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History and Archives

History and Archives

             There are only a handful of Jewish congregations in America whose roots reach as far back as Shaarai’s.  From the establishment of our cemetery in 1747 to the formal organization of our congregation in 1856, ours is a rich history with much to celebrate.

            The mission of the History/Archives Committee is to establish and maintain a congregational archive of records, documents, photographs, artifacts, and other materials of historical interest. The Committee also seeks to promote the history of our congregation and of Lancaster’s Jewish community through displays, exhibits, oral histories, and other written materials. By making information available to Congregation members, the wider Lancaster community, and researchers and scholars interested in Jewish-American history, the Committee  will work to preserve both Shaarai Shomayim’s and Lancaster’s Jewish history.

            Work on the congregational archive has been going on for about the last five years or so. In that time, we have gone through numerous boxes of old records and documents and begun organizing and storing them according to archival principles; we have dispersed a large number of Judaica books that we no longer wished to retain; we have begun work on a congregational oral history project, and established the tradition of Charter Shabbat on the Friday evening in November closest to the date of the congregation’s original charter. 

            While much has been accomplished, there is much remaining to be done. We still have boxes of documents and records that need to be sorted; we have photos that need to be identified, and we are anxious to capture the memories of long time congregational members before those memories are no longer available to us. A congregational archive is not just important for sentimental historical reasons, it is critical for the future administrative, financial and legal interests of the congregation.

            There are a handful of dedicated congregation members who have devoted considerable time to this Archive effort. But we need more help. Won’t you please consider joining with us in this effort? No special knowledge or skill is required (we have experts at the American Jewish Archive in Cincinnati who are just an email away to provide the expertise we need!) If you are interested in joining the History/ Archives Committee, please contact Ellen Pike at ellenpike@verizon.net.

Thu, 30 October 2014 6 Cheshvan 5775