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Temple Beth Israel (Niagara Falls, N.Y.) Records

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MS-0224

Scope and Contents

Subseries A. to G. of Series I. primarily contains Temple Beth Israel Synagogue files, including various meeting minutes, operational files, correspondence, event/program and membership information, and Sisterhood files from different eras, as well as clippings and memorabilia that the temple collected through the years.

Subseries A. is divided into two parts, meeting minutes and operational files. Annual, Board, Executive, and General meetings are commonly housed together each operational year. In early meeting minutes, burial records, deeds for lots, and sales of lots are filed together. Financial records and committee reports are usually stored in the same files.

Sisterhood’s board and general meeting minutes and membership information are housed in Subseries E. However, the archivist suggests searching the announcement sections of Sisterhood in the Temple Beth Israel Bulletin to track down Sisterhood’s specific internal involvement at synagogue.

In Subseries F. Publications, Temple-generated newsletters, anniversary booklets, and event brochures are stored. Contents of Temple Beth Israel Bulletin include lists of officers and trustees, President and Rabbi’s messages, Hebrew school and sisterhood announcements, news and information from/to temple members, and monthly Jewish calendars.

Memorabilia of Subseries G. includes a variety of non-paper materials such as photographs and award certificates that relate to synagogue and organizational members or memorabilia. Photographs from the early 1880s to the 1960s that captured moments of community/family history are housed. The photocopied version of Golden Book of Temple has vital information on members. Photos of the Temple’s architectures and arts are also kept in this subseries.


  • 1880-2011


Language of Materials

Collection material is in English.

Terms of Access

The Records of Temple Beth Israel (Niagara Falls, N.Y.), 1880-2011, are open for research. There are no restrictions regarding access to or use of this collection.


Copyright of papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns. Researchers must obtain the written permission of the holder(s) of copyright and the University Archives before publishing quotations from materials in the collection. Most papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures unless otherwise specified.

Historical Note

Temple Beth Israel, Niagara Falls, N.Y., was founded in 1898 and erected its first synagogue on Cedar Avenue and Fourth Street for new services of Judaism in Niagara Falls. The congregation was formally incorporated on November 11, 1905, as an Orthodox synagogue and appointed Philip Paltrovitch as the first president of the temple.

In 1912, the temple’s door opened for the first time during High Holiday services. There were always financial problems to be solved. During the early years, the temple could not offer a full-time Rabbi, nor sustain a regular Sunday school and Hebrew school. Temple Beth El’s rabbi in Niagara Falls served the young congregation until 1916. The first Sunday school graduation took place in 1931 and the first Confirmation took place in 1932 under the direction of Rabbi Samuel Porrath.

After World War II, the Niagara Falls area enjoyed an economic boom. Paper, power, rubber, plastics, petrochemicals, and abrasives were among the major industries located in the city. With increased membership, the congregation began work on an addition to the synagogue, which was completed in 1948. Two years earlier, Temple’s cemetery had grown to the size of two acres.

Steady growth of membership enabled the congregation to purchase property for a new building in 1961. The construction finally began in 1966 at College and Madison Avenues. The work was completed in time for High Holiday services to be held there in 1967.

When Niagara Falls long economic downturn began in the 1970s, synagogue membership also declined. From a peak of more than 180 families in 1967, membership fell to 50 families in 2008.

Chronology: 1898: Temple Beth Israel was founded on April 10

1904: Land Committee was formed to find a plot for temple building

1911: The congregation was officially organized and a cornerstone for Temple Beth Israel was laid after the land purchase on May 1

1912: Temple on Cedar Avenue was built

1916: A full-time rabbi, Moses Abramson, was hired

1931: Temple affiliated with the United Synagogues of America (later, United Synagogues of Conservative Judaism)

1947-1948: Temple was enlarged

1955: Jubilee Celebration with Burning of the Mortgage

1961: Temple acquired deed to property at the corner of College and Madison Avenues in exchange for some portion of its cemetery property

1966: New temple building plans approved in the amount of $420,000

1967: New temple completed

1968: Friends of Temple Beth Israel incorporated and consecrated the new building; Rabbi Porrath appointed as Rabbi Emeritus

1982: The Burning of Mortgage Dinner and honoring Friends of Temple Beth Israel took place together on October 3

1992: Vandals defaced temple door

1997: Vandals started a fire outside of the temple building

1998: Celebrated 100th Birthday on September 13

2005-2007: A set of vandalism incidents occurred

2012: The congregation disbanded


11.3 Linear Feet (13 manuscript boxes, 3 oversize flat boxes, 9 oversize framed items)


Temple Beth Israel (Niagara Falls, N.Y.) documenting aspects of Jewish community in Buffalo and Niagara Falls. Material includes minutes, newsletters, programs, photographs and newspaper clippings.


This collection is arranged in one series: Temple Beth Israel Synagogue Files

Acquisition Information

Materials were received from President of the temple, Lawrence Wolfgang in 2011 in two separate donations.

Accruals and Additions

Further accruals may be expected to this collection.

Related Resources

Processing Information

Collection was processed by Kuniko Simon in June 2016. EAD finding aid created by Archives Staff, August 2016.


Finding Aid for the Temple Beth Israel (Niagara Falls, N.Y.) Records
Finding aid written by Kuniko Simon.
June 2016
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
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Repository Details

Part of the University Archives Repository

420 Capen Hall
Buffalo New York 14260-1674 US
716-645-3714 (Fax)