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Guide to the Benjamin Weinberg Papers
1922-1981 (Bulk 1922-1940)
  MS 686

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
Phone: (212) 873-3400


@ 2011 New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Jan Hilley

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on November 04, 2011
Description is in English.

Biographical Note

Born in Odessa, Russia, in 1896, Benjamin Weinberg served in the Imperial Russian Army but fled during the Bolshevik revolution. He lived for some time in Poland, graduating from the Polish Institute of Commerce and Banking of Warsaw (1926) and working for the Jewish newspaper Der Moment (Warsaw). He left Poland for Canada where he continued to write for Jewish newspapers (e.g.,  Jewish Daily Eagle). By 1927, he was living in the United States and writing articles for such Jewish newspapers as  Novoye Russkoye Slovo and  The Jewish Daily News.

His primary career was in banking. He was employed at a succession of firms including the International Madison Bank and Trust Company of New York, Chatham-Phoenix Bank and Trust and the Modern Industrial Bank of New York. After working as a financial consultant for ten years (1937-1947), he became chairman of the advisory board of the Pennsylvania Exchange Bank of New York and was subsequently made a vice president.

Throughout his adult life, he was associated with Jewish relief organizations, most actively as a member of the board of directors of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS). He was elected honorary secretary in 1944 and, at the time of his death in 1949, was its associate treasurer. He made a number of trips to Europe before and after World War II under the auspices of the HIAS. In addition, he was a member of the executive committee of the American Jewish Congress and the World Jewish Congress. He was the chairman of the United Jewish Appeal's Russian division as well as an executive member of the Sea Gate Zionist District. Other affiliations included Fellows of Odessa, Inc., American Friends of Aviation Israel and the Masons.

Prior to his immigration to the United States, he married Rachelle Wajnberg. They had one son, Arnold Jay Weinberg.

Additional information may be found in Mr. Weinberg's obituary in the New York Times, November 25, 1949.

Historical Note

Although Benjamin Weinberg belonged to many organizations, the most prominent within these papers is the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS), also referred to within the collection as the Hebrew Sheltering and Immigrant Aid Society of America.

Formed by the 1909 merger of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society and the Hebrew Sheltering House Association, HIAS is an international service for Jewish immigrants and refugees. The original Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society was established in New York City in 1902 by Russian Jews to provide meals, transportation and jobs for new arrivals. The organization also helped with legal entry, reception and care. The Hebrew Sheltering Society began in 1889 to provide temporary housing for Jewish immigrants without relatives in the states. There was a soup kitchen and clothing was provided to any needy Jew. After the merger of the two organizations, their efforts expanded to include religious services, concerts and installation of a kosher kitchen on Ellis Island; an employment bureau; and reduced rate rail tickets for those immigrants who were bound for other U.S. cities. By 1914, branches of HIAS existed in Baltimore, Philadelphia and Boston. An office was established in Washington, D.C.

The restrictive National Origins Quota of 1924 made it very difficult for HIAS to rescue many refugees during World War II, but the organization did provide services to those who were able to immigrate and, after the war, was instrumental in evacuating the displaced persons camps and helping to resettle approximately 150,000 people in 330 U.S. cities, as well as Canada, Australia and South America. In August and September of 1949, Benjamin Weisberg made a survey of HIAS operations in Europe and Israel.

More information about the HIAS, its history and its current operation, may be found at its website http://www.hias.org.