|This history is composed in part of portions of The First Hundred Years compiled and written by Carolyn Kaplan. It was published in the Congregation Beth Israel Centennial Book published in October, 1995. Other contributors include Elma Sanders and the office of Michael Rosenfeld.|
ASHLAND STREET – By 1905 a second group of Jews had come together in North Adams to establish a congregation. The congregation took the name Chevra Chai Adorn and, in February 1909,represented by Hyman S.Katsch, Morris B. Hirsh, Herman Jacobs, Mark Cotton, and Morris Silverman, purchased half acre of land for use as a cemetery from Richard Hewat in Clarksburg, just north of the cemetery owned by the House of Israel. In October,this group, represented by Louis Stone, Hyman Jacobs, Robert Green, H. S. Katsch, Barnard Cotton, B. Carr, MaxWein, Louis S.Simon, and Alter Melcher, purchased a home on Ashland Street from Nelson Robare for $2800. The Congregation converted the house to a synagogue which remained in use until the early 1960s.
CHURCH STREET – A merger, a new synagogue, and change – In July of 1958, Bernard Lenhoff, acting as counsel for Chai Adom, proposed a merger of the two congregations. This proposal was accepted at a special meeting of the United House of Israel. At the same time, President Harry Wein informed the membership that the Urban Renewal Authority had announced that the Congregation would be able to conduct its High Holiday services in the Center Street building, but that it would be necessary for them to be prepared to remove all personal belongings at the end of that period so that the building could be razed. By November of 1958, Joseph Shapiro, president of Chai Adom, was appointed to the Board of Directors of the United House of Israel. At this same time the merged organization, which adopted the name of the larger group, United House of Israel,began its regular meetings and services in its new /old home in the synagogue of Chai Adom on Ashland Street. Because space was limited in the little shul, and because the holidays fell on the weekend in 1959, the United House of Israel was able to use the Drury High School Auditorium to conduct High Holiday Services. In 1960 and 1961, the Masonic Temple was secured for this purpose.
LOIS STREET – Today, Congregation Beth Israel sits in a quiet bowl at the foot of Mt. Greylock in the Berkshires. A wall of glass lines the sanctuary and opens to a tranquil mountain vista, reinforcing the connection between the building and its site. Only the Ark, which serves as both the spiritual and structural center of the building, interrupts this glass expanse to support the roof and form the focal point of the sanctuary. The building, of course, is not Congregation Beth Israel. The community of people is Congregation Beth Israel.