TABLE OF CONTENTS
Philip Spertus Austin Jewish Community Center Records
An Inventory of the Collection
Philip and Sylvia Spertus moved to Austin from Chicago in 1989 after relocating their company Intercraft Industries, a picture frame manufacturing firm. Philip Spertus was inspired after visiting a large Jewish center in Charlotte, North Carolina, that had temples and service agencies at one location. In September 1991, Spertus and community activist Harriet Pozen organized an Austin Jewish Community Plan group to envision a similar community center for Austin. Spertus' family were also major supporters of Jewish community projects in Chicago, including the Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership.
Spertus and Pozen served as co-chairs of the Austin Jewish Community Plan (AJCP), which eventually functioned under the umbrella of the Jewish Federation of Austin. According to the mission statement created by the Foundation/Framework Committee of the AJCP, "the Jewish Community Plan's mission is to enrich Jewish life by developing and implementing programs, services, processes, and facilities for the recreational, educational, cultural, physical and social needs of the total Jewish community. As a result, the Jewish Community Plan will stimulate and amplify in individuals, organizations and institutions a sense of responsibility for the entire community." (Foundation/Framework Committee, 1992 February)
A major focus of the AJCP was finding land to build an Austin Jewish Community Center Campus. The decision was made to purchase Hart Ranch at 7300 Hart Lane, with Michael and Susan Dell purchasing the 40 acres of land to convey to the JFA. Planning and fundraising began, with the AJCP hiring Development Consultants of America, Inc., a consultant that specialized in capital campaigns in Jewish communities. A 5 million dollar capital campaign launched in November 1993 and the goal was reached within the year. Groundbreaking for the campus took place on December 8, 1995. The Dell Jewish Community Campus officially opened in 2000.
Gonzales, Enrique J. "Austin man striving to solidify bond of city's Jewish community." Austin American-Statesman, February 10, 1992: B2.
Cone, Tonyia. "For All Generations, For Generations to Come: Visionaries built foundation for Austin Jewish community's central address." The Jewish Outlook. April 2010.
The collection is comprised of correspondence, clippings, minutes, reports, and financial records documenting the early planning and development of the Austin Jewish Community Center. Upon collecting the records in December 2019, Jeff Cohen and Mike Miller interviewed Spertus and the audio recording is available for researchers to access.
The first group of records document the Austin Jewish Community Plan (AJCP) from 1991 to 1994 through meeting minutes, correspondence, studies, membership lists, and financial records. The planning for the community center began with the formation of the Austin Jewish Community Plan, a committee of the Jewish Federation of Austin (JFA). The initial AJCP meeting was held at the home of Philip Spertus on September 15, 1991. The collection contains drafts of his invitation letter and mailing lists of Jewish community members along with follow up meeting notes and correspondence. The correspondence between committee members centers on establishing various subcommittees and communicating updated priorities. There are also letters between the Jewish Federation of Austin and Michael and Susan Dell dating from 1993-1994 regarding financial pledges as well as the pledge of acres of land for the campus. Spertus also pledged money for the community center and there is correspondence between Spertus and the Dells concerning the pending financial decisions. There is a digitized video of the June 22, 1993 meeting of AJCP, however the disc was partly unreadable and only 17 minutes of the 58 minute video are accessible. A feasibility study for AJCP was conducted by Milton Shorr of Development Consultants of America in May 1992 and is documented in a series of interview schedules and profiles of community members created by Spertus and Harriett Pozen. The recommendations based on the community interviews were compiled to a “Feasibility Study of Fundraising Capacity” in July 1992. In October 1992, a survey of questions for Jewish community members was conducted by IntelliQuest for JFA and a summary of the quantitative research is also part of the collection. There is also documentation of pre-campaign and resident campaign expenses from 1993.
The rest of the materials document the plans, fundraising, and construction of the Jewish Community Center (JCC). There is ample documentation of the acquisition of Hart Ranch including the Limited Partnership Agreement of D & S Joint Venture, Ltd., which was created for the Dells and Spertus to purchase the land for the JCC. The bulk of the records document the fundraising campaigns from 1992-2000 organized by the Jewish Federation of Austin, the Jewish Community Association of Austin, and the Dell Jewish Community Campus Development Corporation. Thank you letters for financial donors are also included and date from 1992-1996 and 2009. A set of scans of correspondence, meeting minutes, and planning documents that are numbered 1-179 provide a chronological overview of the planning history for the JCC. Digitized copies of a selection of those documents are also included. Invitations, announcements, and newspaper clippings dating from 1992-1997 document the ongoing fundraising and events that were happening to support the JCC.
Open to all users
The Austin History Center (AHC) is the owner of the physical materials in the AHC collections and makes available reproductions for research, publication, and other uses. Written permission must be obtained from the AHC before any publication use. The AHC does not necessarily hold copyright to all of the materials in the collections. In some cases, permission for use may require seeking additional authorization from the copyright owners. Consult repository for more details.
Physical Characteristics or Technical Requirements
Access to digital content in this finding aid is only available through a dedicated workstation in the Austin History Center Reading Room.
Philip Spertus Austin Jewish Community Center Records (AR.2019.043). Austin History Center, Austin Public Library, Texas.
Donor #: DO/2019/083
Donation Date: 2019 December 20
Processing and finding aid by Kelly Hanus in January 2020. Digital files processed by Nikki Koehlert in January 2020.
The born-digital materials were processed in accordance with the AHC's digital processing guidelines including disk imaging, virus scan, and checksums. For more information, see the Born-digital Processing Manual.