Guide to the Records of Temple Ohabei Shalom (Brookline, Massachusetts), undated, 1909-1991

Reprocessed by Stephanie Call

Jewish Heritage Center at NEHGS

99-101 Newbury St.

Boston, MA 02116



© 2019  Jewish Heritage Center at NEHGS, Boston, MA. All Rights Reserved.
Machine-readable finding aid created by Stephanie Call as MS Word document, March 2010. Finding aid was encoded by Marvin Rusinek on September 3, 2010. Description is in English.

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Temple Ohabei Shalom (Brookline, Massachusetts)
Title: Temple Ohabei Shalom (Brookline, Massachusetts), records
Dates:undated, 1909-1991
Abstract: Temple Ohabei Shalom was founded on February 26, 1843 by several Boston Jewish families, and is the first synagogue established in Massachusetts. After meeting in the homes of both a founding congregant and the first elected Rabbi, Abraham Saling, Ohabei Shalom dedicated its first building on Warren (now Warrenton) Street in Boston in 1852. In 1855, the German Jewish congregants left Ohabei Shalom and founded Congregation Adath Israel (now Temple Israel in Boston.) The Polish Jewish congregants maintained the name Ohabei Shalom and the cemetery land in East Boston. In 1858, East Prussian Jews also left the congregation, forming Die Israelitische Gemeinde Mishkan Israel (now Miskhan Tefila in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts.) This collection contains flyers, programs and tickets for events as well as copies of bulletins and newsletters, such as Brotherhood Bulletin, Stars and Stripes, Temple Bulletin and Temple Tidings.
Languages: The collection is in English.
Quantity: 1.5 linear feet (3 manuscript boxes)
Identification: I-459
Repository: American Jewish Historical Society
Location:Located in AJHS, Boston, MA.
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Historical Note1

Temple Ohabei-Shalom, Brookline, Massachusetts

Temple Ohabei Shalom, the oldest synagogue in Massachusetts, was founded on February 26, 1843 by the families of Isaac Wolf, Peter Spitz, William Goldsmith, Bernard Fox, Charles Heineman, Jacob Norton, Abraham F. Block, Moses Ehrlich, Bernard Wurmsur, and Julius Spitz. Ohabei Shalom ("Lovers of Peace") initially held their services in the Spitz home on Fort Hill, but soon elected their first officials of the congregation-Moses Ehrlich, President; William Goldsmith, Vice President; and Abraham Saling, Rabbi-and moved their services to Rabbi Saling's home, where they were conducted until 1845. In 1844, the synagogue petitioned the City of Boston for 100 square feet of land in the East Boston City Cemetery, but the petition was rejected. Later that year, the synagogue purchased 10,000 square feet of land for a cemetery at the corner of Byron and Homer Streets in East Boston; the City approved this purchase on October 5, 1844. On March 22, 1845, the State of Massachusetts granted the congregation a charter of incorporation.

From 1846-1852, congregants met in a private home on Albany Street. On March 26, 1852, the synagogue dedicated its building on Warren Street (now Warrenton Street) in Boston. Instruction in both German and Hebrew was taught in the school adjacent to the Synagogue, and the Jewish community utilized the synagogue's common space for a number of events. However, there were factions within the congregation that eventually created a division between the Polish and German Jewish congregants. Polish Jews were unhappy with the Bavarian rituals and the German cantor Joseph Sachs. The German Jews took Sachs with them when they broke away from the congregation, as well as the Ohabei Shalom name and rights to the cemetery, building, and bequest monies of Judah Touro. The disagreement was brought to the civil court, which ruled in favor of the Polish Jews, and the temple formally separated into two congregations. Ohabei Shalom, the Polish synagogue, maintained the cemetery in East Boston, the bequest money, and the name. In 1855, the German Jews moved to a building on Pleasant Street, purchased cemetery land in Wakefield, Massachusetts, and named their synagogue "Adath Israel"-now Temple Israel in Boston. In 1858, Jews from East Prussia broke away and formed yet another congregation-Die Israelitische Gemeinde Mishkan Israel (now Mishkan Tefila in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts.) The discord between Adath Israel and Ohabei Shalom did not last however, and in 1864 men from both congregations established the United Hebrew Benevolent Association (a forerunner of the Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Boston.)

In 1863, the synagogue moved across the street from its original building, followed by a move in 1887 to Union Park Street in the South End. In 1921, the synagogue purchased land in Brookline, Massachusetts, where the synagogue still stands. In the 1870s, the congregation began to adopt changes to their rituals in order to maintain relevancy in the changing Boston Jewish community. In 1870, the congregation held its first confirmation for boys and girls. This was followed by the establishment of a mixed choir in 1871. In 1875, family pews were installed and women were no longer required to sit in the gallery.


1843Temple Ohabei Shalom is founded.
1844Ohabei Shalom petitions Boston for space in East Boston Cemetery; petition is denied.
1844Ohabei Shalom purchases 10,000 square feet in East Boston for cemetery.
October 4, 1844City of Boston approves the purchase of land in East Boston.
March 22, 1845Ohabei Shalom granted a charter of incorporation.
1846-1852Congregants meet at private home on Albany Street.
March 26, 1852Warren Street building dedicated.
1855Adath Israel (Temple Israel) forms with dissenting German Jewish congregants.
1858East Prussian Jews split from congregation, form Mishkan Israel (now Mishkin Tefila.)
1863Synagogue moves across the street from original building on Warren.
1870First confirmations for boys and girls held.
1871Mixed choir established.
1875Family pews installed; women no longer required to sit in the gallery.
1887Synagogue moves to Union Park Street in the South End.
1921Synagogue purchases land in Brookline.


1 Information for this administrative sketch is from the following resources:

"Our Building." Temple Ohabei Shalom. August 9, 2010 (

Sarna, Jonathan D. and Ellen Smith. The Jews of Boston. Boston: Combined Jewish Philanthropies, 1995

Materials from the collection.

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Scope and Content Note

This collection contains fliers, pamphlets and brochures concerning programs and events of the Congregation Brotherhood, an anniversary program of the Congregation Sisterhood, and the following publications: Brotherhood Bulletin, Stars and Stripes, Temple Bulletin and Temple Tidings.

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The collection is arranged into five 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

Bureau of Jewish Education of Boston, I-496
Temple Israel, I-458
United Hebrew Benevolent Society, I-211, I-223
Boston Jewish Community Relations Council, I-123
Combined Jewish Philanthropies, I-220

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Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:
Identification of item, date (if known); Temple Ohabei Shalom (Brookline, Massachusetts), records; I-459; box number; folder number; Jewish Heritage Center at NEHGS.

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Acquisition Information

Accession information is unknown.

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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

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: Brotherhood, undated, 1923-1952

Box 1, Folders 1-6.
Scope and Content:

This series contains flyers from various events sponsored by the congregation's Brotherhood, as well as the publications Brotherhood Bulletin and Stars and Stripes. The latter was a publication of the War Service Committee.

1 1 General/Miscellaneous undated, 1927, 1944 request_box
1 2-5 Publications/Brotherhood Bulletin 1923-1952 request_box
1 6 Publications/Stars and Stripes 1942-1945 request_box
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Series II: General, 1925-1984

Box 1, Folder 7.
Scope and Content:

This series contains one folder with tickets to services, a newsletter from the Boston Bureau of Jewish Education, invitations to events and meetings, handwritten membership statistics, and a program from the consecration of a Torah scroll.

1 7 Miscellaneous 1925-1984 request_box
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Series III: Programs, 1909-1991

Box 1, Folder 8.
Scope and Content:

This series contains one folder with programs to dedications and anniversaries. The 90th Anniversary program contains a detailed historical account of the synagogue's beginnings up to 1933.

1 8 Miscellaneous Events 1909-1991 request_box
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Series IV: Publications, 1924-1972

Box 1, Folder 9 -- Box 3, Folder 1.
Scope and Content:

This series contains several folders with copies of the newsletters Temple Bulletin and Temple Tidings.

1 9 Temple Bulletin 1924-1935 request_box
2 1-6 Temple Tidings 1935-1969 request_box
3 1 Temple Tidings 1970-1972 request_box
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Series V: Sisterhood, 1982

Box 3, Folder 2.
Scope and Content:

This series contains one folder with the 1982 anniversary program for the congregation's Sisterhood. This publication provides historical details about the buildings, clergy and congregation up to 1982.

3 2 Eightieth Anniversary Program 1982 request_box
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