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Adath Jeshurun Congregation records

 Collection
Identifier: umja0014
The Adath Jeshurun Congregation records document the history of the Adath Jeshurun and B’nai Emet Congregations. Materials date from 1884 through 2018 and include Articles of Incorporation, policies, event flyers and planning materials, committee and Board of Trustees minutes, synagogue member files, newsletters, rabbi correspondence files, and files related to Jewish ceremonies such as conversion, divorce, and marriage. Subjects covered in the collection include anti-Semitism, Israel, Conservative Judaism, and synagogue administration.

The first series is the Adath Jeshurun Congregation series. This series contains 12 subseries. A detailed description of the subseries is outlined below:

Subseries 1, Official Documents: includes Articles of Incorporation, property sale records and mortgage documentation, budget and insurance information, and bylaws.

Subseries 2, Administrative Records: includes employee handbooks, membership counts, writings on synagogue history, building maintenance records, and event checklists.

Subseries 3, Events and Projects: includes materials related to synagogue events and projects such as building funds, annual meetings, and speaker series. Material types include pamphlets, flyers, correspondence, and planning documents.

Subseries 4, Committees: includes minutes and other materials related to synagogue committees, including the Finance Committee, Steering Committee, Financial Planning Committee, Kitchen Advisory Committee, and Adult Education Committee.

Subseries 5, Board of Trustees: includes minutes and correspondence of the Board of Trustees (some of which are electronic records as Microsoft Word documents), Executive Committee, and Foundation Board.

Subseries 6, Clubs: includes scrapbooks, flyers, and other materials produced by clubs at the synagogue, including Men’s Club and Women’s League.

Subseries 7, Newsletters: includes copies of the Clarion Newsletter.

Subseries 8, Photographs and Media: includes photographs, 35 mm slides, VHS tapes, CDs, DVDs, reel-to-reel tapes, and cassette tapes.

Subseries 9, Etta Fay Orkin: includes materials donated by Adath Jeshurun’s historian, Etta Fay Orkin. This subseries contains 12 sub-subseries, outlined below:

Sub-subseries 1, Official Documents: includes Articles of Incorporation, property sale records and mortgage documentation, budget and insurance information, and bylaws.

Sub-subseries 2, Administrative Records: includes employee handbooks, membership counts, writings on synagogue history, building maintenance records, and event checklists.

Sub-subseries 3, Events and Projects: includes materials related to synagogue events and projects such as building funds, annual meetings, and speaker series. Material types include pamphlets, flyers, correspondence, and planning documents.

Sub-subseries 4, Committees: includes minutes and other materials related to synagogue committees, including the Ritual Committee and Membership Committee.

Sub-subseries 5, Board of Trustees: includes minutes and correspondence of the Board of Trustees.

Sub-subseries 6, Clubs: includes scrapbooks, flyers, and other materials produced by clubs at the synagogue, including Men’s Club and Women’s League.

Sub-subseries 7, Newsletters: includes copies of the Clarion Newsletter.

Sub-subseries 8, Photographs and Media: includes photographs and 35 mm slides.

Sub-subseries 9, Oral History Project: includes materials from Etta Fay Orkin’s oral history project, including newspaper clippings, interview texts and consent forms, and articles.

Sub-subseries 10, Leadership: includes the files of Rabbis, Cantors, and synagogue presidents. Materials include correspondence, interview texts, and articles.

Sub-series 11, Youth Programming: includes programs, flyers, and scrapbooks from synagogue youth groups and classes.

Sub-series 12, Religious Activities: includes materials related to religious activities, such as holiday programs and Confirmation lists. Sub-subseries 12 completes the Etta Fay Orkin subseries.

Subseries 10, Leadership: includes the files of Rabbis, Cantors, and synagogue presidents. Materials include correspondence, interview texts, and articles.

Subseries 11, Youth Programming: includes programs, flyers, scrapbooks, registration forms, and newsletters from synagogue youth groups and classes.

Subseries 12, Religious Activities: includes materials related to religious activities, such as High Holidays planning materials, conversion files, Bar Mitzvah forms, service pamphlets, and Eternal Record books. Subseries 12 completes the Adath Jeshurun Congregation series.

The second series is the B’nai Emet Synagogue series. This series contains 12 subseries. A detailed description of the subseries is outlined below:

Subseries 1, Official Documents: includes Articles of Incorporation, property sale records and mortgage documentation, budget and insurance information, and bylaws.

Subseries 2, Administrative Records: includes employee handbooks, membership counts, writings on synagogue history, building maintenance records, and event checklists.

Subseries 3, Events and Projects: includes materials related to synagogue events and projects such as building funds, annual meetings, and speaker series. Material types include pamphlets, flyers, correspondence, and planning documents.

Subseries 4, Committees: includes minutes and other materials related to synagogue committees, including the Finance Committee, Dues Evaluation Committee, Long Range Planning Committee, Kitchen Advisory Committee, and Adult Education Committee.

Subseries 5, Board of Trustees: includes minutes and correspondence of the Board of Trustees and Executive Committee.

Subseries 6, Clubs: includes scrapbooks, flyers, and other materials produced by clubs at the synagogue, including Men’s Club and Women’s League.

Subseries 7, Member Files: includes the files of members who did not join Adath Jeshurun after the two synagogues merged. Materials include correspondence and balance sheets.

Subseries 8, Newsletters: includes copies of the Scroll Newsletter.

Subseries 9, Photographs and Media: includes photographs, 35 mm slides, VHS tapes, CDs, DVDs, reel-to-reel tapes, and cassette tapes.

Subseries 10, Leadership: includes the files of Rabbis, Cantors, and synagogue presidents. Materials include correspondence, sermon texts, and articles.

Subseries 11, Youth Programming: includes programs, flyers, scrapbooks, registration forms, and newsletters from synagogue youth groups and classes.

Subseries 12, Religious Activities: includes materials related to religious activities, such as High Holidays planning materials, conversion files, Bar Mitzvah forms, service pamphlets, and Eternal Record books.

Dates

  • 1884-2018

Creator

Use of Materials

Open for use in the Elmer L. Andersen Library reading room. Note that electronic records must be accessed on the designated computer in the reading room.

Copyright

Researchers may quote from the collection under the fair use provision of the copyright law (Title 17, U.S. Code). Requests to publish should be arranged with the Upper Midwest Jewish Archives; please contact the archives for more detailed copyright information.

Extent

99 Cubic Feet (90 boxes)

1.29 Megabytes (35 files)

Overview

This collection contains the administrative records of the Adath Jeshurun Congregation in Minneapolis, Minnesota from 1884 to 2014. Adath Jeshurun is the first Conservative congregation west of the Mississippi River. B’nai Emet Synagogue of Minneapolis, Minnesota merged with Adath Jeshurun in 2011, and its records are included in this collection as well.

Historical Note

The Adath Jeshurun Congregation was founded in Minneapolis, Minnesota on August 20, 1884 by Kive Goldblum, Abraham Album, David Cohen, and Simon Gittelson. The congregation was originally known as A’Tas Yeshurun, and had only 15 members at the time of its incorporation. These members, immigrants from Russia, Lithuania, and Rumania, were part of the migration of European Jews to the United States in the 1880’s. Although Adath Jeshurun began by closely following orthodox Jewish customs, it soon became the first Conservative congregation west of the Mississippi River. Adath Jeshurun was ahead of its time regarding gender relations. Men and women sat and worshipped together and boys and girls were taught in the same classroom. However, the first Bar Mitzvah, for David Jeffrey, occurred in 1891, and the first Bat Mitzvah, for Sybil Wolk, did not occur until 1943.

In 1903, after 19 years of holding Minyanim in rented rooms and halls, the congregation was able to afford the $5,000 purchase of the 1st Swedish Methodist Episcopal Church, located at 1125 7th Street South in Minneapolis. Unfortunately, a tornado on August 22, 1904 destroyed the building. The congregation then purchased the 1st Christian Church at the intersection of 9th Street and 12th Avenue South in Minneapolis for $8,000.

In 1909, the Articles of Incorporation were amended, changing the name of the congregation to Adath Yeshurun. It was not until 1930 that the name was changed to its present spelling of Adath Jeshurun.

Adath Jeshurun’s first Rabbi was Aaron Herman Sinal, who served from 1884-1893. Rabbis changed frequently following Rabbi Sinal’s departure, and there was no steady Rabbi until the arrival of Meyer Mirviss, who served as part-time Rabbi beginning in 1907. In 1910, Rabbi Joseph Silver arrived to serve the congregation. He was followed by Rabbi Calman David Matt, who served as Rabbi from 1912-1927.

Rabbi Matt, apart from being an accomplished poet, was a strong leader. During his tenure, he helped form the Sunday School, Bible classes, the Herzl Literary Society, a singing group, and the Deborah Society for girls. It was also during his tenure that a new synagogue building was constructed at 3400 Dupont Avenue South in Minneapolis. The new synagogue was designed to seat over 1,000 people and was the first synagogue to be constructed with a chapel. The congregation moved into the new synagogue on September 11, 1927.

Rabbi Matt was followed by Rabbi Jesse Schwartz, who served as Rabbi from 1927-1929. During his tenure, the Men’s Club began. A Women’s League had existed for some years, though under varying names (Sisters of Peace, Ladies Auxiliary), not taking the final name of Women’s League until 1924. Other programs and clubs included a Junior League, Talmud Torah, Religious School, and a Study Circle.

In 1930, Rabbi Albert Gordon replaced Rabbi Schwartz, and remained with the congregation until 1946, when he accepted the post of Executive Director of the administrative headquarters of Conservative Judaism, offered to him by the United Synagogue of America. Rabbi Gordon, despite often forgoing his pay during the Great Depression, greatly expanded many synagogue programs, including the Men’s Club and Women’s League. He created a lecture series that drew national speakers, and he himself became a national speaker, with a weekly radio show broadcast on WCCO which was heard in 27 states. He was outspoken on anti-Semitic issues in Minneapolis, and was also a respected labor arbitrator. He held a Doctorate in Sociology from the University of Minnesota. During his tenure, the Adath Jeshurun newsletter, the “Clarion”, began publication. Solomon Winter, the congregation’s first professional cantor, was also hired during this time period. The congregation expanded greatly during this time, growing from 85 to 403 families by the time of Rabbi Gordon’s departure.

Cantor Morris Amsel arrived in 1945 and, under his guidance, Adath Jeshurun became a singing congregation. He became Cantor Emeritus in 1975, when he retired to Florida.

In 1947, Rabbi Morris Gordon took over the congregation. Along with Rabbi Kassel Abelson of Beth El Synagogue, he founded the United Synagogue Youth, which would go on to become a national organization. His Saturday evening Seudah Shlishis Project won a Solomon Schechter Award.

Rabbi Stanley Rabinowitz arrived in 1953. In 1954, a trifold celebration was held in honor of his installation, the dedication of the new religious school annex, and the 70th anniversary of Adath Jeshurun. In 1960, Rabbi Jerome Lipnick took over for Rabbi Rabinowitz. During his tenure, he initiated Scholar-In-Residence programs, a Soviety Jewry program, and he marched for civil rights in Mississippi.

Rabbi Arnold Goodman arrived in 1966, and was more traditional in his views than many of his predecessors. He had a Master’s degree in education and a law degree and taught Jewish Studies courses at St. Catherine University in St. Paul. He initiated the Saturday Morning Program (SMP), which provided children in grades 5-9 with the opportunity to learn synagogue skills. This program won a Solomon Schechter award in 1979.

In 1974, a new Kallah Retreat Center was opened at 10500 Hillside Lane in Minnetonka. The Center provided a place for individuals, families, and groups of students to experience Jewish living for a night or a weekend. In 1976, Rabbi Goodman formed the Chevra Kevod Hamet, a traditional Jewish burial society. The group studies Jewish death and burial practices, and trains members to perform the Taharah ritual of cleansing the body for burial. This groundbreaking program was featured in the 1979 television documentary “A Plain Pine Box.”

In 1979, Esther Katz was elected the first female president of Adath Jeshurun. Rabbi Goodman was elected president of the Rabbinical Assembly of America in 1982.

Morton Kula replaced Morris Amsel as Cantor in 1975. Cantor Kula was instrumental in starting the TAMID program, a cultural series that showcased Jewish music, drama, dance, and art. TAMID won a Solomon Schechter award in 1979. Cantor Kula retired in 1994, becoming the second Cantor Emeritus, and was replaced with Cantor Scott Buckner.

In 1983, Rabbi Barry Cytron replaced Rabbi Goodman and saw Adath Jeshurun through its centennial in 1984. Rabbi Harold Kravitz came to Adath Jeshurun as Associate Rabbi in 1987 and replaced Rabbi Cytron in 1996.

In 1991, a vote was taken of the congregation to decide whether to renovate the synagogue or build a new synagogue at 10500 Hillside Lane in Minnetonka, the site of the Kallah Retreat Center. 2/3 of congregants voted to build anew in Minnetonka, and in 1995 the new synagogue was opened.

Since 1995, Adath Jeshurun’s mission statement has been: “The Mission of the Adath Jeshurun Congregation, a member of the Conservative Movement, is to be a progressive, egalitarian, and sacred community, dedicated to Torah (Learning and Tradition); Avodah (Prayer and Spirituality); & Gemilut Hasadim (Acts of Loving Kindness).”

In 2011, Adath Jeshurun merged with the B’nai Emet Synagogue, welcoming the latter’s members to join the congregation at 10500 Hillside Lane. B’nai Emet was established as the “Rumanian Schil,” or “Rumanian Hebrew Congregation” in 1889. The synagogue was eventually renamed B’nai Abraham. B’nai Abraham had no official rabbi for many years and relied instead upon the services of lay leaders. Its first home was located on 15th Avenue South between 3rd and 4th streets in Minneapolis.

In 1920, B’nai Abraham purchased a building located at 825 13th Avenue South for $10,000. The congregation remained there for 26 years. In 1942, Rabbi Hardin became Rabbi. He was succeeded by Rabbi Reuben Maier, who was succeeded by Rabbi Mordecai Liebhaber in 1952.

By the mid-1950s, many members of the congregation were no longer living in Minneapolis, but had instead moved closer to St. Louis Park. Accordingly, in 1959, B’nai Abraham built a new sanctuary and center located at Highway 7 and Ottawa Avenue in St. Louis Park. The new sanctuary could seat 80, and opened into an auditorium which could seat 1,000.

Rabbi Moses Sachs led the congregation beginning in 1958. In 1971, B’nai Abraham merged with Congregation Mikro-Tifereth and was renamed B’nai Emet, under the leadership of Rabbi Sylvan Kamens. Rabbi Kamens was followed by Rabbis Harold Yoskowitz, Howard Siegel, Barry Woolf, and Charni Flame Selch. In 2009, Joel and Ethan Coen filmed their movie “A Serious Man” at B’nai Emet.

By 2011, membership of B’nai Emet was 225, down from a peak of over 900 in the 1980’s. The decision was made to merge with Adath Jeshurun and to continue under the latter’s name, and the Ottawa Avenue synagogue was put up for sale.

Sources for the history of the Adath Jeshurun Congregation include:

“Adath Jeshurun: 100 Years of Faith (From Strength to Strength)” Centennial Brochure, Adath Jeshurun Synagogue Records, 1884-2013, Upper Midwest Jewish Archives, University of Minnesota Libraries.

“Adath Jeshurun History,” Adath Jeshurun Congregation, http://www.adathjeshurun.org/about/history/.

“B’nai Abraham/B’nai Emet Synagogues,” St. Louis Park Historical Society, http://www.slphistory.org/history/bnaiemet.asp.

Arrangement

This collection is divided into series:

-Series 1: Adath Jeshurun Congregation

-- Subseries 1: Official Documents

-- Subseries 2: Administrative Records

-- Subseries 3: Events and Projects

-- Subseries 4: Committees

-- Subseries 5: Board of Trustees

-- Subseries 6: Clubs

-- Subseries 7: Newsletters

-- Subseries 8: Photographs and Media

-- Subseries 9: Etta Fay Orkin

-- -- Subsubseries 1: Official Documents

-- -- Subsubseries 2: Administrative Records

-- -- Subsubseries 3: Events and Projects

-- -- Subsubseries 4: Committees

-- -- Subsubseries 5: Board of Trustees

-- -- Subsubseries 6: Clubs

-- -- Subsubseries 7: Newsletters

-- -- Subsubseries 8: Photographs and Media

-- -- Subsubseries 9: Oral History Project

-- -- Subsubseries 10: Leadership

-- -- Subsubseries 11: Youth Programming

-- -- Subsubseries 12: Religious Activities

-- Subseries 10: Leadership

-- Subseries 11: Youth Programming

-- Subseries 12: Religious Activities

-Series 2: B'nai Emet Synagogue

-- Subseries 1: Official Documents

-- Subseries 2: Administrative Records

-- Subseries 3: Events and Projects

-- Subseries 4: Committees

-- Subseries 5: Board of Trustees

-- Subseries 6: Clubs

-- Subseries 7: Member Files

-- Subseries 8: Newsletters

-- Subseries 9: Photographs and Media

-- Subseries 10: Leadership

-- Subseries 11: Youth Programming

-- Subseries 12: Religious Activities

Source of acquisition

Donated by Adath Jeshurun Congregation.
Title
Adath Jeshurun Congregation records, 1884-2018
Status
completed
Author
Finding aid created by Leah Kodner
Date
May 2014
Description rules
dacs
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.

Revision Statements

  • July 2015: Further additions to collection processed by Kate Dietrick; EAD updated by Kate Dietrick

Collecting Area Details

Contact The Upper Midwest Jewish Archives Collecting Area

Contact:

612-625-0192