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Congregation Beth Israel (Cambridge, Mass.) Records

Identifier: I-51

Scope and Content Note

This collection primarily includes minutes of Directors meetings and financial records of the Congregation, which provide some details on its short history. Miscellaneous materials, including a single photograph of the Temple's interior and a brief history written to celebrate the merging of the two synagogues, rounds out the collection.


  • 1911-1951


Language of Materials

The collection is in English.

Access Restrictions

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

Use Restrictions

There may be some restrictions on the use of this collection. For more information contact

Historical Note

Congregation Beth Israel, an Orthodox synagogue, was founded in 1901 and was once considered the oldest synagogue in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It was founded by Israel Nesson, who was the Congregation's first president, serving from 1901-1905. In 1934, Mrs. Edward Shain organized the Sisterhood of the Congregation.

In 1939, the Congregation was renovated under the chairmanship of Harry Bond. The synagogue was re-dedicated on May 21st of that year. One year later they celebrated their 40th anniversary with a burning of the mortgage. In 1962, the Congregation merged with Anshe Sfard of Somerville to become Congregation Beth Shalom. The former site of Congregation Beth Israel is now home to condominiums.


Israel Nesson becomes the founding president of Congregation Beth Israel.
The Sisterhood of the Congregation is started by Mrs. Edward Shain.
Renovations are completed on the building.
Congregation Beth Israel celebrates its 40th anniversary.
Congregation Beth Israel and Anshe Sfard merge to become Congregation Beth Shalom.


1.75 linear feet (3 manuscript boxes, 1 1/2 manuscript box)


Includes a copy of the constitution and a short history of the congregation; the minute books (1911-1923; 1939-1945) and financial records (1925-1937) of various activities of the synagogue and its relation with local, national and international Jewish events. Of special interest are the synagogue’s involvement in the providing of kosher meat in the Cambridge area, and its relation with the Cambridge and Somerville Hebrew Literary Association which maintained a Hebrew Free School. Minute book from the WWII period contains material on the congregation’s war effort and anti-Nazi and Zionist activities.

Physical Location

Located in Boston, Mass.

Acquisition Information

Donated by Congregation Beth Israel and Meyer H. Goldman

Processing Information

Reprocessed by Judith Garner and Stephanie Call, 2008

Guide to the Congregation Beth Israel (Cambridge, Mass.) Records, I-51
Reprocessed by Judith Garner and Stephanie Call
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Processed by Judith Garner, Archivist and Stephanie Call, Schilder Assistant Archivist, made possible by a grant from the Schilder Family Fund. This collection has been digitized, made possible by a grant from the Trustees u/w of Herman Dana.

Repository Details

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

99-101 Newbury Street
Boston MA 02116 United States