Qabbalat Shabbat: Friday, 6:00 p.m. Torah Study: Saturday, 9:00-11:00 a.m. Weekday Minyan: 6:15 p.m.


Temple Israel is the second oldest congregation in the Boston area, and the largest Reform congregation in New England. Founded in 1854 in Boston, our long history follows the rise of the local Jewish community. The Temple Israel Archives serves as the repository for records, documents, publications, and images relating to the history and administration of Temple Adath Israel of Boston. These records document the congregational history and provide primary source material to assist the clergy, staff, and members of the synagogue. The Archives also serve as a resource for researchers who are interested in the history of Boston’s Jewish community, or in family research.

1895 confirmation photo

1895 Confirmation Photo

Collection Policy

We actively collect the institutional records from the administration, clergy, religious school, preschool, committees, synagogue members, lay leaders, the Riverway Project, the Frances Jacobson Early Childhood Center, and other auxiliary organizations. We also collect the personal papers of temple members. Records include manuscripts and papers, meeting minutes, bulletins, religious school yearbooks, photographs and digital images, scrapbooks, and memorabilia.

Researching Your Family History

We have various records that are useful for genealogists and others interested in their family history. While some membership and cemetery records exist from the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, most life cycle records date from the 1940’s and are organized according to the clergy member who performed the ceremony. When making inquiries, please include as much information as possible to help expedite your search.

Beyond the Archives

Interested in finding out more information about Temple Israel, its members, or other aspects of the Boston Jewish community? For a complete list of sources, see the bibliography to Meaghan Dwyer-Ryan, Susan L. Porter, and Lisa Fagin Davis, Becoming American Jews: Temple Israel of Boston (Brandeis University Press, 2009), but here are a few resources to get you started:

Academic Guide to Jewish History

American Jewish Archives
Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives
3101 Clifton Avenue, Cincinnati, OH 45223
Tel: 513/221-1875, Fax: 513/221-7812

American Jewish Historical Society
15 W. 16th Street, New York, NY 10011
Tel: 212/294-6160, Fax: 212/294-6161
101 Newbury Street, Boston, MA 02216
Phone: 617-226-1245, Fax: 617-226-1248

Brandeis University Libraries
Robert D. Farber University Archives & Special Collections Department
415 South Street
Mailstop 045, P.O. Box 549110
Waltham, MA 02454-9110
Tel: 781/736-4686, Fax: 781/736-4719

Boston Public Library, Main Branch and Research Library
700 Boylston Street
Copley Square
Boston, MA 02116
Tel: 617-536-5400

Boston University Special Collections
771 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
Tel: 617/353-3696, Fax: 617/353-2838

Combined Jewish Philanthropies
126 High Street
Boston, MA 02110-2700
Tel: 617/457-8500, Fax: 617/ 988-6262

Harvard University Archival Repositories

Massachusetts State Archives
Secretary of the Commonwealth
Massachusetts Archives
220 Morrissey Blvd.
Boston, MA 02125
Tel: 617/727-2816, Fax: 617/ 288-8429

National Archives and Record Administration (Waltham branch)
Frederick C. Murphy Federal Center
380 Trapelo Road
Waltham, MA 02452-6399
Tel: 866/406-2379

Temple Ohabei Shalom
1187 Beacon Street, Brookline, MA 02446
Tel: 617/277-6610, Fax: 617/277-7881

Temple Mishkan Tefila
300 Hammond Pond Parkway
Chestnut Hill, MA 02467-1723
Tel: 617-332-7770, Fax: 617-332-2871

Newspapers (available both online and on microfilm at the Boston Public Library and elsewhere)

  • Boston Hebrew Observer, 1883-1886
  • [Boston] Jewish Advocate, 1905-present
  • Jewish Chronicle, 1891-1893
  • Jewish Herald, 1893-1894
  • Boston Globe [digitized from 1874]
  • Boston Herald
  • Boston Traveler
  • Boston Post
  • New York Times

Becoming American Jews

Brandeis University Press, 2009

Book Cover

“From its beginning in 1854 as a traditional German shul to its current status as the largest Reform synagogue in New England, Temple Israel has been an important force in Boston and American Jewish life. The congregation’s ongoing efforts to adapt to changes in American society while preserving balance–between tradition and innovation, between acculturation and distinctiveness–exemplify the transformations in religious worship practices, education, and social justice that mark modern American Reform Judaism. This volume, based on hundreds of archival documents, demographic data, and oral histories, and illustrated with more than 200 images, brings to life the stories of the men, women, and children who have built and maintained this vital Jewish community for more than 150 years.”

“This trio of historians has done more than produce a solid institutional biography, although the tell the story of a single place with aplomb. They offer here instead a microcosm of American Jewish history, narrating the broad sweep of the American Jewish past through the lens of one synagogue in one city. What emerges is both local and national.” –Hasia R. Diner, Paul S. and Sylvia Steinberg Professor of American Jewish History, New York University
“The authors help round out the picture of Reform Judaism in America. This history of Temple Israel in Boston highlights the significance of strong rabbis that move congregations in important new directions. Temple Israel has attracted some of the best American rabbis–and some of the strongest lay leaders.” –Michael Feldberg, Former Director of Research, American Jewish Historical Society and President, The History Consultancy, LLC.

About the Authors

  • Meaghan Dwyer-Ryan is a visiting assistant professor at Boston College and the former archivist at Temple Israel.
  • Susan L. Porter is a historian and scholar at the Brandeis University Women’s Studies Research Center, a research consultant, and lecturer in Museum Studies at the Harvard University Extension School.
  • Lisa Fagin Davis is an independent scholar and manuscript consultant in the Boston area.


Read the Jewish Advocate review.

Read the New England Quarterly review.

Read the Journal of the American Jewish Archives review (pp. 113-115).

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Chris Spraker