Scope and Contents
Books, bulletins, correspondence, event materials, financial records, flyers, newspaper clippings, pamphlets, photographs, plaques, programs, scrapbooks, videos, and yearbooks document the formation and history of the United Orthodox Synagogues from 1935 to 2023. Of particular interest are the organization's founding documents, several scrapbooks and photo albums, and videos of the congregation throughout the 1960s and 70s. The materials are largely in good condition and would be of particular interest to researchers interested in Houston Jewish institutions, Adath Emeth, Adath Israel, Beth Jacob, or individuals Rabbi Schwartzmann and Cantor Irving Dean.
This collection forms part of the South Texas Jewish Archives.
Conditions Governing Access
Collection open for research; however, meeting minutes and some financial records from more recent years have been restricted until 2070. Permission to view these items must be obtained from the director of the Houston Jewish History Archive or the director of the Woodson Research Center.
Stored off-site at the Library Service Center. Please request this material via firstname.lastname@example.org or call 713-348-2586. Allow 24 hours retrieval time.
Conditions Governing Use
Permission to publish material from the United Orthodox Synagogues Papers must be obtained from the Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library. The Woodson Research Center use policy is that researchers assume sole responsibility for any infringement of privacy, literary rights, copyrights, or other rights arising from their use of the archival materials. In addition to any restrictions placed by donors, certain kinds of archival materials are restricted for the life of the creator plus 50 years. These materials include, but are not limited to, student grades, transcripts, and any job applications or recommendations.
Biographical / Historical
The United Orthodox Synagogues of Houston was formed in 1965 when two separate synagogues, Adath Emeth and Beth Jacob, joined together. Congregation Adath Israel joined the United Orthodox Synagogues a year later.
The oldest of the founding congregations, Adath Israel, was formed in 1905 because observant Jews living in Houston’s Fifth Ward lived too far away to walk to Adath Yeshurun. Members first met in the Wertheimer home until they dedicated their first synagogue building in 1910. From 1910 to 1930 Adath Israel was led by Rabbi Jacob Geller. In 1939 the congregation moved to a new building in Washington Terrace.
Adath Emeth was formed in 1908 and officially chartered in 1910. Like many synagogues in South Texas, Adath Emeth had its first services in the homes of members, rather than in a synagogue building. In its early years the congregation was led by shochet and cantor Meyer Epstein. Services moved to a house on Artesian Place near Preston Avenue, then to “the upstairs of a feed store” on Preston Avenue near the current downtown area, just North of Buffalo Bayou. After World War I the congregation built a wooden synagogue at Houston and Washington Avenue, but it burned down after only two years. That same year, 1923, the congregation built a more permanent structure in the same place, which would remain their synagogue building until 1948, when they erected a new building at Cleburne and Ennis in the Third Ward. In 1959 they sold their building to Texas Southern University, and moved to their present location on Greenwillow Drive at South Braeswood, in the Willow Meadows neighborhood in southwest Houston. The records we have between 1960 and 1965 show that Adath Emeth was an active community with a Sisterhood, N.C.S.Y, frequent parties and events, and a theatre troupe. Although the congregation officially joined with Beth Jacob and later Adath Israel in the mid-1960s, they maintained their own separate identity for years after the merger, even holding their own 50 Year Golden Jubilee Anniversary in 1968.
Beth Jacob was formed in 1937 in the home of Rabbi Max Geller to form a Modern Orthodox congregation designed “to serve the Jews residing in the South End of the city of Houston,” according to the synagogue’s board minutes. Twenty-three men comprised the first chartering members. That year the congregation bought land at Cleburne and Hamilton and in two years built their synagogue there. Elsewhere in the Houston Jewish History Archives is a large service flag from Beth Jacob Congregation, which includes the names of members and affiliated persons who served in the armed forces during World War II.
In 1965 because of dwindling membership and financial issues, Beth Jacob and Adath Emeth joined, followed by Adath Israel in 1966. United Orthodox Synagogues was led by Rabbi Raphael Schwartzman and Cantor Irving Dean. In the 1970s Rabbi Schwartzman left the congregation and was replaced by Rabbi Kenneth Hain, followed by Rabbi Joseph Radinsky, who served UOS from 1976 to 2003. Since 2003, Rabbi Barry Gelman has served as UOS’s spiritual leader.
9 Linear Feet (8 boxes, 1 map-drawer folder)
Language of Materials