Special Collections

Judaica Collection

The Judaica Collection collection is part of the Jean Byers Sampson Center for Diversity in Maine. It consists of collections of personal papers and archives of organizations active in the Jewish community of Maine. The bulk of the manuscript collections date from the 20th century or later, but there is one item from the 17th century. There are also rare or unique print materials about the community (all 20th century or later). The collection focuses on historical sources, excluding creative works of fiction or art, unless such works document the community.

Casco Bay Tummlers

The Casco Bay Tummlers. Photo by Colin Malakie. 

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Linda and Joel Abromson Papers  JUD MS 17
The papers contain 3 scrapbooks for Linda documenting time as 1. mayor of Portland, Maine, on 2. Portland Maine City Council, on 3. Portland Maine School Board.  There is also a scrapbook for Joel Abromson, created by Linda. The Papers also include personal mementos, typed speeches, notes from Joel Abromson, envelopes from flower deliveries and 3 photographs.   3.25 ft

Rosalyne S. Bernstein Papers    JUD MS 4    View Finding Aid |  See Items From This Collection
Rosalyne (Spindel) Bernstein (b. 1928) grew up in the Bronx, N.Y. and Fall River, MA, the daughter of Jewish immigrants from Poland, and attended Radcliffe College as an economics major. She and her husband, Sumner Thurman Bernstein (a Portland native), moved to Portland in 1949. There, she played an active role in the community and was involved with numerous organizations, such as: National Council of Jewish Women (president); Head Start program in Portland (founder); Bowdoin College; University of Southern Maine; Maine Health Care Finance Commission; Maine Medical Center; American- Israeli Public Affairs Committee; New England Board of Higher Education; Maine Community Foundation; and Portland Museum of Art. She earned her law degree in 1986 from University of Maine School of Law. The Papers document her community work in the areas of government service (for the Maine Bicentennial Commission and the Maine Health Care Finance Commission in particular), educational service (including for the University of Southern Maine, Bowdoin College, and the Portland School Committee), and general volunteerism and philanthropy (such as with the Portland Museum of Art and the Maine Community Foundation). They also document her work for the Jewish community through participation in organizations (often in the area of fundraising), personal political activism, and work as an instructor. These materials include her political correspondence, particularly regarding U.S. foreign policy as it relates to Israel, opinion pieces published in the Portland Press Herald, texts of lectures and outlines of seminars (with related research), and reviews of a course she taught at the University of Southern Maine’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. A final section within the Papers deals with more personal documents, including correspondence about/from her years as a Radcliffe student, other personal/family correspondence, and miscellaneous writings and publicity.  Significant genealogical research and stories about the Spindel, Bernstein, and Thurman (Sumner Bernstein’s mother’s) families are also present, as well as a variety of awards and honors Bernstein received, including VHS tapes of some of the awards ceremonies that include video clips of Bernstein herself.   1945-2002    5.5 ft.

Sumner T. Bernstein Papers    JUD MS 5    View Finding Aid |  See Items From This Collection
Sumner Thurman Bernstein (1924 - 2002) grew up in Portland, Maine, the son of lawyer parents. He served in the South Pacific in the U.S. Army during World War II (achieving the rank of Captain) and attended Harvard University for his undergraduate education and for law school. He returned to Portland after marrying Rosalyne Spindel in 1949, to join his father and uncle’s law practice, which he helped to grow into Bernstein, Shur, Sawyer and Nelson in 1964. He was very engaged with the community, participating in the following organizations, among others, often serving as president or chair of these groups for a portion of his tenure: Portland City Council (1955-1961); Portland School Committee (1955-58); Portland Housing Authority; Downtown Portland Corporation; Maine State Bar Association; Maine Bar Foundation; Jewish Federation of Southern Maine; Temple Beth El; Maine Jewish Council; Jewish Community Center; National Council of the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee; Pine Tree Council of the Boy Scouts of America; Portland YMCA; Maine Medical Center; Portland Public Library; and World Affairs Council of Maine. He also served as an adjunct professor at the University of Maine School of Law from 1993-98 and was a member of their Board of Visitors, and he was an instructor at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute of the University of Southern Maine. The Papers document his civic work and personal life. They include correspondence, newspaper clippings, and text of his speeches and talks. Of particular value are 25 folders of family correspondence dating from 1940 to 1945, which include letters covering Bernstein’s military training and World War II service. Other records and reminiscences of his army service and Harvard education are present, as well. The Papers also include materials related to his final illness and death, including letters of sympathy and condolence, information about contributions made in his honor, obituaries, eulogies, and other tributes, and videos/cassettes of memorial services and other celebrations of his life. The Papers also include two albums – one documenting the 85-year history of Bernstein, Shur, Sawyer, and Nelson and the other a collection of notes and photos compiled for The Jewish Community Alliance of Southern Maine’s Evening to Honor Sumner and Rosalyne Bernstein (May 15, 2000).    1934-2002    4 ft.

Camp Brunonia Archives  JUD MS 22
This collection contains black and white photographs of camp personnel, campers, and activities. Many photographs feature notes on the back which identify subjects. The collection also includes a small number of slides and an info sheet with the names of people identified in the photos.     ca. 1928-1968 0.25 ft

Casco Bay Tummlers Archives    JUD MS 7    View Finding Aid
The Casco Bay Tummlers are a klezmer band from Portland, in existence since 1988. The band's repertoire is versatile, ranging from original music to traditional dances and Yiddish theater and ghetto songs. In addition to playing for concerts the Tummlers also love to play for weddings, bar and bat mitzvahs, school residencies and other celebrations. The Archives contains organizational records, reviews & testimonials, clippings, photographs, audio and video recordings.   1989-2008, undated    0.5 ft.

Chabad of Maine Archives  JUD MS 13

Joseph and Marjorie Chandler Book Collection
Joseph Chandler is Professor Emeritus in the School of Business at USM. Chandler and his wife, Marjorie, donated the collection in 1999. A collection of books of religious studies as well as works about the Jewish community in America, 1886-1991. The Collection includes 7 titles in 21 volumes.    1886-1991

Michael Cohen Papers  JUD MS 8
Thesis, "Jerusalem of the North: An Analysis of Religious Modernization in Portland Maine's Jewish Community 1860-1950"       0.5 ft

Congregation Shaarey Tphiloh Photograph Collection   JUD MS 14
Congregation Shaarey Tphiloh, known locally as the Noyes Street Shul, is Portland, Maine's oldest synagogue. The synagogue was founded in 1904 on Newbury Street in Portland's Old Port and moved to its current location on Noyes Street in 1954. The congregation is “modern” Orthodox in the sense that it believes that the modern world should inform religious experience and enhance understanding of the laws and traditions of Judaism.The congregation is “open” in the sense that it emphasizes that its community is responsible for serving the larger community of the Jewish people and the State of Israel, as well as the local community in Portland and the larger American community. The Collection consists of 18 photographs and two press clippings. The photographs include interior and exterior shots of both of the congregation’s synagogues (at Newbury Street and at Noyes Street); posed group photos of youth, presumably from the congregation; and some photos of smaller groups of people involved in activities of the congregation and Hebrew school. The press clippings document a mother-daughter dinner hosted by the congregation and the construction of the Noyes Street synagogue and Hebrew school (attached on the reverse of an original aerial photo of the construction).    undated   ; 0.25 ft.

Davidson Family Collection   JUD MS 15
Photographs, obituaries, and other funeral publications of the Maine Davidson family.   0.25 ft.

Mr. and Mrs. Myron Friedman Book Collection   
Myron Friedman (1922-2006) was the youngest of five boys. After fighting in World War II, he went to law school and opened a practice with two of his brothers. He married his wife, Mickey, in 1949. After moving to Maine, he was briefly head of the Environmental Education Center in Lovell. He was committed to environmental causes throughout his life and was also an ardent racquetball and tennis player. He was a charter inductee into the Maine Racquetball Hall of Fame in 1995. This is a collection of books of religious studies as well as works about the Jewish community in America. The Collection consists of 48 titles in 99 volumes. Includes works in Hebrew, Yiddish, French and English.   1908-1995

Mildred Glickman Photograph  JUD MS 16
Black and white photograph of a group of people at a party

Jewish Community Alliance of Southern Maine Archives   JUD MS 18
The archives of the JCA include issues of publications The Jewish Community Voice, The Jewish Community Center Piece, The Jewish Community Alliance Program Guide and Southern Maine Hayom.  Jewish Community Center Portland, Maine Yearbooks date from 1964 to 1991.  There is also a program from JCA of Southern Maine's Premier events in 2004 and 2017. There are scrapbooks with newspaper clippings and printed material dating from the 1930s-60s documenting the activities of the Center such as the Men's Club, Women's Club, Scouts, Orchestra,  Workshops, and Board of Directors.

Annetta Kornetsky Girl Scout Collection  JUD MS 1
The Collection contains records of Troops 109 and 177, including meeting agendas, finances, handbook pages, and minutes from November 1956 to March 1958.     ca. 1956-1958   0.25 ft

Macabee Club Archives  JUD MS 3
The archives contain organizational records of the Macabee Club, including meeting minutes, newsletters, and event programs.   ca. 1955-1972 1 ft

Myer Marcus Interview  JUD MS 6  View Finding Aid

National Council of Jewish Women, Southern Maine Section Archives  JUD MS 21
The Portland section of the National Council of Jewish Women was founded on October 20, 1920. Within a year, its original 21 members had grown to 150.  The organization works for issues related to Education, Child Welfare, Americanization and Immigration and Civic Affairs. The Archives includes information on the history of the Council, bulletins, reports, VHS cassette tapes, photographs and scrapbooks. The Archives also includes administrative records, such as minutes of meetings from c. 2009-2017. ca. 1920-2017; ca. 10 ft.  

Merle Royte Nelson Papers  JUD MS 20

Portland Jewish Community Center USO Guest Book  JUD MS 2  | See Items From This Collection
This is a bound ledger was used for guests to sign in at events at the Jewish Community Center in the 1940s, primarily during WWII.  It holds names and ranks of attendees, their city and state or country of origin, and occasional comments and names of ships. ca. 1943-1946  1 ft

Portland Jewish Organizations Collection  JUD MS 11
Records of various Portland Jewish organizations, 1894-1977, including Temple Israel, Temple Beth El, Temple Etz Chaim, Young Women's Hebrew Association, Ladies Auxilliary for the Jewish Home for the Aged, Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, United Hebrew Charities, and Jewish Bicentennial Oral History Program.     ca. 1894-1977 ft

Harold J. Potter Collection  JUD MS 9
The collection contains a conference program and tribute album dedicated to Harold J. Potter.     0.25 ft

Sefer Raziel Collection  JUD MS 12
Mystical book printed in Hebrew, fragile with crumbling edges. Collection also includes a photocopy of the book.

Rabbi Harry Z. Sky Papers  JUD MS 10
Rabbi Harry Z. Sky was very active in the Jewish community.  He was Rabbi Emeritus of Temple Beth El in Portland, founder of the Senior College movement in Maine, an author, and was efficacious in the civil rights movement.  Rabbi Sky received the first annual Catalyst for Change Award, an annual award given by the Jean Byers Sampson Center for Diversity in Maine at the University of Southern Maine.      24.5 ft