The Joseph and Miriam Ratner Center for the Study of Conservative Judaism

The Joseph and Miriam Ratner Center for the Study of Conservative Judaism is an archive and research-based center located at The Jewish Theological Seminary. The Ratner Center's mission is threefold: 

  1. To rescue and preserve the historical records of the Conservative Movement.
  2. To foster research on the Conservative Movement, both past and present. 
  3. To educate and link Conservative Jews as the Movement enters its second century.

The first steps in creating the Ratner Center were taken in 1985, as part of JTS’s centennial initiatives. The Conservative Movement, which has traditionally taken pride in its role as the historical repository of Judaism, thus began to retrieve its own historical past in a systematic fashion. 

With the generous support of Joseph and Miriam Ratner, for whom it is named, the center began gathering and organizing the historical records of Conservative synagogues and rabbis. In 1990, with the assistance of a grant from the National Historical Records and Publications Commission (NHRPC), the Ratner Center also began retrieving and organizing JTS’s own historical records.

The Ratner Center continues to collect and organize the records of major agencies of the Conservative Movement, including its rabbis, synagogues, and educators. The archives contain the historical records of more than 200 Conservative synagogues and rabbis from around the country dating from the early nineteenth century to the present. They also hold the historical records of JTS from its reorganization in 1902 through the 1980s. The photograph collection contains more than 6,000 photographs, dating from the late nineteenth century to the present.

Housed in the special collections reading room of The Library of The Jewish Theological Seminary, these records serve as indispensable primary sources for the historians of the Conservative Movement and American Jewry, who regularly consult them.