Access and Provenance

Institutional  Sketch

Scope and Content Note

Box and Folder Listing


A Finding Aid to the

Blytheville, Arkansas-- Temple Israel Records

Manuscript Collection No. 713 

1923-2003. 3.6 Linear ft.


The Blytheville, Arkansas, Temple Israel Records were donated in 1961 by Temple Israel. Another portion the records were donated by Richard Falkoff in January, 2004, when the Tmeple dissolved. Property rights have been assigned to the American Jewish Archives. All literary rights to material authored by individuals are held by those individuals. Questions concerning rights should be addressed to the Director of the American Jewish Archives.

The Blytheville, Arkansas, Temple Israel Records are open to all users. The original manuscript collection is available in the reading room of the American Jewish Archives.


The first Jewish families began arriving in Southeast Missouri and Northeast Arkansas around the turn of the twentieth century. The first temple records begin with the Ladies Aid Society, which organized May 1923 at the home of the first President, Anne Weinberg. It was through the efforts of the Ladies Aid Society that Congregation Temple Israel was founded and organized. In March of 1925, members of Temple Israel dedicated a Jewish Community House in Blytheville, Arkansas. There men and women of the congregation established Sunday School services for the children and conducted services led by lay leaders from among the men of the group. For the next ten years, these men and women raised funds to hire a Rabbi and build a temple. In November of 1936, the first Rabbi, Rabbi Maurice Lyons, was installed.

The Community House was sold in 1942 and land was purchased at the corner of Chickasawba and 15th Street, for the erection of a temple. The outbreak of World War II and ensuing government restrictions, delayed the start of construction. However, by 1945 the members of Temple Israel hired Rabbi Alfred Vise. Shortly after, in July of 1946, ground for the temple was formally broken and the cornerstone laid on August 14, 1946. A year later, on September 7, 1947, members attended the new temple dedication ceremony.

Dr. Alfred Vise continued to serve the congregation until his untimely death in 1957. Since that time, student rabbis from the Hebrew Union College ministered to the congregation.

In 1947, the temple’s first Bar Mitzvah took place. The years after saw many happy events: congregational dinners, money raising projects, confirmations, bar and bat mitzvah’s. During the years that spanned 1949-1990, many groups of school children, ministers, and laymen visited the Temple. Many Brotherhood services were conducted from the pulpit and the Sisterhood was busy with activities.

However, by September 11, 1999 The Commercial Appeal reported that fifty-two-year-old Temple Israel’s membership had dwindled to about two-dozen members. These members began to make plans for the dissolution of their Temple, bequeathing stained glass windows, memorial plaques, and Torahs to other synagogues and making plans to sell the temple building. Four years later, on November 23, 2003, Temple Israel closed its doors.


The Blytheville, Arkansas - Temple Israel Records describe the governance and activities of the congregation from their beginnings in 1923 until the dissolution of the Temple in 2003. Temple members generated the majority of these records. As a result, meeting minutes, financial ledgers and correspondence make up the bulk of this collection. However, three of the six series-General, Sisterhood and B’nai B’rith- contain a folder of nearprint files. This collection also contains newspaper clippings, services, programs and publications, membership lists, legal documents and scrapbooks.

The collection is arranged into six series:


SERIES A: GENERAL consists of 2.5 Hollinger boxes that contain records spanning the dates 1936-2003. Included within this series are the constitution and by-laws, Board of Director Meeting minutes, temple meeting minutes, financial ledgers, legal records, as well as the documents pertaining to the dissolution of Temple Israel. This series also contains rabbi’s biographies, membership records and lists, memorial lists, newspaper clippings, a history of the temple, temple photographs, certificates from the Temple, a Memory Book and the contents of the cornerstone. Publications produced by Temple Israel including: Temple Israel Chronicle, Temple Israel, Temple Israel Bulletin and temple services, as well as bar and bat mitzvah services, are found in this series. This series also contains a folder of nearprint and haggadahs. Records are arranged by type of file (minutes, financial ledger) or subject, usually in some order of priority.

SERIES B: CORRESPONDENCE spans the years 1945-2001 and consists of about 1 Hollinger box. Within this series, the letters are arranged chronologically, with one folder containing undated correspondence. Of particular interest, is a letter to Temple Israel from the War Production Board denying the temple’s request for “construction of a new church building.” Dated July 27, 1945, this letter, located in folder 6, provides insight to scholars interested in the home-front during World War II.

SERIES C: SISTERHOOD spans the years 1923-2003 and constitutes about 4 Hollinger boxes. Records are arranged by type of file (minutes, financial ledger) or subject, usually in some order of priority. This series is particularly rich, containing a complete set of Sisterhood meeting minutes and Sisterhood board meeting minutes. This set of records covers the years 1923-1982. Extensive material both on Temple Israel and the Sisterhood itself are available in these records. Also interesting and informative are the Temple Israel Sisterhood Yearbooks, which span the years 1960-2003. These yearbooks contain prayers, calendar of temple events, sisterhood officers and board members, committee members, and a roster of members (which includes addresses and phone numbers). This series also contains correspondence, as well as newspaper clippings. Within this series are folders of nearprint, sisterhood programs, educational resources and holiday resources that allow one to better understand the activities of the sisterhood.

SERIES D: B’NAI B’RITH consists of about 1 Hollinger box and covers the years 1956-2003. Included within this series are meeting minutes, membership and financial records, correspondence, certificates and a constitution and by-laws. This series also contains two folders of nearprint. These records are arranged by type of file (minutes, financial ledger) or subject, usually in some order of priority.

SERIES E: B’NAI B’RITH WOMEN fills 0.5 of a Hollinger box and contains files spanning the years 1947-1959. These records are arranged by type of file (minutes, financial ledger) or subject, usually in some order of priority. This series contains a constitution and by-laws, meeting minutes, correspondence, information pertaining to the running of meetings, ritual and history of the chapter. Please note that the May 17, 1959 B’nai B’rith Women chapter meeting minutes, found in folder 8, is located within the 1950 notebook.

SERIES F: SCRAPBOOKS spans the years 1925-1988 and consists of 1 Hollinger box. The scrapbooks within Series F are arranged chronologically whenever possible, and include newspaper clippings, correspondence, photographs and other miscellaneous materials.


 Box	Folder		Contents


1	1		Constitution and By-laws. June 25, 1950.		
	2		Temple Israel Board of Directors and General Temple Meeting Minutes. 1943-1995.
	3		Temple Israel Board of Directors and General Temple Meeting Minutes. 1991-2001.
	4               Temple Israel Financial Records. 1947-1957.
	5	        Temple Israel Financial Ledger. 1975-1983.
	6	        Temple Israel Financial Ledger. 1972-1991.
	7	        Temple Israel Disbursements. 1978-1985.
	8	        Temple Israel Dissolution. 1995-1996.
	9	        Beth Sholom Proposal. 1994-1995.
	10	        Legal Records. 1945-1997.

2	1		Rabbi Biographies. n.d. 
	2		Membership Records and Lists. 1943-2000.
	3		Memorial Lists. 1976-2002.
	4		Temple Israel Chronicle. 1936-1937.
	5		Temple Israel. 1956-1957.
	6		Temple Israel Bulletin. 1958-1971.
	7		Newspaper Clippings. 1946-2003.
	8		Vandalism of Temple Israel. 1991.
	9		History of Temple Israel. n.d.
	10		Temple Israel Memory Book. n.d.
	11		Certificates off Temple Wall. 1956-1972.
	12		Building Photos. n.d.
	13		Description of Temple Israel Windows. n.d.
	14		Contents of Cornerstone. August 14, 1946.

3	1		Confirmation, Bar and Bat Mitzvah Services. 1962-1982.
	2		Services. 1991-2003.
	3		Temple Israel Nearprint. n.d.
	4		Haggadahs. n.d.
	5		National Federation of Temple Youth. n.d.
	6		Arkansas Jewish Assembly Minutes. 1948.


	7		Correspondence. 1943-1960.
	8		Correspondence. 1961-1989.

4	1		Correspondence. 1990-1993.
	2		Correspondence. 1994-2004
	3		Correspondence. n.d.


	4		Sisterhood Constitution. September 1962.
	5		Jewish Ladies Aid Record. 1923-1925.
	6		Jewish Ladies Aid Record. 1925-1927.
	7		Jewish Ladies Aid Record. 1927-1928.
	8		Jewish Ladies Aid Record. 1928-1929.
	9		Temple Israel Sisterhood Meeting Minutes and Sisterhood Board Meeting Minutes. 1955-1958.
	10		Temple Israel Sisterhood Meeting Minutes and Sisterhood Board Meeting Minutes. 1967-1971.

5	1		Temple Israel Sisterhood Meeting Minutes and Sisterhood Board Meeting Minutes. 1971-1976.
	2		Temple Israel Sisterhood Meeting Minutes. 1973.
	3		Temple Israel Sisterhood Meeting Minutes and Sisterhood Board Meeting Minutes. 1980-1987.
	4		Temple Israel Sisterhood Meeting Minutes and Sisterhood Board Meeting Minutes. 1981-1982.
	5		Temple Israel Sisterhood Financial Ledger. 1924-1926.
	6		Temple Israel Sisterhood Financial Ledger. 1981-1985.
	7		Temple Israel Sisterhood Financial Ledger. 1983-1984.
	8		Temple Israel Sisterhood Financial Ledger. 1985-1992.

6	1		Temple Israel Sisterhood Yearbooks. 1960-1970.
	2		Temple Israel Sisterhood Yearbooks. 1970-1980.
	3		Temple Israel Sisterhood Yearbooks. 1980-1990
	4		Temple Israel Sisterhood Yearbooks. 1990-2003.

7	1		Sisterhood Correspondence. 1956-1994.
	2		Sisterhood Correspondence. n.d.
	3		Sisterhood Newspaper Clippings. 1936-1991.
	4		Temple Israel Sisterhood Nearprint. n.d.
	5		Temple Israel Sisterhood Programs. n.d.
	6		Education. n.d.
	7		Holidays. n.d.
	8		Temple Israel Sisterhood Miscellaneous. n.d.


	9		B’nai B’rith Constitution and By-Laws. January 22, 1956.
	10		B’nai B’rith Meeting Minutes. 1965-1983.
	11		B’nai B’rith Membership and Financial Records. 1978-1997.

8 	1		B’nai B’rith Correspondence. 1944-2003.
	2		B’nai B’rith Correspondence. n.d.
	3		B’nai B’rith Certificates. 1950-1958.
	4		B’nai B’rith Nearprint. n.d.
	5		B’nai B’rith Nearprint. n.d.
	6		B’nai B’rith Miscellaneous. n.d.


	7		B’nai B’rith Women Constitution and By-Laws. August 1955.
	8		B’nai B’rith Women Annie Weinberg Chapter Meeting Minutes. 1947-1959.
	9		B’nai B’rith Women List of Members and Officers. 1951-1956.
	10		B’nai B’rith Women Annie Weinberg Chapter Correspondence. 1948-1956.
	11		B’nai B’rith Women Annie Weinberg Chapter Correspondence. n.d.
	12		B’nai B’rith Women Information on Running Meetings. n.d.
	13		B’nai B’rith Women Ritual. n.d.
	14		B’nai B’rith Women History. n.d.
	15		B’nai B’rith Women Miscellaneous. n.d.


9	1		Scrapbook. Temple Israel. n.d.
	2		Scrapbook. B’nai B’rith Activities and Temple Sisterhood Activities. n.d.
	3		Scrapbook. Temple Israel Sisterhood. n.d.
	4		Scrapbook. Temple Israel. 1925-1988.
	5		Scrapbook. 1962-1975. 

Copyright © 2004 Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives