The Guelph Hebrew Congregation, precursor of Beth Isaiah Congregation, was established in the early 1900s by the Jewish families which settled in Guelph shortly after 1900. Rev. Pearl was the congregation's first spiritual leader and teacher. Services were held in private homes until 1925, when the congregation purchased a building at the intersection of Surrey and Dublin Streets and remodeled it as a synagogue. An extension was added to this building in 1935 to meet the needs of the increasing membership. Planning for a new synagogue began in the early 1940s, and construction was completed in 1949 of the new synagogue on the same site. The name of the congregation was changed to Beth Isaiah, in honour of congregation member Isaiah (Sidney) Acker, who was killed on active service on 3 November 1942, while with the Royal Canadian Air Force.
Over the years, congregation members formed other organizations whose activities were tightly intertwined with the congregation, given the relatively small size of Guelph's Jewish community. These organizations included the Beth Isaiah Congregation Hebrew School, the Guelph Jewish Welfare Fund, the Ir Shalom Chapter of Hadassah, and the B'nai Brith Guelph Lodge. The B'nai Brith Guelph Lodge was chartered in Apr. 1942. It held the first Brotherhood dinner in Canada in 1947, which gave impetus to the formation of the Canadian Council of Christians and Jews. Beth Isaiah celebrated the 100th anniversary of the congregation in 2004.
Scope and Content
The fonds documents the activities, membership, and finances of Beth Isaiah Congregation and affiliated organizations, including the Beth Isaiah Ladies' Auxiliary, Beth Isaiah Congregation Hebrew School, the Guelph Jewish Welfare Fund, the Ir Shalom Chapter of Hadassah, and the B'nai Brith Guelph Lodge. The records in the fonds include financial records, membership ledgers, meeting minutes, correspondence and newsletters, and fundraising materials. The fonds also includes blueprints and other records relating to the construction of Beth Isaiah Synagogue in 1949.