International Yiddish Conference & Retreat

Dr. Harold Black: Organized 1st Conference; Urban Planning; Washington, D.C.

Dr. Harold Black

Dr. Harold Black

Dr. Harold Black “Harold” was born Aaron Hershel Schwartz in Goniondz, Poland in 1919. His family fled war torn Poland in the 1920s living first in Mexico, where he attended the first Jewish kheyder in Mexico City. When entry into the United States was available, the family settled in Detroit. at this time Harold was 10 years old. Being fluent in Spanish and Yiddish he quickly learned English, and was educated in the Detroit Public Schools. While at Northern High he was on the debate team and went on to Wayne State University earning a bachelor degree and two Masters Degrees, one in Sociology and one in Urban Planning. He earned his PhD in Urban Planning from the University of Michigan. While in Detroit, he was a pioneer in the Jewish Humanistic movement through The Jewish Parents Institute.

In 1974 Ann and he moved to Washington DC where he spent his entire working life as an Urban Planner both in the private sector and for the government; however, his real passion was writing. He wrote poetry and short stories most of which had a Jewish theme. Many of them were published in various periodicals and magazines. While in Washington, he and his wife, Ann, were founding members of Machar which is The Washington Congregation for Secular Humanistic Judaism.

His love and devotion to Yiddishkite led him to join the Yiddish Club of Greater Washington and realizing that there were many such clubs all over the world, he organized the first national conference of Yiddish clubs at the University of Maryland in 1993 and assisted in planning and implementing the following conferences. Along with Elaine Mann he chaired the IAYC conference held in Chevy Chase, MD at the 4H International Conference Center. Realizing the impact of these meetings on Yiddish clubs, he, Jonathan Sunshine, Karl Girshman and Arnold Kuzmack incorporated the “International Association of Yiddish Clubs” in Maryland in 1996. The Articles of Incorporation state: “To encourage, support and spread the teaching and knowledge of Yiddish, and to foster Yiddish oriented study of history, culture and traditions of the Jewish people, said purposes to be carried out exclusively within the meaning of Section 501 (c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code”. Thus was born the IAYC which over the years has brought thousands of like-minded Yiddishists from around the world to expand their knowledge and love of their Jewish heritage and “schmooze”, as Harold would say, with their “brothers and sisters” at the conferences or partake of the information distributed to the clubs during the year.

Harold and his wife Ann returned to the Detroit area in the Spring of 2005 to The Park at Trowbridge Senior Retirement Home in Southfield. Harold passed away in 2006. Ann, his wife of 63 years, and he, have a son, David of Belvidere, IL and a daughter, Linda Weiner, of Champaign, IL. They have seven Grandchildren and five Great Grandchildren.