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Temple Israel of Swampscott and Marblehead (Mass.) Records

Identifier: I-597

Scope and Content Note

The records of Temple Israel of Swampscott and Marblehead contain administrative documents, consisting of minutes and reports from meetings—including the foundational meeting in 1946—and correspondence, as well as copies of two quitclaim deeds for the land at 837 Humphrey Street. The administrative documents also contain a report and correspondence related to the purchase of land in Peabody to establish a cemetery.

Other records in the collection include publications in the form of calendars, bulletins, programs, brochures, anniversary booklets, newspaper clippings about events hosted by Temple Israel, photographs, and documents from the Brotherhood, Sisterhood, and the Hebrew School. A final folder contains photographs, newspaper clippings, and a program from the 1955 groundbreaking ceremony for the new temple building.


  • undated, 1941-1997


Language of Materials

The collection is in English.

Access Restrictions

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Use Restrictions

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Historical Note

Temple Israel of Swampscott and Marblehead started as a gathering of men at the home of Eli Cohen on July 15, 1946. The group, among them Harry Weinstein, Cecil Weinstein, and Adrian Comins, was dissatisfied with their current synagogue, Temple Beth El in Lynn, and discussed the need for a house of worship and school for the Jewish community of Swampscott and Marblehead. A temporary executive committee under the leadership of Weinstein was established to survey the community and investigate the establishment of a synagogue in the area. Members of this committee also met with sixty wives of charter members who would form the Sisterhood and lead the fundraising, social, and cultural activities for the synagogue.

High Holiday services were held at Odd Fellows Hall in Swampscott that same year, and in December, the Old Ingalls Estate at 837 Humphrey Street in Swampscott was purchased to become their first meeting hall. Ground was broken on a new meeting hall in 1947, and services were held in the basement while the building was still unfinished. Also in 1947, Weinstein became the first president of the new congregation, and Rabbi Abraham Karp became the first full-time rabbi at Temple Israel in 1949.

Land for a cemetery in Peabody was purchased from Temple Beth El in 1948, and the synagogue joined the United Synagogues of America the following year. The first class graduated from the Hebrew School in 1950. Membership continued to grow into the 1950s as a wave of Jewish families migrated to the North Shore from Boston, and in 1955, a new temple building was designed by Modernist architect Pietro Belluschi to meet the increased demand. The new building was dedicated in 1956.

In the early twenty-first century, populations shifts and declining membership led Temple Israel and Temple Beth El (formerly of Lynn, but moved to Swampscott in 1968) to begin talks to merge their congregations. The charter for the new synagogue, Congregation Shirat Hayam, was signed in 2005, and in 2006, Temple Israel’s building and a portion of its property were sold to the Town of Swampscott.


  1. Material in the collection.
  2. Alan S. Pierce on behalf of the Jewish Historical Society of the North Shore, “Temple Israel,” in A History of Boston’s Jewish North Shore (Charleston, SC: History Press, 2009).


Temple Israel of Swampscott and Marblehead is established.
The first meeting hall at the Old Ingalls Estate is purchased.
Ground is broken on a new building at 837 Humphrey Street in Swampscott.
Land for a cemetery is purchased.
Rabbi Abraham Karp becomes the first full-time rabbi at Temple Israel.
Temple Israel joins the United Synagogues of America.
The first class graduates from Hebrew School.
Cantor Harry Lubow serves as rabbi.
A new temple building is designed by Pietro Belluschi and the groundbreaking ceremony is held.
Rabbi Meyer Finkelstein serves as rabbi.
The new building is dedicated.
Rabbi Peretz Halpern serves as rabbi.
Rabbi Sanford Shanblatt serves as rabbi.
Temple Israel and Temple Beth El merge to create Congregation Shirat Hayam.
The synagogue building and a portion of land are sold to the Town of Swampscott.


0.5 linear feet (1 manuscript box)


Temple Israel of Swampscott and Marblehead was founded in 1946 by former members of Temple Beth El in Lynn. The new congregation purchased land at 837 Humphrey Street in Swampscott in 1947, and the synagogue and school stood at this location until the unification of Temple Israel and Temple Beth El in 2005. The collection contains administrative documents, records from the Brotherhood and Sisterhood organizations and the Hebrew School, publications, photographs of the synagogue and its membership, and documents related to the groundbreaking ceremony for the new temple building in 1955.

Physical Location

Located in Boston, Mass.

Acquisition Information

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

Processing Information

Processed by Stephanie Call and Shannon Struble, 2017.
Guide to the Temple Israel of Swampscott and Marblehead (Mass.) Records
Processed by Stephanie Call and Shannon Struble
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Wyner Family Jewish Heritage Center at New England Historic Genealogical Society Repository

99-101 Newbury Street
Boston MA 02116 United States