Who was Robert Lurie and what’s his “The American Jewish Hour?”

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Jordan Palmer, Chief Digital Content Officer

In post-World War II America, Jews in more than 150 cities tuned in every Sunday afternoon to hear what some described as the “voice of the Jewish community.” That voice belonged to Robert Lurie, who lived and created his radio show, “The American Jewish Hour,” here in St. Louis.

Lurie’s radio show was nationally syndicated, running for 13 years starting in 1946. Jewish families gathered around their radios on Sunday afternoons and for an hour, they listened to the news of what was going on in the world that affected Jewish people. In addition, there was Jewish music, and a 15-minute narrative about either a current famous Jewish person or one from the past, or even or a bible-type story that was relevant for the audience.

For Lurie, the show was truly a labor of love for the Jewish community.

Who was Robert Lurie?

Lurie was known by most in St. Louis as the owner and operator of Brentwood Travel, which he ran from 1957- 1974. In 1945, he became the first executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of St. Louis (JCRC), and in 1951 he became the head of the St. Louis Israel Bonds Program.

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But it was his radio show that his family says was the thrill of his life.

After his death, Lurie’s family donated a massive amount of material to the Jewish Community Archives, now overseen by Diane Everman.

“When I came, I inventoried the collection and discovered it was not only a large amount of material, one that included scripts, books, phonograph LPs, but also transcription disks,” said Everman. “It’s a whopping 39 cubic feet of material. I didn’t know anything about the American Jewish Hour until I processed the collection. It’s amazing.”

Special presentation

On Wednesday, Jan. 19, at 2 p.m., Everman is hosting a special program entitled, “The American Jewish Hour: A Glimpse into St. Louis Jewish History.” This program is co-sponsored with the Saul Brodsky Jewish Community Library.

“My goal is to give those who do not know about this radio program a taste of what it was like,” said Everman. “For those who do remember it from the 1940s and 1950s, I hope to bring back memories of listening to it every Sunday afternoon.”

This a free virtual presentation. Registration is free, and is open through Jan. 18th. Click here to register for The American Jewish Hour: A Glimpse Into St. Louis Jewish History from 2 to 3 p.m or call 314-733-9813, or email [email protected].

More on Robert Lurie

In preparation for this event, the Jewish Light has interviewed members of Lurie’s family and will publish a more extensive biographical story on Lurie, his radio show and his incredible and powerful inpact they both had on the St. Louis Jewish community. Look for that story on Friday.