Motitz Winter was a rabbi in Germany for twenty-eight years. After the Nazis burned down his synagogue, he went to Shanghai, China and served the refugee Jewish community there for two years. In 1941, he came to Santa Cruz, California where he led the Beth Israel Synagogue and the Jewish community center. In 1942, he moved to Oakland and conducted services for several Bay Area Jewish communities. In time, he became the director of the Oakland Jewish Welfare Federation's Hebrew school and the librarian of the Jewish community center. In 1945, he and his wife, Erna, became American citizens.
The collection includes doctoral and rabbinical certificates from Germany; clippings (1941-1956); a musical program autographed by Yehudi Menuhin; a scrapbook; two letters from Rabbi William Stern; and a photograph of Rabbi Winter giving an Eternal Light Medal to the first Jewish Boy Scout in Oakland to have received the honor.