Access and Provenance

Institutional Sketch

Scope and Content Note

Box and Folder Listing

A Finding Aid to the

Congregation Beth El (Albany, N.Y.) Records

Manuscript Collection No. 518

1847-1885. 0.4 Linear ft.


Aquistion information on the Congregation Beth El (Albany, N.Y.) Records is unknown. All literary rights to material authored by individuals are held by that individual or by their heirs. Questions concerning rights should be addressed to the Executive Director of the American Jewish Archives.

The Congregation Beth El (Albany, N.Y.) are open to all users. The original manuscript collection is available in the reading room of the American Jewish Archives


A Jewish community emerged in Albany, New York in the 1830s; German-speaking Jews from Bavaria and Posen organized Congregation Beth El in 1838. By 1841, the congregation had bought a burial ground and purchased its first synagogue building. Divisions over language and ritual led to the founding of Beth El Jacob in 1841 by Jews of Polish origin. After acquiring property for a synagogue and separate burial grounds, the congregation built a new synagogue in 1847. Isaac Mayer Wise arrived in the United States from Bohemia and became Albany's first rabbi when he took over leadership of Beth El in 1846. He was the teacher at the congregation's Hebrew school, then one of only four in the United States. Wise's advocacy of changes in ritual split the congregation. By October 11, 1850, Wise and 77 supporters had organized Anshe Emeth, the fourth Reform congregation in the United States. Assimilation and Americanization led to the merger of Beth El and Anshe Emeth in 1885 to form Beth Emeth, the only Reform congregation in Albany.

Information for the Institutional Sketch was taken from the “Albany” article in the Encyclopedia Judaica (see:


The Congregation Beth El (Albany, N.Y.) Records describe the governance and activities of the congregation from 1847 until 1885. The records consist of Photostat copies of an 1866 constitution and bylaws (with additions made in 1878), a Board of Trustee minute book dating 1860-1883, and another congregational minute book dating 1860-1885. The collection also includes a record book citing contributions to the temple during the rabbinate of Isaac Mayer Wise (dated 1847-1852). The majority of the records are in German.


Box	Folder	Contents

1	1  	Contribution Book.  1847-1852.
	2  	Constitution and Bylaws.  1866, 1878.
	3  	Board of Trustees Minute Book.  1860-1883.
	4  	Minute Book.  1860-1885. 
Copyright © 2009 Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives