Guide to the Records of the Beth Hamidrash Hagodol (Crawford Street Shul), Undated, 1922-1924, 1933-1973
 
*I-239

Processed by Stephanie Call

American Jewish Historical Society, New England Archives

99-101 Newbury St.

Boston, Massachusetts

Phone: (617) 226-1245

Email: reference@ajhsboston.org

URL: http://www.ajhsboston.org

© 2014, American Jewish Historical Society, Boston, MA and New York, NY. All Rights Reserved.
Machine-readable finding aid created by Stephanie Call as MS Word document, December 2011. Finding aid was encoded by Christine McEvilly on April 2, 2012. Description is in English.

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Beth Hamidrash Hagodol (Crawford Street Shul)
Title: Beth Hamidrash Hagodol (Crawford Street Shul), Roxbury, Massachusetts, Records
Dates:Undated, 1922-1924, 1933-1973
Abstract: Beth Hamidrash Hagodol (known colloquially as the Crawford Street Shul), was founded in 1913 in a small house on Harold Street in Roxbury, Massachusetts. In 1915, the cornerstone of the synagogue was placed at 105 Crawford Street in the Elm Hill District of Roxbury. The congregation elected Louis M. Epstein as their first Rabbi in 1918. This collection contains the business, activity and social records of Beth Hamidrash Hagodol, including correspondence, financial records, ledgers, yearbooks, souvenir books, and meeting minutes.
Languages: The collection is in English, and Hebrew.
Quantity: 5.25 linear feet (5 document boxes, 1 manuscript box)
Identification: I-239
Repository: American Jewish Historical Society
Location: Located in AJHS Boston, MA
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Historical Note1

The Orthodox synagogue, Beth Hamidrash Hagodol (known colloquially as the Crawford Street Shul), was founded in 1913 in a small house on Harold Street in Roxbury, Massachusetts, in response to the growing number of Orthodox Jews moving to Roxbury. A charter for the house of worship was granted from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts on September 26, 1913. Among its founding members were Victor Kaufman, Philip Schaffer, John Druker, Joseph Simon, Benjamin Snider, Harris Poorvu, Samuel Quint, Morris Miller, Hyman Cohen, Samuel Simon, and Samuel Goldman. In 1915, two years after the charter was granted, the cornerstone of the synagogue was placed at 105 Crawford Street in the Elm Hill District of Roxbury.

At their fifth anniversary, in 1918, the synagogue was established enough to include Lieutenant Governor Calvin Coolidge, Speaker Channing Cox, and Congressman James A. Gallivan in their flag raising ceremony. By the early 1920s, the congregation had 500 families and was considered to be a leader amongst suburban synagogues; an Orthodox synagogue that unified the modern American Jew with the traditional European Jew. Like many other synagogues, they had a Sisterhood (established in 1914), Men’s Club, Bar Mitzvah Club, Senior Study Circle, and Junior Council.

The congregation also elected Louis M. Epstein as their first Rabbi in 1918. By 1925, dissatisfied by the lack of cooperation within his congregation, Rabbi Epstein resigned and moved to Kehillath Israel in Brookline. In the years following Epstein’s departure, the congregation severed its ties to the Conservative movement, dismantling Friday night services, choirs, youth activities, hymnals and family pews. They also withdrew their membership from the United Synagogue. By the 1930s, the congregation was no longer served by a Rabbi who graduated from the Jewish Theological Seminary or belonged to the Rabbinical Assembly. It also took several years for the congregation to name a new Rabbi, and although his tenure is uncertain, William Drazin served for five years. By 1940, Rabbi Benjamin Grossman was leading the congregation, with Joshua Goldberg serving as cantor. In 1948, the synagogue hired an Assistant Rabbi, Jacob Zuber. On December 31, 1952, Rabbi Zuber was robbed and beaten in Horatio Harris Park in Roxbury, Massachusetts. The next day, he died as a result of his injuries. A fund for the Rabbi’s family was established by three of the leading rabbis in the Boston area: Joseph Shubow, President of the Rabbinical Association, Mordecai Savitsky of Vaad Ha-Rabanim and Charles Weinberg of the Orthodox Rabbinical Council, and raised several thousand dollars.

The Congregation’s Yavneh Hebrew School was a six-year program that provided comprehensive Jewish education for children. A Sunday school for younger children was organized to prepare them for the Hebrew School. Funded largely through the combined efforts of the Sisterhood and later, Brotherhood, the school was organized in the early years of the synagogue, and the building was renovated in 1922.

A cemetery was also established within ten years of the synagogue’s founding. Six acres of land were purchased on Baker Street in West Roxbury on March 24, 1925. Originally known as the Crawford Street Memorial Park Cemetery, it merged with the Jewish Cemetery Association of Massachusetts on September 27, 2006.

An exact date of the dissolution of Beth Hamidrash Hagodol is unknown; however, records indicate it was most likely sometime in the late 1960s or early 1970s.

Chronology

1913 Beth Hamidrash Hagodol founded.
September 26, 1913 A charter from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is granted.
August 22, 1914 Sisterhood organized.
1915 Cornerstone of the synagogue placed at 105 Crawford Street.
1918 Rabbi Louis M. Epstein elected as the first Rabbi of Beth Hamidrash Hagodol.
March 4, 1925 Synagogue purchases 6 acres of land on Baker Street in West Roxbury for a cemetery.
1928 Burning of the mortgage.
1938 Abraham Close elected President of the Congregation.
1948/1949 Rabbi Jacob Zuber joins the congregation.
January 1, 1953 Assistant Rabbi Jacob Zuber succumbs to injuries from a mugging.
September 27, 2006 Cemetery merges with the Jewish Cemetery Association of Massachusetts.
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Scope and Content Note

This collection contains the business and activity records of Beth Hamidrash Hagodol, including correspondence, financial records, ledgers, yearbooks, souvenir books, and meeting minutes. Correspondence, receipts, and a ledger for the Rabbi Zuber Memorial Fund are included in this collection. The collection contains correspondence of Rabbi Benjamin Grossman, congregation lay leaders Meyer Cressilov and Louis Berlin, and business records of the Yavneh Hebrew School.

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Arrangement

The collection is arranged into six (6) 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 Library and Archives 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
email: reference@ajhs.org

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Related Material

I-56 and I56A, Massachusetts Board of Rabbis and Addendum, Records

I-454, Synagogue Council of Massachusetts, Records

I-123, Boston Jewish Community Relations Council, Records

I-488, Kehillath Israel Synagogue, Records

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Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:
Identification of item, date (if known); Beth Hamidrash Hagodol (Crawford Street Shul), Roxbury, Massachusetts, Records; I-239; box number; folder number; American Jewish Historical Society, New York, NY, and Boston, MA.

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Acquisition Information

Acquisition information unknown.

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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.

 

Series I: Activities, undated, 1935-1955 (with gaps)

English and Hebrew.
Box 1.
Arrangement:

Arranged alphabetically.

Scope and Content:

This series contains materials related to various activities at the Synagogue, including Brotherhood events, High Holy Day services, lectures and general services, installation of officers, and testimonial dinners.

BoxFolderTitleDate
1 1 Brotherhood Events undated, 1945
1 2 Brotherhood Members and Officers undated, 1937
1 3 Brotherhood Prayer Book 1935
1 4 High Holy Day Services undated, 1948-1954
1 5 Installation of Officers 1936, 1939, 1951-1952, 1954-1955
1 6 Lecture Series undated
1 7 List of Cantors undated
1 8 News Clippings undated, 1950-1953
1 9 Testimonial Dinners 1954-1955
1 10 Thanksgiving Service 1940
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Series II: Charitable Funds, 1944-1958

English and Hebrew.
Box 1.
Arrangement:

Arranged alphabetically.

Scope and Content:

This series contains the ledger for the Rabbi Zuber Memorial Fund, as well as correspondence and related information, and materials for the Moeth Chitim charity fund.

BoxFolderTitleDate
1 11 Ledger-Rabbi Zuber Fund 1953
1 12 Moeth Chitim 1944-1956
1 13 Rabbi Zuber Memorial Fund 1953-1958
1 14-16 Rabbi Zuber Memorial Fund Donation Correspondence 1953
1 17 Rabbi Zuber Memorial Fund Donation Receipts and Lists 1953
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Series III: Correspondence, undated, 1934-1963 (with gaps)

English and Hebrew.
Boxes 1-2.
Arrangement:

Arranged alphabetically.

Scope and Content:

This series contains correspondence to and from lay leaders Meyer Cressilov and Louis Berlin, as well as Rabbi Benjamin Grossman. Also included in this series are general notices about events and services for the congregation, correspondence about burial plots and cemetery business, and membership.

BoxFolderTitleDate
1 18-19 Berlin, Louis 1950, 1952, 1955-1963
1 20 Blank Stationary Samples undated
1 21-23 Cemetery 1943-1957
BoxFolderTitleDate
2 1 Congregation Notices undated, 1934, 1941-1957
2 2-3 Cressilov, Meyer 1944-1949, 1954-1955
2 4-8 General 1937-1958
2 9 Grossman, Rabbi Benjamin 1938-1949
2 10 New Members 1948-1955
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Series IV: Governance, 1945-1957

English and Hebrew.
Box 2.
Arrangement:

Arranged alphabetically.

Scope and Content:

This series includes board appointments, a few board meeting minutes, and scant information about the congregation's finance committee.

BoxFolderTitleDate
2 11 Board Appointments 1945-1954
2 12 Board Meeting Minutes 1956-1957
2 13 Finance Committee 1945
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Series V: Finances, undated, 1933-1961 (with gaps)

English and Hebrew.
Boxes 2-4.
Arrangement:

Arranged alphabetically.

Scope and Content:

The largest series in the collection contains ledgers for the charity fund, high school tuition, membership dues and the Cantor Goldberg Jubilee, as well as reports and contribution lists.

BoxFolderTitleDate
2 14-15 Check Register 1952-1961
2 16 Contribution Lists 1942, 1944-1946
2 17 Ledger – Cantor Goldberg Jubilee 1954
2 18-19 Ledger – Charity Fund 1945-1962
2 20 Ledger – High School Tuition 1941-1944
2 21-22 Ledger – Membership and Seats Payment 1939-1951
BoxFolderTitleDate
3 1-2 Ledger – Membership Dues 1933-1943
3 3 Loans from Members 1943
3 4 Membership Lists and Dues undated, 1945
3 5 Receipt Book 1948
3 6 Receipt Books for Charity Funds 1955-1962
3 7 Receipt Books for Charity Funds (samples) undated
3 8-11 Receipt Books for Congregation 1955-1961
3 12-13 Reports 1941-1954
BoxFolderTitleDate
4 1 Reports 1954-1957, 1960
4 2 Sample Checks undated
4 3-4 Sample Receipts and Donations undated, 1942-1961
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Other Organizations, undated, 1943-1973

English and Hebrew.
Box 4.
Arrangement:

Arranged alphabetically.

Scope and Content:

This series includes materials from the congregation’s dealings with other local and national organizations, most notably the Associated Synagogues and the Massachusetts Board of Rabbis. Rabbi Grossman was involved in both organizations.

BoxFolderTitleDate
4 5 Associated Synagogues 1965-1972
4 6 Joint Commission on Social Action 1968
4 7 Massachusetts Board of Rabbis Meeting Minutes 1964-1966, 1973
4 8 Miscellaneous undated, 1967
4 9 Miscellaneous Ledger 1943-1944
4 10 Rabbinical Assembly’s Committee on Jewish Law and Standards 1964, 1967-1970
4 11 Rabbinical Seminary of America 1952
4 12 United Rabbinic Chaplaincy Commission undated, 1955, 1957-1958
4 13 United Synagogue of America 1967-1968
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Series VII: Subject Files, 1965-1969

English and Hebrew.
Box 4.
Arrangement:

Arranged alphabetically.

Scope and Content:

This series contains published material and information on Israel and the Middle East, and Vietnam.

BoxFolderTitleDate
4 14-16 Israel and the Middle East 1967-1969
4 17-18 Vietnam 1965-1967
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Series VIII: Yavneh Hebrew School, 1940-1955

English and Hebrew.
Box 5.
Arrangement:

Arranged alphabetically.

Scope and Content:

This series includes donation and scholarship ledgers as well as a ledger for tuition, some correspondence to parents about behavioral problems with pupils, and some school board correspondence and meeting minutes. Due to student information, some material is currently restricted.

BoxFolderTitleDate
5 1 Ledger- Donations 1953-1958
5 2 Ledger- Donations and Scholarships (restricted) 1945
5 3 Ledger- Daily Tuition Record 1946-1955
5 4 Receipt Book 1955-1959
5 5 Regarding School Business (restricted) 1940-1950
5 6 Reports 1941-1945
5 7-8 Scholarships (restricted) 1941-1954
5 9 School Board Correspondence and Committee Assignments undated, 1941, 1944-1955
5 10 School Board Meeting Minutes 1945-1951, 1955
5 11 Theatre Party 1941-1942
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Series IX: Yearbook and Souvenir Books, 1922-1924, 1940

English and Hebrew.
Box 6.
Arrangement:

Arranged alphabetically.

Scope and Content:

This series contains the tenth and twenty-fifth anniversary books for the synagogue, and a yearbook from 1922-1923. All three publications were published by the Men’s Club.

BoxFolderTitleDate
6 1 Tenth Anniversary 1924
6 2 Twenty-Fifth Anniversary 1940
6 3 Yearbook 1922-1923
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