Manuscripts and Archives, Sterling Memorial Library

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Hebrew was taught at Yale from its beginnings in 1701. In 1787, the Reverend Richard Salter left a bequest to establish a Hebrew professorship. Hebrew oration was taught by Ebenezer Grant Marsh, Class of 1795, the first teacher employed by the fund. Until 1798, Hebrew was taught by the president and tutors.

The importance of Hebrew at Yale is shown on the seal adopted in the early eighteenth century. On the open Bible are the words "Urim and Thummim," - the names of sacred lots cast for the purpose of ascertaining the divine will. The English translation, "Light and Truth," is accompanied by the Latin, "Lux et Veritas."

Thanksgiving proclamation from Congregation Mishkan Israel (the first in New Haven) to Connecticut governor, Roger Sherman Baldwin (Yale BA 1811) signed by Sigmund Waterman (Yale MD 1848) and L. Rothshild, 1844 November. Waterman was the first Jew to receive a medical degree from Yale and the first to teach at Yale.

Judah P. Benjamin, Yale Class of 1829. Letter as Secretary of War of the Confederate States of America to John Letcher, Governor of Virginia, 1861 December 9. An early Jewish student at Yale, Benjamin, one of the youngest and most brilliant students of the 1820s, left college in his Junior year. Known as the "Brains of the Confederacy," he also served as its Secretary of State. Pictured on the two dollar Confederate bill, he is the only Jewish American depicted on American currency.

Diary of Louis Ehrich, Yale Class of 1869. The Ehrich Papers constitute a remarkable record of a Jewish student of the post-Civil War era who enjoyed his active life as a Yale student, member of the Jewish communities of New Haven and New York, and a deeply religious Reform Jew. In the entry of March 20, 1868, Enrich describes his letter to a Jewish man who is considering sending his son to Yale.

Selections from the Papers of Lafayette B. Mendel, Yale BA 1891, PHD 1893, the first Jew to receive a regular appointment on a Yale faculty. Co-discoverer of vitamins with Oliver T. Osborn, Mendel was one of the university's most distinguished scientists.

Traveling in the Holy Land Through the Stereoscope by Jesse Lyman Hurlbut, 1900. For those who could only dream of touring Palestine at the turn of the century, the stereopticon provided a "3-D" substitute for the armchair traveler. Vivid descriptions are provided in the accompanying text.

Chaim Weizmann. Letter to Colonel Edward M. House, 1919 March 1, thanking him and the American government for the "sympathy and understanding of our cause which you have shown to us in this critical time in Jewish history," Weizmann represented the Zionist Organization working to establish a Jewish homeland in Palestine at the Paris Peace Conference after World War One.

Selections from the papers of Harry Weinberger, the noted civil rights attorney and defender of free speech during the period 1910-1940.. Among his diverse minority clients, the most famous were Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman. Letters relating to his controversial theatrical production in 1923 of the Sholem Asch play, The God of Vengeance (scheduled for production at the Long Wharf Theatre in the spring of 1996).

Selections from the Palestine Statehood Committee Papers relating to their activities to rescue Jews from Germany and occupied Europe and to establish the State of Israel.
Extended caption and larger reproductions (images are 150k+).

Photograph of the Yale Hillel Foundation, 1949.
Extended caption and larger reproduction (images are 150k+).

Selections from the Papers of Max Lerner, Yale Class of 1923, a native New Havener. Lerner, popularly remembered as a columnist for PM and the New York Post, was actively involved in Jewish affairs. One of the first professors at Brandeis College, his best selling work, America as a Civilization, grew out of his course in American Civilization .

Photograph of Yale President A. Whitney Griswold receiving the 1954 Stephen Wise Award from the American Jewish Congress to Yale University for "its outstanding contribution in the field of Jewish scholarship and culture through the publication of its Judaica Series."

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Yale University Library
Nanette Stahl, Judaica Curator
and Judy A. Schiff, Chief Research Archivist,
Manuscripts and Archives, Sterling Memorial Library
All contents copyright (C) 1995
Yale University Library
All rights reserved