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Temple Beth Israel (Gadsden, Alabama) Records

 Collection
Identifier: Mss 214

Scope and Contents

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.

Dates

  • 1921 - 2011

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on accessing material in this collection.

Conditions Governing 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 Unpublished manuscripts are protected by copyright.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.

Biographical / Historical

Temple Beth Israel (Gadsden, Ala.) 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.

Extent

2.6 Linear Feet

Language of Materials

English

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.

Arrangement

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

Physical Location

The Cuba Family Archives for Southern Jewish History, The William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum, 1440 Spring Street NW, Atlanta, Georgia 30309.
Title
Temple Beth Israel (Gadsden, Alabama) Records, Mss 214
Status
Completed
Author
Sandra Berman
Date
September, 2011
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin

Repository Details

Part of the William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum Repository

Contact:
1440 Spring St. NW
Atlanta Georgia 30309 United States
678-222-3700