Access and Provenance

Institutional Sketch

Scope and Content Note

Box and Folder Listing

A Finding Aid to the

Chappaqua, N.Y. -- Temple Beth El of Northern Westchester Records

Manuscript Collection No. 728

1949-2000. 5.2 Linear ft.


NORTHERN WESTCHESTER. NEW YORK - TEMPLE BETH EL RECORDS were donated to the American Jewish Archives by the congregation of Temple Beth El in March 2005.

All property rights have been assigned to the American Jewish Archives. All literary rights to materials in the collection are held by the individual author or his/her heirs. Questions concerning rights should be addressed to the Director of the American Jewish Archives. The collection is open to all users and available in the reading room of the American Jewish Archives.


The 45 founding families of Temple Beth El of Northern Westchester came from 28 different communities. How they found each other went unrecorded. What we do know is that they began meeting formally in 1949 after deciding that north Westchester County needed a Reform congregation. They initially held services in Chappaqua’s Congregational Church. Rapid growth prompted a move to the Presbyterian Church in Mt. Kisco. Their growth in membership continued, and in 1954 they returned to Chappaqua, this time as the new owners of the Congregational Church. The church was converted into a synagogue that provided a home to the fledgling congregation until 1972.

The now-mature congregation had, in the interim, purchased nine acres of wooded property which at one time belonged to Horace Greeley. They contracted with renowned architect Louis I. Kahn, of Philadelphia, to design a synagogue. Dedicated in May of ’72, the congregation continues to use this facility today. The 23,000 square foot building, completed at a cost of $1.1 million, was intended to house 450 families. Though the congregation exceeded this number long ago, the current structure meets their needs admirably. As well, the rabbi lives on the property, in a house sheltered by trees on its own acre of land.

The researcher will frequently encounter the name Chaim Stern in the pages of this collection. Stern became Beth El’s rabbi in 1968. Known for his love of Jewish liturgy, he wrote services for any and all occasions during his tenure at Temple Beth El. Chaim Stern was the editor of the original Reform Prayer Book, Gates of Prayer. He served as Beth El’s senior rabbi for 33 years, from 1968 through 2001, at which time he passed away. Temple Beth El’s other religious leaders have included Rabbi’s Solomon Kahn Kaplan, Murray Saltzman, Alan Katz and Dennis Ross


The TEMPLE BETH EL OF NORTHERN WESTCHESTER Records offer a comprehensive picture of how a well-to-do congregation in upstate New York got its start, then went on to thrive. Through the pages of its monthly news bulletin, the researcher gets a broad, accurate sense of this congregation’s keen desire to express itself Jewishly, in all facets of life, while at the same time partnering with its non-Jewish neighbors at every given opportunity. The congregation’s fullest expression of Jewish living can be found in the copious amounts of continuing education materials in the collection. Their senior rabbi, on the other hand, found his greatest satisfaction in writing liturgy. The student of Jewish liturgy will find much that is interesting in the collection’s liturgy series.

The collection is divided into four series:


The CONTINUING EDUCATION series consists of two boxes containing materials written during the 1960’s and 1970’s. The exception would be the three books and one pamphlet, all written in Hebrew, that were most likely part of Rabbi Stern’s personal library (Box 2). The rest of the series is made up of books and papers intended for the use of congregation members (Box 1), and a newspaper series called “Chronicle Classroom,” excised from the pages of the Yonkers Jewish Chronicle (Box 2). This, obviously, was intended for a wider audience.

In CONGREGATION HISTORY, the congregation’s beginnings are described, a brief history is provided, fundraising events are highlighted, and newspaper articles covering congregational life in the 1950’s and 1960’s have been collected. While all of these can be found in Box 3, only newspaper articles can be found in the scrapbook in Box 4.

The CONGREGATION NEWSLETTER, copies of which most frequently bear the title Beth El Bulletin, fills Boxes 5, 6, and 7. Though Board of Directors’ minutes are not a consistent feature, the researcher can nevertheless gain detailed knowledge about congregational life at Temple Beth El from its pages. There is, unfortunately, a nine-year gap between 1983 and 1993. The 1961-1964 issues are also missing. With these exceptions, every year’s issues, from 1955-1994, are included in the collection.

The last series, LITURGY, is composed of Rabbi Chaim Stern’s writings, liturgy provided to him by other rabbi’s who knew of his interest, and writings and correspondence having to do with the revision of Gates of Repentance and the writing of Gates of Prayer, Part II.
Not only the last but the longest series, LITURGY fills Boxes 8, 9, 10,


Box   Folder	Contents

1	1	B'nai Mitzvah/Confirmation. 1970-71.
	2	Confirmation Plaques, miniature. 1966-67.
	3	Continuing Education: Questionnaire No. 1. n.d.
	4	Continuing Education: The Common Sense of Religious Faith, n.d.
	5	Continuing Education: Critical Issues Facing Reform Judaism. 1972.
	6	Continuing Education: How About This. 1973.
	7	Continuing Education: The Jewish Home. 1980.
	8	Continuing Education: Martin Buber - Selected Writings, n.d.
	9	Continuing Education: A Portion of Paradise, n.d.
	10	Continuing Education: Questions about Judaism, n.d.
	11	Continuing Education: Questions and Answers about Judaism, n.d.
	12	The Jewish Processional: A Drawing by Zevi Blum. n.d.
	13	The Jewish Response to Christian Evangelism n.d.
	14	Jewish Studies in American Colleges and Universities, n.d.
	15	JFTY Spring Conclave, n.d.
	16	Warsaw Ghetto Uprising - 30th Anniversary Commemorative Publication.
	17	Miscellaneous Continuing Education.

2	1	Yonkers Jewish Chronicle. Chronicle Classroom. 1977-1979.	
	2	Yonkers Jewish Chronicle. Chronicle Classroom. Sept. 1977 - June 1978.
	3	Jewish Sources: The Concept of God in Rabbinic Literature. In Hebrew.
	4	Prayer on Har Ha-Tzofim. In Hebrew.
	5	Thirtieth Anniversary Volume. Ha-Doar. In Hebrew.
		Second Chapter, Tractate. Baba Metziah ("ehlu Metzut") of the Talmud. In


3	1	Congregation Membership Information. Rough Draft, n.d.
	2	Fortieth Anniversary Commemorative Yearbook. 1989.
	3	Fundraising. 1953-1968.
	4	Newspaper Articles. 1956-1957.
	5	Photographs. 1951,1956. n.d.

4	1	Scrapbook. 1968-1969. 

5	1	Beth El Bulletin. June 1955 -June 1958. 	
 	2	Beth El Review. Sept. 1958 - Dec. 1959. 
	3	Beth El Review. 1960. Beth El Bulletin. 1965. 		
	4	Beth El Bulletin. 1966.

6	1	Beth El Bulletin.	1967.
	2	Beth El Bulletin.	1968.
	3	Beth El Bulletin.	1969.
	4	Beth El Bulletin.	1970.
	5	Beth El Bulletin.	1971.
	6	Beth El Bulletin.	1972.

7	1	Beth El Bulletin.	1973.
	2	Beth El Bulletin.	1974.
	3	Beth El Bulletin.	1975.
	4	Beth El Bulletin.	1976.
	5	Beth El Bulletin.	1977.
	6	Beth El Bulletin.	1978.
	7	Beth El Bulletin.	1979.
	8	Beth El Bulletin.	1980.
	9	Beth El Bulletin.	1981.
	10	Beth El Bulletin.	1982.
	11	Beth El Bulletin.	1983.
	12	Beth El Bulletin.	1993-94.
SERIES D. LITURGY. 1925-2000.
8	1	Confirmation Service. 1973,1989.
	2	Cornerstone Consecration Service. 1970.
	3	Dedication Service. 1972.
	4	Hanukkah Service. n.d.
	5	Havdalah Service, n.d.
	6	High Holy Days - Prayers, Poems and Meditations. 1971.
	7	High Holy Days - Rosh Hashanah. n.d., 2000.
	8	High Holy Days - Yom Kippur. n.d.
	9	Installation Service. 1968.
	10	Shabbat Morning Service, n.d.
	11	Shabbat (Friday Night) Service, n.d.
	12	Shabbat (Friday Night) Service. 1989.
	13	Simchat Torah Service. 1972.
	14	Sisterhood Sabbath Service. 1989.
	15	Special Service. 1970.
	16	Special Shabbat Service for Israel, n.d.
	17	Sukkot Service, n.d.
	18	Torah Blessing.
	19	Tu Bishvat Service, n.d.
	20	Women's guild Sabbath. 1971.

9	1	Boy Scout Sabbath. National Jewish Committee on Scouting, n.d.
	2	A Creative Service Based on the Experiences and Feelings
		Of the Los Angeles Eisendrath Mitzvah Corps. 1969.
	3	Dedication Service, n.d.
	4	Installation Service - Senior Rabbi Herbert Bronstein.
		North Shore Congregation Israel. Glencoe, Illinois
	5	Meditations on High Holy Days and Festivals. A. Alan Steinbach, D.D.
		Temple Ahavath Sholom. Brooklyn, N.Y.
	6	Meditation Services. n.d.
	7	Miscellaneous Blessings, Readings and Services. Temple Beth El.
	8	Ordination Service. Leo Baeck College. London, England. 1967.
	9	Peace Services, n.d.
	10	Readings, n.d.
	11	Reconciliation Service. Interdenominational. 1969.
	12	Rosh Hashanah Services. Temple Sholom of West Essex. Cedar Grove, N.J.
	13	Selichot Service. Rabbi Kurt Metzger. The Monroe Temple of Liberal
		Judaism. Monroe, N.Y. n.d.
	14	Service for Affixing Mezuzah. Temple Beth Israel. Fresno, Ca. n.d. 
	15	Services Commemorating Ghetto Uprisings. Temple Emanuel. Cherry Hill, N.J. 1964.
	16	Service, Contemporary. Commissioned by the Adult Ed. Cmte.
		Of Temple Beth El. n.d.
	17	Services, Liberal Jewish Synagogues, London, England. 1925-1964, n.d.
		Shabbat Family Service, n.d.
	18	Shabbat Service.
	19	Shabbat Service. Action - The Life of Judaism. By Sandy Eisenberg.
	20	Shabbat Service. Dedicated to the Spirit of Protest in Judaism.
	21	Shabbat Service at Federation Conference. 1963.
	22	Shabbat Service. Hasidism and Modem Man. By Herbert Bronstein.
	23	Shabbat Service for New Temple Youth. 1969.
	24	Shabbat Service. A Night in the Gardens of Spain.
	25	Shabbat Service on Unity. By Sandy Eisenberg and Bob Ruskin.
	26	Shabbat Service. The World of Hasidism. Washington Hebrew
		Congregation. Washington, D.C.
	27	Special Service on the theme of the Messiah.
	28	Weekday and Evening Services. 1957, n.d.
	29	Women's Shabbat. Sarah's Hidden Voice: Recovering and Discovering
		Women's Spirituality.
	30	Yom HaShoah Service, n.d.
	31	Yom Kippur Services. 1969, n.d.

10	1	Gates of Repentance. Correspondence. Joseph Glaser/Eli Wiesel. 1974.
	2	Gates of Repentance. Questionnaire, n.d.
	3	Gates of Repentance. Partial Bibliography, n.d.
	4	Gates of Repentance. Poems, Prayers and Readings, n.d.
	5	Gates of Repentance. Correspondence. A-B. 1972-1977.
	6	Gates of Repentance. Correspondence. C-K. 1974-1977.
	7	Gates of Repentance. Correspondence. L-R. 1974-1977.
	8	Gates of Repentance. Correspondence. S-Z. 1968-1977.
	9	Gates of Repentance. Miscellaneous. 1976-1977.

11	1	Draft of Gates of Prayer, Part II. pp. 1-75.
	2	Draft of Gates of Prayer, Part II. pp. 76-151.
	3	Draft of Gates of Prayer, Part II. pp. 152-225.
	4	Draft of Gates of Prayer, Part II. pp. 226-323.
	5	Gates of Prayer, Part II. Correspondence, A-Z. 1973.
	6	Gates of Prayer, Part II. Revisions.
	7	Gates of Prayer, Part II. Miscellaneous. 1973, n.d.  
Copyright © 2006 Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives