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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 599: T-360: Vt-166: DVD-49

Papers of Blu Greenberg, 1936-2006 (inclusive), 1972-2003 (bulk)


Author, lecturer, educator, poet, and activist, Blu Greenberg helped bridge the gap between feminism and Orthodox Judaism.


  • Creation: 1936-2006
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1972-2003

Language of Materials

Materials in English and Hebrew.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Unrestricted except that #42.9 is closed until January 1, 2059. An appointment is necessary to use any audiovisual material.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Blu Greenberg is held by Blu Greenberg. Upon her death, the copyright will be transferred to the President and Fellows of Harvard College for the Schlesinger Library. Copyright in other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns.

Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.


33.36 linear feet ((80 file boxes) plus 3 folio folders, 1 oversize folder, 1 object, 12 photograph folders)

After arranging to donate her papers to the Schlesinger Library in December 2002, Blu Greenberg hired two freelance archivists (Francesca Pitaro and Donna Lewi) who created an arrangement for the papers and re-housed the materials into acid-free folders so they could be immediately accessible to researchers. The sizable collection arrived in three batches with much overlap in folder titles. In 2009, the collection was processed and this arrangement retained, with the exception of Series IV, Subseries B (Other conferences, #49.15-58.5), which was reorganized chronologically.

The papers include correspondence, articles, notes for lectures and speeches, conference programs, meeting minutes, memoranda, research files, clippings, photographs, and audiovisual material. Related materials may be found with the papers of her husband, Irving Greenberg, in Harvard University's Judaica Collection. Audiovisual material was removed and cataloged separately as T-360, Vt-166, and DVD-49. Mold was found on some documents in the collection; although they were treated, mold spores, staining, and a musty odor may remain; folders containing such documents are filed in Box 80.

Series I, BIOGRAPHICAL AND PERSONAL, 1936-2005 (#1.1-14.5, 80.1-80.4), includes personal papers, family correspondence, education, calendars, and notebooks.

Subseries A, Personal papers, 1936-2005 (#1.1-3.14), includes awards, biographical writings, clippings, consultation work, interviews, grants, resumes, and a birth certificate. Folders are arranged alphabetically by topic.

Subseries B, Family correspondence and papers, 1955-2004 (#3.15-6.13), includes correspondence with her parents Samuel and Sylvia Genauer and her husband Irving "Yitz" Greenberg; papers of her children, including materials regarding the death of her son, J.J. Greenberg in 2002; and materials regarding the Sefer Torah dedication in her father's honor at Drisha Institute in 1999. Folders are arranged chronologically.

Subseries C, Education, 1953-2000 (#6.14-9.10, 80.1-80.4), includes Greenberg's high school yearbook, passport used when she attended the Hayim Greenberg Institute for Teachers in Jerusalem, college transcripts, master's thesis, correspondence, and research papers. Folders are arranged chronologically.

Subseries D, Calendars, notebooks, messages, 1971-2005 (#9.11-14.5), includes address books, loose calendars, daily planners, notebooks, and phone message books.

Series II, CORRESPONDENCE, 1954-2005 (#14.6-21.12, 80.5), includes announcements, note cards, invitations, e-mails (printed out), essays, poetry, speeches, fan letters, and personal and professional correspondence. For family correspondence, see Series I, Subseries B. Folders are arranged chronologically.

Series III, TEACHINGS AND WRITINGS, ca.1952-2005 (#21.13-45.2, 80.6-80.12), contains teachings, articles and essays, books, lectures and speeches, personal remarks, book reviews and blurbs, short fiction, and subject notes.

Subseries A, Teachings, ca.1952, 1972-1977 (#21.13-23.4, 80.6-80.7), includes materials related to her faculty position in the Religious Department at the College of Mount Saint Vincent (1970-1977), her sabbatical teaching position at the Pardes Institute in Israel (1974-1975), and earlier material as a teacher at a Hebrew school in Far Rockaway, New York (ca.1952).

Subseries B, Articles and essays, 1973-2005 (#23.5-29.20, 80.8-80.10), includes clippings, handwritten notes, and drafts written mainly for magazines and journals. Some articles are extracts from published books and some are the essay version of lectures or speeches. Folders are arranged alphabetically by title of article or essay.

Subseries C, Books, 1977-2005 (#29.21-33.16), includes correspondence, drafts, and notes for monographs written, co-written, or edited by Blu Greenberg. Folders are arranged alphabetically by book title.

Subseries D, Lectures and speeches, 1973-2003 (#34.1-42.1), contains notes for talks given at synagogues, conferences, and workshops, as well as related materials including lecture bureau brochures and contracts, correspondence, and programs. All folders contain handwritten speaking notes unless otherwise noted. Most lectures are foldered individually by lecture title. Some untitled lectures were given generic titles and grouped by either Blu Greenberg, her assistant, or processors. Folders are arranged alphabetically by title of lecture or speech.

Subseries E, Other writings, 1975-2005 (#42.2-42.17), includes book reviews and blurbs, personal remarks, and short fiction. Folders are arranged alphabetically by topic.

Subseries F, Writing notes, 1966-1997 (#43.1-45.2, 80.11-80.12), contains handwritten notes on various subjects used in lectures and writings and a few supporting publications. They were kept separate from other lectures and writings and labeled "subject notes" (original titles were retained). See Series VI for collected publications on related subjects. Folders are arranged alphabetically by subject.

Series IV, CONFERENCES, 1972-2006 (#45.3-58.5, 80.13), contains materials relating to conferences organized by JOFA, as well as conferences organized, participated in, and attended by Greenberg.

Subseries A, Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance (JOFA), 1997-2006 (#45.3-49.14), contains programs, schedules, correspondence, and meeting minutes pertaining to the semi-annual conferences organized by JOFA, an organization co-founded by Greenberg in 1997 after the First International Conference on Feminism and Orthodoxy. For the papers pertaining to the JOFA organization, see Series V. Folders are arranged chronologically.

Subseries B, Other conferences, 1972-2006 (#49.15-58.5, 80.13), contains programs, correspondence, notes, and schedules for other conferences in which Greenberg was involved. Folders are arranged in chronological order by conference date.

Series V, ORGANIZATIONS, 1974-2005 (#58.6-77.9), contains materials relating to the organizations in which Greenberg was active; included are organizations she co-founded or chaired.

Subseries A, Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance (JOFA), 1997-2005 (#58.6-64.12), contains the papers pertaining to the administrative, committee work, programming, and activism of JOFA, co-founded by Blu Greenberg in 1997 after the First International Conference on Feminism and Orthodoxy. Materials regarding advocacy work for agunah rights were created by Greenberg in her role as president of JOFA and as an individual scholar. For the papers pertaining to the JOFA conferences, see Series IV. Folders are arranged alphabetically by activity. For papers pertaining to One Voice: Jewish Women for Israel, see #71.13-72.2.

Subseries B, Other organizations and groups, 1974-2005 (#64.13-77.9), contains memorandum, meeting minutes, correspondence, brochures, and other materials pertaining to organizations in which Greenberg participated. Folders are arranged alphabetically.

The Jewish Women's Consultation was formed in early 1988 as the Jewish Women Leaders' Consultation on the Crisis in Israel to open a dialogue among Jewish women on Israel's relationship with Palestinians. In June 1989, they successfully co-hosted with the Arab Women's Council the first of three conferences called The Dialogue Conference between American Jewish and Palestinian Women. Twenty women leaders met for three days of intense discussion about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (see #51.13, 52.10, 52.14, FD.3). After the second Dialogue conference in February 1990, a new combined group emerged called the Dialogue Project (see #66.18-67.12), a joint coordinating committee to send a delegation to Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza. After shortening their name in November 1989, The Jewish Women's Consultation continued as the organizing group for the American Jewish women's part of the Dialogue Project.

One Voice: Jewish Women for Israel was a coalition of eleven American Jewish women's organizations first brought together by JOFA in April 2002. They worked to bring crises in Israel to the attention of the U.S. national government through phone and e-mail campaigns.

Series VI, SUBJECT FILES, 1969-1998 (#21.1-21.6, 77.10-79.14), contains clippings, essays, newsletters and other resources relating to the topic of women and Jewish religion. Folders are arranged alphabetically by topic.

Series VII, PHOTOGRAPHS, ca.1953-2003 (#PD.8-PD.12), contains headshots for lecture bureaus, family portraits, photographs related to writings, and photographs related to organizations. #PD.1 - PD.7 contain photographs found with other documents and were removed and foldered separately; their folders are listed in the various series above.

Some photographs in this collection are or will be cataloged in VIA, Harvard University's Visual Information Access database. Others, referred to as "uncataloged" photographs, are not of sufficient research interest to warrant cataloging and are simply treated as part of the documents they accompany; they are marked on the back with an asterisk in square brackets [*].


Author, lecturer, educator, poet, and activist, Blu Greenberg has been a forerunner in the movement to bridge the gap between feminism and Orthodox Judaism since 1973. She is the author of several books, including On Women and Judaism: A View from Tradition and How to Run a Traditional Jewish Household. In 1997, she chaired the first International Conference on Feminism and Orthodoxy, and the second in 1998. Greenberg was co-founder and first president of the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance (JOFA) and has served on the boards of numerous Jewish and feminist organizations.

Born Bluma Genauer (later legally changing her name to Blu) on January 21, 1936, in Seattle, Washington, to Rabbi Samuel and Sylvia Genauer, Greenberg grew up in a traditional Orthodox Jewish home. In 1946 the Genauer family moved to Far Rockaway, New York; she attended the all-female Central Yeshiva High School, graduating in 1953. Interested in Jewish scholarship from an early age, Greenberg received a scholarship to the Hayim Greenberg Institute for Teachers in Jerusalem from 1955 to 1956, studying with eminent Israeli scholar Nechama Leibowitz. She holds a B.A. from Brooklyn College in sociology (1957), a bachelor's degree in religious education from Yeshiva University's Teacher's Institute (1958), an M.A. in clinical psychology from City College of New York (1967), and an M.S. in Jewish history from Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies, Yeshiva University (1977). From 1969 to 1976, she taught religious studies at the College of Mount St. Vincent; she lectured at the Pardes Institute in Jerusalem during her sabbatical year (1974-1975).

On June 23, 1957, Blu married Rabbi Irving "Yitz" Greenberg, an author and community leader. Moving to Riverdale in the Bronx, the Greenbergs had five children: Moshe (born 1961), David (born 1963), Jonathan Joseph "J.J." (1965-2003), Deborah (born 1964), and Judith "Goody" (born 1967).

Greenberg first became active in the Jewish feminist movement in 1973 when she was asked to give the plenary address at the First National Jewish Women's Conference in New York, and soon became a major activist in the field. Over the years, Greenberg has served many Jewish organizations: as chair of the American Jewish Committee's William Petschek National Jewish Family Center, president of the Jewish Book Council of America, chair of the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies Commission on Synagogue Relations, and co-founder and first chair of the Federation Task Force on Jewish Women, and on many boards, including Edah, Project Kesher, and U.S./Israel Women to Women. Committed to the process of dialog as a means to further understanding, Greenberg has also participated in many interfaith and inter-ethnic dialogue projects, including the Dialogue Project for Jewish and Palestinian women, and a Tibetan-Jewish Dialogue with the XIVth Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso.

After the First International Conference on Feminism and Orthodoxy in 1997, Greenberg was instrumental in founding the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance (JOFA), a group dedicated to expanding spiritual, ritual, intellectual, and political opportunities for women within the framework of Orthodox Jewish law and working to advocate participation and equality for women in family life, synagogues, houses of learning, and Jewish communal organizations (from JOFA mission statement). As the organization's first president, Greenberg helped JOFA to establish several advocacy committees and projects such as the Agunah Task Force and the Gender and Curriculum Project, while continuing to co-organize annual conferences on Feminism and Orthodoxy.

Blu Greenberg combines the traditional religious scholar and the modern feminist. She believes her role as a contemporary Jewish woman is to insure the safety and viability of Israel as a Jewish homeland and as a present day political state; to insure the continuity of the Jewish people through raising a Jewish family, maintaining a Jewish household, and being involved in the life of the community; and to bring feminist values to bear on Judaism and Jewish values to bear on feminism, maintaining the dialectical relationship between the two (#1.8).


The collection is arranged in seven series:

  1. Series I. Biographical and personal, 1936-2005 (#1.1-14.5, 80.1-80.4)
  2. ___Subseries A. Personal, 1936-2005 (#1.1-3.14)
  3. ___Subseries B. Family, 1955-2004 (#3.15-6.13)
  4. ___Subseries C. Education, 1953-2000 (#6.14-9.10, 80.1-80.4)
  5. ___Subseries D. Calendars, notebooks, messages, 1971-2005 (#9.11-14.5)
  6. Series II. Correspondence, 1954-2005 (#14.6-21.12, 80.5)
  7. Series III. Teachings and writings, ca.1952-2005 (#21.13-45.2, 80.6-80.12)
  8. ___Subseries A. Teachings, ca.1952, 1972-1977 (#21.13-23.4, 80.6-80.7)
  9. ___Subseries B. Articles and essays, 1973-2005 (#23.5-29.20, 80.8-80.10)
  10. ___Subseries C. Books, 1977-2005 (#29.21-33.16)
  11. ___Subseries D. Lectures and speeches, 1973-2003 (#34.1-42.1)
  12. ___Subseries E. Other writings, 1975-2005 (#42.2-42.17)
  13. ___Subseries F. Writing notes, 1966-1997, n.d. (#43.1-45.2, 80.11-80.12)
  14. Series IV. Conferences, 1972-2006 (#45.3-58.5, 80.13)
  15. ___Subseries A. Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance (JOFA), 1997-2006 (#45.3-49.14)
  16. ___Subseries B. Other conferences, 1972-2006 (#49.15-58.5, 80.13)
  17. Series V. Organizations, 1974-2005 (#21.1-21.6, 58.6-77.9)
  18. ___Subseries A. Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance (JOFA), 1997-2005 (#58.6-64.12)
  19. ___Subseries B. Other organizations and groups, 1974-2005 (#64.13-77.9)
  20. Series VI. Subject files, 1969-1998 (#21.1-21.6, 77.10-79.14)
  21. Series VII. Photographs, ca.1953-2003 (#PD.8-PD.12)

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession numbers: 2003-M137, 2005-M132, 2006-M226

The papers of Blu Greenberg were given to the Schlesinger Library by Blu Greenberg between 2003 and 2006.

Related Material:

There is related material at the Schlesinger Library; see Audiovisual collection of Blu Greenberg, 1976-2004 (T-360, Vt-166, and DVD-49).


Donors: Blu Greenberg

Accession numbers: 2003-M137, 2005-M132, 2006-M226

Processed by: Jessica Tanny

The following items have been transferred to the Schlesinger Library books and printed materials collection:

  1. Greenberg, Blu. Black Bread: Poems, after the Holocaust. Hoboken, N.J.: KTAV, 1994.
  2. Greenberg, Blu. How to Run a Traditional Jewish Household. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1983.
  3. Greenberg, Blu, and Linda Tarry. King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. New York: Pitspopany Press, 1997.
  4. Greenberg, Blu. On Women and Judaism: A View from Tradition. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society of America, 1981.
  5. Greenberg, Blu. Traditsionnyi evreiskii dom. Moskva: Gesharim, 1998. (Russian translation of How to Run a Traditional Jewish Household)
  6. Hacohen, Aviad, and Blu Greenberg. Tears of the Oppressed: An Examination of the Agunah Problem: Background and Halakhic Sources. Jersey City, NJ: Ktav Pub. House, 2004.
  7. Moyers, Bill D. Genesis: A Living Conversation. New York: Doubleday, 1996.
  8. A selection of issues from serials collected by the Schlesinger Library such as Hadassah Magazine and others.

The following items have been transferred to Harvard University's Judaica Collection:

  1. A selection of issues from serials collected by Harvard University's Judaica Collection such as New Voices: A National Jewish Student Magazine and others.

Judaic terms that appear frequently throughout the finding aid:

Agunah (plural: agunot): literally meaning "a chained woman," this halachic term refers to a woman who is refused an official bill of divorce because either her husband's death cannot be verified or her husband will not allow her to obtain one

Beit din: a Rabbinical court of law

D'var Torah: a discussion relating to the weekly Torah portion

Get: a Jewish divorce document which can only be requested by the husband

Halakha (variations: halacha, halakhah, halachic): the collective body of Jewish law that encompasses both religious and civic actions

Kiddushei ta'ut: a marriage entered into under mistaken pretenses. A beit din may declare this marriage invalid and it may be ended without obtaining a get

Parashah (plural: parashot): the weekly Torah portion

Shabbat T'Lamdeini: a type of event held to highlight women serving as intellectual and spiritual leaders in the Orthodox synagogue

Shabbaton: a program of education and celebration held on Shabbat (the Jewish Sabbath)

Yom iyun: literally meaning "a day of learning," this term often refers to a program of lectures or sessions highlighting a single topic of discussion

Processing Information

Processed: October 2009

By: Jessica Tanny

Greenberg, Blu, 1936- . Papers of Blu Greenberg, 1936-2006 (inclusive), 1972-2003 (bulk): A Finding Aid
Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute Repository

The preeminent research library on the history of women in the United States, the Schlesinger Library documents women's lives from the past and present for the future. In addition to its traditional strengths in the history of feminisms, women’s health, and women’s activism, the Schlesinger collections document the intersectional workings of race and ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and class in American history.

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