Collection Summary

The Jewish American Heritage Collection provides nearly 400 public television and radio programs from 1945 to 2017 that focus on social, cultural, and religious aspects of Jewish life in America. Programs profile diverse Jewish communities in a variety of locales and address subjects relevant to many American Jews, such as anti-Semitism, the Holocaust, Israel, intermarriage, the political impact of Jewish voters, the campaign to free Soviet Jews, and relations between American Jews and African Americans. The collection includes interviews with authors whose work have explored themes of Jewish life in America, such as Philip Roth, Erica Jong, Isaac Bashevis Singer, and Herman Wouk. Programs are devoted to the involvement of Jewish leaders in the civil rights and human rights movements, Jewish religious observances, Jewish organizations, Jewish humor, Jewish cooking, klezmer music, and Jewish art. The CUNY TV series Jewish Women in America (2003-2004), hosted by historian Blanche Wiesen Cook, provides interviews with notable Jewish women on their contributions to U.S. society. The WRVR Riverside Church series Portion of the Week: The Bible as Read in the Synagogue with Rabbinic Commentary (1961-1966) offers 295 programs on weekly Torah readings by Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform rabbis from synagogues in the greater New York City area.

Collection Background

Jewish American Heritage Month, instituted in 2006 through a presidential proclamation, recognizes the history of Jews in America and their contributions to American life, culture, and history. During the month of May, cultural institutions throughout the nation call attention to materials in their collections relevant to Jewish life in America. The AAPB’s Jewish American Heritage Collection provides public television and radio programs contributed to AAPB by more than 25 stations and organizations from across the nation that are available online. Additional materials can be accessed on the premises of the Library of Congress and WGBH.