Congregation Beth Israel (Malden, Massachusetts)

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Beth Israel
Basic information
Location 10 Dexter Street,
Malden, Massachusetts,
 United States
Geographic coordinates 42°25′40″N 71°04′45″W / 42.4279°N 71.0793°W / 42.4279; -71.0793Coordinates: 42°25′40″N 71°04′45″W / 42.4279°N 71.0793°W / 42.4279; -71.0793
Affiliation Orthodox Judaism
Country United States of America
Status Active
Leadership Rabbi: Yitzchak Zev Rabinowitz[1]
Website bethisraelmalden.org

Congregation Beth Israel ( בית ישראל ) "House of Israel" (officially Beth Israel Anshe Litte - "House of Israel, people of Lithuania"[2]) is an Orthodox synagogue located at 10 Dexter Street in Malden, Massachusetts.[3] It was founded in 1904 by Jewish immigrants from Lithuania.[2]

Facing demographic decline in the early 2000s, the congregation undertook a number of efforts to attract Orthodox Jews to Malden and its synagogue.[4][5] In 2012 Beth Israel had roughly 100 member families and held services three times daily.[6]

Beth Israel's first (and longest-serving) rabbi was Dov Ber Boruchoff, who served the congregation from 1906 to 1939.[7] Yitzchak Zev Rabinowitz joined as rabbi in 1997. As of 2016, Rabinowitz was the rabbi.[8]

History[edit]

The congregation was founded in 1904 as Beth Israel Anshe Litte ("Children of Lithuania"). Their first home was a former Methodist church on Lombard Court in Malden.

In 1906, Beth Israel hired its first rabbi, Dov Ber Boruchoff, who would stay on for 33 years until his death on Passover in 1939.[7]

Beth Israel's second-longest-serving rabbi, Charles Weinberg, was a national leader in the Orthodox movement. He served as President of the Rabbinical Council of America, one of the world's largest organizations of Orthodox rabbis, from 1960-62.[9][10][11]

In 1993, the synagogue was targeted by a neo-Nazi group calling itself the Aryan War Council who threatened adverse consequences if an investigation into a recent desecration of a nearby Jewish cemetery was continued.[12] In 1997, Yitchak Zev Rabinowitz joined as rabbi. Before joining Beth Israel, Rabinowitz had studied at the Talmudical Yeshiva of Philadelphia, the Beth Medrash Govoha in Lakewood, New Jersey, the Mir Yeshiva in Jerusalem, and had spent five years at the Kollel of Greater Boston.[8]

Beginning around 2000, Beth Israel began a unique effort to reverse the demographic decline in what had once been a thriving Orthodox community in Malden, receiving national attention for offering low-interest loans to Orthodox families wishing to move to Malden and join the synagogue. In 2005 the congregation intensified these efforts, advertising the loan opportunities in national publications,[5][13] and creating Malden's eruv.[4] The synagogue also offered scholarships for students to attend religious schools.[14] The congregation's financial capability to make such offers was credited in part to a sizeable "investment portfolio" derived from a donation of stock by congregant Morton Ruderman, a cofounder of the software company Medical Information Technology, Inc. (MEDITECH).[14][15][16] In 2011 the synagogue began construction of a new mikveh intended for the use by women within the community.[17]

In 2012 Beth Israel had roughly 100 member families and held services three times daily.[6] As of 2016, the rabbi was Yitzchak Zev Rabinowitz.[1]

Notable congregants[edit]

Singer-songwriter Norman Greenbaum, who wrote and performed the 1969 rock-gospel hit song "Spirit in the Sky", attended Beth Israel as a child.[18]

Rabbinical leadership[edit]

Name Years
Dov Ber Boruchoff 1906–1939[7]
Jacob Lifshitz 1939–1948
Charles Weinberg 1949–1976
Harold Rabinowitz 1976–1980
Michoel Geller 1981–1997[19]
Yitzchak Zev Rabinowitz 1997–

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Contact Us, Congregation Beth Israel website. Accessed May 15, 2016.
  2. ^ a b The beginning, Congregation Beth Israel website, About Us, History of the Congregation. Accessed August 29, 2009.
  3. ^ Synagogue website. Accessed August 29, 2009.
  4. ^ a b Malden's Eruv, Synagogue website, About Us, History of the Congregation. Accessed August 29, 2009.
  5. ^ a b Katie Zezima, "A Rebuilding Congregation Seeks Members, and Its Incentives Abound", The New York Times, August 6, 2005.
  6. ^ a b Liu, Menghan. HOUSE OF WORSHIP SPOTLIGHT Congregation Beth Israel. Malden Observer. Jun 8 2012.
  7. ^ a b c Papers of Rabbi Ber Boruchoff, Collection # P-157, Box 1, Folders 1&2: Marriage Records of Rabbi Ber Boruchoff 1906-1939, Collections of the American Jewish Historical Society, Newton Centre, Massachusetts and New York, NY.
  8. ^ a b About Us, Congregation Beth Israel website. Accessed May 15, 2016.
  9. ^ RCA Past Presidents
  10. ^ Anonymous. "Rabbinical Convention Calls for Closing Jewish Centers on Saturdays." Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Jul 12 1962.
  11. ^ Eleff, Zev. "Mentor of Generations: Reflections on Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik." Yeshiva University 2008, p. 218.
  12. ^ Jordana Hart, "Two Malden synagogues targeted by hate letters", The Boston Globe, April 29, 1993  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required).
  13. ^ Wallack, Juliette. "Synagogue works to build up small community; Low-interest home loans used to entice potential members", Associated Press in The Columbian, August 20, 2005  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required).
  14. ^ a b Berger, Paul. "Malden synagogue pays members to belong", The Jewish Chronicle, June 3, 2010.
  15. ^ Schweitzer, Sarah. "In Malden, Synagogue Seeks to Reclaim Its Place", The Boston Globe, June 16, 2005  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required).
  16. ^ Negri, Gloria. "Morton Ruderman, 75; devoted life to helping others", The Boston Globe, Nov 1, 2011.
  17. ^ Goldberg, Tana. "Malden To Unveil Magnificent Mikvah", Jewish Journal, November, 01, 2013.
  18. ^ Benarde, Scott R. Stars of David: Rock'n'roll's Jewish Stories (University Press of New England, 2003), ISBN 978-1584653035, pp. 186-187. Excerpts available at Google Books.
  19. ^ Pensak, Margie. "Making Those Golden Years Shine." www.wherewhatwhen.com, 2004.