Summary Information
Title: Ohav Sholom Congregation (Donora, Pa.), Records,
Collection Number: MSS#16
Creator: Ohav Sholom Congregation
Collection Dates: 1913-1995
Collection Dates: 1913-1962
Extent: 1.25 linear feet (3 boxes)
Abstract:
Chartered in 1903, the Ohav Sholom (Lovers of Peace) Congregation was a traditional Orthodox synagogue located in Donora, Pennsylvania, Washington County. The records consist primarily of the Congregation's minutes (Board of Directors and B'nai B'rith Lodges), financial ledgers, and a scrapbook. The bulk of the materials date prior to 1962 and include a large component of materials dealing with the B'nai B'rith Men's and Women's Lodges.

Language:

The material in this collection is in English.

Repository:

Rauh Jewish Archives
Senator John Heinz History Center
1212 Smallman Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
412-454-6364
library@hswp.org
http://www.heinzhistorycenter.org/libraryArchives.aspx

Date Published:

September 2008
Author:

The guide to this collection was written by Anthony Capitos.
Encoder:

Encoded by Matt Strauss on September 10, 2008, from an existing finding aid.

History

Chartered in 1903, the Ohav Sholom (Lovers of Peace) Congregation was a traditional Orthodox synagogue located in Donora, Pennsylvania, Washington County. The Donora Jewish community was one of the growing satellite Jewish communities outside of the City of Pittsburgh which were concentrated in the industrial centers. The original congregants met in rented quarters in a building located on Third and McKean Streets. In 1911, construction began for the synagogue building at Second Street and Thompson Avenue, where it remains today. There were renovations in the 1930s and again in 1976. The original Jewish immigrants to this area from Hungary, Rumania, Lithuania and Germany, were responsible for establishing the Congregation. In addition to Donora, members also joined from the nearby towns of Charleroi, Monongahela, Monessen and Belle Vernon. By 1918 there were approximately 300 Jewish residents in Donora. In 1945, 213 Jewish residents were recorded, with synagogue membership peaking at 75 families during this period. After World War II, membership declined mainly as a result of the demise of the U.S. Steel Zinc Works plant in Donora. The first Rabbi was reportedly Rabbi Levin. The records indicate the following Rabbinical tenures: Rabbi Gilbert Albert Elefant (late 1910s - 1930s); Rabbi Benjamin Krohn (1940s - August 1958); Rabbi Emanuel Green (September 1958 - July 1959); Rabbi Moishe Klein (November 1959 - July 1960); Rabbi Bernard Fuerst (August 1960 -July 1961); Rabbi Phillip Labowitz (August 1961 to the end of the recorded minutes, June 1962). By the 1970's Rabbis were either part-time and/or brought in from surrounding towns. Area residents began to attend synagogues in Monessen, White Oak and Pittsburgh, so that by 1991 the membership had dwindled to nine. In August 1993 the Congregation officially disbanded when the building was given to the Campfire Boys and Girls of Mon Valley, headquartered in Donora. Ohav Sholom was the last remaining Orthodox congregation in Washington County.

Jewish men's and women's fraternal and benevolent societies play an important role in communal and synagogue life. They are the catalyst for social events and humanitarian projects, and instill a sense of community in their members. One of these societies, B'nai B'rith, is the oldest Jewish fraternal society. The Rubin Hirsch B'nai B'rith Lodge #1208 was formed in 1935 as the B'nai B'rith Grand Lodge. In 1953 the name was changed to Rubin Hirsch in his memory. The Women's B'nai B'rith Lodge #172 began in 1909. The Hebrew Ladies Aid Society was a benevolent society, which evolved into the Ohav Sholom Sisterhood by December 1947.


Collection Scope and Content Note

The Ohav Sholom Congregation Records are housed in three archival boxes and are arranged in two series. Series have been designated for the Ohav Sholom Congregation Records and the Auxiliary Organizations Records. The records consist primarily of the Congregation's minutes (Board of Directors and B'nai B'rith Lodges), financial ledgers, and a scrapbook. The bulk of the materials date prior to 1962 and include a large component of materials dealing with the B'nai B'rith Men's and Women's Lodges. The scrapbook, compiled by Edythe Moss, a member of the Women's B'nai B'rith, chronicles the experiences of Donora's Jewish enlisted men during World War II. The congregational and auxiliary records complement each other in that they represent both the religious observance and social/cultural aspects of small town Jewish life in Western Pennsylvania.

Series I: Ohav Sholom Congregation Records (1913-1995, bulk 1913-1962)

The Ohav Sholom Congregation Records are arranged alphabetically by folder title and include correspondence, educational materials, financial records, and minutes. The correspondence primarily concerns the day to day operation of the synagogue. Included with the educational materials are guides for Jewish educational curriculums from kindergarten through grade school. The bulk of the records in this series are contained in the three volumes of financial records and meeting minutes. There is an attempt at double entry bookkeeping with the ledgers and meeting minutes from 1915-1927. The financial records also reflect the membership by including their names and dues, along with the payments for their children to attend Hebrew and Sunday school. Among the miscellaneous materials are the Congregation's original constitution and by-laws.

Series II: Auxiliary Organizations (1940-1986)

The Auxiliary Organization's Records are arranged alphabetically by folder title with the B'nai B'rith material arranged to the front and include correspondence, minutes, scrapbooks and other sundry material. The three organizations that are represented are the Rubin Hirsch B'nai B'rith Lodge #1208, the Women's B'nai B'rith Lodge #172 and the Hebrew Ladies Aid Society/Ohav Sholom Sisterhood. The records of B'nai B'rith Lodge #1208 consist primarily of correspondence between the Lodge and the District Office and miscellaneous material pertaining to events held by the Lodge. The Women's B'nai B'rith Lodge records consist of the minutes of the organization from 1942-1956, miscellaneous materials, and a scrapbook. The scrapbook was assembled by Edythe Moss and includes an extensive accounting of the Lodge and Congregation's activities during World War II. Included are issues of the congregation newsletter written for the enlisted men overseas, her personal correspondence with them, life cycle event greeting cards (birth, weddings, etc.), their officers bars and insignias, postcards, and photographs. The Hebrew Ladies Aid Society/Sisterhood material consists primarily of minutes, from 1945-1950.


Controlled Access Terms
Personal Names
  • Hirsch, Rubin (1889-1953)
  • Hirsch, Arnold W. (1917-)
  • Moss, Edythe
Corporate Names
  • Ohav Sholom Congregation (Donora, Pa.)
  • B'nai B'rith (Donora, Pa.)
  • Women's B'nai B'rith (Donora, Pa)
Topics
  • Donora (Pa.)--Religion
  • Jewish Religious Education--Pennsylvania--Donora
  • Jews--Social Life and Customs--Pennsylvania--Donora.
  • Jews--Social Life and Customs--Pennsylvania--Washington County
  • Synagogues--Pennsylvania--Donora
  • Women Volunteers in Social Service--Pennsylvania--Donora
  • Women in Charitable Work--Pennsylvania--Donora
  • Women, Jewish--Pennsylvania--Donora--Societies and Clubs.
  • World War, 1939-1945--War Work--Pennsylvania--Donora
Access and Use
Access Restrictions:

No Restrictions.

Aquisition Information:

These materials came in six accessions and were combined into one body of records in 1993.

Acc# 1989.160 Gift of Arnold W. Hirsch, (Records. Mr. Hirsch donated these records on behalf of Ohav Sholom.)

Acc# 1990.144 Gift of Mr. Arnold W. Hirsch, (Records. Mr.Hirsch donated these records on behalf of Ohav Sholom).

Acc# 1990.13 Gift of Sylvia Abrams, (Pew Certificates).

Acc# 1991.56 Gift of Edna Moss Siegel, (Scrapbook, newspaper clippings and photograph).

Acc# 1991x Gift of Marsha W. Bramowitz, (Photograph).

Acc# 1993.115 Gift of Mr. Arnold W. Hirsch, (Photographs).

Acc# 1995.0135 Gift of Arnold W. Hirsch (letter, and constitution and by-laws)

Preferred Citation:

Ohav Sholom Congregation (Donora, Pa.), Records, 1913-1995, (bulk 1913-1962), MSS#16, Rauh Jewish Archives, Senator John Heinz History Center

Processing Information:

March 4, 1993; Records arranged and inventory written by Anthony Capitos; Revised August 28, 1993 by Judith B. Ross.

Additions in June 2014

Copyright:

Property rights reside with the Senator John Heinz History Center. Literary rights are retained by the creators of the records and their heirs. For permission to reproduce or publish, please contact the Library and Archives of the Senator John Heinz History Center.


Contents List
Series I Ohav Sholom Congregation Records, 1913-1995
Scope and Content Notes:

The Ohav Sholom Congregation Records are arranged alphabetically by folder title and include correspondence, educational materials, financial records, and minutes. The correspondence primarily concerns the day to day operation of the synagogue. Included with the educational materials are guides for Jewish educational curriculums from kindergarten through grade school. The bulk of the records in this series are contained in the three volumes of financial records and meeting minutes. There is an attempt at double entry bookkeeping with the ledgers and meeting minutes from 1915-1927. The financial records also reflect the membership by including their names and dues, along with the payments for their children to attend Hebrew and Sunday school. Among the miscellaneous materials are the Congregation's original constitution and by-laws.


Box 1
Folder 1 Constitution and by-laws 1922
Folder 2 Correspondence 1959-1960, 1995
Folder 3 Educational Materials 1941-1947
Volume Financial Records 1920-1925
Volume Minutes 1913-1921
Volume Minutes 1915-1927

Box 2
Folder 1 Minutes 1915-1927
Folder 2 Minutes 1956-1958
Folder 3 Minutes 1958-1962
Folder 4 Miscellaneous Material 1922-1990
Folder 5 Pew Certificates and Seating Arrangements 1912-1917
Series II Auxiliary Organizations Records, 1940-1986
Scope and Content Notes:

The Auxiliary Organization's Records are arranged alphabetically by folder title with the B'nai B'rith material arranged to the front and include correspondence, minutes, scrapbooks and other sundry material. The three organizations that are represented are the Rubin Hirsch B'nai B'rith Lodge #1208, the Women's B'nai B'rith Lodge #172 and the Hebrew Ladies Aid Society/Ohav Sholom Sisterhood. The records of B'nai B'rith Lodge #1208 consist primarily of correspondence between the Lodge and the District Office and miscellaneous material pertaining to events held by the Lodge. The Women's B'nai B'rith Lodge records consist of the minutes of the organization from 1942-1956, miscellaneous materials, and a scrapbook. The scrapbook was assembled by Edythe Moss and includes an extensive accounting of the Lodge and Congregation's activities during World War II. Included are issues of the congregation newsletter written for the enlisted men overseas, her personal correspondence with them, life cycle event greeting cards (birth, weddings, etc.), their officers bars and insignias, postcards, and photographs. The Hebrew Ladies Aid Society/Sisterhood material consists primarily of minutes, from 1945-1950.

Folder 6 B'nai B'rith Lodge #1208, 1940-1956
Women's B'nai B'rith #172
Folder 7 Minutes, 1942-1949

Box 3
Folder 1 Minutes, 1949-1958
Folder 2 Miscellaneous Material, 1962-1986
Shelf Scrapbook, 1941-1946
Folder 3 Hebrew Ladies Aid Society/Ohav Sholom Sisterhood, 1945-1950