A Finding Aid to the Records of
ACCESS AND PROVENANCE
The records of Amos: The National Jewish Partnership for Social Justice were received from Steven Windmueller and the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Los Angeles, California, in November 2002. The donors, by the act of donating the records of Amos:The National Jewish Partnership for Social Justice to the American Jewish Archives, assigned the property rights to the American Jewish Archives. All literary rights to material in the collection are retained by the authors or their heirs. Questions concerning rights should be addressed to the Executive Director of the American Jewish Archives.
INSTITUTIONAL SKETCH top
Named for the Biblical prophet Amos who taught social justice, the Amos project took as its mission as being "dedicated to renewing and extending the Jewish community's devotion to social justice." Further, Amos was "designed to be a catalyst and consultant to the Jewish community on social justice engagement." The leader of this group and the inspiration behind the movement that became Amos, Leonard Fein of Boston, wrote the following rationale for the Amos project:
Amos seeks to transform American Jewish culture with the end in view that the pursuit of justice be - and be seen as - among its central commitments. Amos is based on the conviction that America's Jews are capable of and responsible for changing the world for the better, and that acceptance of that responsibility and exercise of that capability will nurture Jewish values, secure Jewish interests, help ensure the Jewish identity of coming generations - and, in fact, help mend the world.
The Amos partnership sought "to elevate the place of social justice on the Jewish communal agenda" in three ways:
- Promoting the culture of social justice
- Capacity building
- Catalyzing action
Amos focused its work on consultation, training and coalition building. Its goal was to form "productive alliances with others within and beyond the Jewish community and in sustaining action over time." Another goal was to serve "as a convener and facilitator for coalitions within the Jewish community focused on social justice. Amos works to identify common interests and build effective campaigns."
Organizations who worked with or partnered with the Amos coalition included the Jewish
Council for Public Affairs, the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, and the Jewish
Reconstructionist Federation, among others. Among its accomplishments, Amos conducted a
National Survey on Social Justice & American Jews, which revealed that a majority of American Jews believe social justice is more important than religious observance in creating Jewish identity. Amos also advocated for issues such as voting rights and worked in support of Jewish communal service programs.
Ultimately, Amos was confronted by many problems, internal and external, that forced it to disband on September 30, 2002. Throughout its brief history Amos strove "to help the Jewish community more effectively pursue its call to help create a just world."
SCOPE AND CONTENT top
The records of Amos: The National Jewish Partnership for Social Justice, reflect the history and activities of this social justice organization from its first conceptualization as an idea to its launch as an active organization and, ultimately, to its disbanding in 2002. The records reveal the careful and deliberate planning that went into the creation and organization of Amos as well as the work that went into defining Amos and its place in contemporary American Jewish life. The records also document the society's activities in social justice - activities which focused on consultation, training and coalition building.
The first discussions about the organization which became Amos began in the early 1990s. The files in Series A. Administration show the extended - and detailed - planning that went into the organization's creation. Series A. contains extensive files on administration, budget, fundraising, marketing, strategic planning, personnel, and governance. Of particular note are the organizing conference files. These files reveal the efforts that went into defining the structure, mission and organization of Amos together with the creation of an administrative and financial environment in which the organization could operate.
The second part of the collection, Series B. Programs, focuses on Amos's efforts at social justice advocacy. These include files on alliance building with other institutions and schools such as the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and the New Jewish Agenda. Another major initiative of Amos was its National Survey of Social Justice & American Jews, which revealed that a majority of American Jews believed social justice was more important than religious observance in developing and maintaining Jewish identity. Series B. also contains files on voting rights, social justice and the synagogue, and Jewish communal service programs.
Amos made full use of electronic and internet technology in its efforts to be a progressive, fluid organization in tune with modern trends in communication, education, and marketing. Included with the physical files of Amos are three CD-rom discs (AJA nos. CD-79-81) containing additional records and data, including a version of their website.
The records of Amos are strong in two major areas: 1) they provide a look into the work of Jewish social justice in late 20th/early 21st century America and 2) they stand as a case study for the creation, operation and maintenance of a social service organization. The records of Amos show both the birth and the demise of such a group and, in this way, can be instructive as a documentary record of the challenges present in contemporary American Jewish organizational life.
BOX AND FOLDER LIST topBox Folder Contents SERIES A. ADMINISTRATION 1 1 Amos Project (Background). 1991-1999. 2 Amos Project (Raybin Associates Consultants). 1997. 3 Amos Organizing Conference. 1998-1999. 4 Amos Organizing Conference. 1998-1999. 5 Amos Organizing Documents. 1995-1997. 6 Amos Organizing Documents. 1997-1998. 2 1 Amos Organizing Proposals. 1996-1998. 2 Amos Launch. 2001. 3 Amos Launch (Photographs). 2001. 4 Booth, Heather. 1999. 5 Budget/Finances. 1998-2001. 6 Bylaws. 1999. 7 Chronological file. 2001-2002. 8 Executive Board (Background). 1999. 9 Executive Board. 1998-2000. 3 1 Executive Board. 2001-2002. 2 Fundraising. 2000-2001. 3 Fundraising (Nathan Cummings Foundation). 1998-1999. 4 Fundraising (Nathan Cummings Foundation). 2001-2002. 5 Fundraising (Various foundations). 1998-2002. 6 Marketing/Media (Press lists). 7 Marketing proposals. 1998-2000. 8 Mission statement drafts. 2000, n.d. 4 1 Nominating Committee. 1999. 2 Nominating Committee. 1999. 3 Nominating Committee (Board Development). 1999. 4 Personnel Committee. 2001. 5 Program Committee. 2001-2002. 6 Steering Committee. 1998-1999. 7 Strategic Planning. 1999. 5 1 Survey Committee. 2000-2001. 2 Technical support. 1999. 3 Transition (Executive Director). February 2001. 4 Website planning. 2001. SERIES B. PROGRAMS 5 5 Amos Training conference. 1998-1999. 6 Amos Training conference. 1998-1999. 7 Choosing an issue. n.d. 8 Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life. 1996; 2002. 9 Fein, Leonard (Smashing Idols and Other Prescriptions for Jewish Continuity). 1994. 10 Focus group notes. 2000. 11 Focus group training (Boston, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York). 2000. 6 1 Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (Los Angeles, CA) project. 2002. 2 Hillel proposals. n.d. 3 Jewish communal service programs. n.d. 4 Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA). 1999. 5 JCPA. 2000-2001. 6 JCPA (Report). 2001. 7 Jewish social justice listserv. 1999. 8 Jewish Theological Seminary of America. 1999-2001. 9 National Survey on Social Justice & American Jews. 2001. 10 New Jewish Agenda. 1998. 11 Project seminar notes. 1999. 12 Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. 2001. 13 Sh'ma article ("Institutional rebirth"). 1999. 7 1 Social action practitioner questionnaire. 1998. 2 Social justice training papers. 1998-2000. 3 Structures that integrate social action. n.d. 4 Synagogue social justice working group. n.d. 5 Voting rights. 2000-2001. 6 Miscellaneous correspondence. 1998-2002. 7 Brochures. CD-79-81 Amos website (Yitzhak Santis, designer); Amos computer files, 1998-2002
Copyright © 2003 The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives