Louis Winer (1904-1994), Papers.

  • Dates: ca. 1948-1992
  • Size: 3 linear ft.
  • Number of Boxes: 3 (1 record carton; 1 photo box; 1 thin legal-sized document box)
  • Languages:
    • English
    • Hebrew
  • Location: Special Collections Reading Room, Jewish Theological Seminary Library.
  • Restrictions: Reproduction of fragile items is not permitted; consult the archivist about literary rights.
  • Gift Of: Morton Steinberg, President, Camp Ramah in Wisconsin
  • Date: February 29, 1996
  • Related Collections: -->R.G.28, Records of Camp Ramah; Jerome Abrams Papers; Ratner Center photograph collection.

JSF, 6/24/97

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

Louis Winer was born in Crown Point, Indiana in 1904, and died in 1994. Winer was the president of the Winer Manufacturing Company, a coat manufacturing company, but he devoted a great deal of time to Jewish communal affairs, notably Camp Ramah.

In 1947 Winer helped to found the first Camp Ramah in Wisconsin, and served as the chairman of its board from 1949 until 1960. He was the president of the National Ramah Commission, 1961-1962. In 1993 Winer helped found Camp Ramah of the Southeast (subsequently named Ramah Darom). Winer also started the Winer Training Program for Upper Staff.

In addition to his work with Ramah, Winer was active in Jewish communal affairs in Chicago. In 1949 he was the president and founder of the Jewish Conservative Mens Club of Chicago. He served as the president of his synagogue, Congregation Rodfei Zedek of Chicago, from 1961 to 1963. Winer was the founder of the Solomon Schechter Day Schools of Chicago, and served as vice-president.

Winer was a member of the Board of Overseers of The Jewish Theological Seminary of America from 1952 to 1981. From 1952 to 1955 he was a vice-president of the United Synagogue of America. He helped to found the Conservative/Masorti movement in Israel, and assisted in the founding of Kibbutz Hanaton, the Tali school system and NOAM (a Masorti youth group).

Louis Winer married Esther Lepunsky in 1934. Mrs. Winer died in 1975, and Winer married Shoshana Lipis in 1979.

Collection Description

The Louis Winer papers consist of correspondence, clippings, certificates and awards, photographs, and video tapes, ca. 1948-1992, documenting Louis Winer's work with Camp Ramah, Chicago-area Jewish organizations, Masorti Judaism (Conservative Judaism in Israel), and The Jewish Theological Seminary of America. Most of the material dates from after 1980 and, in general, the collection documents Winer's activities in a fragmentary manner.

More than half of the collection is made up of papers documenting Winer's involvement with Camp Ramah. Included is correspondence with the leaders of Ramah, including Sheldon Dorph and Saul Shapiro. There are documents dealing with the founding of both the Winer and Weinstein Institutes. There are also letters that were sent to Winer from participants in the first Winer Institute. Also included is a budget proposal for the entire Ramah in Israel organization for the year 1993.

A group of writings about Camp Ramah (and other educational programs, presumably gathered for informational purposes) includes: "The Basic Jewish Values of the Ramah Experience"; Shuly Rubin Schwartz, "Ramah - The Early Years," (MA thesis); "Camp Ramah: Origins, Problems and Partial Solutions: An Interview with Moshe Davis by Pamela Jay Gottfried." (Additional copies of the Davis interview are available elsewhere in the Ratner Center.)

Also included is a separate box of photographs, mainly snapshots, of different Ramah camps, 1947-1990s. Many were taken at the camp in Wisconsin and include views taken in summer and winter, camp construction, dedication of the dining hall, and visiting days. There are also photographs of the National Ramah Commission annual meeting at the Berkshires and Poconos; posed portraits of Winer and others; and candid shots of campers and staff.

Of particular interest is material in the collection dealing with the founding of Camp Darom. Included is the feasibility study that was conducted, site selection and fund-raising for the Camp.

The Akiba-Schechter papers deal for the most part with Winer's involvement in the funding of the school. There are some photographs of the cornerstone dedication ceremony and a few shots of the children at school.

The Board of Jewish Education honored Winer at its fifty-fifth annual dinner in 1976, and an album in the collection contains an invitation and photographs documenting that event.

Winer was given a tribute by the Jewish Educators Assembly (JEA) at their annual dinner in 1983. Included here is an album (disbound for reasons of preservation) containing photographs of Winer at the ceremony and congratulatory letters from people who could not attend. Also included are additional awards and certificates that Winer received from the JEA.

Congregation Rodfei Zedek material included here documents Winer's fund-raising projects, and includes bulletins from the synagogue that mention Winer's contributions and several awards that Winer received.

Winer's involvement with the Masorti movement is documented by his correspondence with Reuven Hammer and other leaders of the Masorti movement in Israel. Much of the material deals with the logistical and financial aspects of the founding of the movement. Some of the papers document the early days of Masorti Judaism in Israel, and the struggle with the government in gaining recognition as a valid movement.

Material documenting Louis Winer's involvement with the Jewish Theological Seminary includes his correspondence with leaders of the Seminary, including Seymour Fox and presidents Louis Finkelstein and Gerson Cohen, dealing for the most part with fundraising. Photographs included here consist largely of portraits of Winer and Seminary dignitaries taken at Seminary events such as the laying of the cornerstone of the new library building; Men's Club meetings; and a convocation.

Clippings include announcements of Winer's awards from Ramah and the Seminary and his activity with the Masorti movement. Most of them were taken from the Chicago Sentinel or other local Chicago papers. Winer received many awards and honors for his generous donations to organizations of the Conservative movement. These included the Louis Marshall award from the Seminary, a Solomon Schechter Medal and the Abraham Joshua Heshel award, included here.

Three files of photographs include snapshots, and 8x10 portraits of Winer alone, with family members, with presidents of the Seminary at Seminary events, and at other events, ca. 1940s-1990s.

Box List

Box  Folder(s)  Description 
1 1 I. Personal Papers, 1976-1986, n.d.
 2 II. Akiba/Schechter Day School, 1967-1994, n.d.
 3 III. Board of Jewish Education, 1976
 4 IV. Conservative/Masorti Judaism in Israel, 1984-1990
 5 V. Clippings, 1964-1994
  VI. Jewish Educator's Assembly, 1978-1983, n.d.
 6     Awards to Louis Winer, 1978-1983
 7     Album, Tribute to Louis Winer at annual dinner, 1983.
 8 VII. The Jewish Theological Seminary of America, 1948-1992, n.d.
 9-11 VIII. Photographs, 1970-1990
  IX. Camp Ramah, ca. 1947-1994
21(oz. box)    Album, annual dinner, 1977
1 12     Writings about Camp Ramah, 1963-1994, n.d.
 13     Fundraising, 1990-1993
 14     Camp Ramah, Wisconsin, 1980-1993
 15     Camp Ramah of the South-East/Ramah Darom, 1993-1994
 16     Camp Ramah Israel, 1993
 17     National Ramah Commission, 1991-1993
3(small box)    Photographs, Camps Ramah, ca. 1947-1990s
1 18     Weinstein Institute, 1990-1993
 19     Winer Institute, 1990-1994
          "An Experience in Jewish Living" (Wisconsin)
          "Camp Ramah in Wisconsim - Camp Ramah Recruitment Videotape"
          "Camp Ramah in Wisconsin Camp Video," 1993
          "Camp Ramah in Wisconsin Presents Ramah Family Camp Kallot"
          "Camp Ramah in Wisconsin Presents the Tikvah Program"
          "Camp Ramah in Wisconsin," Promo, 1990-1991
          "Dedication of Ramah Rooms - The Jewish Theological Seminary Honors the Winers," 1984
          Groundbreaking, October 31, 1993
2 2 (oz. box)X. Congregation Rodfei Zedek, 1964-1990
 2 (oz. box)XI. Oversized Items - Certificates and Photographs