History

The history of Temple Beth Israel

History

This history is a work in process. It is based on recollections, interviews with children of founding members, a review of Temple records, correspondence, board minutes and also on a history prepared for the Temple’s Thirtieth Anniversary Celebration which took place November 2, 1980. The story is incomplete. There will be errors and there are surely omissions. The research will continue as it is an important component of the Mission Statement of the Temple Beth Israel Preservation Society. We invite readers to provide us with additional detail. Please share your stories and memories with us. Use the “Contact Us” link or send us a letter. We will expand and edit this history as we continue to learn more about our intriguing past.

Danielson, Connecticut 

Danielson is a small, New England town located in the Northeast corner of Connecticut. The population of Danielson has always hovered between 5,000 and 10,000 residents. This area has come to be known as the “Quiet Corner.” It is surrounded by rivers, lakes, forests and meadows. Steeped in colonial history, there remains a strong connection with the original settlers in the region who were Puritans. The area has a distinct Yankee culture with strong roots in the Puritan tradition as expressed in Congregational churches. The emphasis has been on personal piety, thrift, hard work, and devotion to civic duty. There is also strong tradition of support for reform movements including abolition of slavery, temperance in the use of alcohol, women’s rights and education. During the late 1800s and for the first half of the 20th century there was a strong growth of manufacturing with the building of many mills and factories along the rivers and rail lines that traversed the region. Danielson typified small town New England qualities and characteristics.

Two Kinds of Jews

To understand the Jewish community in Danielson requires a familiarity with two fundamentally different kinds of Jews. First there were the “old” Americans – Jews who had settled in the area before World War II. At the end of World War II there were some ten “old” American Jewish families living in and around Danielson. Then there were the “new” Americans – Jewish Holocaust Survivors, who arrived after their liberation from displaced persons camps in Europe. These Jews had lived in Europe, many in the Pale of Settlement, spoke Yiddish and had experienced the horrors of the Holocaust. Some forty Holocaust survivors’ families arrived in the Danielson area shortly after World War II. The story of the Jews of Danielson is the story of how these two dramatically different groups came together to form one dynamic community.

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