Guide to the Congregation Adath Israel (Newtown, Conn.) Records,
undated, 1909-1991
(bulk dates 1957-1968)

Processed by Shannon Struble

Jewish Heritage Center at NEHGS

99-101 Newbury St.

Boston, MA 02116



© 2020  Jewish Heritage Center at NEHGS, Boston, MA. All Rights Reserved.
Machine-readable finding aid created by Shannon Struble as MS Word document, September 09, 2017. Finding aid was encoded by Shannon Struble on September 27, 2017. Description is in English.

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Congregation Adath Israel (Newtown, Conn.)
Title: Congregation Adath Israel (Newtown, Conn.) Records
Dates:undated, 1909-1991
Abstract: Congregation Adath Israel was established in 1919 by a small group of Jewish farmers in Newtown, Connecticut. The synagogue expanded its building in 1957 and converted from the Orthodox movement to the Conservative movement in the 1970s. In 2007, they relocated to a larger building within Newtown. The collection primarily consists of administrative and financial records, along with newspaper clippings, photographs, and miscellaneous documents.
Languages: The collection is in English and Hebrew.
Quantity: .25 linear feet (1 half-manuscript box, 1 oversized folder)
Identification: I-323
Repository: American Jewish Historical Society
Location: Located in AJHS Boston, MA
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Historical Note

Congregation Adath Israel in 1960.

Congregation Adath Israel was founded by a small group of Jewish farmers who had emigrated from Eastern Europe to New York, finally settling in Newtown, Connecticut in 1906. The first family to arrive were the Nezveskys, led by Israel Nezvesky, and other families followed, buying land in the area and building a thriving Jewish community. Services were conducted in various homes until the growth of the population reached a point where a dedicated synagogue became necessary. Israel Nezvesky gave land and later purchased the first torah for the new synagogue, and its building was erected in 1919. The synagogue was named Adath Israel, or “House of Israel,” in his honor.

The first religious leader was Orthodox rabbi Samuel Steinfeld, who also earned extra income as a farmer, and the first president of the synagogue was Isadore Kaufman. The building was a simple wooden structure in keeping with the farming community it served, warmed by a pot-bellied stove.

Membership at Adath Israel rose into the 1940s, until after World War II, when the congregation began to decrease as younger members left for jobs in the cities. In 1957, new facilities were added to the synagogue, including a basement to host a Hebrew school and social hall, modern heating, and plumbing for a kitchen and bathroom. The number of congregants continued to decline until less than 20 families remained by 1970. Around that time, the congregation decided to move from the Orthodox movement to an egalitarian Conservative one. The congregation relocated from their original building to a new synagogue in 2007.


Material in the collection.

Congregation Adath Israel. “Our History.” Accessed September 9, 2017.


1906The Nezveskys and other Jewish families settle in Newtown, Connecticut.
1914Building begins on a new synagogue.
1919Construction is completed and services begin.
1957-1959Building upgrades are made to the synagogue.
1960The synagogue is rededicated.
1970sCongregation Adath Israel converts from an Orthodox doctrine to Conservative Judaism.
2007The congregation moves to a new synagogue.
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Scope and Content Note

The records of Congregation Adath Israel consist of administrative documents, including notes from Board of Directors meetings, the constitution and bylaws, and contracts and trust agreements, as well as financial records, such as receipts, accountings of donations received, and a ledger. Also included is a folder of receipts and accounts from the building renovations undertaken between 1957 and 1959.

Two folders contain newspaper clippings and photographs about the synagogue and its history. The clippings are mostly from the 1950s. The photographs were primarily taken in the 1990s and show the building itself, though a few from the 1920s show classes of children from the local school, and one was taken at the groundbreaking for the first building in 1914. The remaining two folders hold service readings in English and Hebrew and miscellaneous documents, such as blank stationary, notes, and some correspondence. An oversized folder contains miscellaneous documents, including a 1909 quit-claim deed, copies of deposit receipts, a larger version of the photograph taken at the groundbreaking ceremony in 1914, and two newspaper clippings.

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The collection is arranged into a single series as follows:

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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

Congregation Beth Israel (Hartford, Conn.) Records, I-464

Congregation Mishkan Israel (Hamden, Conn.) Records, I-465

New Haven Jewish Community Center Records, I-328

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Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:
Identification of item, date (if known); Congregation Adath Israel (Newtown, Conn.) Records; I-323; box number; folder number; Jewish Heritage Center at NEHGS.

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Acquisition Information

Donated by David Brier, 1992.

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Access Points

This collection is indexed under the following controlled access subject terms.

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

Container List

The following section contains a detailed listing of the materials in the collection.

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


Series I: Congregation Adath Israel (Newtown, Conn.), undated, 1909-1991

Box 1, OS folder.

Arranged alphabetically.

Scope and Content:

See Collection Scope and Content Note.

11Board of Directors Meetingsundated, 1959-1965request_box
12Constitution and Bylawsundatedrequest_box
13Financial Ledger1938-1957request_box
14Financial Ledger (copy)1938-1957request_box
15Financial Recordsundated, 1957-1962request_box
16Legal Documents1914, 1958-1968request_box
OS1Miscellaneousundated, 1909, 1914,1960, 1988request_box
17Miscellaneousundated, 1957-1988request_box
18Newspaper Clippingsundated, 1957-1981request_box
19Photographsundated, 1914, circa 1920s, 1991request_box
110Renovationundated, 1957-1960request_box
111Service Readings1966, 1980request_box
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