Guide to Researching Connecticut Synagogues in Our Collections

Bulletin from Congregation Mishkan Israel, dated December 7, 1939.

Jews had settled in Connecticut as early as 1659, but a significant community didn’t exist until the mid-19th century when German Jews began to immigrate and settle in the area. While Jewish congregations were not permitted to incorporate in Connecticut until 1843, informal congregations were formed prior to that, including the state’s first congregation, Congregation Mishkan Israel in New Haven, organized in 1840, and Congregation Beth Israel in Hartford, founded in 1843. By 1877, there were approximately 1,500 Jews residing in Connecticut, and by 1927, after an influx of Eastern European Jewish immigration, its Jewish population swelled to 94,000, and eventually 105,000 by 1969. By this time, many of the larger Jewish communities were in the southern part of the state, considered to be suburbs of New York City. Today, there are approximately 108 synagogues that serve the state’s nearly 118,000 Jewish residents.

Our Collections

Congregation Adath Israel (Newtown, Conn.) Records, I-323
Congregation Adath Israel was established in 1919 by a small group of Jewish farmers in Newtown, Connecticut. The synagogue expanded its building in 1957 and converted from the Orthodox movement to the Conservative movement in the 1970s. In 2007, they relocated to a larger building within Newtown. The collection primarily consists of administrative and financial records, along with newspaper clippings, photographs, and miscellaneous documents.

Congregation Beth Israel (Hartford, Conn.) Records, I-464
Congregation Beth Israel was founded in 1843 and is Connecticut's oldest synagogue. Originally established as an Orthodox congregation, the synagogue eventually converted to Reform and was one of the founding members of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (Union for Reform Judaism) in 1877. This collection includes event flyers, programs for services, sermons, anniversary books with historical information, and bulletins.

Congregation Mishkan Israel (Hamden, Conn.) Records, I-465
Congregation Mishkan Israel in Hamden, Connecticut, was founded in 1840. Their cemetery was established in 1843 in the Westville section of New Haven, Connecticut. This collection consists primarily of newsletters and other synagogue publications, as well as invitations to the 100th anniversary of the synagogue and other events.
View in Digital Collections

Congregation Rodeph Sholom (Bridgeport, Conn.) Records, JHCI-006
Congregation Rodeph Sholom is a synagogue in Bridgeport, Connecticut founded in 1909 by Nathan Schwarz, Samuel Graves, and Nathan Klebansky as an offshoot of Congregation B’nai Moshe, also in Bridgeport. This collection contains two dedication journals commemorating major construction projects, as well as a 1959 book celebrating the congregation's 50th anniversary.

Other Resources

Jewish Historical Society of Greater Hartford

Jewish Historical Society of Fairfield County

Jewish Historical Society of Greater New Haven

National Register of Historic Places Historic Synagogues of Connecticut

Connecticut Jewish History - Jewish Virtual Library

Historic Synagogues of Connecticut - Jewish Virtual Library