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Jewish Research and Education - Cuba Family Archives, Finding Aids

Dates:  1879-1996

Creator:  Congregation B’nai B’rith Jacob (Savannah, Ga.)

Summary/Abstract:  Financial records, correspondence, marketing materials, and meeting minutes created by and relating to Congregation B’nai B’rith Jacob (B.B.J.), an orthodox synagogue in Savannah, Georgia.

Quantity/Physical Description:  Three full-size boxes (1.25 linear feet)

Language(s):  English and Yiddish

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  Unpublished manuscripts are protected by copyright.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 343, Congregation B’nai B’rith Jacob Records, The Cuba Family Archives for Southern Jewish History, The William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum, 1440 Spring Street NW, Atlanta, Georgia 30309.

Acquisition:  Gift of Congregation B’nai B’rith Jacob, 1996, 2004.

Custodial History:  The Congregation B’nai B’rith Jacob records are part of the Savannah Jewish Archives that were transferred from the Georgia Historical Society to the Breman Museum in 2015.

Related Material:  Mss 338 – Abraham I. Rosenberg Papers

Processed by:  Processed by N. Galler, L. Stoudt, and T. Jones (2006) and L. Resnick (2015).

Arrangement:  The items in this collection are arranged alphabetically by subject.

Biographical/Historical Note:  Congregation B'nai B'rith Jacob (originally “Kahal Kadosh B’nai B’rith Jacob,” or “Congregation of the Children of the Divine Covenant of Jacob,” also known as “B.B.J.”), the orthodox synagogue in Savannah, Georgia, was established in 1861 by a group of eastern European Jews who desired to start their own synagogue patterned after the Ashkenazi tradition. At the time of its establishment, the only synagogue in Savannah was Temple Mickve Israel of the Spanish-Portuguese Sephardic tradition. The name for Congregation B.B.J. probably originated from the Independent Order of B'nai B'rith (I.O.B.B.), a Masonic-inspired fraternal organization for Jews.

Under the leadership of Rabbi Jacob Rosenfeld, the group initially met at Armory Hall, and then erected a small wood frame building at the corner of Montgomery and State streets that was dedicated in 1868. The congregation replaced this original structure with a large, brick synagogue designed by local architect Hyman Witcover in 1909. The synagogue was decommissioned in 1962 when the congregation moved to 5444 Abercorn Street.  It was sold to Saint Andrew’s Independent Episcopal Church (now Saint Andrew’s Reformed Episcopal Church), who used it as its home until 2002. The historic building is still standing as Savannah College of Art and Design’s Student Center.

Several Jewish auxiliaries were formed by the congregation, including the Chevra Kadisha which provided last rites for the dead. Women's groups from the congregation, such as the Hebrew Women’s Aid Society, were responsible for building a chapel at Bonaventure Cemetery, as well as beautifying the synagogue. The Savannah Hebrew School (now the Hebrew Community School) established by the congregation enrolled as many as 200 children in the early 1900s.

Throughout the congregation’s history, many rabbis, including Jacob Rosenfeld, Hirsch Goldberg, Charles Blumenthal, L.M. Palitz, B.L. Rosenbloom, Mordecai Hirschsprung, Nathan N. Rosen, Morris Max, William Drazin, and Abraham I. Rosenberg have served Savannah’s orthodox community.  As of 2015, the current Senior Rabbi of Congregation B.B.J. is Avigdor Slatus, who has served since 1981.

Scope and Content:  This collection consists of Congregation B'nai B'rith Jacob records, including material related to the Savannah Hebrew School (now Hebrew Community School).  Records include Board of Officers material, congregational histories, correspondence, newspaper clippings, and the original petition for incorporation dating 1879.  There are also records pertaining to the current synagogue building at 5444 Abercorn Street, and the former building at the corner of Montgomery and State streets.  Collection material dates from 1879 to1996.

Collection Inventory

Series I: Administrative records, 1879-1996

Box

File

Description

Date

 

1

1

Bar and Bat Mitzvah/Confirmation materials

1933-1979

1

2

Baron DeHirsch Library Association minute book

1896-1899

1

3

Board of Officers meeting minutes and agendas

1931-1975

1

4

Certificate of membership, Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations (“Orthodox Union”)

1945

1

5

Clippings

1944-1985

1

6

Condolence letters and death resolutions

1935-1962

1

7

Correspondence

1932-1996

1

8

Event announcements, programs, and fliers

1934-1990

1

9

Event announcements, programs, and fliers

1934-1990

 

2

1

Event announcements, programs, and fliers

1991-1995

2

2

Financial ledger (Yiddish)

ca. 1897

2

3

Financial ledger (Yiddish)

1900-1904

2

4

Financial ledger (Yiddish)

1901-1905

2

5

Hebrah Talmud Torah loose papers

1884-1891

2

6

Hebrah Talmud Torah Minute book

1884-1895

2

7

Histories of B.B.J.

1932-1958

2

8

Immigration policy under Eisenhower correspondence

1947-1957

2

9

K.K.B.B.J. Constitution

undated

 

3

1

Membership lists

1962-1966

3

2

Membership lists

1966-1973

3

3

Other Congregations: Congregation Agudath Achim

1957

3

4

Other Congregations: Congregation Mickve Israel

1963

3

5

Other Organizations: Jewish Action, Orthodox Union newsletter

1955

3

6

Petition for Incorporation and Order

1879

3

7

Proposed amendments to the Constitution

undated

3

8

Synagogue bldg. at Abercorn St.: Building Committee minutes

1945-1959

3

9

Synagogue bldg. at Abercorn St.: Building Committee minutes

1957-1963

3

10

Synagogue bldg. at Abercorn St.: “Built the a House of Habitation and a Place for Thee to Dwell”

undated

3

11

Synagogue bldg. at Abercorn St.: Clippings

1945-1962

3

12

Synagogue bldg. at Abercorn St.: Correspondence

1957-1962

3

13

Synagogue bldg. at Abercorn St.: Event programs

1961-1962

3

14

World War II veterans list

undated

 

SERIES II: Hebrew Community School, 1902-1976

 

3

15

Board of Directors: list of officers an members

1969

3

16

Board of Directors: meeting agendas

1966

3

17

Board of Directors: meeting minute book

1934-1939

3

18

Correspondence

1939-1976

3

19

Donations and subscription book

1902

3

20

Event program: commencement exercises and Hanukkah program

1953-1964

3

21

Event programs: special events

1967-1976

3

22

Fees and tuition schedule

1969-1970

3

23

Letterhead

undated

3

24

PTA News

1966-1967

3

25

Student List

1969-1970

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