Solomon Grayzel (1896-1980), Papers.

  • Dates: 1911-1980
  • Size: 4.5 linear ft.
  • Number of Boxes: 6
  • Languages:
    • English
    • Hebrew
    • Russian
    • Yiddish
  • Location: Special Collections Reading Room, Jewish Theological Seminary Library.
  • Restrictions: Reproduction of fragile items is not permitted; consult the archivist about literary rights.

EW, 1990; addition, YML, 8/4/92

Table of Contents:

A Note on Folder Headings

Individual folders are identified in the following way on the left side of each folder: Name of Collection, box #/folder#, as in Ben Zion Bokser Papers, 4/22. Please use this format in citations and when referring to files for any other reason.

Biographical Note

Solomon Grayzel was born in Minsk on February 18, 1896. He and his family came to the United States in 1908 and settled in Brooklyn. Grayzel received a BA from the City College of New York in 1917, an MA in sociology from Columbia University in 1920, was ordained by The Jewish Theological Seminary in 1921, and earned a PhD in history from Dropsie College in 1926. While working on his doctorate Grayzel took his first and only full-time pulpit position at Congregation Beth El in Camden, New Jersey.

After receiving his PhD Grayzel left for Europe to continue his research on the Church and the Jews. His dissertation, The Church and the Jews in the Thirteenth Century (1198-1254) was published in 1933. In 1928 Grayzel returned to the United States and took a teaching position at Gratz College in Philadelphia. In 1939 he became the editor of the Jewish Publication Society, a position which he held until 1966. On leaving JPS he joined the faculty of Dropsie University.

Grayzel is the author of A History of the Contemporary Jews From 1900 to the Present (1960), A History of the Jews From the Babylonian Exile to the Present (1968), and numerous articles and essays on Jews and the medieval church, his field of specialization.

In 1932 Grayzel married Sophie Solomon, daughter of Rabbi Elias Solomon. He died in 1980.

Collection Description

Grayzel's papers, 1911-1980, consist of correspondence, writings, tapes and a transcript of a recorded memoir, and photographs. These document his professional and, to a lesser extent, his personal life.

Series List

  • I. Correspondence, 1911-1980
  • II. Dropsie University, 1950-1980
  • III. Encyclopedia Judaica, 1964-1970
  • IV. European Trip, 1967-1975
  • V. History of the Jews, 1966-1968
  • VI. Personal Finances, 1956-1980
  • VII. The Prophets, 1967-1979
  • VIII. Miscellaneous, 1924-1989
  • IX. Writings
  • X. Tapes and Transcripts
  • XI. Photographs
  • XII. Additional Papers, ca.1921-1977; n.d.

Series Descriptions

I. Correspondence, 1911-1980

Box 1, Folders 1-19

The correspondence is organized into two sections: general correspondence, organized chronologically, and correspondence in alphabetical order by correspondent. The general correspondence, 1927-1978, is with friends and colleagues. Of special note are letters from Cecil Roth and H.L. Ginsberg, as well as the legal documents regarding the sale of the Congregation Beth El (Philadelphia) building. Also included are birthday greetings and an address delivered by Judah Goldin on the occasion of Grayzel's eightieth birthday. Of note are several letters written by Grayzel to his sister Rose during the course of a European research trip in the late 1920s, as well as two letters in Yiddish, one of which appears to be addressed to Grayzel's father.

The alphabetically arranged correspondence is with Bernard Alpers, Bernhard Blumenkranz, Gerson Cohen, Mortimer Cohen, Allan Cutler, Moshe Davis, and others. With the Davis letters is a copy of the remarks made by Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Nissim on the opening of the Rabbinical Supreme Court Chambers opposite the Temple Mount following the reunification of Jerusalem in 1967. Also present is correspondence regarding the Rothschild Memorial Synagogue and the Temple Hillel/Temple Beth El merger in Philadelphia.

II. Dropsie University, 1950-1980

Box 1, Folders 20-21

Included here are letters from Grayzel's students; material regarding the presidency of Abraham Katsh; correspondence and other material concerning Dropsie's Jewish Quarterly Review and the World History of the Jewish People, a multi-volume series, and other Dropsie matters. Of note are letters from Harry Orlinsky and Cecil Roth.

III. Encyclopedia Judaica, 1964-1970

Box 1, Folder 22

Correspondence between Grayzel, Cecil Roth (Jerusalem), Bernhard Blumenkranz (Paris), and other authors and editors concerning the preparation of the Encyclopedia Judaica. Drafts of articles by Grayzel and others are included.

IV. European Trip, 1967-1975

Box 1, Folders 23-25

Applications for funding for Grayzel's trips to Europe to study references to Jews in papal bulls and correspondence. Included is a proposal to Dropsie University, 1967, and a Guggenheim Fellowship application, 1973.

V. History of the Jews, 1966-1968

Box 1, Folders 26-27

Letters to Grayzel from colleagues, including Moshe Greenberg, Judah Nadich, Ira Eisenstein, Nahum Glatzer, Alfred Jospe, Oscar Janowsky and others regarding his request for advice concerning the possibility of reprinting his book, History of the Jews, 1966; contracts with related correspondence concerning the paperback reprint edition, 1967; correspondence with Samuel Malamud of Editora Tradicao, a publisher in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, concerning the Portuguese translation of the book.

VI. Personal Finances, 1956-1980

Box 1, Folders 28-31

Letters, receipts, and other material documenting Grayzel's travel expenses, royalties, and arrangements relating to retirement.

VII. The Prophets, 1967-1979

Box 1, Folder 32

Grayzel was on the editorial committee of the Jewish Publication Society that produced The Prophets Nevi'im: A New Translation of the Holy Scriptures According to the Traditional Hebrew Text (Philadelphia: JPS, 1978). Included here are clippings of reviews of the book, and correspondence between Grayzel and fellow committee members Bernard Bamberger and Harry Orlinsky.

VIII. Miscellaneous, 1924-1989

Box 1, Folders 33-45

Miscellaneous material consists of: articles and notes on Catholics and Jews; a copy of the United States Supreme Court decision on prayer in the public schools, 1963; manuscripts written by Grayzel's students and colleagues; an award presented to Grayzel by his students; receipts from several European trips; lists of books Grayzel donated to various institutions; a program from the dedication service of Temple Beth El, Camden, NJ; and Grayzel's letter of appointment to the Jewish Publication Society.

IX. Writings

Box 2; Box 3, Folders 1-4

Included here are: reprints of Grayzel's articles, in alphabetical order, mostly on the subject of the Church and the Jews, and manuscripts and notes for Grayzel's articles, lectures, and sermons.

X. Tapes and Transcripts

Box 3, Folders 5-6; Box 4

Grayzel used a Dictaphone to create a long recorded memoir of both his personal and professional life. Included here are the twelve tapes of the recording, and a typed transcript. Also included is a tape of an address given by Dr. Irving Greenberg at Grayzel's memorial service in 1980.

XI. Photographs

Box 5

Included are portraits of Grayzel and family portraits. Some interesting formats, including a tintype and several photograph pins are among these. Also included are publicity portraits for the Jewish Publication Society of: Max Arzt, Bernard Bamberger, Abba Eban, Harry Freedman, H.L. Ginsberg, Justice Arthur Goldberg, Moshe Greenberg, Jonas Greenfield, Charlton Heston, Harry Orlinsky, Claim Potok, and Nahum Samna.

XII. Additional Papers, 1920s-1970s

Box 6

Some additional papers were found amongst a group of Grayzel's books that were given to the JTS library. This material consists of miscellaneous correspondence; a notebook (disbound) of typescripts and some clippings of historical essays, book reviews, and other writings (of note here is a memorandum by the British scholar James Parkes, "Jewish Peace Aims," 1940, about the situation of Jews during and after World War II); a small scrapbook (disbound), mainly of clippings but also including a draft copy of the '21 News, the alumni newsletter of the Seminary class of 1921, edited by Grayzel; eulogies for David Galter, n.d. and Leon Lang, 1956; notes for speeches and lectures and miscellaneous other notes; edited drafts of translations of Job and Genesis, published by the Jewish Publication Society; and some personal material, including Grayzel's application to the Independent Progress Lodge of Camden, New Jersey, 1922, some teaching material, 1930s-1940s, and his JTS honorary degree, 1948.

Most of the correspondence (which dates from 1929 to 1965) is from Bernard A. Bergman of The Jewish Exponent of Philadelphia proposing article ideas to Grayzel. Also included are congratulatory telegrams and letters (including one from Louis Ginzberg) received by Grayzel on the occasion of his receiving an honorary doctorate from JTS, 1948. Other correspondents include Cyrus Adler, Harry Orlinsky, and Hanna Marx.

Box List

Box  Folder(s)  Description
1 1-19 I. Correspondence, 1911-1980
 20-21 II. Dropsie University, 1950-1980
 22 III. Encyclopedia Judaica, 1964-1970
 23-25 IV. European Trips, 1967-1975
 26-27 V. History of the Jews, 1966-1968
 28-31 VI. Personal Finances, 1956-1980
 32 VII. The Prophets, 1967-1979
 33-45 VIII. Miscellaneous, 1924-1920
  IX. Writings
2 1-5  
3 1-4  
3 5-6 X. Tapes and Transcripts
5  XI. Photographs
  XII. Additional Papers, ca. 1921-1977; n.d.
6 1 Book reviews, ca. 1929-1931; n.d.
 2-5 Clippings, ca, 1956-1956
 (Folder 6 eliminated)
 7 Correspondence, 1929-1976
 8 Curricula, teachers' materials, lesson plans, teaching license test, ca. 1930-1943
 9 Eulogies, 1956; n.d.
 10 Honorary Degree Doctor of Hebrew Letters, 1948
 11 Job, Chapters 1-42, draft, revisions, 1975-1977
 12 JPS translation of Genesis, draft version, 1958
 13 Medical examination report for membership in Independent Progress Lodge, Camden, New Jersey, 1922
  Notebook (disbound)
 14     "Books for Your Home," n.d;
    "The Growth of American Thought," 1943.
 15     "The Status of the Jews in the Middle Ages," n.d.
 16     "A Note By the Translator," n.d.
 17     "Balance Sheet of a Century," n.d.
 18     "American Israel at the Foot of Sinai," n.d.
 19     "Hanukkah and Democracy," n.d;
    "The Catholic Church and the Jews," n.d.;
    "Solomon Schechter: A Biography," 1938.
 20     "Our Contributions to Historical Consciousness," n.d.;
    "A Literary Anniversary," n.d.
 21     "Jews and the Papacy," n.d.
 22     "Jewish Peace Aims," 1940.
 23     "Freedom and the Jews," 1940;
    "An American Jewish Biography," ca. 1937.
 24     "The Historic Experiences of the Jewish People and the Ideal of Peace," 1940.
 25     "Judah Halevi - Captive of Hope," n.d.
 26     "Graetz In America," n.d.;
    "Books and Self-Defense," n.d.
 27     "The Pope's Role In Jewish History," 1939;
    "Letters From the Known and Unknown," 1936;
    "A Literary Anniversary," 1939;
    "Jewish Magic and Superstition," 1939.
 28     "Rashi, His Time and Ours Unmasking a Falsehood," 1942.
 29     "Studies in Medieval German Jewish History," 1940;
    "Let Laughter Ring," n.d.;
    "The Economic Factor In the Development of Antisemitism," n.d.
 30     The Jewish Quarterly Review - Grayzel reviews, n.d.;
    "Magic and Jews of the Middle Ages," 1930
 31     "The Ghetto - One of Civilization's Tragedies," n.d.;
    "Literature of Strength," 1928;
    "What Our Grandmothers Read," n.d.
 32     "A Few Facts, Dates and Names," n.d.;
    "Tragic Arguments," n.d.;
    The Literature of Self-Defense, n.d.
 33     "The Literature of Love and Peace," n.d.;
    "The Literature of Mysticism," n.d.;
    "Hebrew Literature," n.d.
 34     "The Literature of Song and Sadness," n.d.;
    "Rashi's Daughters," n.d.
 35     "The Church and the Jews in the XIIth Century," ca. 1935
 36 Notes, n.d.
 37 Rosh Hashanah - "What Shall we Celebrate," ca, 1952
 38 Scrapbook Material, ca. 1921-1959
 39 Speeches and Lectures, ca. 1949
 40 Temple Emanuel Religious School - Memory cards, n.d.