Record Group 24: Israel Institute

  • Dates: 1947–1969
  • Size: 9.15 linear ft.
  • Number of Boxes: 7 record cartons; 15" archives box
  • Languages:
    • English
    • Hebrew
  • Location: Special Collections Reading Room, Jewish Theological Seminary Library.
  • Restrictions: The Jewish Theological Seminary's records are available for research, with permission, through 1972; records dating from 1973 and afterward are currently closed. For permission to see records of The Jewish Theological Seminary, write to Archivist, Ratner Center for the Study of Conservative Judaism, The Jewish Theological Seminary, 3080 Broadway, New York, New York 10027. Reproduction of fragile items is not permitted; consult the archivist about literary rights.

JM, 8/31/93

Table of Contents:

A Note on Folder Headings

Individual folders are identified in the following way: record group#–box#–folder#, as in R.G.1-10-32. Please use this format in citations and when referring to files for any other reason.

Historical Note

The Seminary Israel Institute, a joint program of The Jewish Theological Seminary of America and the Jewish Agency's Department of Education and Culture, was established at JTS in 1952. Louis Finkelstein, then the president of JTS, and Hayim Greenberg, head of the Jewish Agency's Department of Education and Culture, appear to have been the originators of the idea (see Moshe Davis's introduction to Israel, Its Role in Civilization, ix).

The purpose of the Israel Institute was to "strengthen the spiritual and cultural bonds between the State of Israel and America; to offer Americans an interpretation of the spiritual and cultural values of the State of Israel; to foster an understanding of the potential role of the State of Israel as intermediary between the Orient and the Occident; and to help develop a recognition of the State of Israel as a spiritual center for Jewry everywhere." (See Seminary Registers for 1958–1959 and 1966–1969).

The Institute's program consisted of annual public courses and lectures given at JTS through which the new nation of Israel was interpreted for an American audience. In 1954 the Institute began a series of annual Weizmann lectures, delivered usually by an Israeli scholar or statesperson. The Institute also published books, held luncheons and dinners, delivered awards, and, during the 1960s, sponsored a fellowship program in which scholars who were not Jewish were sent to Israel for short tours. The fellowship program was an effort to increase understanding of and gain friendship for Israel.

The Israel Institute appears to have ended sometime during the late '60s or '70s.


Davis, Moshe, ed. Israel, Its Role in Civilization. New York, NY: Seminary Israel Institute of The Jewish Theological Seminary of America, 1956.

Kaplan, Mordecai. A New Zionism. New York, NY: Herzl Press, 1955. (Originally delivered as a series of lectures at the Israel Institute in 1954).

Mandelbaum, Bernard, ed. Assignment in Israel. New York, NY: Seminary Israel Institute of The Jewish Theological Seminary of America, 1960.


H. L. Ginsberg, February 23, 1955

Benjamin Mazar, November 1, 1955

Nahum Goldmann, January 15, 1958

Yaacov Herzog, April 8, 1959

Zalman Shazar, March 23, 1960

Moshe Sharett, November 17, 1960

Avraham Harman, December 12, 1962

Baruch Kurzweil, December 10, 1964

Simon L. Halkin, March 16, 1966

Chaim Rabin, March 22, 1967

Ezekiel Kutscher, March 6, 1968


William F. Albright, 1954

Reinhold Niebuhr, 1955

Mordecai Kaplan, 1956

Nelson Glueck, 1958

Louis Lipsky, 1962


Edward Duff, SJ, 1965

Robert C. Dodds, 1969

A. Roy Eckardt, 1966

Robert T. Handy, 1967

Martin E. Marty, 1969

Walter J. Ong, SJ, 1969

Samuel D. Proctor, 1967

Philip J. Scharper, 1966

Alexander Schmemann, 1966

Krister Stendahl, 1967

Collection Description

Records of the Seminary Israel Institute, 1947–1969, consist of correspondence and memoranda; typescripts, outlines, and transcripts of Institute lectures; minutes; programs and invitations for Institute lectures, dinners, award ceremonies, and other events; lecture attendance registers; lists of invitees; press releases, circular letters, and other publicity material.

This material, which is largely in English with a small amount in Hebrew, documents the inauguration of the Institute in 1952 and its yearly administration, 1952–1965. Included are typescripts, outlines, or verbatim transcripts of lectures (a few in Hebrew) delivered at the Institute. Lecturers represented include: Hillel Bavli, Martin Buber, Gerson Cohen, Chaim Z. Dimitrovsky, Carl J. Friedrich, H. L. Ginsberg, S. D. Goitein, Nahum Glatzer, Nahum Goldmann, Hayim Greenberg, A. S. Halkin, Ben Halpern, Rose Halprin, Howard Mumford Jones, Mordecai Kaplan, Milton Katims, H. L. Keenleyside, Philip Klutznick, Leo Kohn, Ezekiel Kutscher, Margaret Mead, Mordecai Narkiss, Allan Nevins, Dean Pike, Jacob Robinson, Maurice Samuel, Morton Smith, and Yigal Yadin.

Also included are files documenting the preparation of the Institute's book, Israel, Its Role in Civilization for publication in 1956. Correspondence, and annotated typescripts and proofs are included. Authors represented include Selig Adler, W. F.Albright, Salo Baron, Alexander Bein, David Ben Gurion, Martin Buber, Abba Eban, Louis Finkelstein, Carl Friedrich, H. L.Ginsberg, S. D.Goitein, Hayim Greenberg, A. S. Halkin, Rose Halprin, Robert Handy, Howard Mumford Jones, Milton Katims, Leo Kohn, Saul Lieberman, Mordecai Narkiss, Allan Nevins, Jacob Robinson, and Morton Smith.

Files concerning awards of the Institute's Israel fellowships, 1965–1969, contain correspondence with award recipients, their itineraries, and, in some instances, articles or other written impressions of their trips to Israel.

Of note is a letter on White House stationery by President Harry Truman to Louis Finkelstein, February 14, 1952, with greetings at the opening of the Institute.

Box List

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