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West Oak Lane Jewish Community Center records

Collection ID

MSS 64

Related Subject(s)

Collecting Area(s)


West Oak Lane Jewish Community Center (Philadelphia, Pa.)

Materials in English.

Historical Note
The West Oak Lane Jewish Community Center (WOLJCC) was founded in 1950 to respond to the growing needs of Jewish families who moved into the West Oak Lane neighborhood in Philadelphia after World War II. The WOLJCC initially operated out of a storefront at 3226 W. Cheltenham Avenue. During its first year, approximately 900 families enrolled as members of the center. As the membership grew, the WOLJCC utilized space at the Franklin S. Edmonds Elementary School on Thouron St. to host programs including athletics, forums, films, and concerts. In 1953, the West Oak Lane Jewish Community Center broke ground a block from the Edmonds School at Sedgwick and Thouron Streets on a 25,000 square foot plot to construct a building of its own. By the time construction began, the membership had grown to approximately 1350 families, and the WOLJCC functioned as both as a religious school and a program center. Rabbi Alex J. Goldman, former director of the Hillel Foundation at Temple University, oversaw religious services from 1954 until 1966. Subsequent congregational leaders included Rabbi Seymour L. Schorr, from 1967 to 1971 and Rabbi Fredric Kazan from 1971 until the center closed in 1978. Declining membership in the 1970s, the result of Jewish residents migrating out of the West Oak Lane neighborhood to other parts of the city forced the WOLJCC to sell its building on Thouron St. For a short time thereafter, the WOLJCC operated services out of the George Washington Consistory, Scottish Rite Temple on West Avenue in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania. In July 1978, the diminished membership of the West Oak Lane Jewish Community Center merged with Congregation Beth Sholom of Elkins Park, Pennsylvania.

Collection Overview
The West Oak Lane Jewish Community Center records, 1951–1976, provide an overview of the activities, programs and services, both religious and social, the WOLJCC organized for the Jewish community in the West Oak Lane neighborhood in Philadelphia. The records include annual donor programs, brochures, club constitutions, meeting minutes, newsletters, scrapbooks and printed ephemera. Although there are governing documents such as bylaws and an organizational constitution, there is only a modest amount of administrative records included in the collection. The limited financial documentation and the annual meeting minutes represent only a portion of the years WOLJCC was in operation. The correspondence is also sparse and is primarily communications to and from David J. Salaman who was acting Corresponding Secretary in 1957 and WOLJCC’s Librarian.

Organization and Arrangement
The records are arranged in four series, one of which has been further arranged in subseries. The series and subseries arrangement is as follows:

            Subseries 1: General, 1957–1966
            Subseries 2: Men’s club, 1960–1969
            Subseries 3: Sisterhood, 1962–1976
            Subseries 4: Donor dinner dance, 1951–1974
SERIES V: PHOTOGRAPHS, 1956–1970, undated

Series Descriptions
Series I: Board of Directors, 1956–1972
This series is arranged alphabetically and includes the constitution and bylaws of the organization, meeting minutes, committee reports and correspondence, and yearly budgets.

Series II: Publications and notices, 1958–1975
This series is arranged alphabetically and consists of various brochures, pamphlets, and programs as well as Center News, WOLJCC’s organizational newsletter. Together these materials document the types of activities, programs and services offered by the organization. Also included are a few general membership mailers and newspaper clippings.

Series III: Programs and Services, 1957–1976
This series is arranged in four subseries. Subseries 1 consists of a small amount of documentation regarding different programs or services offered by the WOLJCC. Subseries 2 consists of three folders of material related specifically to the Men’s Club. Subseries 3 is arranged alphabetically and documents the women’s association or Sisterhood through the publication of their newsletter, The Belle, and two scrapbooks of photographs, event programs, writings and printed ephemera. Subseries 4 is arranged chronologically and consists of the souvenir programs from the annual donor dinner dance, essentially an ad book that includes photographs of the directors, committee members, and activities along with messages from the leadership and advertisements submitted by members of the WOLJCC. The souvenir programs represent the earliest dated material in the collection.

Series IV: Photographs, 1965–1970, undated
This series is arranged alphabetically and consists primarily of black-and-white photographs of the membership engaged in a variety of religious services and social activities.

Restrictions on Access
Collection is open for research.

Acquisition Information
Donated by Gratz College in 1978 and David J. Salaman, Librarian at the West Oak Lane Jewish Community Center in 1980 and 1981. 

Processing Information
Collection processed in 1981 by Harold J. Kravitz. Finding aid revised according to contemporary archival standards in 2012 by Jessica M. Lydon, Project Archivist.

Preferred Citation
[Description and date of item], [Box/folder number], West Oak Lane Jewish Community Center records, MSS 64, Special Collections Research Center, Temple University Libraries, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Separated Material
The “Confirmation class, 1956, 1969, 1970” and the “Wedding ceremony, undated” from Series V have been removed and placed in an oversized box. A separation sheet is located in each of the original folders.

Access Points
The following headings have been used to index the description of this collection in the Temple University Libraries’ electronic catalog.

Corporate Name(s)
West Oak Lane Jewish Community Center (Philadelphia, Pa.)
Congregation Beth Sholom (Elkins Park, Pa.)

Personal Name(s)
Salaman, David J.

Conservative Judaism--Pennsylvania--Philadelphia
Jewish community centers--Pennsylvania--Philadelphia
Jews--Pennsylvania--Philadelphia--Social life and customs

Form/Genre Term(s)
Black-and-white photographs
Bylaws (administrative records)
Clippings (information artifacts)
Color photographs

Collection Inventory

Box  Folder  Description

                    SERIES I: BOARD OF DIRECTORS, 1956–1972

1        1        Architects rendering for proposed new building, undated
1        2        Borden's Kosher Catering contract, 1961
1        3        Bonds for Center Planning Committee, 1959
1        4        Budgets, 1956–1960, 1964–1968
1        5        Building Fund Dues Committee, 1957–1959
1        6        Constitution and bylaws, 1959, 1962, 1964, 1966, undated
1        7        Employment procedures, undated
1        8        General correspondence, 1957–1962, 1968, 1972
1        9        Meeting minutes, 1956–1958
1        10      Meeting minutes, 1959–1962
1        11      Meeting minutes, 1964–1965
1        12      Meeting minutes, 1966, undated
1        13      Membership lists, 1957–1960
1        14      Miscellaneous committees, 1957–1958, 1960, 1965
1        15      Statement of income and expenses, 1957–1958
1        16      Tentative budget and rate schedule, 1958–1959

                    SERIES II: PUBLICATIONS AND NOTICES, 1958–1975

1        17      Brochures and miscellaneous programs, 1958, 1968, 1975, undated
1        18      Congregational and community center pamphlets, 1967, undated
1        19      Center News, 1952,1956,1959,1960
1        20      Center News, 1968–1971
1        21      General membership meetings notices, 1957–1959, 1966, undated
1        22      Newspaper clippings, 1965, 1969
                    SERIES III: PROGRAMS AND SERVICES, 1957–1976

                    Subseries 1: General, 1957–1966

2        1        Boy scouts, 1960, undated
2        2        Intramural leagues, 1957–1959
2        3        Library awards and forms, 1965–1966, undated
2        4        Parent Teachers Association, 1960, 1965
2        5        Sabbath morning service and Torah reading service guide, 1957

                    Subseries 2: Men’s club, 1960–1969

2        6        Constitution and amendments, 1960–1961, undated
2        7        Notices, undated
2        8        Stag, 1968–1969

                    Subseries 3: Sisterhood, 1962–1976

2        9        Bylaws, constitution and amendments, 1962, 1964, undated
2        10      Membership list, 1975–1976
2        11      The Belle, 1963–1964
2        12      The Belle, 1964–1965
2        13      The Belle, 1965–1966
2        14      The Belle, 1966–1967
2        15      The Belle, 1967–1968
2        16      The Belle, 1968–1969
2        17      The Belle, 1969–1972
2        18      The Belle, 1973–1976

3        1        Scrapbook, 1969–1970
3        2        Scrapbook, 1970–1971
                    Subseries 4: Donor Dinner Dance, 1951–1974

3        3        Annual programs, 1951–1954
3        4        Annual programs, 1955–1957                 

4        1        Annual programs, 1958–1960      
4        2        Annual programs, 1961, 1963–1964
4        3        Annual programs, 1966–1968
4        4        Annual programs, 1970–1974      

                    SERIES IV: PHOTOGRAPHS, 1956–1970

4        5        Award ceremonies, 1963–1965
4        6        Activities of children and youth, undated
4        7        Athletics, 1962–1963, undated
4        8        Blood drive, undated
4        9        Board of Directors, 1958–1959
4        10      Choir, undated
4        11      Confirmation class, 1956, 1969, 1970
4        12      Group photographs, 1964, undated
4        13      Jimmy Durante, undated
4        14      Miscellaneous events, undated
4        15      Miss West Oak Lane, undated
4        16      Scouting, 1963–1964
4        17      Synagogue views, interior and exterior, undated
4        18      Ways and Means Committee, 1958–1959
4        19      Wedding ceremony, undated
4        20      Women’s groups, undated