Congregation Beth Israel 
Archival Materials

The Beth Israel Archives document the activities of the congregation from its earliest days, with records of meetings, pictures and documents chronicling the life of an active Temple. The archives are available for use with the assistance of the librarian. Please contact the librarian by phone at (713) 771-6221 x370, or email for more information.

Access online archival materials 24 hours a day!

See your Beth Israel confirmation class photos!
Thanks to the Loewenstern Family Archival Project, our digital archive contains most class photos from confirmation classes.  Browse by class or search by name to find your picture.  

Documents from early years of Beth Israel
The “Bris Book” and documents concerning the “Basic Principles” history of Beth Israel: Now viewable online are images of documents of two significant historical events in the history of Beth Israel.

Oral Histories 

 The Bris Book Circa 1860’s

The Basic Principles

Basic Principles- accompanying exhibits

Transcription of names in Bris Book with historical research by Lynna Kay Sheffield

Names in Bris book

Digitization of these materials was made possible by a generous grant to the Schachtel Library from the Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life, whose mission is to document and preserve the rich history of the Southern Jewish Experience.

Bris Book
The “Bris Book” is the handwritten bound volume chronicling the circumcisions performed by Rabbi Emmich, the first spiritual leader of Beth Israel, dating from the mid 19th century.  Written in German, Hebrew and English, this book is currently on display in a case in the history corridor of the current temple.  A translation and transcription of the names listed in the Bris book is now posted with the scanned images of the Bris book.  The names have been listed with more information on the individuals.\

Basic Principles
“Basic Principles” documents: Over 500 pages of letters, minutes, clippings and commentary is contained in this collection, describing this significant chapter of Beth Israel’s history. The issue of whether to support Israel, from the early 1940’s, was a divisive and impassioned issue for the congregation.

Oral Histories of congregants and community leaders 
In preparation for their 1975 film “The Beth Israel Experience: A Tribute to Spirit”, Linda May and Gay Block conducted taped oral histories of 64 Beth Israel congregants. Additional interviews were also conducted in the 1980s and 1990s, of Sisterhood Presidents and local Houstonians.  The Texas Jewish Historical Society has generously underwritten a digitization project of this invaluable collection of audiotapes, and these voices from the past are now available here online. Step back in history and enjoy these fascinating stories.

Documents from the earliest years of Beth Israel — from 1861-early 1920s

Houston Metropolitan Research Center at the Houston Public Library maintains the records of the earliest history of Beth Israel.
 These valuable documents have not been available to view at our temple since the collection was released in the early 1980’s.  Now digitized from the original microfilm rolls, these ledgers, minutes, birth, death and marriage records and other papers are now available online by request.  The records are listed below.  Please send your request for documents to the librarian Susan Whitman, at

ROLL 1: Hebrew Congregation Beth Israel Settlement Record
Hebrew Congregation Beth Israel Settlement Ledger, 1868-1984

ROLL 2:  Hebrew Congregation Beth Israel Legers 1902-1919

ROLL 3:  Hebrew Congregation Beth Israel Ledgers 1919-?
                Hebrew Congregation Beth Israel Minutes: 1861-1889, 1907-1922

ROLL 4:  Hebrew Congregation Beth Israel Minutes, continued, pages 152-end of volume
                Hebrew Congregation Beth Israel Lone Star Lodge Ledgers: 1874-1889-1890-1905
                Hebrew Congregation Beth Israel Lone Star Lodge Minutes 1884-1909
Hebrew Congregation Beth Israel Death Record ca. 1860-1903 (no actual death records, record of contributions made on behalf
of the deceased for years 1898-1900 plus a few later dates)
Hebrew Congregation Beth Israel Marriage, Death, and Confirmation Record

Roll 5:  Hebrew Congregation Beth Israel W. Dallas Cemetery Lot Record. Ca. 1860-1930
             Hebrew Congregation Beth Israel Cemetery Register of Burials in Graves ca. 1858-1930.