4 1 Martha Schlamme, 11/22/1960 undated, 1960 request_box
4 2 “The Golem,” 11/14/1961 undated, 1961 request_box
4 3 Rakhel Hadass, 11/13/1962 undated, 1962 request_box
4 4 Hanoch Greenfeld, 1/23/1963 1963 request_box
4 5 “Isaac Levi and Chelm,” 11/19/1963 1963 request_box
4 6 “A Literary Evening with Music,” 6/7/1967 1967 request_box
4 7 Jack Glatzer, 3/11/1968 undated, 1967-1968 request_box
4 8 Netania Davrath, 4/24/1968 1962-1968 request_box
4 9 Mira Gilbert and Frances Alenikoff, 11/20/1968 undated, 1964-1968 request_box
4 10 Ophra Yerushalmi, 1/22/1969 undated, 1967-1969 request_box
4 11 “The Golem,” 3/26/1969 1968-1969 request_box
4 12 Ruth Rubin, 5/13/1969 1968-1969 request_box
4 13 Herbert Fromm Concert, 4/1/1970 undated, 1966-1970 request_box
4 14 Louis Saguer 1970 request_box
4 15 Seymor Schwartzman, 11/24/1970 1969-1971 request_box
4 16 Concert Including Margot Blum Scheville and Kenneth and Liora Sarch, 1/20/1971 undated, 1969-1971 request_box
4 17 The Greater Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra, 3/21/1971 undated, 1970-1972 request_box
4 18 Contemporary American Opera and Operetta featuring The Capers, 11/9/1971 undated, 1971 request_box
4 19 “The Cantoral Art,” featuring Cantors Harold Orbach and Isaac Goodfriend, 5/9/1972 undated, 1972-1973 request_box
4 20 A Chassidic Evening,” featuring Shlomo Carlebach, 11/14/1972 undated, 1972 request_box
4 21 “Composers’ Evening,” 1/24/1973 undated, 1972-1973 request_box
4 22 New England Regional Opera Co., “Jack and the Beanstalk,” 4/8/1973 undated, 1972-1973 request_box
4 23 From Israel with Love,” featuring Gadi Elon, Tsachi and Yael, and Sadot Dancers, 5/30/1973 undated, 1973 request_box
4 24 Mikhail Alexandrovich, 11/12/1973 undated, 1973-1974 request_box
4 25 Theodore Lettvin, 1/20/1974 undated, 1973-1974 request_box
4 26 “The Music of Spanish Jewry,” 3/20/1974 undated, 1953-1974 request_box
4 27 “Jewish Popular Music,” featuring Mimi Sloam and Stan Porter, 5/14/1974 undated, 1974 request_box
4 28 “Piano Music and Songs of Fathers and Sons,” featuring Lazar Weiner, Yehudi Wyner, and Susan Davenny Wyner, 1/22/1975 1972-1975 request_box
5 1 Misha Alexandrovich, 3/16/1975 undated, 1974-1975 request_box
5 2 Herbert Fromm’s “Four Proverbs” and Leonard Bernstein’s “The Chichester Psalms,” 5/6/1975 1975 request_box
5 3 “From Shtetl to Stage Door,” 12/7/1975 undated, 1975 request_box
5 4 “The Cantoral Art” featuring Cantors Boris Greisdorf, Murray E. Simon, & Norman Summers, 1/18/1976 1975-1976 request_box
5 5 “Soviet-Jewish Artists of the Boston Symphony Orchestra,” 3/28/1976 1975-1976 request_box
5 6 The Feenjon Group, 5/11/1976 undated, 1975-1976 request_box
5 7 “Gimpel the Fool,” 11/14/1976 1976 request_box
5 8 Roman Totenberg, Fredrik Wanger, and The Harvard-Radcliffe Orchestra, 2/27/1977 undated, 1976-1977 request_box
5 9 Misha Raitzen, 3/20/1977 undated, 1974-1977 request_box
5 10 “The Sounds of Jewish Music,” featuring the Romanul Chamber Players, 4/17/1977 undated, 1977 request_box
5 11 “In Celebration of Israel,” Ze’Eva Cohen and Danny Dayan, 5/15/1977 undated, 1976-1977 request_box
5 12 Grand Opera with Boris Goldovsky, 11/8/1977 undated, 1977 request_box
5 13 “The Cantica Hebraica,” 2/5/1978 1976-1978 request_box
5 14 David Bar-Illan, 3/26/1978 1976-1978 request_box
5 15 Jan Peerce, 5/7/1978 undated, 1977-1978 request_box
6 1 Julius Chajes, 3/11/1979 undated, 1979 request_box
6 2 “The Art of the Klezmer,” 4/8/1979 undated, 1979 request_box
6 3 Judith Raskin, 5/13/1979 undated, 1978-1979 request_box
6 4 The Sophie Maslow Dance Company, 11/11/1979 undated, 1979 request_box
6 5 The Israel Piano Trio, 3/25/1980 undated, 1980 request_box
6 6 Rivka Isachar, Anne Taffel, Ruth Saltzman, and Caltilena Quintet, 4/23/1980 undated, 1980 request_box
6 7 Theodore Bikel, 5/27/1980 undated, 1980 request_box
6 8 “A Concert in Celebration of Ernest Bloch and Herbert Fromm on his 75th Birthday,” 11/9/1980 undated, 1980 request_box
6 9 Joseph Silverstein and Andrew Wolf, 3/25/1981 1961-1981 request_box
6 10 The Yakims and Mimi Sloan, 4/12/1981 undated, 1963-1981 request_box
6 11 Nico Castel with Anne Lewin, 5/17/1981 undated, 1978-1987 request_box
6 12 “The World of the Shtetle,” 5/31/1981 undated, 1981 request_box
6 13 The New York String Ensemble, 11/15/1981 undated, 1981 request_box
6 14 Fredrik and Jane Wanger and the Voice of the Turtle, 3/14/1982 undated, 1982 request_box
6 15 Duo-Reim, 4/25/1982 undated, 1981-1982 request_box
6 16 Shlomo Mintz and Paul Ostrovsky, 10/10/1982 undated, 1982 request_box
6 17 The 25th Season undated, 1981-1984 request_box
6 18 Honoring Lazar Weiner, 3/13/1983 undated, 1983 request_box
6 19 The 26th Season undated, 1983-1984 request_box
6 20 The 27th Season undated, 1984-1986 request_box
6 21 Rivka Isachar and Hamakor, 11/18/1984 undated, 1979-1984 request_box
6 22 The Parvarium, 5/5/1985 undated, 1983-1985 request_box
6 23 The 28th Season undated, 1985-1986 request_box
7 1 The 29th Season undated, 1986-1987 request_box
7 2 American VocalArts Quintet, 3/1/1987 undated, 1987 request_box
7 3 Yoseph Yankelev, 3/29/1987 undated, 1985-1987 request_box
7 4 “Our Liturgical Heritage,” 5/17/1987 undated, 1986-1987 request_box
7 5 Paul Zim, 11/15/1987 1983-1987 request_box
7 6 Michael Webster and Barry Snyder, 3/13/1988 undated, 1983-1988 request_box
7 7 The New England Conservatory Youth Philharmonic Orchestra, 4/17/1988 undated, 1988 request_box
7 8 Washington Music Ensemble and Jazz in the Jewish Experience, 6/6/1988 undated, 1988 request_box
7 9 The 31st Season undated, 1988-1989 request_box
7 10 The 32nd Season undated, 1989-1990 request_box

Subseries B: Members, undated, 1953-1990

Box 7, Folders 11-14

Arranged chronologically by date of performance.

Scope and Content:

This sub-series contains a near complete collection of the Forum's event programs from 1958-1990. These were created for each performance by the Forum and indicate the name of artists, date and place of event as well as the title of songs (sometimes with translations) or additional information.

7 11-14 Programs 1958-1990 request_box
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