Remembering Charles Kadushin and the Berman Archive
In December 2000, sociologist and pioneer of social network analysis Charles Kadushin introduced me to “fugitive literature,” all the research reports and program evaluations sponsored by Jewish organizations that no one else would ever see because there was nowhere to make them accessible. I was a young graduate student, eager to read everything about anything Jewish and learn as much as I could, and I understood the problem: you cannot learn anything from a piece of research that you cannot access. How much better off the Jewish world would be if only there was a well-known repository where every researcher of contemporary Jewish life deposited their work!
How much better off the Jewish world would be if only there was a well-known repository where every researcher of contemporary Jewish life deposited their work!
I remembered this conversation when the Berman Archive (then the Berman Jewish Policy Archive) was created in 2005, and I used it to obtain several articles on small Jewish communities that proved useful for my dissertation. When I taught statistics and social research methods in the Hornstein Jewish Professional Leadership Program at Brandeis University, I would comb through the collection in search of studies about the topics that most interested my graduate students, many of whom were not particularly mathematically inclined and were concerned about their ability to learn statistical concepts. The Berman Archive made it easier to identify and obtain studies that illustrated the concepts I was teaching with examples that were familiar to my students and of great interest to them. Planning my courses this way was much more difficult because I needed new syllabi and lectures every year, but it made a course many of my students were dreading tolerable, even fun.
Sadly, Charles passed away this September, but I always think of him for a moment when I pull up the Berman Archive website to search for a report or article. He was right about the need for a repository like the Berman Archive, as he was right about so many other things.
Matthew Boxer is an assistant research professor at the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies and the Steinhardt Social Research Institute at Brandeis University. He earned a Master of Arts in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies from Brandeis University and a Master of Science and PhD in Sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where his doctoral dissertation focused on the effects of Jewish community size on Jewish identity.