Temple B'nai Abraham. Records, 1910-1921 and 1935-2017 | Illinois History and Lincoln Collections
Temple B'nai Abraham was first established in 1921 as an Orthodox Jewish congregation in Decatur, Illinois, before transitioning to Reform Judaism in the early 1930s. This collection contains materials that document the history of the temple's administration, members, liturgy, events, and religious school from roughly 1910-2017.
Temple B’nai Abraham was established by the Decatur Jewish community in 1921, when one family’s donation supported the purchase of land at 247 West Prairie Avenue and the construction of the congregation’s first temple. Growing from 30 to 100 families by the post-WWII period, the congregation relocated to a larger structure at 1326 West Eldorado Street in 1957. Here, Temple B’nai Abraham continued to support the needs of Decatur’s Jewish community, serving as a meeting place for the Temple Sisterhood, the Louis H. Cohn Lodge of B’nai B’rith, and the Decatur Chapter of Hadassah. The temple also continued to operate a religious school to provide younger members of the congregation with instruction on topics relevant to Judaism, Jewish heritage and history, and the State of Israel. Temple B’nai Abraham closed its Eldorado Street structure in 2022 due to decreased membership.
The Temple B'nai Abraham Records consist of six series, 1. Administration; 2. Members; 3. Liturgy; 4. Sisterhood; 5. Events; and 6. Religious School. The records that make up these series document the 101-year history of the temple and the lives and activities of its congregants. Records include administrative and financial documents for regular and special events, religious texts and service bulletins, lesson plans and teaching guides, play scripts and songbooks, photos, artifacts, ephemera, and audio/visual materials.
These materials were donated by Temple B’nai Abraham's President, David Gilpin, and Vice President, Catherine Gross, in 2022.
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