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Jewish Research and Education - Cuba Family Archives, Finding Aids

Date Span:  1921-2011

Creator:  Temple Beth Israel (Gadsden, Alabama)

Summary/Abstract:  Temple Beth Israel – Gadsden, Alabama was unofficially founded in 1903. The synagogue and its membership were active in the general community life of Gadsden.  Without a growing population, the congregation was finally forced to close its doors in 2010. The collection consists of minutes, correspondence, and bulletins of the congregation, as well as records from Gadsden chapter of B’nai B’rith Women and the Gadsden Federated Jewish Charities.

Quantity/Physical Description: 2.6 linear feet

Language(s):  English

Repository:  The Cuba Family Archives for Southern Jewish History, The William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum, 1440 Spring Street NW, Atlanta, Georgia 30309.

Restrictions on Access:  There are no restrictions on accessing material in this collection.

Restrictions on Use:  Copyright restrictions may apply.  Unpublished manuscripts are protected by copyright.  Permission to publish, quote, or reproduce must be secured from the repository and the copyright holder.

Preferred Citation:  Box #, Folder #, Mss 214, Temple Beth Israel (Gadsden, Alabama) Records, The Cuba Family Archives for Southern Jewish History, The William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum, 1440 Spring Street NW, Atlanta, Georgia 30309.

Processed by:  Sandra Berman (September, 2011)

Arrangement:  The records are arranged in alphabetical order by subject and chronologically within each folder.

Biographical/Historical Note:  Temple Beth Israel – Gadsden, Alabama was unofficially founded in 1903 when ten Jewish families in the area organized a religious school for their children.  The school met at a private home on the corner of 5th and Cherry Streets.  In 1908, the first formal services were held on 4th Street in a single room over the Gadsden National Bank.  The services were led by J. Nadler, one of the original teachers, and Hugo Hetch. Acknowledging the need for a building for the fledging congregation, money was raised through poker games and raffle tickets.  In 1922, the cornerstone was laid and the first service at Temple Beth Israel was held on November 24, 1924.  By 1946 the congregation had grown to include more than thirty families and the first full-time Rabbi was hired.  By the early 1960s seventy families were listed on the Temple’s membership roster. The synagogue and its membership were active in the general community life of Gadsden.  In 1960, the congregation’s long history of acceptance and security within Gadsden was tarnished when a young Hitler devotee tossed a Molotov cocktail into the sanctuary during a Friday night service, shooting two congregants in the process of making his escape.  Unlike other church and synagogue bombings in the South during the late 1950s, this attack was the work of one individual and not part of a larger white supremacy movement.  Like the bombing of the Temple in Atlanta, Georgia in 1958, however, there was an outpouring of support for the congregation from the general community in the aftermath of the incident. Throughout the 1970s the membership of the Temple remained steady, consisting of about fifty-five families.  By the 1980s and into the 1990s, the roster steadily declined.  In 2005 there were only 26 families still active in the congregation.  Without a growing population, the congregation was finally forced to close its doors in 2010.

Scope and Content:  The historian interested in the growth and development of Jewish life in the South and the ultimate demise of the same will find this collection of special interest. The records are arranged in alphabetical order by subject and chronologically within each folder.

Collection Inventory

Box File Description Date
1 1 Altrusa Club 1985
2 Anniversary – “25th” (of first building) 1948
3 Anniversary – “40th” (of first building) 1963
4 Anniversary – “50th” (of first building) 1973
5 Anniversary – “75th” (of congregation) 1983
6 Anniversary – “85th” (of congregation) 1993
7 Anniversary – “100th” (of congregation) 2008
8 B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation League 1959
9 B’nai B’rith – Gadsden Women’s Chapter – financial 1947-1950
10 B’nai B’rith – Gadsden Women’s Chapter – general 1955-1966
11 B’nai B’rith – Gadsden Women’s Chapter – minutes 1947-1954
12 B’nai B’rith – newspaper articles 1956-1967
13 Board of Trustees 1967-1969
14 Bombing 1960
15 Building 1975-1999
16 Bulletins 1958-1964
17 Bulletins 1965-1972
2 1 Bulletins 1973-1977
2 Bulletins 1978-1979
3 Bulletins 1980-1981
4 Bulletins 1982
5 Bulletins 1983-1984
6 Bulletins 1985-1986
2 1 Bulletins 1987-1989
2 Bulletins 1990-1993
3 Bulletins 1994-1995
4 Bulletins 1996-2000
5 Bulletins 2001-2007
6 Bulletins 2008-2010
7 Bulletins (incomplete) Undated
4 1 Calendars 1979-1997
2 Confirmation 1961-1987
3 Constitution and by-laws 1983-1995
4 Contributions 1965-1966
5 Correspondence 1967-2011
6 Dedication 1923
7 Financial records 1916-1929
8 Financial records 1963-1975
9 Financial records – reports 1966-2010
10 Gadsden Federated Jewish Charities – minutes and financial records 1958-1965
11 Guest book 1993-1995
12 History 2005
13 Holidays – Hanukkah 1960-1989
14 Holidays – Passover 1961-1980
15 Holidays – Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur 1960-2007
16 Honors and memorial fund 1995
17 Individuals and families - Caminker, Rabbi Harold F. 1979-1980
18 Individuals and families - Cohn, Marvin 1965-1986
19 Individuals and families – Denson family members 1973-1980
20 Individuals and families – Drew, Jack 1967-1976
21 Individuals and families – Fertig, Rabbi Arnold M. 1977-1978
22 Individuals and families – Hagedorn, Ruth 1970-1986
23 Individuals and families – Halevi, Rabbi Jacob 1966
24 Individuals and families – Lowi, Janice Haas 1978-1987
25 Individuals and families – Lowi, Theodore 1964-1991
26 Individuals and families – Miller, Herman 1968-1974
27 Individuals and families – Miller, Steven 1973-1982
28 Individuals and families – Parsons, Bubba 1978-1980
29 Individuals and families – Peilen, Rabbi Mark 1992-1995
30 Individuals and families – Pizitz family 1969-1990
31 Individuals – Rubin, Rabbi Saul 1960-1976
32 Individuals and families – Schwartz, Rabbi Henry Leon Undated
33 Individuals and families – Utschen, Rabbi Joseph 1950
34 Individuals and families – Weil family 1990
5 1 League of Women Voters – Greater Gadsden 1981
2 Library 1961-1982
3 Marriage and birth announcements, A-Z 1958-1982
4 Membership 1975-1998
5 Merger – Temple Emanu-El – Jasper, Alabama and Temple Emanu-El – Birmingham, Alabama 2000
6 Minutes and general administrative files 1991-1994
7 Minutes and general administrative files 1995-1999
8 Minutes and general administrative files 2000-2003
9 Minutes and general administrative files 2004-2009
10 Minutes and general administrative files 2010
11 Miscellanea 1976
12 National Federation of Temple Sisterhoods 1976-1978
13 Newspaper articles 1957-1991
14 Obituaries, B-Z 1959-1982
6 1 Programs and invitations 1967-1988
2 Property sale 2010
3 Shema Award 1987-1990
4 Sisterhood – constitution and by-laws 1997
5 Sisterhood – financial – special funds 1942-1947
6 Sisterhood – general 1943-1998
7 Sisterhood (formerly Ladies Aid Society) – minutes 1921-1930
8 Sisterhood – minutes and financial records 1939-1942
9 Sisterhood – minutes and financial records 1945-1949, 1963
10 Sisterhood – minutes and financial records 1983-2003
11 Sisterhood – newspaper articles 1953-1985
12 Sisterhood – yearbooks 1972 – 1985
7 1 Sisterhood – yearbooks 1986-1997
2 Special services 1964-1997
3 Student rabbis 1973-1976
4 Union of American Hebrew Congregations – Southeast Council 1993-1994
5 Yahrzeit 1996
6 Yearbooks 1999-2006
7 Youth group 1967


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