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Congregation Beth Yeshurun of Houston records

 Collection
Identifier: MS 722
Finding aid note: Stored off-site at the Library Service Center and requires 24-hour notice for retrieval. Please contact the Woodson Research Center at 713-348-2586 or woodson@rice.edu for more information.

Scope and Contents

The collection includes forty-nine boxes of administrative records, books, cemetery records, correspondence, eulogies, event materials, financial records, meeting minutes, newspapers, newsletters, other published materials, school materials, photographs, recorded sermons, videos, CDs, DVDs, and music records that document the history of Congregation Beth Yeshurun and the synagogues that merged to form it, ranging from 1891 to 2021. Bound copies of the congregation's newsletter, The Message, from 1946 to 1983 have been digitized and can be accessed via The Portal to Texas History: https://texashistory.unt.edu/).

Dates

  • 1891 - 2021

Conditions Governing Access

This material is open for research. Stored off-site at the Library Service Center and requires 24-hour notice for retrieval. Please contact the Woodson Research Center at 713-348-2586 or woodson@rice.edu for more information.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to publish material from the Congregation Beth Yeshurun Records 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

Congregation Adath Yeshurun was founded in Houston, TX in 1891, as a merger of two Orthodox minyans, one made of primarily Russian and the other of Galician immigrants. Circa 1895, a building at Preston and Hamilton was purchased and served the membership until a new, larger building at Jackson and Walker was purchased and dedicated in 1908. The congregation had no formal rabbi until they elected Rabbi S. Glaser in 1901, but the congregation was served by chazzans from the community before then. Between 1907 and 1946 the congregation was also served by Rabbi Abraham I. Schechter, Rabbi Sanders A. Tofield, and Cantor Rubin Kaplan.

In 1924 the first Conservative synagogue in Houston was created and named Beth El. Beth El's early rabbis were Maxwell Farber, Nathan Colish, and finally Rabbi Aaron Blumenthal who served from 1934 until 1946.

In 1946, Adath Yeshurun merged with Beth El to become Beth Yeshurun. Merger documents including ballots voting on the merger from members of each congregation are included in this collection.

In the fall of 1946, after the merger, William S. Malev became the rabbi of the new Beth Yeshurun and served as rabbi until his passing in 1973.

The new congregation built a new home for themselves in 1950 in the Washington Terrace neighborhood at 3501 Southmore Avenue. However, the Jewish community was moving to the Southwest of the city as more African Americans were moving to the Washington Terrace and Riverside Terrace neighborhoods. In 1962 the congregation constructed a new building and moved to Meyerland at 4525 Beechnut Street.

In 1965 Jack Segal joined the congregation and served as rabbi alongside Rabbi Malev until 1973 when he became Senior Rabbi and served as such for the next 23 years. Several of Rabbi Segal's sermons are in the collection as both written transcripts and on cassette. It was during his tenure in 1975 that the congregation voted on the ritual participation of women, deciding that women would have the "privileges" of having an aliyah, opening the ark, reading the Torah, reading the Hafrotah, conducting services, and being counted as part of a minyan.

In 2002 Beth Yeshurun took on the members of Shearith Israel congregation in Wharton, Texas after it closed, and they took over care of its cemetery as well.

Congregation Beth Yeshurun is still at their campus in Meyerland although all the buildings were completely renovated between 1998 and 2004.

In 2017 Beth Yeshurun flooded, with parts of the building flooded in up to 6 feet of water.

Congregation Beth Yeshurun is currently the largest Conservative synagogue in the United States and is the religious home to nearly 2,000 families. They are led by Senior Rabbi Brian Strauss and Cantor Meir Finkelstein.

Extent

56 Linear Feet (49 Boxes)

Language of Materials

English

Overview

This collection is made up of 49 boxes and includes materials from Congregation Adath Yeshurun, Congregation Beth El, and Congregation Beth Yeshurun; the Schwartz Family Library; materials from the congregations' merger; Shearith Israel Congregation in Wharton, Texas and a few other congregations from the years 1891-2021.

Arrangement

The materials in this collection have been arranged in 9 series as follows: Series I: Adath Yeshurun; Series II: Beth El; Series III: Beth Yeshurun; Series IV: Merger Documents; Series V: Other Series and Organizations; Series VI: Shearith Israel; Series VII: Oversize; Series VIII: Schwartz Family Library Series IX: Addenda Series X: The Message

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Materials donated by Jerrod D. Bloome, President of Congregation Beth Yeshurun, October 2018; 2021.
Title
Guide to the Congregation Beth Yeshurun of Houston records, 1912-2018
Status
Completed
Author
Katie Webber
Date
2020-12-04
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin

Repository Details

Part of the Woodson Research Center, Rice University, Houston, Texas Repository

Contact:
Fondren Library MS-44, Rice University
6100 Main St.
Houston Texas 77005 USA