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ACCESSION DETAIL
Manuscript
1921-2011
Paper
2.6 linear feet

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. Temple Beth Israel – Gadsden, Alabama Records, 1921-2011, are arranged in alphabetical order by subject and chronologically within each folder. 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. 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.

Mss 214

Temple Beth Israel - Gadsden, Alabama

27 Related Subjects

Congregation Beth Israel (Gadsden, Ala.)
Synagogues

Synagogues


B'nai B'rith. Gadsden Women's Chapter (Gadsden, Ala.)
Fraternal Organizations; B'nai B'rith

Fraternal Organizations


B'nai B'rith


Pizitz (Gadsden, Ala.)
Department stores

Department Stores
General Stores; Dime Stores; Dry Goods

Federated Jewish Charities (Gadsden, Ala.)


Holidays


Judaism--Fasts and Feasts


Hanukkah (Feast of Lights)
Judaism - Fasts and Feasts

Passover
Judaism - Fasts and Feasts

Rosh ha-Shanah
Judaism - Fasts and Feasts; High Holidays

Yom Kippur
Judaism - Fasts and Feasts; High Holidays

Caminker, Harold F., 1950-
Rabbis

Fertig, Arnold
Rabbis

Halevi, Jacob L., 1900-1988


Lowi, Janice Haas


Lowi, Theodore


Peilen, Mark A., 1951-
Rabbis

Rubin, Saul J., 1930-
Rabbis

Schwartz, Henry L., 1908-1997


Utschen, Joseph, 1894-1963
Rabbis

Temple Emanu-El (Jasper, Ala.)
Synagogues

National Federation of Temple Sisterhoods
Sisterhoods

Sisterhoods


Union of American Hebrew Congregations


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