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about the jewish historical society of greater new haven

our history

Established in 1976, under the leadership of its founder and first president, the late Harvey N. Ladin, the Society is devoted to the effort of collecting and cataloging the Greater New Haven Jewish community's eventful past, publicizing the history of the Jewish community, and serving as a catalyst in preserving its heritage.

After a few challenging years seeking to strengthen its identity and to acquire collections of pertinent historical data, the Society qualified for a matching grant from the New Haven Foundation. This initial grant enabled the Society, in 1979, to establish its own archive center in facilities provided by the New Haven Jewish Home for the Aged.

By 1997, this space proved far too small for the growing collections, and larger facilities were sought. At about this same time, the New Haven Ethnic Heritage Center was formed, comprised of several other local historical societies. Together with the Ethnic Heritage Center, we acquired space on the campus of Southern Connecticut State University and moved our archives and office to the new location.

In the beginning, matching federal grants and help from the New Haven Jewish Foundation enabled the Society to hire a part-time archivist and office manager. We now find that specialized archival storage materials and computer resource costs have risen dramatically. Since federal aid is no longer available, financial help is needed from the membership and community.


Since its founding, the Society's membership and professional prestige have grown steadily, marked most conspicuously by the publication of eight volumes of Jews in New Haven. These books contain many photos and scholarly articles written by professional researchers and writers, as well as students, while other essays were written by local authors whose principal resource was their own knowledge and personal expereicnes and recollections. Much of the material in these books was researched or reproduced from the Society's extensive archival collection.


The Society has organized exhibits for the general public. These displays have been exhibited at Yale University, Southern Connecticut State University, New Haven Public Libraries, area synagogues, schools, the Jewish Community Center of Greater New Haven, Tower I and Tower East, and the Ethnic Heritage Center.

The society also hold periodic, interactive meetings, consisting of lectures by authorities in their fields, Jewish book authors, seminars, panel discussions, and slideshows. A Hall of Fame dinner and brunch meeting take place annually.

These meetings, besides being enjoyable and informative, enable people to share experiences and to discuss the events that helped shape the dynamic Jewish community of Greater New Haven today.

In addition to the meetings, the Society sponsors trips to historic synagogues, forgotten neighborhoods, museums, and other places of Jewish interest. Some of these trips have included travels around New Haven, New York, Washington, D.C., Israel, and Morocco. All trips are specially planned for the Society at special rates.