Congregation Adath Israel (Newtown, Conn.) Records
Scope and Content Note
The records of Congregation Adath Israel consist of administrative documents, including notes from Board of Directors meetings, the constitution and bylaws, and contracts and trust agreements, as well as financial records, such as receipts, accountings of donations received, and a ledger. Also included is a folder of receipts and accounts from the building renovations undertaken between 1957 and 1959.
Two folders contain newspaper clippings and photographs about the synagogue and its history. The clippings are mostly from the 1950s. The photographs were primarily taken in the 1990s and show the building itself, though a few from the 1920s show classes of children from the local school, and one was taken at the groundbreaking for the first building in 1914. The remaining two folders hold service readings in English and Hebrew and miscellaneous documents, such as blank stationary, notes, and some correspondence. An oversized folder contains miscellaneous documents, including a 1909 quit-claim deed, copies of deposit receipts, a larger version of the photograph taken at the groundbreaking ceremony in 1914, and two newspaper clippings.
- undated, 1909-1991
- Congregation Adath Israel (Newtown, Conn.) (Organization)
Language of Materials
The collection is in English and Hebrew.
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Congregation Adath Israel was founded by a small group of Jewish farmers who had emigrated from Eastern Europe to New York, finally settling in Newtown, Connecticut in 1906. The first family to arrive were the Nezveskys, led by Israel Nezvesky, and other families followed, buying land in the area and building a thriving Jewish community. Services were conducted in various homes until the growth of the population reached a point where a dedicated synagogue became necessary. Israel Nezvesky gave land and later purchased the first torah for the new synagogue, and its building was erected in 1919. The synagogue was named Adath Israel, or “House of Israel,” in his honor.
The first religious leader was Orthodox rabbi Samuel Steinfeld, who also earned extra income as a farmer, and the first president of the synagogue was Isadore Kaufman. The building was a simple wooden structure in keeping with the farming community it served, warmed by a pot-bellied stove.
Membership at Adath Israel rose into the 1940s, until after World War II, when the congregation began to decrease as younger members left for jobs in the cities. In 1957, new facilities were added to the synagogue, including a basement to host a Hebrew school and social hall, modern heating, and plumbing for a kitchen and bathroom. The number of congregants continued to decline until less than 20 families remained by 1970. Around that time, the congregation decided to move from the Orthodox movement to an egalitarian Conservative one. The congregation relocated from their original building to a new synagogue in 2007.
- Material in the collection.
- Congregation Adath Israel. “Our History.” Accessed September 9, 2017. http://www.congadathisrael.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=53&Itemid=68.
- The Nezveskys and other Jewish families settle in Newtown, Connecticut.
- Building begins on a new synagogue.
- Construction is completed and services begin.
- Building upgrades are made to the synagogue.
- The synagogue is rededicated.
- Congregation Adath Israel converts from an Orthodox doctrine to Conservative Judaism.
- The congregation moves to a new synagogue.
.25 linear feet (1 half-manuscript box and 1 OS folder)
Congregation Adath Israel was established in 1919 by a small group of Jewish farmers in Newtown, Connecticut. The synagogue expanded its building in 1957 and converted from the Orthodox movement to the Conservative movement in the 1970s. In 2007, they relocated to a larger building within Newtown. The collection primarily consists of administrative and financial records, along with newspaper clippings, photographs, and miscellaneous documents.
Located in Boston, Mass.
Donated by David Brier, 1992.
Processed by Shannon Struble, 2017
- Guide to the Congregation Adath Israel (Newtown, Conn.) Records, I-323
- Processed by Shannon Struble
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