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Finding Aid for the Mordecai Noah Historical Marker Collection, 1960-2013 (bulk 2010-2013)

MS 200.27

State University of New York at Buffalo. University Archives

420 Capen Hall
Buffalo, NY 14260
United States
Phone: 716-645-2916
Fax: 716-645-3714
Email: lib-archives@buffalo.edu
URI: http://library.buffalo.edu/archives/

Finding aid prepared by Chana Revell Kotzin, June 2013.
Finding aid encoded in EAD by Karen Spencer, July 2013.
Finding aid written in English.
Finding aid prepared using local best practices.

The arrangement and description of the Mordecai Noah Historical Marker Collection was made possible by funding obtained through the Foundation for Jewish Philanthropies and the Bureau of Jewish Education.

Please use the following URL when citing this document:

© 2013. State University of New York at Buffalo. All rights reserved.

Collection Overview

Title: Mordecai Noah Historical Marker Collection, 1960-2013 (bulk 2010-2013)
Creator: Mori, Wayne A.
Extent: 0.5 linear feet (1 half manuscript box)
Language of Material: Collection material in English.
Repository: State University of New York at Buffalo. University Archives
Abstract: Ecumenical materials documenting aspects of the efforts to place a historic marker to recall the events of 1825 when Mordecai Noah, American Jewish diplomat, politician and newspaperman made an attempt to found a refuge for persecuted European Jews on Grand Island, New York.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

[Description and dates], Box/folder number, MS 200.27, Mordecai Noah Historical Marker Collection, 1960-2013 (bulk 2010-2013), University Archives, State University of New York at Buffalo.

See the Special Collections' preferred citations instructions for additional information.

Acquisition Information

Wayne A. Mori, archivist at St Paul’s Episcopal Church, donated materials in November 2012 that documented his successful efforts to erect a marker with Jerry Klinger, President of the Jewish American Society for Historic Preservation (a Maryland-based nonprofit organization), who also donated materials in January 2013. The collection was arranged in June 2013 and it was deposited at the University Archives, Special Collections by the Jewish Buffalo Archives Project in June 2013.

The Jewish Buffalo Archives Project was founded in late 2007 under the auspices of the Bureau of Jewish Education of Greater Buffalo with a seed grant from the Foundation for Jewish Philanthropies. The Archives Project collects mainly 20th century documentation relating to the diverse histories, religious traditions and cultures of Jewish communities within the Greater Buffalo area of Western New York, encompassing the geographic areas of Erie and Niagara Counties and partners with the University Archives at the University at Buffalo to make these records accessible.

Terms of Access

The Mordecai Noah Historical Marker Collection, 1960-2013 (bulk 2010-2013)is open for research.


Copyright of papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns. Researchers must obtain the written permission of the holder(s) of copyright and the University Archives before publishing quotations from materials in the collection. Most papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures unless otherwise specified.

Processing Information

Processed by Chana Revell Kotzin, June 2013.

Accruals and Additions

No further accruals are expected to this collection.

Historical Note

Mordecai Manuel Noah was born on July 14, 1785, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and died in New York City on May 22, 1851. He was buried in Beth Olom Cemetery in Queens, New York. An American politician, playwright, journalist and diplomat, he was the most prominent Jew of his day, with a national and international profile.

In the mid 1820s after decades of anti-Jewish attacks in Germany, Mordecai Noah set out to establish a refuge for persecuted European Jews until they could be restored to their historical-biblical home of Palestine. He plan was to come to fruition on Grand Island, NY, near Buffalo. At the time he was ridiculed by many non-Jews for his utopian ideas and criticized by religious Jewish contemporaries as an assimilationist Jew, rejecting prevailing theology. Since the attempt did not come to fruition, he has been viewed variously by some historians as an idealist, a self-promoting land speculator, or, from the opposite viewpoint, a man ahead of his time preceding Theodore Herzl (See bibliographic source list at the end of the finding aid).

On 15 September 1825, Major Mordecai M. Noah, came to Buffalo to dedicate Grand Island, however, plans went awry and the boat planned to take him across did not appear. Through personal connections in the non-Jewish community, he connected with the Reverend Addison Searle, of St Paul’s, who opened the Church for the dedicatory event. Mordecai Noah arrived in grand regalia, along with a band and city notables. Inside St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Reverend Searle read the office of Morning Prayer and Mordecai Noah addressed the congregation, proclaiming Grand Island, “Ararat, the City of Refuge” for world Jewry and himself a “judge of Israel.” A specially commissioned 300-pound cornerstone was placed inside the church on the altar for the duration of the ceremony. Chiseled on the stone in Hebrew was the opening lines of the Shema, a central Jewish prayer (in translation): “Hear, O Israel, the Lord God is one.” Added in English was the text: “ARARAT, A City of Refuge for the Jews Founded by Mordecai Manuel Noah in the month of Tizri 5586, Sept. 1825 in the 50th year of American Independence.” The stone is currently located in the Buffalo History Museum in the “Neighbors” Exhibit, after it was located in several places across Buffalo and Grand Island. Decades later, in May 1888, St. Paul’s Cathedral was severely damaged by fire, and another Jewish-Christian relationship was forged with St Paul’s and the local Jewish community, as Rabbi Israel Aaron of Temple Beth Zion offered the use of the synagogue for Christian worship on Sundays until the Cathedral could be rebuilt.

On Sunday, 3 June 2012, members of St. Paul’s Cathedral and local Jewish community leaders gathered to mark interfaith efforts and the cathedral erected an historical marker to commemorate shared moments in history. Cathedral archivist Wayne Mori and Jerry Klinger, president of the Jewish American Society for Historic Preservation, organized the design and erection of marker.

In the last two years, alternative Jewish “homeland,” refuges and havens have become a growing area of research among a wide variety of academics, especially in the literary fields. During the two years that Wayne Mori and Jerry Klinger worked on the Mordecai Noah historic marker, once such example of alternative” homeland research was unveiled on the web which related to the marker installation, although there was no connection between the two projects. “Mapping Ararat” - the digital imagining of Ararat – as “An Imaginary Jewish Homelands Project” uses augmented reality to animate Mordecai Noah's 1825 unrealized plan to transform Grand Island, New York into Ararat, a “city of refuge for the Jews.” Publicly available websites materials are reprinted and placed in the collection as context and as an example of the ways in which Mordecai Noah’s plans, although never realized, continue to hold interest for successive generations of researchers in a wide variety of fields in addition to traditional historical scholarship which is also ongoing.

Scope and Content Note

The papers provide an account of joint Jewish and Christian efforts to create and place a historical marker on the grounds of St Paul’s Cathedral in 2012 in order to mark the attempt of the Mordecai Noah to create a haven for persecuted Jews. Included within the collection are reprinted e-mails, programmatic materials, research articles, a marker design sketch, photographs, ceremonial materials and clippings of the event.


This collection is arranged in original order.

Container List

Box-folder Contents
1.1 Historical writings relating to Mordecai Noah and Ararat, 1960 2012

Includes a copy of relevant passages from Ararat to Suburbia by Selig Adler and Thomas Connolly.

1.2 Imaginary Homelands research printouts from website, “Mapping Ararat” , 2013
1.3 Email correspondence around the Mordecai Noah Marker from Wayne A. Mori and others,
1.4 Leaflets, pamphlets and other materials relating to the erection of the Mordecai Noah Marker, 2012
1.5 Mordecai Noah Marker materials relating to the ceremony, June 3, 2012

Search Terms

The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the Library's online catalog.


Bureau of Jewish Education (Buffalo, N.Y.)
Jewish American Society for Historic Preservation
Jewish Buffalo Archives Project
Klinger, Jerry


Jews--New York (State)--Buffalo (N.Y.)--Archives
Noah, M. M. (Mordecai Manuel), 1785-1851


Black-and-white photographs
Clippings (information artifacts)
Color photographs

Associated Material

Related Resources

Related Resources in the University Archives

MS 206 , American Jewish Committee Buffalo/Niagara Chapter, 1977-2008 (bulk 1985-2007)
MS 200.11 , Annette Blanchard Papers, 1951-1978
MS 200.23 , Buffalo Ritualarium (Mikvah of Buffalo), 1998-2012 (bulk 1998)
MS 203 , Bureau of Jewish Education of Greater Buffalo, 1933-2009
MS 200.05 , Congregation Ahavath Sholem (Lovers of Peace) [Jefferson (Ave) Shul] Records, 1921-2012 (bulk 1921-1961, 1990-2012)
MS 9 , David Diamond Papers, 1925-1998
MS 200.16 , Ethel Roblin Melzer Papers, 1932-2012 (bulk 1974-2012)
MS 200.26 , Frank E. Freedman Papers, 1896-1970 (bulk 1927-1969)
MS 150.1 , Jewish Archives of Greater Buffalo, Records of the Jewish Federation of Greater Buffalo, 1902-1979
MS 150.2 , Jewish Archives of Greater Buffalo, Selig Adler Papers, 1932-1988
MS 150.3 , Jewish Archives of Greater Buffalo, Local Jewish Community Records, 1844-1976
MS 150.4 , Jewish Archives of Greater Buffalo, Papers of Prominent Local Jews, 1912-1988
MS 150.5 , Jewish Archives of Greater Buffalo, Synagogue Records, 1884-1986
MS 204 , Jewish Community Center of Greater Buffalo and Summer Camps Records, 1915-2009
MS 225 , Jewish Federation of Greater Buffalo, circa 1970-2009
MS 202 , Jewish Federation of Niagara Falls, circa 1930-2001 (bulk 1935-1994)
MS 106 , Joseph Manch Papers, 1922-1988
MS 209 , Kadimah School of Buffalo, 1958-2009
MS 200.15 , Ohr Temimim and Jewish Heritage Day School Papers, 1998-2009
MS 149 , Rabbi Isaac Klein Papers, 1925-1979
MS 200.17 , Samuel M. Golden Collection, 1930s-2001 (bulk 1950s-1960s)
22/6F/204 , Selig Adler Papers, Part I, 1909-1984
22/6F/358 , Selig Adler Papers, Part II, 1928-1985
MS 201 , Westwood Country Club Records, 1945-1995
Adler, Selig and Thomas E. Connelly. From Ararat to Suburbia: The History of the Jewish Community of Buffalo. Philadelphia, Jewish Publication Society of America, 1960. Available in Lockwood Library and the University Archives (non-circulating), F129 B8 A38
Archives 9/7/00-3, Jewish Life (Buffalo, N.Y.), University Archives Periodical Collection
Milton Plesur Papers, 1947-1982, 22/6F/614, for a draft of a festschrift in honor of Selig Adler.

Related Online Resources

Jewish Buffalo Image Collection , New York Heritage Digital Collections

Related Resources in Other Repositories

David Diamond Collection, P-59 , American Jewish Historical Society Archives