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Identifier: MC 963

Congregation Beth Jacob (Union City, N.J.) Records


  • 1911-1976

Scope and Content Note

The records of the Congregation Beth Jacob date from 1911 to 1976. It seems that a sizeable proportion of the records reflect the activities of the Congregation during the twenty year period following the end of World War II (1946-1966). With the exception of the Congregation's minutes, the records of this orthodox synagogue are generally fragmentary and incomplete. In conjunction with the separately processed records of the Sisterhood, important information about the activities of the Congregation Beth Jacob can still be pieced together to provide an overall picture of a 20th Century Orthodox Jewish community in a Northern New Jersey city.

The most complete series of records generated by the Congregation are its MINUTES. However, these are written in Yiddish from 1911-1939. There is a chronological gap during the war years, but then the MINUTES resume in English in 1949.

The rest of the Congregation's records were divided into several small series. The CORRESPONDENCE files are not substantial and their content is variable. The AD JOURNALS contain interesting but brief accounts of the history of the Congregation. The MEMBERSHIP FILES contain lists of members' names and addresses, as well as holiday seating plans. The LEGAL DOCUMENTS contain contracts and insurance policies. The FINANCIAL DOCUMENTS contain membership ledgers, bills and receipts, cancelled checks, and disbursement records. The CEMETERY FILES contain materials related to cemetery maintance, as well as oversized maps of cemetery property. The BUILDING PLANS AND SPECIFICATIONS contain textual descriptions of the proposed alterations from 1965 as well as oversized architectural drawings of various dates. The YIZKOR SCROLL MEMORIAL FILES contain information about the Congregation's annual prayerful remembrance of its deceased members. The GENERAL FILES contain items which could not be classed with any of the above series and include several artifactual items.

As a separate organization within the Congregalion Beth Jacob, the Hebrew Free Loan Society generated its own set of organizational records. There are MINUTES as well as FINANCIAL AND MEMBERSHIP DOCUMENTS. Some of these records date from are the Society's beginning in 1926.

Similarly, the Sisterhood was a separate organization within the Congregation Beth Jacob and generated its own organizational records. These records were processed separately (see separate finding aid).

Scope and Content Note for Sisterhood

The records of the Sisterhood of Congregation Beth Jacob date from 1920 to 1984, with the majority dating 1937-1980. As such, these records chronicle the full garnet of the organization's life: its birth, growth, and decline. Together with the (as yet unpro_cessed) records of the Congregation at large, the Sisterhood records offer documentary evidence of the Jewish community which belonged to this orthodox synagogue .

The strength of the Sisterhood records lies in its completeness. The minutes are by far the most detailed of the records- -indeed chronicling the motion to create a Sisterhood! There are, however, gaps, particularly in the earliest minutes. For instance, there are no records of meetings from 1928- 1937; and, particularly unfortunate, is the scant documentation during the crucial war period-- 1940- 45. It is not until the late 1970's and early 1980's that any serious gaps recur.

The Sisterhood newsletters, which date from 1959, serve as its public forum, announcing to the community (particularly from 1966 forward in its "Sister to Sister" column) important items such as births, marriages, deaths, graduations, etc.

The financial records, dating from 1951, are relatively simple, listing and tallying the Sisterhood's income, disbursements, and monthly or periodic balance. The minutes, especially the early ones, also include this type of information; hence, financial records prior to 1951 can be found in the minutes themselves.

The correspondence lacks both detail and comprehensiveness. The one exception to this is the Sisterhood's correspondence with the Women's Branch of the Union of Orthodox Congragations of America. These letters, business in nature, document the relationship between the two groups.

Particularly copious are the entertainment records. These comprise skits, plays, and numerous song lyrics, usually adopted to Sisterhood themes and functions.

Despite the existence of the minutes of the inaugural meeting (Sept.30, 1920), determining the Sisterhood's chronology remains problamatic. Both the minutes and newsletters refer several times to the Sisterhood's anniversary; yet wherever this ·reference occurs, the date of the Sisterhood's inception always calculates to 1910, not 1920. Perhaps the Sisterhood had had an earlier incarnation, and was reestablished in 1920. In any case, the synagogue itself dates from 1906 .


2.6 cubic foot (9 boxes, 1 oversize folder)

Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

No Restrictions.


Constitutions, 1951 and undated, with proposed revisions; minutes, 1911-1939 and 1949-1973; correspondence, 1920-1976; ad journals, 1931, 1956 and 1966, prepared for anniversary commemorations; membership files, 1933-1971 and undated, consisting of two deeds, 1933, for pews in the synagogue, holiday seating plans, 1949-1954 and undated, and undated membership lists; legal documents, 1943-1971, composed of contracts with rabbis, 1943-1968, insurance policies, 1951-1965, and real estate tax exemption applications, 1950s; financial documents, 1926-1971; cemetery files, 1921-1970; building plans and specifications, 1925-1965; Yizkor scroll memorial files, 1967-1970 and undated; and general files, 1954-1957; sisterhood records, 1920-1984; and Hebrew Free Loan Association records, 1926-1953. The Congregation's financial records consist of a membership ledger, 1926-1936, 1941 and 1949-1951, accompanied by loose membership ledger acconts, 1943; a record of receipts and disbursements, 1944-1946 and 1948-1950; a disbursements ledger, 1948, and a separate account of monies expended, 1949-1952; an account of monies received, 1954-1958; bills and receipts, 1947-1971; bank statements, 1952-1954; and a pledge book, 1949-1954, recording monies both pledged and donated to outside organizations. The cemetery files include deeds, 1918-1961, annotated maps of the Congregation's property at West Arlington Cemetery (undated) and at Riverside Cemetery (1922), a rendering of a cemetery gate, 1954, for Riverside Cemetery, requests for permits to erect monuments, 1961-1970, a record of (burial?) permits issued, 1967-1969, and miscellaneous other records, in part relating to cemetery maintenance. A few of the later items in the file pertain to land in the Arlington Jewish Cemetery in North Arlington. Present in the building plans and specifications are a property survey, 1925, architect's drawings, 1939, 1958 and 1965, for proposed alterations to the synagogue, and specifications, 1965?, for alterations to the building. Records of the sisterhood consist of minutes, 1920-1928 and 1937-1984; membership lists, 1965-1969; newsletters, 1959-1979; financial documents, 1951-1976; correspondence, 1954-1979; entertainment files, 1951, 1959 and undated, including skits and song sheets; and miscellaneous other records, 1950-1968, including press clippings. Records of the Hebrew Free Loan Association of Congregation Beth Jacob consist of minutes, 1926-1936, 1953, 1955 and 1957, and financial and membership files: a list of members, 1926, loose accounts, 1926, a record of receipts and disbursements, 1947-1953, and a ledger, 1949-1950.

Biographical / Historical

Chronology of Congregation Beth Jacob

Congregation Beth Jacob is founded as an Orthodox Jewish Congregation during a meeting at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Rosenblum, 37 Leonard Street, Jersey City, NJ.
1907, March 14
Congregation Beth Jacob received its official charter.
1907, August 1
Congregation Beth Jacob contracted to purchase the First Presbyterian Church building at Clinton Ave. and Hague St., West Hoboken, NJ (now known as Fourth St. and New York Ave., Union City, NJ).
1907, October 29
Congregation Beth Jacob began building alterations to modify the former church building into a synagogue.
circa 1907
Several subsidiary organizations are founded within Congregation Beth Jacob. These included the Talmud Torah, a religious education program for young people; the Ladies Auxiliary of the Congregation Beth Jacob, a predecessor of the Congregation's Sisterhood; and a Cemetery Association known as Chevra Kadesha.
1918, September 16
Congregation Beth Jacob purchased a part of the West Arlington Cemetery in North Arlington, NJ, for the burial of its deceased members.
circa 1920
The Ladies Auxiliary of the Congregation Beth Jacob was reorganized and its name was changed to the Sisterhood of the Congregation Beth Jacob.
1923, November 17
Congregation Beth Jacob purchased a portion of Riverside Cemetery, Rochelle Park, N.J. for the burial of its deceased members.
circa 1926
Members of the Congregation Beth Jacob organized a Hebrew Free Loan Association which would lend money to any Jews living in the local community. Borrowers did not have to be members of the Congregation Beth Jacob.
1931, March 22
Congregation Beth Jacob celebrated its 25th Anniversary.
1948, October 11
Members of the Congregation Beth Jacob organized a Men's Club.
1956, April 28
The Congregation Beth Jacob celebrated its 50th Anniversary.
1966, November 12
The Congregation Beth Jacob held a special 60th Anniversary Reunion Dinner Dance.
1973, May 6
Members of the Congregation Beth Jacob conducted a special meeting to select a caretaker group of officers who would preside over the organization until new regular elections could occur.
1986, August
The synagogue is closed permanently. A Yeshiva occupies the building.

Biographical / Historical

Chronology of Sisterhood of Congresgration Beth Jacob

1920 September 30
Inaugural meeting of the "Ladies Auxilary of the Congregation Beth Jacob," West Hoboken, N.J. Mrs. Brenwasser elected first president.
1921 March 20
Name of organization officially changed from "Ladies Auxilary" to the "Sisterhood of the Congregation Beth Jacob."
1924 April 8
Sisterhood joins Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America.
1925 January 1
West Hoboken Township becomes Union City.
1939 January 3
Sisterhood becomes the "Union City chapter of the Women's Division of the Jewish Congress."
1946 December
Sisterhood establishes a library from the $19.00 proceeds of a Chanuakah party.
1947 September 4
After donating large sums for its maintainence, the Sisterhood announces that the Talmud Torah, the congregation's religous education program, would be disbanded for lack of pupils.
1949 March 1
Preparations begin for the 40th (?] anniversary of the Sisterhood, to be celebrated in 1950.
1949 October 4
Sisterhood becomes member of "Hachodesh"--Women's Branch of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America.
1956 September
Rabbi Klein becomes congregation's rabbi.
1970 March 3
Announcement of the Sisterhood's 60th (?] anniversary.
1976 May 16
Congregation Beth Jacob celebrates its 70th anniversary.
1984 May 6
Last record of minutes. Eva Schattel, who was recording secretary in 1937, is still an active member.

Principal Officers

Samuel Rosenblum
Max Bloch
Samuel Rosenblum
Max Bloch
S. Goldberg
A.D. Schor
Max Bloch
Jos. Persky
Jos. Wolf
A. Streich
Edward Stiskin
George Marcus
Samuel Bruckner
Edward Stiskin
Samuel Liederman
Samuel Richman
Nat Schatell
Samuel Liederman
Nat Schatell
Samuel Liederman
Arthur Marcus
Joseph Joffe
Dr. S. Pollock
September 1920-December 1921, January 1922-May 1922
Mrs. J. Brennwasser
May 1922-December 1923
Mrs. B. Wolfe (also spelled Wolf, Wolff)
January 1924- December 1927, January 1928-
Mrs. N. Shapiro
[Minutes resume 1937]
November 1937-December 1937
Mrs. Fink
January 1938-December 1938, January 1939-January 1940
Mrs. Fleischer
February 1940-December 1940, January 1941-
Mrs. Koshar (also spelled Kosher)
October 1942
[Minutes resume October 1942]
October 1942-
Mrs . Aranov
September 1945
[Minutes resume September 1945]
October 1945
[Presumably Mrs. Schatell's presidency began prior to 1945 as minutes of January 1948 allude to her 7th term as president]
October 1945-November 1950
Mrs . Eva Schatell
November 1950-October 1951
Mrs. Tina (Jinny) Kerzer
November 1951-September 1952
Mrs. Bertha Marcus
October 1952
[Note: on October 1952, the Sisterhood replaced office of president with a president's council of four women]
October 1952-May 1953
Shirley Auerbach, Bertha Marcus, Estelle (Esther) Richman, Eva Schatell
June 1953- May 1954
Frances Rubenstein replaces Eva Schatell on council
June 1954-May 1955
Diana Schatell replaces Estelle Richman on council
June 1955-May 1956
Shirley Auerbach, Diana Schatell, Rhoda Marcus, Rose Kohn
June 1956- May 1957
Frances Rubenstein replaces Rose Kohn on council
May-June 1957
[Council replaced by traditional office of president]
June 1957- May 1958, June 1958- May 1959
Rhoda Marcus
June 1959- May 1960
Frances Rubenstein
May-June 1960
[Council reintroduced]
June 1960-May 1961
Frances Rubenstein, Annette Joffee, Eva Schatell, Diana Schatell
June 1961- May 1962
Bertha Marcus and Rissa Katz replace the Schatells on the council
May-June 1962
[Return to traditional office of president and introduction of two-year terms]
June 1962- May 1964
Frieda Frank
June 1964- May 1966
Diana Schatell
June 1966-May 1968, May 1968-May 1970, June 1970-June 1972
Bertha Marantz
June 1972
[Bertha Marantz resigns in June 1972 and asks Sondra Matloff to preside]
October 1972-May 1984
Sondra Matloff
May 1984
[Minutes end in May 1984. It appears that no elections were held after 1973]

Arrangement Note

With the exception of the minutes of the Congregation and the Hebrew Free Loan Association, all of the other series were brought together by the processor of the collection. The records of the Sisterhood had already been separated out of the seven records center cartons, and they were processed in June 1988 (see separate finding aid). Five of the seven remaining cartons contained the remaining records of the Congregation, but there was no apparent order within these boxes.

During the processing, oversized items were separated and flattened out by the preservation archivist.

There were numerous items which were not generated by the Congregation Beth Jacob which were received with the collection. Some of these materials were transferred to the Sinclair New Jersey Collection; the remainder were discarded.

Inventory to the Congregation Beth Jacob (Union City, N.J.) Records
Edited Full Draft
Patrick Shalhoub and Avi Kempinski
June 1988 and May 1994
Language of description note
Finding aid is written in English.
Special Collections and University Archives, Rutgers University received an operating support grant from the New Jersey Historical Commission, a division of the Department of State.