Guide to the Norman Patz Papers
(bulk 1985-1989)


Processed by Louise Masarof

American Jewish Historical Society

Center for Jewish History

15 West 16th Street

New York, N.Y. 10011

Phone: (212) 294-6160



© 2019  American Jewish Historical Society, New York, NY. All Rights Reserved.
Electronic finding aid was encoded in EAD 2002 by Sarah Glover in June 2016. Description is in English.

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Patz, Norman
Title: Norman Patz Papers
Dates:bulk 1985-1989
Abstract: Correspondence, photographs and negatives of sites and trips taken, material concerning Soviet Jewry activism and Synagogue services, and trip reports of visits to Jews in the Soviet Union.
Languages:This collection is in English.
Quantity: 0.5 linear feet (1 manuscript box)
Identification: P-997
Repository: American Jewish Historical Society
Location: Located in AJHS New York, NY
Return to the Top of Page

Historical Note
Norman Patz and his wife, undated

Norman Patz and his wife, undated

The Norman Patz Papers represent one collection housed within the Archive of the American Soviet Jewry Movement (AASJM). These papers reflect the effort, beginning in the 1960s through the late 1980s, of thousands of Americans of all denominations and political orientations to stop the persecution and discrimination of Jews in the Soviet Union. The American Soviet Jewry Movement (ASJM) is considered to be the most influential movement of the American Jewish community in the 20th century. The beginnings of the organized American Soviet Jewry Movement became a model for efforts to aid Soviet Jews in other countries, among them Great Britain, Canada, and France. The movement can be traced to the early 1960s, when the first organizations were created to address the specific problem of the persecution and isolation of Soviet Jews by the government of the Soviet Union.

Norman Richard Patz was born in Boston, Massachusetts on March 28, 1938. He received a B.A. (cum laude) from Harvard College in 1959 and was ordained as a Rabbi by Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion 1965. HUC-JIR awarded him a Doctor of Divinity degree in 1990. He married Naomi Steinlight in 1962 and they have two daughters.1

Rabbi Patz became the spiritual leader of Temple Sholom of West Essex, Cedar Grove, New Jersey in 1969 and was named Rabbi Emeritus in June, 2006. Norman Patz was an early and passionate activist for Soviet Jewry. With the help of the Rabbi, the synagogue sponsored and welcomed Refusnik families into the congregation.2

Return to the Top of Page

Scope and Content Note

The papers are a collection documenting the congregational efforts of Temple Sholom of West Essex to help resettle Soviet Jews. Folder 1 includes a letter from Rabbi Patz that gives more detail about where photographs located in Folders 4 through 7 were taken, reasons for some of the correspondence, and his interest in helping Soviet Jews. The remainder of the folder includes a document giving specific guidelines for corresponding with Soviet Jews, instructions for placing phone calls to a Jewish family in the Soviet Union, letters discussing remarriage licenses for the emigres, and a discussion about circumcision for the male emigres.

Folders 4 through 7 contain photographs of trips taken to visit Jews in Ladispoli, Leningrad, and Moscow and other unidentified places, as well as photos of the Karaite Tombstones in Crimea. Folder 2 includes Rosh Hashanah service packets for Temple Sholom of West Essex, in honor of Soviet Jewry and Folder 3 has holiday programs for Hanukah and Passover.

Folder 12 contains a day calendar entitled, “Silent No More,” and gives a history of the effort to free Soviet Jews and notes important dates in this ongoing journey. Folder 13 includes a document detailing the important role that Steve Greenberg and his friends played in the shift of Soviet Jewish emigration from the U.S. to Israel, and an oral history telling the story of a family’s efforts to migrate from Kiev to Israel and all the obstacles they faced.

Folders 8 through 11 contain four detailed reports of trips to visit Soviet Jews in the Soviet Union. Norman and Naomi Patz visited Moscow and Leningrad in July, 1985. The trip report describes the people and places they visited in their time in Russia and the difficulties and hardships faced by the Soviet Jews. Shira Leibowitz’s trip report tells of her time spent in Moscow during Chanukah and she dedicates her journal to Marina Furman, a young Soviet Jewish writer, whose story is told as a prelude to a journal article. Steven and Marilyn Kushner and Jerry and Priscilla Stein visited Moscow, Leningrad and Riga (Latvia) in February 1987. A special feature of this trip report was that it included an American point of view regarding the details of daily occurrences in traveling, guided tours, hotel accommodations, shopping, etc. The trip report “Mission to Moscow” by Rabbi Joel E. Soffin, Sandy Soffin, and Susan L. and David Zuckerman took place in April 1987. This report lists contact information for the people they visited and also has four Appendixes: Appendix I, has helpful tips for visitors to the Soviet Union; Appendix II, lists Soviet Jewish families and items that people could donate to each family; Appendix III, key contacts and Appendix IV, letters the visitors brought out written by some of the Soviet Jews.

Return to the Top of Page


Organized into thirteen folders. Arranged by type of material.

Return to the Top of Page

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

Return to the Top of Page

Related Material

The Norman Patz Papers is one individual collection within the Archive of the American Soviet Jewry Movement (AASJM) located at the American Jewish Historical Society (AJHS). Other Soviet Jewry Movement collections at AJHS include the records of Action for Soviet Jewry (I-487), the National Conference on Soviet Jewry (I-181 and I-181A), the Union of Councils for Soviet Jews (I-410, I-410A), the Bay Area Council for Soviet Jews and Bay Area Council for Jewish Rescue and Renewal (I-505 and I-505A), Houston Action for Soviet Jewry (I-500), Seattle Action for Soviet Jewry (I-507), The Jewish Chronicle Soviet Jewry Collection (I-523), B'nai B'rith Klutznick National Jewish Museum Soviet Jewry Movement Collection (I-529), Chicago Action for Soviet Jewry (I-530), Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism (I-538), United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (I-543), Jewish Family Service of Greater New Orleans (I-547), Jewish Defense League (I-374) the papers of Joel Ackerman (P-787), Julia Mates Cheney (P-806), Jerry Goodman (P-863), Laurel and Alan J. Gould (P-866), Carolyn W. Sanger (P-870), Leah Lieberman (P-869), Si Frumkin (P-871), Elaine Pittell (P-873), Sanford A. Gradinger (P-880), Shaul Osadchey (P-882), Leonard S. Cahan (P-883), Doris H. Goldstein (P-887), David H. Hill (P-888), Margery Sanford (P-889), Pinchas Mordechai Teitz (P-891), David Waksberg (P-895), Pamela B. Cohen (P-897), Moshe Decter (P-899), William Korey (P-903), Morey Schapira (P-906), Charlotte Gerper Turner (P-907), Myrtle Sitowitz (P-908), Kathleen M. Hyman (P-911), Babette Wampold (P-912), Rabbi David Goldstein and Shannie Goldstein (P-918), Leslie Schaffer (P-923), Arthur Bernstein (P-925), Dolores Wilkenfeld (P-927), Sylvia Weinberg (P-928) , Irwin H. Krasna (P-934) , Constance S. Kreshtool (P-935), Betty Golomb (P-938), Grayce Perlbinder (P-942), Mort Yadin (P-943), Ann Polunsky (P-886), Lillian Foreman (P-945), Marilyn Labendz(P-946), Abraham Silverstein(P-947), Bert Silver (P-949), Billie Kozolchyk (P-950), John Steinbruck (P-951), Lawrence I. Lerner (P-952), Ruth Geller Gold (P-953), Efry Spectre (P-954), Alan M. Kohn (P-956), Frank Brodsky (P-957), Victor Borden (P-959), Estelle Newman (P-960), Carol S. Kekst (P-961), Linda Rutta (P-965), Rachel Braun (P-967), Jack Forgash (P-968), Michael Greene (P-969), Judith A. Manelis (P-970), Fred Greene (P-971), Harry Lerner (P-972), Alan L. Cohen (P-973), Murray Levine (P-974), Jack Minker (P-975), Barry Marks (P-993), and Harold and Judith S. Einhorn (P-996).

American Soviet Jewry Movement Oral Histories Collection (I-548) contains audio and video interviews with activists of the American Soviet Jewry Movement, former Refuseniks and Prisoners of Conscience.

American Soviet Jewry Movement Photographs (I-495) contains digitized photographs from The Archives of the American Soviet Jewry Movement.

American Soviet Jewry Movement Posters and Ephemera Collection (I-566) contains digitized posters and ephemera from The Archives of the American Soviet Jewry Movement.

Additional materials from other collections include records dealing with the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry (SSSJ) located within the North American Jewish Students Appeal (NAJSA, I-338) and the records of the National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council (NJCRAC, I-172). Related records are also located at the AJHS in Newton Centre, MA including memorabilia and ephemera of the New England Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry (I-237) and the Records of the Student Coalition for Soviet Jewry—Brandeis University (I-493).

Return to the Top of Page

Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:
Identification of item, date (if known); Norman Patz Papers; P-997; box number; folder number; American Jewish Historical Society, New York, NY.

Return to the Top of Page

Acquisition Information

Rabbi Norman R. Patz

Return to the Top of Page

Access Points

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

Container List

Click the box in the request column to open the form that allows you to request a box for onsite viewing in the reading room at the Center for Jewish History, New York, NY.


Norman Patz Papers, 1970-2007

1 1 Correspondence undated, 1985-2007 request_box
1 2 Creative Service Packets, Temple Sholom of West Essex, Cedar Grove (NJ) 1970, 1985 request_box
1 3 Holiday Programs undated, 1991 request_box
1 4 Photographs undated, 1985, 1989 request_box
1 5 Photographs—Negatives undated request_box
1 6 Photographs—Karaite Tombstones, Crimea undated request_box
1 7 Photographs—Negatives, Karaite Tombstones, Crimea undated request_box
1 8 Trip report—Norman and Naomi Patz July 1985 request_box
1 9 Trip Report—Rabbi Joel E. Soffin, Sandy Soffin, David Zuckerman, Susan L. Zuckerman April 4-17, 1987 request_box
1 10 Trip Report—Shira Leibowitz December 1986-January 1987 request_box
1 11 Trip Report—Steven Kushner, Marilyn Kushner, Jerry Stein, Priscilla Stein February 14-26, 1987 request_box
1 12 “Silent No More,” Soviet Jewry-themed Day Planner circa 1987-1988 request_box
1 13 Speech and Oral History undated, 2007 request_box
Return to the Top of Page