Temple Beth El (Rutherford, N.J.) Records, 1920-1985.

Manuscript Collection 735

Special Collections and University Archives

Rutgers University Libraries

QUANTITY: 3.7 cubic ft. (10 manuscript boxes and 4 phase boxes)

ACCESS: No restrictions.

PROCESSED BY: Mitchell Greenberg


Year Events
1919 South Bergen Hebrew Institute of East Rutherford is established by founding members Mr. Friedman (Treasurer), Mrs. Benowitz of Carlstadt and Mrs. Korn; members first meet at Kugelmeister Hall for High Holidays and for regular services at Klar's Drug Store in Carlstadt.
1921 First building is built (on Park Avenue in East Rutherford); first full-time Rabbi is hired.
1939-1940 A plot of land for a cemetery, named Mt. Hebron, is purchased in Lyndhurst by Ira Benowitz, Mr. Zimmerman and one other and then resold to the Synagogue without profit; money from sale of plots pays off East Rutherford (Park Avenue) mortgage.
1942 Mrs. Ludwig joins congregation and teaches in the Hebrew School.
1946 Peak size of congregation, at 700 members, prompts decision to build a new synagogue.
1950 Additional cemetery land purchased from Charles Koenig of Carlstadt.
1951 Name "Temple Beth El, the Jewish Center of South Bergen" is adopted.
1953 Rabbi Lawrence Gernsein is hired; ground-breaking ceremony is held on site of present (1987) building on Montross Avenue in Rutherford.
1955 On February 27, dedication ceremony of newly completed building is held; also in February, the newsletter changes its title from The Center Review   to Shofar.

Principal Officers

All dates are approximate and include the possibility of extended tenures in office.


Year Name
1950 Herman Schwartz
1952 A. Irving Schnipper
1953 Lawrence J. Gerstein
1973 Stewart H. Sytner
1976 Steven Shaw
1983 Avigdor Solomon

Congregation President

Year Name
1950 Louis H. Waldman
1952 Norman Jacobowitz
1953 Richard Zimmerman
1954 Joseph Spevack
1957 William Masters
1961 Robert Jacobs
1973 Jack Caminer
1975 Mark Elfant

Sisterhood President

Year Name
1950 Mrs. Seymour Mahler
1952 Jean Zimmerman
1953 Min Ludwig
1954 Rosalyn Been
1955 Goldie Lipton
  Estelle Kahn
1957 Min Ludwig
1959 Joan Lipstadt
1973 Harriet G. Saxon
1976 Min Ludwig
  Marion Cupo

Men's Club President

Year Name
1955 Samuel Schwartz
1957 Dr. Henry Lloyd
  Marvin Stern
1959 Jack Caminer
1962 Arthur Ackerman

Scope and Content Note

The records of Temple Beth El of Rutherford, New Jersey (MC 735), span the years 1920 to 1985, with the bulk of the documents falling between 1950 and 1978.

Materials covering the period from the Temple's inception in 1919 until the early 1950s when the congregation moved from East Rutherford to Rutherford is extremely sparse except for FINANCIAL RECORDS, 1920-1965, which show a contrary emphasis on the early years with very little material from the period following the move.

The most substantial record series in volume and completeness are Board of Trustees' MINUTES, 1948-1950 and 1958-1975, and the congregation's NEWSLETTERS, 1950-1962 and 1972-1985. The FINANCIAL RECORDS, also of considerable volume, are a good source of information about early members, there being no membership lists of the full congregation present in the collection. The congregation's ADMINISTRATIVE FILES, 1934-1981 with gaps, are a fairly miscellaneous gathering of materials found together, but lacking a common theme. Other congregation records include a 1927 CONSTITUTION AND BY-LAWS, PRINTED MISCELLANY, 1954 and undated, and UNITED JEWISH APPEAL DRIVE MINUTES, 1941-1943.

The records of the Sisterhood are not extensive, but provide a good glimpse of its vigorous character and its zeal in recruiting new members. Mention is made within the Sisterhood's MEMBERSHIP COMMITTEE GENERAL FILES, 1959-1972, of various meetings, but no minutes of such meetings are present in the collection. Also missing from Sisterhood files is a complete set of CONGREGATION CALENDARS, which the Sisterhood prepared for many years prior to the examples for 1974/75-1975/76 and 1977/78 which are in the collection. Additional series present in the Sisterhood's records are MEMBERSHIP LISTS, 1970/71-1971/72, ACCOUNT BOOKS, 1955-1957 and 1961-1962, and an undated PHOTOGRAPH. A cookbook compiled by members of the Sisterhood was removed from the collection and cataloged individually; it is available in the Sinclair New Jersey collection (call number: SNCLNJ TX724 .N673 1971).

Records of the Religious School are sparse in all aspects, with BOARD OF EDUCATION MINUTES covering only 1961 to 1973. The lack of earlier minutes may be accounted for by Board of Education topics being addressed at meetings of the Temple's Board of Trustees (see MINUTES of that body); later Board of Education minutes are not available. Related series for the Religious School include GENERAL FILES, 1959-1970, ROLL BOOKS, 1953-1954, and an ACCOUNT BOOK, 1928-1934.

Series Descriptions

Board of Trustees

MINUTES, September 1948-January 1950 and June 1958-May 1975. (1.02 cubic ft.)

Arranged chronologically, but within each folder the contents are in reverse order.

Typewritten and holograph minutes of board meetings which discussed Temple concerns such as fund raising, membership, publicity, social events, physical environment of the building and the like. The minutes also include reports of committees such as the Ritual Committee, Board of Education (which kept its own minutes; see below), United Jewish Appeal, Men's Club, Sisterhood, Jewish Welfare Council, High Holiday report, Jewish Memorial Chapel and Shofar, the monthly newsletter. Also included are budget reports that are often not available in the FINANCIAL RECORDS of the congregation.

Minutes for 1950 to 1958 are not included.

Also included are "Meeting Notes" in the form of spiral notebooks, arranged chronologically and spanning the years 1964 to 1974. These have been filed at the end of this series.



CONSTITUTION AND BY-LAWS, 1927. (1 folder)

A single pamphlet containing the constitution and by-laws of the South Bergen Hebrew Institute (the Temple's earlier name). The pamphlet is in English and either Hebrew or Yiddish.


NEWSLETTERS, 1950-1962 and 1972-1985. (.45 cubic ft.)

Arranged chronologically.

Monthly newsletters of the congregation containing news ranging from local events to the plight of world Jewry, plus calendars, memoria and regular columns by the rabbi and various officers.

The 1950-1955 newsletters are titled The Center Review and those thereafter are called The Shofar.

Also included in this series is "Business Correspondence" (1977-1978) consisting of a letter to the newsletter's printer, Sunday Publications, Inc., of Florida, from Congregation President Jack Craminer regarding monies owed. Also included are invoices, as well as copies of the newsletters to which the invoices refer.


PRINTED MISCELLANY, 1954 and undated. (1 folder)

A dinner-dance ad journal (1954) containing a Temple Beth El officer list and advertisements of local businesses. The undated item is a promotional brochure which provides an overview of the Temple and its various organizations.


FINANCIAL RECORDS, 1920-1965. (1.45 cubic ft.)

Grouped by document type and thereunder arranged chronologically.

Membership Ledgers, 1920-1956, provide financial information in bound volumes broken down by individual or family and report pledges, dues, donations and purchases of tickets for High Holiday services. Name indexes are in the front of most volumes.

Cash Books, 1924-1948, contain monthly and bi-weekly records of receipts and disbursements in bound volumes. The receipts are of dues, donations, Hebrew School tuition, cemetery fees and other income. The disbursements are of great variety, but include the rabbi's and cantor's salaries plus allotments for social activities of the Temple's various organizations, as well as utility fees, general supplies and payments to individuals for unspecified purposes. There is an apparent overlap between the 1944-1946 and 1944-1948 volumes possibly having to do with a new treasurer having been elected during this period. Later cash books do not provide a breakdown of the sources of monies received, for which information the following subseries are available.

Monies Received, 1928-1933 and 1947-1962, are bi-weekly accounts of dues and tuition receipts which also indicate in which Membership Ledger the sum is recorded.

Monthly Balance Sheets, 1952-1958 and 1960-1965, are typewritten financial reports similar to Cash Books in which a given month's income and expenditures are recorded. The Monthly Balance Sheets may, in fact, be a later form of Cash Book.

Cemetery Ledger, 1950-1954, is arranged alphabetically and records payments for cemetery upkeep, presumably under the name of the person who made the payments.

An unidentified and undated account apparently represents an aborted volume of monies received.


ADMINISTRATIVE FILES, 1934, 1966, 1977, 1981 and undated. (2 folders)

A miscellany of letters, legal documents, blueprints and notes regarding the Temple building and additions to the building, a loan, local ordinances regarding the posting of signs and the announcement of upcoming social events. Also an undated telephone index listing persons with "Jewish-sounding" names as gleaned by unknown Temple personnel from a local telephone directory, presumably for purposes of membership solicitation.



Arranged chronologically.

Minutes of eight meetings held at the South Bergen Hebrew Institute and officiated by members and officers of the Temple for purposes of raising funds during a crucial moment in Jewish history.



MEMBERSHIP LISTS, 1970/71-1971/72. (1 folder)

Arranged chronologically.

Lists of both members and officers of the Sisterhood.



Arranged chronologically.

Records of activities of a Sisterhood committee involved in recruiting new members, honoring existing members and holding social functions ("Paid-Up Membership parties").


ACCOUNT BOOKS, 1955-1957 and 1961-1962. (1 folder; 1 oversize volume)

Arranged chronologically.

One regular-size and one oversize volume detailing income from rummage sales, remembrance books ("Golden Books"), dances and other sources of revenue. Also listed are expenditures for birthday parties, books, conferences and the like.


PHOTOGRAPH, undated. (1 folder)

Studio print, with identification, of a group of women.


CONGREGATION CALENDARS, 1974/75-1975/76 and 1977/78. (1 folder)

Arranged chronologically.

Calendars noting holy days, secular holidays, jahrzeit dates and the birthdays and wedding anniversaries of Temple members. Also included are advertisements from area businesses.


Religious School

BOARD OF EDUCATION MINUTES, 1961-1973. (4 folders)

Arranged chronologically.

Typewritten and holograph minutes of Board of Education meetings discussing improvements in the curriculum of the Religious School, educational field trips, hiring of teachers and the like. Also included are reports by the Youth Commission (United Synagogue Youth).


GENERAL FILES, 1959-1970. (5 folders)

Files regarding holiday events, picnics, fire drills, field trips, admission, curriculum and the like, plus correspondence to parents and calendars of the school year. These materials were originally bound within a single binder and their order and arrangement have been retained.

A brochure explaining "Bar and Bat Mitzvah Procedures" is included in this series.


ROLL BOOKS, 1953-1954. (1 folder)

Arranged chronologically.

Records of attendance by Religious School students.


ACCOUNT BOOK, 1928-1934. (1 folder)

A single volume containing accounts of Religious School students' tuition payments and salary disbursements to teachers.


Container List

    Board of Trustees
  1-14  September 1948-September 1965

    Board of Trustees [continued]
2   MINUTES [continued]
  1-11  October 1965-April 1972

    Board of Trustees [continued]
3   MINUTES [continued]
  1-5  May 1972-May 1975
  6-12  Meeting Notes, 1964 and 1967-1973

    Board of Trustees [continued]
4   MINUTES [continued]
  1  Meeting Notes, 1973-1974
  3-16  September 1950-June 1962 and November 1972-January 1979

    Congregation [continued]
5   NEWSLETTERS [continued]
  1-4  February 1979-January 1985
  5  Business correspondence, 1977-1978
(5) 6 PRINTED MISCELLANY, 1954 and undated
(5)   FINANCIAL RECORDS [see also boxes 11-13]
  7  Membership Ledger, 1920-1921
  8  Membership Ledger, 1922
  9  Membership Ledger, 1929-1935
  10  Membership Ledger, 1935-1937

    Congregation [continued]
6   FINANCIAL RECORDS [continued]
  1  Membership Ledger, 1940-1948
  2  Membership Ledger, 1953

    Congregation [continued]
7   FINANCIAL RECORDS [continued]
  1  Membership Ledger, 1954-1956 [ex-members]
  2  Membership Ledger, 1954-1957
  3  Cash book, 1924-1935
  4  Cash book, 1944-1946

    Congregation [continued]
8   FINANCIAL RECORDS [continued]
  1  Cash book, 1944-1948
  2  Monies received, 1928-1933
  3  Monies received, 1947-1948 [see also boxes 11-13]
  4  Monthly Balance Sheets, 1952-1958
  5  Monthly Balance Sheets, 1960-1965
  6  Cemetery Ledger, 1950-1954
  7  [Unidentified Account], undated

    Congregation [continued]
9 1-2  ADMINISTRATIVE FILES, 1934-1981 and undated
(9) 4 MEMBERSHIP LISTS, 1970/71-1971/72
  5  1953-1955
  6-8  1959-1963
  9  [Paid-Up Membership Meeting, Nov. 12, 1970]
  10  [Paid-Up Membership Meeting, Nov. 11, 1971]
  11  [Thelma Waldman, circa 1960]
  12  [Eleanor Daniels, 1970-1972]
  13  Outline, undated
(9) 14 ACCOUNT BOOKS, 1961-1962 [see also box 14]
(9) 15 PHOTOGRAPH, undated
(9) 16 CONGREGATION CALENDARS, 1974/75-1977/78
    Religious School
(9) 17-20 BOARD OF EDUCATION MINUTES, June 1961-June 1973

    Religious School [continued]
  1-4  1959-1970
  5  [Bar and Bat Mitzvah Procedures], undated
(10) 6  ROLL BOOKS, 1953-1954 and undated
(10) 7  ACCOUNT BOOK, 1928-1934

11 (oversize)   FINANCIAL RECORDS [see also boxes 5-8 and 12-13]
    Monies Received, 1948-1954

12 (oversize)   FINANCIAL RECORDS [see also boxes 5-8, 11 and 13]
    Monies Received, 1954-1957

13 (oversize)   FINANCIAL RECORDS [see also boxes 5-8 and 11-12]
    Monies Received, 1959-1962

14 (oversize)   ACCOUNT BOOKS [see also box 9]