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.
B'nai Israel, established in 1866, is Toledo's oldest synagogue. Jews had lived in Toledo since its incorporation as a city in 1837, but in such small numbers that early attempts to organize the Jewish community inevitably failed. The city's first Jewish public religious service was held in Gitskey Hall during the High Holy Days of 1863. Three years later, in 1866, a congregation was organized at Clark's Hall on Cherry St. It was moved to the old Bethel church later that year, at which time the temple was incorporated under the name B'nai Israel.
The congregation's first leader was Solomon Van Noorden, a clothing merchant. A professional rabbi was hired in 1867. Five years later, in 1872, a synagogue was built on the corner of East Woodruff and Twelfth Streets. In 1913, the congregation moved to the corner of Bancroft and Twelfth. This location served the congregation until the mid forties when increased membership and greater numbers of children made the current facilities inadequate. In 1948 the congregation bought three houses on Collingwood Boulevard to use for the religious and Hebrew schools, but as enrollments increased, these facilities too became inadequate.
B'nai Israel received national attention when, in 1952, it bought a seventeen acre property on Kenwood Boulevard, then donated the majority of the land to the Ursuline Community of nuns and to the city of Toledo, the two groups against which the temple had won a bidding war for the purchase of the property. The property was divided without fences, and all of the architecture on the site was designed to be harmonious. The temple's building on this site, containing a new religious school, social hall, and sanctuary, began holding services in February, 1955.
This small collection contains, in roughly chronological order: a photocopy of a handwritten list of the synagogue's officers and members, 1913; photocopies of clippings of articles from the New York Times and the Toledo Blade, 1952-1953, about the synagogue's donation of land to the Ursuline nuns and the city of Toledo; two brochures produced to raise funds for the construction of the new synagogue and Hebrew school, ca.1953 and 1954; a synagogue dedication brochure, 1957; a "dedication book of life," published on the completion of the new synagogue, 1957, containing historical photographs and information; a sheet of stationery from the temple's centennial year, 1967; and copies of the bulletin of Temple B'nai Israel, January and February, 1989.