Skip to main content

Temple Beth Shalom (Needham, Mass.) Records

Identifier: JHCI-013

Scope and Content Note

The collection consists of the synagogue’s newsletter, The Scroll, spanning five years, plus Sisterhood News, the newsletter of the synagogue’s Sisterhood, covering two years. The Scroll starts with Volume 19, Number 3 (November 1991) and continues uninterrupted through Volume 23, Number 10 (June 1996), while Sisterhood News starts with Volume 1, Number 1 (September 1993) and runs uninterrupted through Volume 2, Number 18 (June 1995).


  • 1991-1996


Language of Materials

This collection is in English.

Conditions Governing Access

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

Conditions Governing Use

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

Historical Note

Temple Beth Shalom was formed in the mid-20th century out of many years of collaboration and organization within the Jewish community of Needham, Massachusetts. The first Jewish families in the area, the Simons family, and their brothers and sisters and their families, celebrated holidays together as early as 1910. Gradually the number of families increased, necessitating a move of High Holiday services from individual homes to the Wellesley Town Hall in the 1920s. 1945 saw the establishment of the forerunner of Temple Beth Shalom as eighteen families joined together to found the Needham Jewish Community Group to not only provide a space to gather for religious services, but also to offer social and cultural engagements.

The Needham Jewish Community Group originally met monthly at the American Legion Hall. The Jewish population was slow to grow in the area due to prejudicial housing practices, but by 1950 there were 50 Jewish families, which led to the establishment of a Hebrew school and the start of The Scroll, a newsletter to keep community members apprised of local happenings and events. High Holiday services were held at area churches until the Group’s first building was completed in 1959.

In 1954, the Needham Jewish Community Group became the Needham Jewish Community Center (NJCC) and voted to become a Reform congregation the following year. Also in 1955, the NJCC created a building fund and purchased land on Highland and Wester Street, where the synagogue remains today. That same year, a part-time rabbi and cantor were hired and the congregation’s first torah was consecrated. A full-time rabbi was hired in 1958 as membership increased.

The NJCC officially became Temple Beth Shalom in 1957. The Woman’s Group, which later became the Sisterhood, was formed the same year, followed two years later by the temple Brotherhood. The groundbreaking ceremony for the new building took place on November 30, 1958, and the building opened with a weekend dedication celebration starting on October 16, 1959.

The Jewish community in Needham continued to grow, as did Temple Beth Shalom. A new wing was added to the building in 1965, with another expansion taking place from 2015 to 2016 and several renovations occurring in between. The Temple celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2005.


  1. Schumacher, Florence. “History of Temple Beth Shalom” and “TBS Historical Outline.” Temple Beth Shalom. Accessed September 18, 2019. and


The first Jewish family, the Simons family, moves to Needham, Mass.
The Simons and extended family celebrate holidays together.
High Holiday services move to Wellesley Town Hall.
The Needham Jewish Community Group is established.
A Hebrew School is established.
The Scroll is established.
The Needham Jewish Community Group becomes the Needham Jewish Community Center (NJCC).
The NJCC votes to join the Union of American Hebrew Congregation (today the Union for Reform Judaism).
Land is purchased on Webster and Highland Streets.
A part-time rabbi and cantor are hired.
The congregation's first torah is consecrated.
The NJCC officially becomes Temple Beth Shalom.
The Woman's Group, later the Sisterhood, is formed.
Temple Beth Shalom hires its first full-time rabbi, Rabbi Albert Yanow.
Ground is broken for the new building on November 30.
The Brotherhood is formed.
The celebration dedicating the new building takes place on October 16th.
A new wing is added to the building.
A nursery school is established.
The lobby and administrative wing are renovated.
The sanctuary and lower level are renovated.
Temple Beth Shalom celebrates its 50th anniversary.
The temple is expanded.


0.25 linear feet (1 half-manuscript box)


Temple Beth Shalom was established in the mid-20th century in Needham, Massachusetts and is still active in the community there today. The collection consists of the synagogue’s newsletter, The Scroll, spanning five years from 1991 to 1996, plus Sisterhood News, the newsletter of the synagogue’s Sisterhood, covering two years from 1993 to 1995.

Physical Location

Located in Boston, Mass.

Acquisition Information

Acquisition information is unknown.

Processing Information

Processed by Shannon Struble, 2019.
Guide to the Temple Beth Shalom (Needham, Mass.) Records, JCHI-013
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