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Bringing Jewish History To Life


While at many points AJC’s new website touches the heart, it also appeals very powerfully to the mind. Scholars, students, and web users of every age are turning to the site from points across America and around the globe: recent “hits” have come in from Jerusalem, Istanbul, Rabat, Sedova, Moscow, Bonn, Rio, and Taipei.

Web users click their way to the site in search of primary sources that help clarify and uncover the history of American Jewish life and activism.

“Since our founding in 1906,” says Harris, “AJC has been a pioneering advocacy agency, making an impact on issues of utmost concern to the Jewish people and to democratic societies around the world.

“As you explore our new website, you’ll find that the story told in so many dimensions, and through such a wide range of materials, is not by any means simply the story of AJC.

“Instead, it’s very much the story of the evolution of the American Jewish community, and how AJC has positively contributed to shaping American society, as well as international affairs.”

Deborah Dash Moore, director of the Jewish Studies program at the University of Michigan and author of GI Jews: How WWII Changed A Generation, feels that AJC has done an enormous community service in constructing ajcarchives.org and making widely available the organization’s remarkable collection of archival materials.

“For one thing,” she says, “I think it’s simply wonderful to have the American Jewish Year Book online, since it’s an invaluable historical source and record of events. In addition, the interactive timelines, the oral history memoir excerpts, the cartoons, comics, and film clips all convey the complex process of a century of creative Jewish efforts to fight prejudice and anti-Semitism and promote a pluralist society and a peaceful world.”

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More than 140,000 people in the past month have clicked their way to a dramatic YouTube video (www.youtube.com/watch?v=zZihm6VlYjo) about a historic Jewish religious service led by a Brooklyn-born U.S. Army chaplain.

Shortly after she became chief archivist at the American Jewish Committee in 2001, Charlotte Bonelli came to believe the material she was discovering should be shared with the world.

“I would pull a box a box off a shelf, open it up, and find inside, for instance, World War II-era pro-democracy comics or scripts of radio broadcasts featuring stars such as James Cagney, William Holden, and Helen Hayes urging unity on the home front,” says Bonelli.

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