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Temple Emanuel (Andover, Mass.) Records

Identifier: I-442 and I-442A

Scope and Content Note

Part I of the collection includes budgets, confirmation class lists, correspondence, prayer books, maps, newspaper clippings, programs for various celebrations and some photos and slides. The bulk of the collection is eulogies written by Rabbi Harry A. Roth and delivered at Temple Emanuel. Some of the eulogies in the collection are from his previous assignment in Ohio and a few were written by different people. Some materials pre-date his tenure as rabbi, such as a program for the grand opening of the new temple in Lawrence in 1957. Other materials post-date his tenure, most notably the 75th anniversary materials.

Part II of the collection contains administrative records, correspondence, sermons, media, and publications collected by Rabbi Harry A. Roth, the temple's rabbi from 1962-1990. Audio and visual materials document the Rabbi's delivered sermons and record various temple celebrations. Correspondence is extensive and varied, mostly letters of thanks to Rabbi Roth for his support and spiritual guidance, but notably contains an extended correspondence with Thayer Warshaw, with whom he authored a short book, Russian Refuseniks: Their Plight, Their Plea, also included in the collection. Temple history, as well as a temple-published history of local Jewish families, is made available through various publications and pamphlets. The intricacies of taking on a new rabbi are also documented through the revisions of Rabbi Roth's contracts and salary, which continue even after his retirement. A look into temple life is provided by the sermon notes and delivered sermons Rabbi Roth collected, and the attention he devoted to his congregation is made even more apparent by the extensive use of appointment books.


  • 1939-2004


Language of Materials

The collection is in English and Hebrew.

Access Restrictions

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Use Restrictions

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Historical Note

Founded with thirty members on July 7, 1920 in Lawrence, Massachusetts, Temple Emanuel faithfully served the local Jewish community of the Merrimack Valley. Those thirty founding members soon grew to seventy, filling up the small temple, whose structures then consisted of a mansion house and a barn. The barn was repurposed into a sanctuary, replete with bima and ark—and accented by the still-visible hayloft and benches taken from a local railway depot. The mansion house held a social parlor, as well as a suite for the janitor and his wife.

The community was largely one of immigrants. The majority spoke Yiddish and broken English, and was further united by Temple Emanuel. The temple was more than just the center for religious life, as the members also found themselves drawn to the temple for social reasons. There were some members who came from enough distance to have to drive or take a trolley, but the vast majority came from the immediate area surrounding the temple. The popularity and ultimate success of Temple Emanuel seemed to stem from its break from Orthodox traditions. The Temple had a choir and an organ. The Rabbi was clean-shaven and performed sermons in English, and the temple allowed women and men to sit together.

As the Jewish community in Lawrence grew, new renovations on the temple’s structures became more and more necessary. As would be a trend with Temple Emanuel, its leadership anticipated new growth. In 1938, renovations provided the temple with a larger social hall and new kitchen in the mansion house, and expanded seating in the barn. Once the renovations were complete, the temple saw a bump in membership. The increase was a result of both social mobility during World War II and the nation-wide impulse to populate the suburbs of major American cities.

While overall membership rose, the temple and surrounding Jewish centers saw their professional and lay workforce depleted due to the demands of the war. There were not enough people qualified to teach the Sunday schools. To remedy this problem, Temple Emanuel’s Sunday school made a series of mergers with other local Jewish institutions. In 1940, the temple merged with the Orthodox Synagogue Hebrew Schools, and in 1945 with the YMHA to form the Lawrence Jewish School.

Another membership increase came after the war (the Temple had 166 members by 1955), and lead to the construction of a new temple in 1957. During this period, the temple experienced a theological shift. It had, until this point, represented a liberal Conservative congregation, but by the 1960s was a part of the Reform tradition—now officially a member of the Union of Reform Judaism. The next rebuild came in November of 1979. The new temple was built in neighboring Andover, Massachusetts, which had seen a dramatic increase in its Jewish population and was already the site of the temple cemetery built in 1941. The final addition to the new temple was the Elayne Kessel Memorial Wing, dedicated in 1999.

Rabbi Roth was installed in 1962, and his leadership would make Temple Emanuel one of the largest Jewish congregations in the Merrimack Valley. At the time of his retirement, the temple’s congregation numbered over 400 families. Rabbi Roth’s other interests included the case of Russian “Refuseniks,” mostly Russian Jews, who were denied exit visas and, for attempting to leave the country, were also fired from their jobs and living in dire conditions. Rabbi Roth was involved with the ecumenicalism that swept through Christian communities following the Second Vatican Council, and this community outreach to the local Christian community was represented by a combined trip to Israel. Upon Rabbi Roth’s retirement, Cardinal Bernard Law spoke to the congregation. Rabbi Roth retired from Temple Emanuel in 1990, and was named Rabbi Emeritus. Therefore, the collection contains materials that extend beyond his retirement, as he was called back to Temple Emanuel for various special occasions and speaking engagements. The Roths currently reside in Los Angeles, California.


  1. Material from the collection.
  2. Temple Emanuel Andover. "History." Web. 9 April 2013
Founding of Temple Emanuel in Lawrence, Massachusetts.
First renovation to temple structures.
Completion of temple cemetery.
Dedication of temple cemetery.
Construction of new temple.
Rabbi Harry A. Roth installed as rabbi.
Relocation of Temple Emanuel to Andover, Massachusetts.
Rabbi Roth retires.
Dedication of the Elayne Kessel Memorial Wing.


7 linear feet (4 document boxes, 2 manuscript boxes, and 1 OS box)


Temple Emanuel was founded in 1920 in Lawrence, Massachusetts. It began by serving a small immigrant Jewish community that has since grown to an affluent and lively congregation of about 600 families. This growth occurred largely under the tenure of Rabbi Harry A. Roth, who lead the congregation from 1962 until 1990 and oversaw the temple’s move to Andover, Massachusetts. This collection includes correspondence, photographs, and sermons.

Physical Location

Located in Boston, Mass.


Donated by Rabbi Harry A. Roth; addendum donated by Roth in 2004.

Processing Information

Part I processed by Molly Alexander and Part II processed by Michelle Interrante.

Guide to the Temple Emanuel (Andover, Mass.) Records, I-442 and I-442A
Part I processed by Molly Alexander and Part II processed by Michelle Interrante.
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