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Guide to the Congregation Beth Israel Records MS 43
MS 43  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Biographical / Historical Notes
  • Scope and Content
  • Arrangement
  • Processing Information
  • Preferred Citation
  • Conditions Governing Access
  • Conditions Governing Use
  • Immediate Source of Acquisition

  • Title: Congregation Beth Israel Records
    Identifier/Call Number: MS 43
    Contributing Institution: San Diego History Center Document Collection
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 0.25 Linear feet (1 box)
    Date (inclusive): 1921-1969
    Abstract: This collection consists of documents from Congregation Beth Israel related to their land purchases and projects.
    creator: Congregation Beth Israel (San Diego, Calif.).

    Biographical / Historical Notes

    Congregation Beth Israel, with roots in San Diego dating back to 1861, was officially incorporated in 1886. Since its inception, it has built and occupied three synagogues in San Diego, all of which are still standing. The Congregation’s first temple was completed in 1889 at 2nd Avenue and Beech Street (1502 2nd Avenue), largely due to the efforts of Samuel I. Fox and Adolph Levi. In this same time period, the Congregation established a Jewish burial ground called Home of Peace Cemetery as part of Mount Hope Cemetery.
    In 1926, outgrowing its synagogue building, the Congregation purchased lots G, H and I on Block 286 of the “Horton’s Addition” area of San Diego, on 3rd and Laurel Streets. There they built a new synagogue, Temple Beth Israel, which was designed by noted San Diego architect William Henry Wheeler and built by M. Trepte & Son. The synagogue was mortgaged in 1931. The Congregation continued to purchase land on Block 286, and it soon owned the entire block, including an apartment complex and house that were demolished in 1968 to make way for a parking lot for the Temple. In 1967, Congregation Beth Israel merged with Temple Solel, whose five blocks of property located between Juan Street and Harney Court came under the care of the Congregation.
    In 2001, the Congregation built a new temple and surrounding complex in University City, and sold Block 286 to Peter J. Block Companies, who agreed to preserve the building. It is currently occupied by Ohr Shalom Synagogue. The first and original temple, which had been owned and used by the Fraternal Spiritualist Church, was made a San Diego Historic Site in 1973. Congregation Beth Israel repurchased this building and donated it to the county in 1978; in that year it was moved to Heritage Park in Old Town, where it stands today and serves as a public meeting place and religious museum after a long period of restoration, funded in part by both the Congregation and the Save Our Heritage Organization.
    This collection was donated by Richard C. Levi, grandson of one of the early leaders of Congregation Beth Israel, Adolph Levi. Adolph (1858-1943) immigrated to California from Bohemia in 1877 to join his brother Simon (1850-1918) in San Diego. Both became successful businessmen and prominent members of San Diego. Adolph was instrumental in building the first synagogue, and both Adolph and Simon served terms as president of Congregation Beth Israel. Richard Levi (1918 - ) was an active leader of the Congregation, serving as Treasurer for many years.

    Scope and Content

    The collection contains documents relating to the administration, land purchases and building projects of Congregation Beth Israel, including its temple on 3rd and Laurel Streets. Highlights include administrative resolutions, court petitions, legal agreements and contracts, correspondence, maps and property deeds.


    Items in the collection are arranged by subject.

    Processing Information

    Collection processed by Jennifer Ho on December 7, 2011.
    Collection processed as part of grant project supported by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) with generous funding from The Andrew Mellon Foundation.

    Preferred Citation

    Congregation Beth Israel Records, MS 43, San Diego History Center Document Collection, San Diego, CA.

    Conditions Governing Access

    This collection is open for research.

    Conditions Governing Use

    The San Diego History Center (SDHC) holds the copyright to any unpublished materials. SDHC Library regulations do apply.

    Immediate Source of Acquisition

    Accession number 830729A.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Albert, David
    Congregation Beth Israel (San Diego, Calif.).
    F.E. Young Investment Co..
    Fox, Samuel I.
    Home of Peace Cemetery.
    Levi, Adolph
    Levi, Richard C.
    Price, Alan
    Rabin, Seymour
    Samisch, E. H.
    Stacy, Mary Duffy
    Temple Beth Israel (San Diego, Calif.).
    Trepte Construction Company.
    Wheeler, William Henry
    Real property
    San Diego (Calif.)