Access and Provenance

Institutional Sketch

Scope and Content Note

Box and Folder Listing

A Finding Aid to the

Temple B'nai Abraham of Newark, New Jersey Records

Manuscript Collection No. 742

1924-1975. 0.8 Linear ft.


The Temple B'nai Abraham of Newark, Records were received from Rabbi Clifford Kulwin of Newark, New Jersey in 2004.  Rabbi Kulwin, by the act of donating the records to the American Jewish Archives, assigned the property rights to the American Jewish Archives.  All literary rights to material are retained by the individuals and their heirs. Questions concerning rights should be addressed to the Executive Director of the American Jewish Archives. The papers are available in the reading room of the Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives.


Temple B’nai Abraham began life as Congregation B’nai Jeshurun in 1848. (Why this is not considered their birth year would be good cause for speculation. One hundred years later, the temple was variously referred to, in writing, as both Temple B’nai Abraham and Congregation B’nai Abraham, another reason for puzzlement.) Members hired their first rabbi in 1861, Reverend Edward Rubin. In October of that same year, the congregation’s first building, a former Baptist church in downtown Newark, was dedicated.

By 1870 the congregation had built their first temple. Their rabbi at this time, Isidor Kalisch, is recognized as one of a group of men responsible for defining and practicing American Reform Judaism. Kalisch’s tenure was, however, short-lived, his views and practices not in conformance with the congregation’s more orthodox customs. Countless moves and rabbis later, congregants at last took ownership, in1897, of a building that could seat nine hundred for the High Holidays. In 1902, Julius Silberfeld assumed the pulpit.

Rabbi Silberfeld oversaw the building of yet another temple in 1924. Newark had, by this time, grown into a prosperous community, and the congregation was in the uncomfortable position of having to turn away membership applicants. The new temple was not only much larger, it was part of a campus which included a community center, built for Jewish families and, especially, Jewish children and teenagers.

When the time arrived for new religious leadership, the temple’s members showed the kind of vision that had been so lacking in earlier years. Only two years in the United States, Joachim Prinz became Temple B’nai Abraham’s rabbi in 1939. Why the congregation hired a Reform rabbi is another cause for speculation (Silberfeld was not Reform); it is likely that Rabbi Prinz’s reputation as a thought-provoking speaker and social activist had preceded him The congregation soon learned that Prinz’s sermons were worth anticipating. Coupled as they were with the operatic tenor of Cantor Abraham Shapiro, Friday night services inspired renewed interest on the part of members and non-members alike.

The now-wealthy congregation was able to devote its energy, under Prinz’s able guidance, to new programs and projects. At the same time, it had to share the blessing of its rabbi’s dedication with communities across the nation and around the globe. Initially outspoken in his vehement opposition to Hitler’s Third Reich, Prinz became involved in subsequent years with immigrant rights, labor rights, and civil rights. It was while Rabbi Prinz served B’nai Abraham that it moved yet again, this time to Livingston, New Jersey.


The Temple B'nai Abraham of Newark, New Jersey Records consist of bound copies of the temple newsletter, and programs for special events. There are gaps in the newsletter collection; the records contain copies from the years 1942-1944, 1947-1950, 1954-1962, and 1971-1975. The special events observed in the collection’s programs include various anniversaries and a temple dedication. Of special note is a “Short History” of the congregation featured in the program in Box 2, Folder 4.

The collection is divided into two brief series.

SERIES A. Temple Newsletters.
SERIES B. Programs for special events.

Each series occupies roughly one Hollinger box, the second of which is oversized.

This collection will be of interest not only to those with a desire to learn more about Temple B’nai Abraham, but also to researchers with an interest in Rabbi Joachim Prinz.
Rabbi Prinz’s papers can be found in Manuscript Collection No. 673.


Box	Folder			Contents 

SERIES A.  Temple Newsletters, 1942-1975.

1	1	Bulletin of Temple B’nai Abraham.  1942-1944.
	2	Temple B’nai Abraham News.  1954-1960.
	3	Bulletin of Temple B’nai Abraham.  1960-1962.
	4	Bulletin of Temple B’nai Abraham.  1971-1973.
	5	Bulletin of Temple B’nai Abraham.  1974-1975.

2	1	Temple B’nai Abraham News.  1947-1950.

SERIES B.  Programs for special events.

	2	Temple Dedication. September 21-27, 1924.
	3	85th Anniversary Celebration.  November 18, 1938.
	4	20th Anniversary of Dr. Joachim Prinz as Rabbi
		of Temple B’nai Abraham.  Eightieth birthday of
		Congregation [sic] B’nai Abraham.  Tenth New
		Building Anniversary.  March 29-31, 1935. 
Copyright © 2008 Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives