Collection Profile: Elihu David Stone and the Meretz Relief Association

Lately, AJHS has received a number of research queries on the Boston Meretz Relief Association and Elihu David Stone collections. These two related collections give contemporary researchers a glimpse of 19th and 20th century Jewish Boston and its enduring connection to the Old World.

Elihu David Stone was born in 1888 in Meretz (Merkinė; also sometimes called Meretch or Merecz) Lithuania. He came to Boston in 1906 and attended Roxbury High School while working as a teacher at a Hebrew religious school. For a time, he was also a reporter at the Boston Journal. After graduating from Boston University Law School, he opened his own law practice in 1915. He later served two terms in the Massachusetts House of Representatives and was Assistant U.S. District Attorney for Massachusetts from 1922 to 1934.

An outspoken Zionist, Stone backed a 1919 resolution in the House of Representatives urging American delegates to the Paris Peace Conference to support the establishment of a Jewish commonwealth. He was also responsible for the Massachusetts Legislature’s passage of the 1922 Palestine Resolution, which led to the U.S. Congress favoring the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine. He was a founder and president of the New England Zionist Region, and was also involved with numerous Jewish organizations like the Zionist Organization of America and the Jewish National Fund. Stone was also active in the local Jewish community, serving as president of Congregation Mishkan Tefila.

In 1938, he was awarded a distinguished service award by the government of Lithuania.

The Boston Meretz Relief Association, founded by Lithuanian Jewish immigrants to the Boston area, was incorporated in 1893. Its members gathered to celebrate their history and heritage; they also provided humanitarian aid to Meretzers in need in Boston or Israel, where some Jewish residents of Meretz were able to escape after the Nazi destruction of their community during WWII. The Association’s operations were discontinued in 1993.

The Meretz Relief Association Collection includes organizational records, such as constitutions, meeting minutes, and financial reports. It also includes photographs, some of which depict Meretz and its inhabitants between the two World Wars.

The Elihu David Stone Collection consists of records related to Stone’s Zionist activism and political activity. Although the bulk of the collection has to do with his professional life (Stone’s speeches and correspondence have been preserved, as have autographed letters from Calvin Coolidge and Senator Henry Cabot Lodge) a small portion pertains to his family. Elihu David Stone married Esther Israel in 1917 and they had two sons, named Theodore Mordecai and Judah Meir. The papers, in English, German, Hebrew, and Yiddish, include some family photographs and personal letters.

You can learn more about the contents of the Papers of Elihu David Stone and the Records of the Meretz Relief Association in the digital finding aids of the American Jewish Historical Society.

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