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Collection Title: Ben-Ami (Rabbi David Z.) Papers

Collection Number: M365

Dates: 1924-2003

Volume: .5 cubic feet

Provenance: Materials in this collection were donated by Rabbi Dr. David Z. Ben-Ami between 2001 and 2003.

Copyright: This collection may be protected from unauthorized copying by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code).

Biographical/Historical Sketch:

David Z. Ben-Ami was born in Germany, on December 13, 1924, emigrated to the United States, and settled in New York City in October of 1937, during the time before Adolph Hitler’s policies prevented such Jewish emigration. David matured in New York City, entered the U. S. Army in 1945, and married his wife, Evelyn, on December 31, 1949. He received from New York University a Bachelor of Science in Hebrew Culture, a Masters in Education, and a Masters in Social Work. By 1958, Ben-Ami obtained a Rabbi’s Diploma and Ordination, and a Doctorate in Theology from the Academy of Higher Jewish Learning.

Before accepting the rabbinate at Temple B’Nai Israel, and moving his wife, and their three children, Raphael, age 11, Aviva, age eight, and Hillel, age six, to Hattiesburg, Mississippi, in early July of 1963, Ben-Ami, noted for his interfaith services, his outspoken advocacy for peace, and his stand against discrimination of African-Americans, served at synagogues in Geneva, New York, Rochester, New York, and Brewster, New York.

In Hattiesburg, Ben-Ami, in addition, to his rabbinate duties, worked as a part-time Sociology instructor at the University of Southern Mississippi, and, as time progressed, became more involved in civil rights activities in Mississippi. Ben-Ami knew, worked with, or corresponded with, such prominent civil rights activists as Charles Evers, Dick Gregory, Drew Pearson, Reverend Bob Beech, Rabbi Arthur J. Lelyveld, Reverend John E. Cameron, Reverend Bernard Law, Marion Barry, and Dr. Aaron Henry. He also participated in the interfaith “Committee for Concern,” the interfaith committee to raise money for the rebuilding of the burned African-American churches in Mississippi.

By late January of 1964, Ben-Ami, the only local minister to do so, visited nine Presbyterian ministers arrested for civil rights activities in Hattiesburg. In June of 1964, Ben-Ami received appointment to the Mississippi State Advisory Committee of the United States Commission on Civil Rights. In December of 1964, Ben-Ami became the Mississippi distribution coordinator of the “Christmas for Mississippi” project. The project, viewed as a civil rights activity, had the goal of dispensing turkeys to the state’s impoverished citizens.

But Ben-Ami’s involvement with the “Christmas for Mississippi” project became public knowledge from an exchange of letters between him and the local Salvation Army. The synagogue leaders of Temple B’Nai Israel, fearing the possibility of violence from such an involvement and the possibility of a loss of their livelihoods, did not renew his contract as rabbi. By February 13, 1965, Ben-Ami and his family had moved to Washington, D. C. to work as a consultant to the Department of Health, Education and Welfare (HEW). He also became an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Lebanon Valley College in Annville, Pennsylvania.

By 1967, Ben-Ami became the Director of the Neighborhood Youth Development Center, in Cardoza, the African-American section of Washington, D. C. Also, he, along with his wife, became the founders of the Northern Virginia Hebrew Congregation in Reston, Virginia, in 1967. By late 1969, Ben-Ami (and his family) moved to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where he became the first Director of Jewish Family Services. In 1970, the Jewish Community in Harrisburg, with Ben-Ami as its founding Rabbi, established Temple Beth Shalom (“House of Peace”).

In 1980, Ben-Ami became the Founder and Chairman of the American Forum for Jewish-Christian Cooperation (AFJCC), whose mission is to foster an understanding between Jews and Christians based on the common biblical and moral grounds. A cursory look at Ben-Ami’s ministry reveals he has spent his life in the promotion of peace, and in the promotion of religious and racial cooperation.

Sources:

Contents of the Collection

Other Finding Aids:

Box and Folder List
Photograph Log

Related Collections:

M 352 Speer (Klaus & Elisabeth C.) Papers
M 327 Mantinband (Rabbi Charles) Papers
AM 99-56 Grupper (Ira) and Beech (Bob) Civil Rights Collection, 1960s
AM 98-42 Lelyveld (Rabbi Arthur J.) Collection, 1964
Am 98-59 Temple B’Nai Israel Records

Scope and Content:

The inclusive dates of the collection are 1924 to 2003, but the bulk of the collection consists of newspaper clippings, correspondence, and other materials, from the early 1960s to 2001, that document the life and career of Rabbi Dr. David Z. Ben-Ami. Specifically, the collection reveals Ben-Ami’s stance against discrimination of African-Americans, his outspoken advocacy for peace, and his interfaith / American Forum for Jewish-American Cooperation (AFJCC) activities in Mississippi and in other locales. Of particular interest in the collection are photographs / computer scans related to his ministry. Further, many of the clippings, correspondence, and other materials in Box 1 have duplications in Box 2, which contains the oversized materials.

Box and Folder List

Box 1

Folder 1 Clippings / Correspondence- Temple B'Nai Israel ca. July 1963-February 13, 1965
  Clippings / Correspondence-Rabbi Ben-Ami & Family ca. July 1963-February 13, 1965
Folder 2 Two Rabbi Ben-Ami Speeches  
  Gulf Park College December 4, 1963
 

Gulf Park College

ca. December 4-6, 1963

Folder 3

Miscellaneous Letters- Rabbi Ben-Ami and Mrs. Ben-Ami

October 1963-December 1964; undated

Folder 4

Medgar Evers, 1 John 4:20

ca. June 12, 1963

Folder 5

"Christmas for Mississippi (related)

November-December 1964; undated

Folder 6

Segregationist Response to Civil Rights Activities in Mississippi

ca. 1964; undated

Folder 7

Mississippi Advisory Committee to the United States Commission on Civil Rights

ca. 1963-1964; undated

Folder 8

Civil Rights Activities in Hattiesburg, Mississippi

ca. 1963-1964; undated

Folder 9

Religious and Civil Rights Activities in Mississippi

ca. 1964; undated

Folder 10

Ben-Ami and Civil Rights Activities in Mississippi

ca. 1963-1965; undated

Folder 11

Miscellaneous Mississippi Civil Rights Articles / Clippings

ca. 1964; undated

Folder 12 Drew Pearson's Articles on Ben-Ami ca. December 25, 1964-November 16, 1965
 

Drew Pearson's Correspondence with Ben-Ami

January 8, 1965

Folder 13 Edward P. Morgan-copy of radio broadcast on Ben-Ami March 18, 1965
 

Edward P. Morgan Letter to Ben-Ami

December 18, 1964

Folder 14

Clippings / Articles on Ben-Ami's Resignation from Temple B'Nai Israel

January-February, 1965

  Ben-Ami's Statement on his Resignation from Temple B'Nai Israel January 29, 1965
Folder 15

Letters in Response to Ben-Ami's Resignation

December 25, 1964 - September 27, 1965

Folder 16

Miscellaneous Information on Ben-Ami (after Hattiesburg )

After February 13, 1965

Folder 17

Interfaith Activities / American Forum for Jewish Christian Cooperation (AFJCC) of Rabbi Ben-Ami

ca. 1963-2001

Folder 18

Miscellaneous Information (related to Ben-Ami)

 

Folder 19

Miscellaneous computer scans and photographs (which relate to Ben-Ami's life

 

Folder 20

Rabbi David Z. Ben-Ami Timeline

1924-2003

 

Box 2

Folder 1

Articles from Newspapers and Periodicals (photocopies) (oversized)

ca. 1963-2001

Folder 2

American Forum for Jewish-Christian Cooperation (AFJCC) (computer scans) (oversized)

ca. 1980-2001

Folder 3

Sketches by Aviva Ben-Ami (oversized)

ca. 1971

Folder 4 Scrapbook Photocopies (oversized)  
  --Letters, Periodicals & Pamphlet Clippings ca. 1963-1978

 

--Varied Photocopies of Other Printed Materials

undated

Folder 5

Original Scrapbook-Part 1 (oversized)

ca. July 1963-September 13, 1964; undated

Folder 6

Original Scrapbook-Part 2 (oversized)

ca. September 19, 1964-July 27, 1977

Photograph Log:

M365-1 House in Hattiesburg of the Ben-Ami’s
  8 X 10 (b & w) (photograph) ca. 1963-1965
  The picture of the house in Hattiesburg, at 2008 Adeline Street, is the home of Rabbi and Mrs. Ben-Ami during the family’s stay in Hattiesburg.
  (Box 1, Folder 19)
M365-2 Jewish Religious Service (Bar Mitzvah)
  7 X 9 ½ (b & w) (computer scan) ca.1952-1958
  The picture shows Ben-Ami (the man in the middle), and two unidentified young men (on each side of Ben-Ami) after a Bar Mitzvah ceremony.
  (Box 1, Folder 19)
M365-3 Religious Service
  8 ½ X 10 (color) (computer scan) undated
  The picture is a religious service in progress.
  (Box 1, Folder 19)
M365-4 Collage (collage)
  8 ½ X 11 (color) (computer scan) undated
  The collage is of varied pictures, including two religious services, and a possible picture of Rabbi and Mrs. Ben-Ami at the White House.
  (Box 1, Folder 19)
M365-5 Religious Military Service
  8 ½ X 11 (b & w) (computer scan) undated
  The picture is of a religious service with the U. S. military participating.
  (Box 1, Folder 19)
M365-6 Interfaith Passover Seder
  3 ½ X 5 ½ (color) (computer scan) 1998
  The picture is of the Interfaith Passover Seder at the Washington Hebrew Congregation with Washington, D. C. Mayor and Mrs. Marion Barry, Rabbi and Mrs. Ben-Ami, and granddaughter sitting at the Head Table.
  (Box 1, Folder 19)
M365-7 Rabbi Ben-Ami in the pulpit.
  6 ¾ X 5 (color) (computer scan) undated
  The picture is of Rabbi Ben-Ami in the pulpit during a religious service.
  (Box 1, Folder 19)
M 365-8 National Day of Prayer
  11 X 5 ½ (b & w) (photocopy) May 6, 1982
  The picture is of the National Day of Prayer, May 6, 1982, with President and Mrs. Reagan and religious leaders at the White House.
  (Box 1, Folder 19)
M365-9 President Reagan Signing a Document (With Inscription)
  9 ½ X 6 ½ (b & w) (photocopy) undated
  The picture, which has his signature on it, shows him signing a document.
  (Box 1, Folder 19)
M365-10 Christmas Time Service
  4 X 6 (color) (computer scan) undated
  The picture is of an interfaith religious service during Christmas time.
  (Box 1, Folder 19)
M365-11 Prayer Breakfast in Honor of Israel
  4 X 6 ¾ (b & w) (computer scan) February 2, 1983
  The picture is (from left to right) of Mr. & Mrs. Ed McAteer, Reverend Dr. Jerry Falwell, Rabbi David Panitz, and Ben-Ami on the dais.
  (Box 1, Folder 19)
M365-12 Religious Service in Progress
  8 ½ X 11 (color) (computer scan) undated
  The picture is of a religious service in progress.
  (Box 1, Folder 19)
M365-13 Jewish Holy Book & Bar Mitzvah
  3 ½ X 4 ¼ (b &w) (computer scan) undated
  2 ¾ X 2 ½ (b &w) (computer scan) ca. 1952-1958
  The first picture (3 ½ X 4 ¼) is of a Jewish holy book. The second picture (2 ¾ X 2 ½) shows Ben-Ami and an unidentified young man after a Bar Mitzvah ceremony.
  (Box 1, Folder 19)
M365-14 Presentation of Plaques
  4 X 6 (color) (computer scan) undated
  4 X 5 1/2 (color) (computer scan) undated
  The first picture (4 X 6), with Ben-Ami to the extreme right, is part of a presentation of a plaque from Julian M. Miemczyk, U.S. Ambassador to Prague, to the Polish Ambassador to the U. S., K. Dzievanovski. The second picture (4 X 5 ½) is of Ben-Ami receiving a plaque from Mrs. Peter Zwack, wife of the Hungarian Ambassador to the U. S.
  (Box 1, Folder 19).
M365-15 Interfaith / AFJCC Inaugural Convocations (collage)
  11 X17 (color) (computer scan) 1981, 1989
  The collage is of varied pictures of interfaith / AFJCC activities for the Inaugural Convocation of Presidents Reagan and Bush in 1981 and 1989.
  (Box 2, Folder 2)
M365-16 Interfaith / AFJCC Activity—woman speaker
  5 X 7 (color) (computer scan) undated
  The picture is of a woman speaker with Ben-Ami and other religious leaders present.
  (Box 2, Folder 2)
M365-17 Interfaith / AFJCC Activity
  5 X 7 (color) (computer scan) undated
  The picture is of interfaith / AFJCC religious activity.
  (Box 2, Folder 2)
M365-18 Interfaith / AFJCC Activity (collage)
  11 X 17 (color) (computer scan) undated
  The collage is of varied pictures of interfaith / AFJCC activities. Ben-Ami appears in the top right picture (on the right), and in the top left picture (of two people) on the right.
  (Box 2, Folder 2)
M365-19 Ben-Ami Standing With Two People
  7 ½ X 9 ¾ (b & w) (computer scan) undated
  In the picture, of three religious people standing, Ben-Ami is the person on the extreme right.
  (Box 2, Folder 2)
M265-20 Norman Rockwell Scene
  7 ½ X 7 ½ (color) (computer scan) undated
  The picture is a Norman Rockwell scene with the words, “Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You.”
  (Box 2, Folder 2)
M365-21 Passover Seder Scenes (collage)
  11 X 17 (color) (computer scan) ca. 1992-1998
  The collage is of varied1982-1998 Passover Seder Scenes held in Washington, D. C. with Ben-Ami present.
  (Box 2, Folder 2)
M365-22 Interfaith / AFJCC Inaugural Convocations (collage)
  11 X 17 (color) (computer scan) ca. 1981-1989
  One picture is of the Inaugural Interfaith Convocation in 1981 for President Reagan; another picture is from 1989 of President Bush’s Inaugural Interfaith Convocation; and another picture is of the, then, future President Bush (the second President Bush) with Ben-Ami.
  (Box 2, Folder 2)
M365-23 National Day of Prayer
  5 ½ X 10 (color) (computer scan) May 26, 1982
  The picture is of the National Day of Prayer, May 6, 1982, with President and Mrs. Reagan and religious leaders at the White House.
  (Box 2, Folder 2)
M365-24 Religious Military Service
  8 X 10 (color) (computer scan) undated
  The picture is of a religious service with the U. S. military participating.
  (Box 2, Folder 2)
M365-25 Interfaith / AFJCC Leaders (collage)
  7 X 8 ½ (color) (computer scan) ca. March 1984
  The collage is of varied pictures of a White House religious leadership briefing and reception in March of 1984 for interfaith / AFJCC Leaders.
  (Box 1, Folder 19)
M365-26 Ben-Ami Interfaith / AFJCC Activity (collage)
  8 ½ X 11 (color) (photocopy) undated
  The collage is of pictures of Ben-Ami engaged in varied interfaith / AFJCC activities.
  (Box 1, Folder 19)
M365-27 Ben-Ami and Romanian Ambassador to the U. S. (collage)
  8 ½ X 11 (b & w) (photocopy) March 15, 1995
  The collage is of pictures of Ben-Ami and the Ambassador of Romania to the U. S., Mihai H. Botez, on March 15, 1995.
  (Box 1, Folder 19)

 


Accession Number: AM04-17

Given By: Rabbi David Z. Ben-Ami

Volume: One folder

Dates: ca. 1962 - 2004

Form of Material:

Photocopies of newspaper and magazine articles, correspondence, and other materials pertaining to the activities of Rabbi David Z, Ben-Ami, chairman of the American Forum for Jewish-Christian Cooperation.


Accession Number: AM04-72

Provenance: Rabbi David Z. Ben-Ami

Donor: Rabbi David Z. Ben-Ami

Volume: 2 items

Inclusive Dates: 2004

Form of Material:

1. Color photocopy of an article from The Washington Post, titled "Peace Seekers honored at Dinner" (February 6, 2004). Rabbi David Z. Ben-Ami received the Crown of Peace National Award.

2. Color photocopy of a two-page article from American Clergy, titled "A Call to Serve" (Summer 2004). The article chronicles the life of Rabbi David Z. Ben-Ami.


Created by: William Bahr
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Revised: February 10, 2010