Guide to the Records of Temple Beth El of Lynn and Swampscott, Mass.
undated, circa 1924-2006


Processed by Shannon Struble

Jewish Heritage Center at NEHGS

99-101 Newbury St.

Boston, MA 02116



© 2019  Jewish Heritage Center at NEHGS, Boston, MA. All Rights Reserved.
Electronic finding aid was encoded in EAD by Stephanie Call in May 2015. Description is in English.

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Temple Beth El (Swampscott, Mass.)
Creator: Diamond, Alan
Creator: Kahn, Eric
Creator: Winer, Louis
Creator: Winer, Eleanor
Creator: Frisch, Shirley
Creator: Shanok, Morton
Title: Temple Beth El of Lynn and Swampscott, Mass. Records
Dates:undated, circa 1924-2006
Abstract: Temple Beth El was founded in Lynn in 1924. In 1946, members of the congregation split off to form Temple Israel, and in 1968, Temple Beth El expanded from its Lynn location to Swampscott. The two temples reunited in 2005 to become Congregation Shirat Hiyam. This collection contains documents related to many areas of synagogue life, including general membership, the music program, the Religious School, temple governance, and the Sisterhood.
Languages: The collection is in English, Hebrew, and Yiddish.
Quantity: 3.4 linear feet (3 document boxes, 1 object box, and 1 oversized folder)
Identification: I-574
Repository: American Jewish Historical Society
Location: Located in AJHS Boston, MA
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Historical Note

Red Cross bandage roller volunteers at Temple Beth El on Breed Street in Lynn, Massachusetts, 1942.

Temple Beth El was founded in 1924 by members of the Lynn B’nai B’rith as a Conservative synagogue on the North Shore. Services were held at the Lynn Young Men’s Hebrew Association (YMHA) until their first building, located at 12 Breed Street in Lynn, was completed in 1927. Rabbi Israel Harburg was elected as the first rabbi.

Temple Beth El had an active membership, and within the first ten years of service, groups such as the Sisterhood, Brotherhood, Junior Congregation, and Fellowship were established. The Religious School was also well attended, and the first confirmation class graduated in 1928. Through donations and fundraising, Temple Beth El was able to discharge their mortgage in 1944.

In 1946, members of the congregation left to form Temple Israel in Swampscott. Eventually Temple Beth El outgrew its Lynn location, and the congregation acquired acreage in Swampscott. The land had enough space to build a larger synagogue, a social hall, and expanded parking accommodations, and it was across the street from Temple Israel. The ground-breaking took place in 1966, and services began in 1968. The mortgage for this location was discharged in 1973.

In 1948, Cantor Morton Shanok began his thirty-two-year tenure as Cantor of Temple Beth El. He established both the Choral Society and Junior Choir, and he was a strong advocate for the cantorial profession in North America. He retired in 1980 with much feting by the Temple Beth El community.

Two years following their 75th anniversary celebration in 2002, the congregation of Temple Beth El voted to combine with Temple Israel to form Congregation Shirat Hiyam (or Song of Sea). Both synagogues had experienced declining membership, and the area could no longer support two Conservative temples in such close proximity. The two officially united in 2005, and Congregation Shirat Hiyam is now located in what was Temple Beth El. The building that housed Temple Israel was sold.


Materials from the collection.


1924 Money is raised to purchase land for Temple Beth El. The Greenbergs immigrate to the United States.
1925 Religious School classes start. Isaac Greenberg becomes a naturalized citizen of the United States.
1925 The Temple Beth El Sisterhood is founded. Mildred Minnie Greenberg and Maurice Fishman marry.
1926 The Charter is officially signed. Mildred Fishman becomes a naturalized citizen of the United States.
1927 Temple Beth El is built and High Holy Days are celebrated in the new temple. Maurice Fishman dies.
1928 Rabbi Israel Harburg is elected. Mildred Minnie Fishman dies.
1928 Dedication of Temple Beth El.
1928 The first confirmation class graduates.
1928 The Temple Beth El Brotherhood is founded.
1932 The Junior Congregation is formed.
1945 The Fellowship is established.
1946 Members of Temple Beth El leave to form Temple Israel in Swampscott, Massachusetts.
1948 Cantor Morton Shanok is elected Cantor.
1948 The Temple Beth El Choral Society is formed.
1950 A new building for the Religious School is dedicated.
1956 Rabbi Harburg retires.
1957 Rabbi Steven Schwarzschild is elected.
1958 The Rabbi Israel Harburg Library is founded.
1960 Temple Beth El joins the United Synagogue of America Conservative Movement.
1963 Rabbi Schwarzschild resigns.
1964 Rabbi Ephraim Bennett is elected.
1974 Women are counted in the miniyan for the first time and elected to the Temple Board.
1975 The Temple Beth El Nursery School opens.
1980 Cantor Shanok retires.
1982-1984 Eric Kahn serves as President of the Congregation.
1983 Rabbi Bennett retires.
1983 Rabbi Judah Kogen is elected.
1985 Rabbi Kogen resigns.
1985 Rabbi Edgar Weinsberg is elected.
1997-1999 Alan Diamond serves as President of the Congregation
2005 Temple Beth El and Temple Israel unite to form Congregation Shirat Hiyam.
2006 Rabbi Weinsberg retires.
2006 Rabbi Baruch HaLevi is elected to Congregation Shirat Hiyam.
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Scope and Content Note

The Temple Beth El collection is a compilation of records donated by individuals involved in many areas of synagogue life and, thus, reflects diverse aspects of the operations of the synagogue. The bulk of the records, donated by Louis and Eleanor Winer, includes correspondence, announcements, calendars, publications, and photographs documenting member activities associated with the Temple itself. Louis Winer was a member of the Fellowship, while Eleanor Winer served as president of the Sisterhood, so these groups are well represented. Eleanor Winer was also involved in the Parent-Teacher Association of the Temple Beth El Religious School, and her papers, along with those of Shirley Frisch, whose children attended the school, reveal more about the operations of the school.

Photographs and miscellaneous papers from Cantor Morton Shanok’s long tenure at Temple Beth El document the music program at the synagogue. Additionally, the second series contains records relating to the governance of Temple Beth El, especially during the terms of Congregation Presidents Eric Kahn and Alan Diamond. A small group of papers have to do with the merger of Temple Beth El and Temple Israel in 2004 to become Congregation Shirat Hiyam. A final series compiles various publications produced by Temple Beth El, including bulletins, newsletters, and anniversary programs.

The series and sub-series are arranged alphabetically, with the exception of the bulletins in the fourth series, which are arranged in chronological order. Folders are in chronological order within the sub-series.

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This collection is arranged into six series:

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Access and Use

Access Restrictions

The collection is open to all researchers by permission of the Director of Collections and Engagement of the American Jewish Historical Society, except items that are restricted due to their fragility.

Use Restrictions

Information concerning the literary rights may be obtained from the Director of Library and Archives of the American Jewish Historical Society. Users must apply in writing for permission to quote, reproduce or otherwise publish manuscript materials found in this collection. For more information contact:
American Jewish Historical Society, Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, New York, NY, 10011

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Related Material

B’nai B’rith (Lynn, Mass.) Records, I-554

Cantor Morton Shanok Papers, P-995

Lynn Hebrew Young Men’s Aid Association Records, I-73

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Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:
Identification of item, date (if known); Temple Beth El of Lynn and Swampscott, Mass. Records; I-574; box number; folder number; Jewish Heritage Center at NEHGS.

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Acquisition Information

Donated by the Jewish Heritage Center of the North Shore in 2013.

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Access Points

Click on a subject to search that term in the Center's catalog. Return to the Top of Page

Container List

Click the box in the request column to learn more about viewing materials at the Jewish Heritage Center at NEHGS.


Series I: General,  undated, circa 1931-2006.

In English, Hebrew, and Yiddish.
Box 1. Folders 1-12.

Arranged alphabetically.

Scope and Content:

The first series contains records related to the general member activities of Temple Beth El. This includes correspondence to members from synagogue leadership, as well as photographs, calendars, and newspaper clippings documenting synagogue events. The series also contains records pertaining to the Fellowship, Junior Congregation, and Young Israel Club. Two folders contain papers and photographs directly related to Rabbis Harburg and Bennett.

1 1 Congregation Shirat Hayam undated, 2005-2006 request_box
1 2 Event DVDs 2006 request_box
1 3 Event photographs undated, 1997-1999 request_box
1 4 Events and Calendars 1973-2006 request_box
1 5 Fellowship undated, 1953-1983 request_box
1 6 Junior Congregation undated, 1932-1935 request_box
1 7 Membership 1940-1969 request_box
1 8 Membership undated, 1970-2006 request_box
1 9 Miscellaneous undated, 1948-2004 request_box
1 10 Rabbinate—Rabbi Israel Harburg undated, 1935-1982 request_box
1 11 Rabbinate—Rabbi Ephraim Bennett undated, 1978-1983 request_box
1 12 Young Israel Club undated, 1931-1935 request_box
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Series II: Governance, undated, circa 1973-2004.

In English, Hebrew, and Yiddish.
Boxes 1 and 4. Folders 13-23, oversized folder.

Arranged alphabetically

Scope and Content:

The second series relates to the operations of Temple Beth El. Records found here include contact lists for officers and the Board of Directors, ballots, and minutes from congregational meetings, and the Temple Beth El by-laws updated between 1973 and 1995. A large portion of the series is made up of documents generated during the terms of Eric Kahn and Alan Diamond as Presidents of the Congregation, from 1982-1984 and 1997-1999 respectively. This includes correspondence, event announcements, invitations, newspaper clippings, and notes. Two folders are comprised of reports solicited in 1992 regarding renovation of the temple and the feasibility of a capital campaign, and another folder relates to the preparation for and vote on the merger of Temple Beth El and Temple Israel. One oversized folder holds unfolded anniversary book wrappers, and an object box contains a tzedakah box donated by Alan Diamond.

1 13 Ballots 1985-2004 request_box
1 14 By-laws 1973-1995 request_box
1 15 Boards of Directors 1985-2004 request_box
1 16 Congregational Meetings 1992-200 request_box
1 17 Feasibility Report 1992 request_box
1 18 Merger undated, 2004 request_box
1 19 Presidents—Eric Kahn undated, 1980-1998 request_box
1 20 Presidents—Alan Diamond 1997 request_box
1 21 Presidents—Alan Diamond 1998 request_box
1 22 Presidents—Alan Diamond 1999 request_box
OS Presidents—Alan Diamond 1976 request_box
4 Presidents—Alan Diamond: Tzedekah Box undated request_box
1 23 Technical Evaluation Report 1992 request_box
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Series III: Music, undated, circa 1928-1991.

In English.
Box 2. Folders 1-5.

Arranged alphabetically.

Scope and Content:

The bulk of this series is made up of group photographs of the Temple Beth El Choral Society and Junior Choir taken between 1954 and 1976. The remainder of the series contains concert notices and programs and newspaper clippings about musical events.

2 1 Concert Materials undated, 1942-1979 request_box
2 2 Miscellaneous undated, 1949-1991 request_box
2 3 Photographs—Choral Society undated, 1954-1976 request_box
2 4 Photographs—Junior Choir undated, 1958-1967 request_box
2 5 Photographs—Miscellaneous undated, 1928, 1979 request_box
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Series IV: Publications, undated, circa 1940-2006.

In English, Hebrew, and Yiddish.
Box 2. Folders 6-15.

Arranged alphabetically.

Scope and Content:

This series contains incomplete runs of several Temple Beth El publications. This includes three different permutations of the bulletin, renamed from Temple Beth El Bulletin to Temple Israel Temple Beth El Bulletin and, finally, Congregation Shirat Hiyam Bulletin as the synagogue joined with Temple Israel and became Congregation Shirat Hiyam. The series also contains issues of Temple Beth El News spanning over thirty years and a small group of Books of Life produced by the temple. Anniversary directories and programs run from the 25th to the 75th anniversary of the founding of the synagogue.

2 6 Anniversary Directories 1987-1997 request_box
2 7 Anniversary Programs 1952-2002 request_box
2 8 Books of Life 1992-2006 request_box
2 9 Temple Beth El Bulletins 1940-1974 request_box
2 10 Temple Israel Temple Beth El Bulletins 2005 request_box
2 11 Congregation Shirat Hayam Bulletins 2005-2006 request_box
2 12 Temple Beth El News 1970-1978 request_box
2 13 Temple Beth El News 1981-1989 request_box
2 14 Temple Beth El News 1996-1999 request_box
2 15 Temple Beth El News 2000-2004 request_box
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Series V: Religious School, undated, circa 1924-1995.

In English, Hebrew, and Yiddish.
Boxes 3-4. Folders 1-6.

Arranged alphabetically.

Scope and Content:

The fifth series relates to the Temple Beth El Religious School and its students. One folder contains certificates earned by attendees of the school, and another two folders record confirmation classes between 1947 and 1995 in list and photograph form. Correspondence between the school and parents, including event announcements and invitations, as well as documents pertaining to the Parent-Teacher Association of the school are also housed here, along with a small group of papers from the Personnel Practice Committee from 1959. A yarmulke from an unknown graduate is located in the object box.

3 1 Certificates 1924-1964 request_box
3 2 Confirmation Classes undated, 1952-1995 request_box
4 Confirmation Classes—yarmulke undated request_box
3 3 Confirmation Photographs undated, 1947-1994 request_box
3 4 Miscellaneous undated, 1929-1987 request_box
3 5 Parent-Teach Association undated, 1955-1979 request_box
3 6 Personnel Practice Committee 1959 request_box
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Series VI: Sisterhood, undated, circa 1933-1995.

In English.
Box 3. Folders 7-13.

Arranged alphabetically

Scope and Content:

This series is primarily made up of publications created by the Temple Beth El Sisterhood, including their newsletter, "Sisterhood Scene," and programs from annual dinners. Also included are correspondence, member lists, event announcements and programs, invitations, and newspaper clippings.

3 7 Miscellaneous 1933-1969 request_box
3 8 Miscellaneous undated, 1970-1997 request_box
3 9 Programs 1948-1959 request_box
3 10 Programs 1961-1979 request_box
3 11 Programs 1955-1958 request_box
3 12 Publications 1955-1958 request_box
3 13 Sisterhood Scene 1972-1981 request_box
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