Congregation Beth Israel, Milwaukee, Wisconsin records

  • Dates: 1884-1985
  • Size: 0.1 linear ft.
  • Number of Boxes: 1
  • Languages: English
  • Location: Special Collections Reading Room, Jewish Theological Seminary Library. Ratner Center Vertical Files
  • Restrictions: Reproduction of fragile items is not permitted; consult the archivist about literary rights.
  • Gift Of: Congregation Beth Israel, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  • Date: 1988

    RP 6/14/94

    Table of Contents:

    A Note on Folder Headings

    Individual folders are identified in the following way on the left side of each folder: Name of Collection, box #/folder#, as in Ben Zion Bokser Papers, 4/22. Please use this format in citations and when referring to files for any other reason.

    Historical Note

    Congregation Beth Israel, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, began as an immigrant congregation named B'ne Jacob in 1884. B'ne Jacob soon disappeared, but its original members went on to form a series of congregations which splintered and merged, evolving ultimately into Beth Israel in 1901. The congregation moved into its first synagogue, a modest brick structure on Fifth Avenue in the same year. Beth Israel's first permanent rabbi was Solomon Isaac Scheinfeld, a thirty-two year old Lithuanian scholar who served as rabbi from 1902 until his death in 1943.

    By 1924 there was increasing pressure to move the congregation to a larger, more modern location, a need resulting from the growing number of member families and a general loss of interest in the Orthodox roots of the previous generation. A spacious new synagogue was built on Teutonia Ave. in 1925, but this location soon became inconvenient as Milwaukee's Jewish population began moving to the northern suburbs in the 1940s and 1950s. The congregation purchased a fifteen acre property on Green Bay Ave. in 1957. A Hebrew school, social hall, and sanctuary were built in three stages, beginning in 1959 and ending in 1980.

    Congregation Beth Israel began its move away from Orthodox tradition in 1926, when mixed seating was introduced. The English sermon was first instituted in the same year. Under Herbert G. Panitch and Jay S. Lapidus, the congregation's current rabbis, Congregation Beth Israel continues to reform its rituals and to define its place in the Conservative Jewish tradition.

    Collection Description

    This tiny collection consists of recent issues of synagogue publications, photocopies of early synagogue documents, and a photocopy of an informational article about the synagogue from the >Jewish Community Blue Book, ca. 1925-1926.

    Photocopied early documents include: certificate of incorporation, 1884, and seat deeds for John Brown, 1905, and B. Safer, 1927.

    Recent publications include: sanctuary dedication volume, 1980; centennial volume, 1985 (illustrated with historical photographs and documents), three copies; and a fundraising brochure (for construction of synagogue), [1979].

    Please note that the great majority of this temple's records are located at the Wisconsin Jewish Archives. A listing of that collection is available at the Ratner Center.