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Temple Beth El of Lynn and Swampscott (Mass.) Records

Identifier: I-574

Scope and Content Note

The Temple Beth El collection is a compilation of records donated by individuals involved in many areas of synagogue life and, thus, reflects diverse aspects of the operations of the synagogue. The bulk of the records, donated by Louis and Eleanor Winer, includes correspondence, announcements, calendars, publications, and photographs documenting member activities associated with the Temple itself. Louis Winer was a member of the Fellowship, while Eleanor Winer served as president of the Sisterhood, so these groups are well represented. Eleanor Winer was also involved in the Parent-Teacher Association of the Temple Beth El Religious School, and her papers, along with those of Shirley Frisch, whose children attended the school, reveal more about the operations of the school.

Photographs and miscellaneous papers from Cantor Morton Shanok’s long tenure at Temple Beth El document the music program at the synagogue. Additionally, the second series contains records relating to the governance of Temple Beth El, especially during the terms of Congregation Presidents Eric Kahn and Alan Diamond. A small group of papers have to do with the merger of Temple Beth El and Temple Israel in 2004 to become Congregation Shirat Hiyam. A final series compiles various publications produced by Temple Beth El, including bulletins, newsletters, and anniversary programs.

The series and sub-series are arranged alphabetically, with the exception of the bulletins in the fourth series, which are arranged in chronological order. Folders are in chronological order within the sub-series.


  • undated, circa 1924-2006

Language of Materials

The collection is in English, Hebrew, and Yiddish.

Use Restrictions

This collection is open for researcher use. Please contact us to request access or to make an appointment to view this collection at

Historical Note

Temple Beth El was founded in 1924 by members of the Lynn B’nai B’rith as a Conservative synagogue on the North Shore. Services were held at the Lynn Young Men’s Hebrew Association (YMHA) until their first building, located at 12 Breed Street in Lynn, was completed in 1927. Rabbi Israel Harburg was elected as the first rabbi.

Temple Beth El had an active membership, and within the first ten years of service, groups such as the Sisterhood, Brotherhood, Junior Congregation, and Fellowship were established. The Religious School was also well attended, and the first confirmation class graduated in 1928. Through donations and fundraising, Temple Beth El was able to discharge their mortgage in 1944.

In 1946, members of the congregation left to form Temple Israel in Swampscott. Eventually Temple Beth El outgrew its Lynn location, and the congregation acquired acreage in Swampscott. The land had enough space to build a larger synagogue, a social hall, and expanded parking accommodations, and it was across the street from Temple Israel. The ground-breaking took place in 1966, and services began in 1968. The mortgage for this location was discharged in 1973.

In 1948, Cantor Morton Shanok began his thirty-two-year tenure as Cantor of Temple Beth El. He established both the Choral Society and Junior Choir, and he was a strong advocate for the cantorial profession in North America. He retired in 1980 with much feting by the Temple Beth El community.

Two years following their 75th anniversary celebration in 2002, the congregation of Temple Beth El voted to combine with Temple Israel to form Congregation Shirat Hiyam (or Song of Sea). Both synagogues had experienced declining membership, and the area could no longer support two Conservative temples in such close proximity. The two officially united in 2005, and Congregation Shirat Hiyam is now located in what was Temple Beth El. The building that housed Temple Israel was sold.


  1. Materials from the collection.


Money is raised to purchase land for Temple Beth El.
Religious School classes start.
The Temple Beth El Sisterhood is founded.
The Charter is officially signed.
Temple Beth El is built and High Holy Days are celebrated in the new temple.
Rabbi Israel Harburg is elected.
Dedication of Temple Beth El.
The first confirmation class graduates.
The Temple Beth El Brotherhood is founded.
The Junior Congregation is formed.
The Fellowship is established.
Members of Temple Beth El leave to form Temple Israel in Swampscott, Massachusetts.
Cantor Morton Shanok is elected Cantor.
The Temple Beth El Choral Society is formed.
A new building for the Religious School is dedicated.
Rabbi Harburg retires.
Rabbi Steven Schwarzschild is elected.
The Rabbi Israel Harburg Library is founded.
Temple Beth El joins the United Synagogue of America Conservative Movement.
Rabbi Schwarzschild resigns.
Rabbi Ephraim Bennett is elected.
Women are counted in the miniyan for the first time and elected to the Temple Board.
The Temple Beth El Nursery School opens.
Cantor Shanok retires.
Eric Kahn serves as President of the Congregation.
Rabbi Bennett retires.
Rabbi Judah Kogen is elected.
Rabbi Kogen resigns.
Rabbi Edgar Weinsberg is elected.
Alan Diamond serves as President of the Congregation
Temple Beth El and Temple Israel unite to form Congregation Shirat Hiyam.
Rabbi Weinsberg retires.
Rabbi Baruch HaLevi is elected to Congregation Shirat Hiyam.


3.4 linear feet (3 document boxes, 1 object box, and 1 oversized folder)


Temple Beth El was founded in Lynn in 1924. In 1946, members of the congregation split off to form Temple Israel, and in 1968, Temple Beth El expanded from its Lynn location to Swampscott. The two temples reunited in 2005 to become Congregation Shirat Hiyam. This collection contains documents related to many areas of synagogue life, including general membership, the music program, the Religious School, temple governance, and the Sisterhood.

Physical Location

Located in Boston, Mass

Acquisition Information

Donated by the Jewish Heritage Center of the North Shore in 2013.

Processing Information

Processed by Shannon Struble, 2015

Guide to the Records of Temple Beth El of Lynn and Swampscott (Mass.), I-574
Processed by Shannon Struble
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Wyner Family Jewish Heritage Center at American Ancestors Repository

99-101 Newbury Street
Boston MA 02116 United States