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Congregations

Congregation Beth Israel Collection, 1916–1958. M 1010, OMB 0125. One manuscript box, one OVA manuscript box, one flat file folder. Collection guide online. Temple Beth El was formed in Gary in 1907, establishing its first synagogue at Eighth and Connecticut avenues in Gary on Sept. 20, 1908. In 1913, both the Sisters of Beth El and the Hebrew Educational Alliance were formed. In 1918, a building was constructed for the use of the congregation’s youth as a part of the HEA. As a result of significant growth from 1918 to 1951, a need for newer and larger facilities for both the main Temple building and the HEA emerged. In 1947, Temple Beth El purchased a large plot of land at a cost of $17,000. On Aug. 21, 1955, after years of fund raising, the Cornerstone and Dedication Ceremonies were conducted at the new Temple Beth El building. Temple Beth El merged with the Kneseth Israel Congregation in 1976, forming the Congregation Beth Israel, which is currently located in Munster. This collection contains items which were recovered in July 2009, primarily from the cornerstone boxes of three buildings which played roles in the history of the Congregation Beth Israel of Gary. The collection is divided into three series: 1) Kneseth Israel Congregation, 2) Temple Beth El and 3) Hebrew Educational Alliance. Materials in this collection include cornerstone ceremony invitations and programs, correspondence, congregation membership lists, newspaper clippings, pew purchasing agreements, meeting minutes, booklets, a Hebrew school curriculum, readings and two Hebrew documents.

Congregation Beth-El Zedeck Records, 1899–2004. M 0804, BV 3496-3502, OMB 0096, M1013, OM 0501, DVD 0201. M0804 consists of 18 document cases, seven bound volumes, one oversize box, two boxes of photographs, two bins of  slides, three video cassettes, one film reel, four artifacts. Collection guide online. M1013 is three manuscript boxes, one OVA manuscript folder, one DVD. Collection guide online. Congregation Beth-El Zedeck was formed in March 1927 from the merger of two conservative congregations: Beth-El, formed in 1915 in the area of 16th and Illinois streets in Indianapolis, and Congregation Ohev Zedeck, a community from the center of the city made up of Hungarian immigrants. In 1925, Beth-El built a new synagogue located at 34th and Ruckle streets. The merged congregations used this new facility until 1958. On Aug. 31, 1958, the congregation moved to its new $1.25 million building on the city’s then far north side at 65th Street and Spring Mill Road. This collection is separated into two parts (M0804, M1013). M0804 contains records related to the operations and activities of Congregation Beth-El Zedeck, its members and related organizations from 1899 to 2002. The collection is divided into 10 series: 1) Minutes, Papers and Programs, 2) Newsletter and Related Publications,  3) Newspaper Articles and Printed Items, 4)Financial and Building Records,  5) Membership Records and Lists,  6) Cemetery Records,  7) Cantor Zalkin Papers,  8) Beth-El Zedeck Sisterhood, Operation Records, 9) Beth-El Zedeck Sisterhood, Programs and Conferences and 10) Beth-El Zedeck Sisterhood, Financial Records. M1013 is an addition to the first collection, containing items which relate to the Congregation Beth-El Zedeck in general, as well as to the congregation’s Early Childhood Center, the Religious School, Adult and Family Education services and its Confirmation classes. The collection has been broken down into three series: 1) General Materials, 2) Special Services and Programs Materials, and 3) Confirmation Class Materials.

Congregation Ezras Achim, Indianapolis Collection, 1936–1962. BV 1975–BV1976. Two bound volumes. Collection guide online. Congregation Ezras Achim, known as the “Peddler’s Shul,” was formed in Indianapolis in 1910. The Orthodox congregation was one of many congregations located on the south side of the city which were divided along nationality lines. At some point, Ezras Achim merged with Sharah Tefilla, the “Polish Shul,” and Knesses Israel, the “Russian Shul,” to form the United Orthodox Hebrew Congregation, leaving the south side in 1966. This collection is comprised of two bound volumes. The first, BV1975, is the congregation minute book which spans the years 1936 to 1962. The second, BV1976, is the congregation minute book which spans the years 1952 to 1961. Included in both volumes are the minutes of the Ezras Achim Cemetery Association.

Etz Chaim Sephardic Congregation History, 1906–1997. SC 2812. One manuscript folder. Collection guide online. Etz Chaim is an Orthodox Sephardic Jewish Congregation in Indianapolis. The first Sephardic (of Spanish origin) Jews settled in Indianapolis in 1906. By 1916, there was a community and a congregation, and so a rabbi was hired in 1916. In 1919, the new congregation purchased a building for a synagogue and named the congregation Etz Chaim (tree of life). The congregation moved to the north side of town in 1963 and has since dedicated a new building at 6939 Hoover Road, on Sept. 25, 2005. This collection consists of a 14-page history of the congregation, prepared by Sylvia Cohen, and some associated notes. The history includes handwritten corrections and updates. Portions of the same history appear on the congregation’s web page.

Indianapolis Sephardic Jewish Congregation and Community: An Oral History Account, 2000. M 0907, CT 2016-2025. One manuscript box, 10 audio cassettes. Collection guide online. The term “Sephardic” refers to Jews of Spanish origin. The first recorded Sephardic Jews to immigrate to Indianapolis came in 1906. Others followed and a chain migration occurred where men boarded together, saved, and later on brought their wives and families. By 1919, the Indianapolis Sephardim community numbered more than 200. That year also marked the purchase of a new building and the foundation of a new synagogue Etz Chaim, formerly the Congregation Sepharad of Monastir. The arrival of the Sephardim was met with suspicion and ostracism. The Sephardim were not considered real Jews because they did not speak Yiddish. This division marked relations between the Ashkenazim (German and Eastern European Jews) and the Sephardim. The Sephardim reacted by organizing their own synagogue and social clubs such as the Young Men’s Sephardic Club. In 2000, the Indiana Jewish Historical Society conducted an oral history project called  “The Indianapolis Sephardic Jewish Congregation and Community: An Oral History Account.” Five oral history accounts comprise the collection. All transcriptions along with consent forms are stored in one manuscript box. Ten audio cassettes are included with the collection and stored separately.

Sinai Temple, Marion, Indiana Records, 1924–1991. M 0847. One manuscript box. Collection guide online. The Sinai Temple is a Reform congregation centered in Marion. The current temple building, opened in 1937, is located at 521 South Boots St., Marion, Ind., 46953. On Nov. 24, 1924, the ladies of the Sinai Temple community gathered to discuss founding a Temple Sisterhood. They decided that the Sisterhood should help the temple financially, should not engage in broader civic or philanthropic work, and should work to create and support a Sunday school for the temple. In the early years of the organization, the ladies of the sisterhood raised funds among themselves, gave money to the Temple, bought chairs and card table covers, and regularly fed the Rabbi dinner. The collection consists of one manuscript box containing the minutes of the Temple Sisterhood and other committees from the years 1924 to 1991. Most of the papers were organized into three books, although there were some bundled papers and one file folder. The first book, a bound notebook containing the Sisterhood minutes from its foundation in 1924 to 1930, has been stored intact with the collection. The collection also contains Sisterhood minutes from 1974 to 1988, minutes of the Temple Board, the Building Committee, the Sunday School committee and other records for the years 1950 to 1964.