In 1950, eighty women formed the League of Jewish Women to help bring together the growing Jewish community of Contra Costa County, Calif. They organized a religious school and launched a campaign to raise funds for a Jewish community center, which they hoped would prove a “focal point for Jewish activities, education and cultural programs and religious observances.” In 1953, the Contra Costa Jewish Community Center bought the land and building of a bankrupt restaurant. The Center also doubled as a synagogue and the membership observed High Holiday services together. The Conservative congregation engaged Rabbi Bernard Ducoff (who served from 1955 to 1957). The congregation then became Reform and elected H. Hirsch Cohen as the rabbi of the Contra Costa Jewish Community Temple and Center. In 1964, the congregation dedicated a new synagogue up the hill from the Center; it took the name of Temple Isaiah. Also in 1964, David Robins was the congregation’s rabbi; the congregation’s League of Jewish Women became the congregation’s sisterhood, and the temple purchased a location to hold the first Jewish cemetery in Contra Costa County. In 1974, Temple Isaiah elected its first woman president.
The collection contains histories; by-laws; correspondence; minutes and reports; scrapbooks; financial statements and membership lists; programs, announcements, and bulletins; and photographs, including incidents of antisemitic vandalism. Also has information about the congregation’s cemetery at Oakmont Memorial Park and its religious school. Materials in the collection also relate to the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, the Jewish Welfare Federation of Alameda and Contra Costa Counties, and the Synagogue Council of the East Bay. The collection’s five scrapbooks trace the development of the congregation’s League of Jewish Women and the activities of the sisterhood (now called Women of Isaiah). They also highlight social events, educational seminars, temple fundraisers, and family celebrations.
Temple Isaiah (Congregation) (Lafayette, California)Size
4 cartons, 3 oversize boxes (6.2 linear feet)Collection #
BANC MSS 2010/743 (WJHC 1977.017 AR1)Publication Date
September 2, 1951
Bancroft Library, University of California, BerkeleyAccess
Open to researchers. Stored off-site. Advance notice required for use.