Jewish community of Greater Waterville.
This section of the Documenting Maine Jewry project has information on the communities of Fairfield, Oakland, Waterville.The coordinators of this site are Peter and Joan Beckerman of Waterville and David Friedenreich at Colby College. They would welcome additional photographs, documents and oral histories sent to them at dmj @ mindspring.com
All the dropdown menus above display data for just Greater Waterville
Local Jewish Organizations
|Beth Israel Synagogue (Waterville)||Main St Waterville||207-872-7551 -|
|Hillel at Colby College||Colby College , 4000 Mayflower Hill. 252 Pugh Center, Cotter Union Waterville||207-859-4086 - email@example.com|
|Jewish cemetery in Waterville||Waterville||-|
|Maine Jewish History Project, Colby College Jewish Studies Program||350 Lovejoy, Colby College Waterville||207-859-4646 - firstname.lastname@example.org|
Brief History of Waterville JewryShortly after the turn of the century, in the days of the horse and wagon and the itinerant peddler, seven men of the Jewish faith settled in Waterville. These men, who earned their livelihood by peddling various wares, soon were faced with the need to band together in an effort to foster Judaism for themselves and their families. The Beth Israel Congregation was chartered June 16, 1902. The seven founding fathers included Julius Levine, William Levine, Louis Wolman, John Paikowsky, Phillip Levine, Moses Silver and John Williams. Their ultimate goal was to build a House of Worship for the Jewish residents of Waterville.
Before this dream could become reality, however, they found it necessary to conduct religious services at various private homes in the community. High Holy Day Services were conducted at Hose No. 4 Fire Station on Ticonic Street. On August 21, 1903, a barn, situated on the corner of Kelsey and Ticonic Streets, was purchased by the Congregation. This barn was dismantled, and by securing additional new lumber, work was begun on the new building. The project was accomplished under the direction and guidance of Mr. Charles Fitzgerald of Winslow.
In 1905, the Beth Israel Synagogue on Kelsey Street was completed. This was unique in that it was wholly supported from dues of members, which at that time, were ten cents a week, or $5.00 per year. There was a substantial mortgage however, and 20 years later, in 1925, the balance of the mortgage was paid by William Levine, in memory of his son, Theodore N. Levine.
Mr. Moses Silver, who emigrated to Waterville in 1900, became the first "Shochet" or ritual leader, even before the completion of the Synagogue. Mr. Hyman L. Shenson became the spiritual leader in the years that followed until about 1914, at which time there was a succession of different rabbis
DATABASE RESOURCES : Information is available today on
- 1,033 individual Jews with strong ties to Greater Waterville of which 66 record the Old Country origin of first generation immigrants
- 172 records of burial in Jewish cemeteries for which there are 137 headstone images
- 80 organizations important to the Greater Waterville Jewish community of which 23 are Jewish community institutions and 29 are businesses important to the Greater Waterville Jewish community
- 402 bibliographic citations and sources pertaining to Greater Waterville of which 160 are photographs and 30 are oral histories
Recent additions to the Documenting Greater Waterville Jewry database include
- Marcia D (Shiro) Beckerman - obituary (Waterville ) - Peter Beckerman
- Bibby Alfond : video tribune (Waterville) - Eric Bloom Colby College
- Rabbo Rachel Issacs : Inaugural Address - "The Sisterhood is Powerful : The Role of Synagogue Sisterhoods in American Jewish Life and the Legacy of Bibby Levine Alfond" (Waterville) - Eric Bloom Colby College
- Maine sports legend Ted Shiro dies at 87 : Shiro was a member of seven sports halls of fame and was the first basketball player to score 1,000 career points at Colby. (Waterville) - Portland Press Herald
- Jewish Waterville : The Center for Small Town Jewish Life: Energizing Jewish Life through Collaboration (Waterville) - Colby College
- 19th-century Jewish peddlers and merchants (Waterville ) - Kristin Esdale, Colby ’16 Colby Jewish Studies Program
- Journey of William and Sarah Levine, from Vilna, Lithuania to Waterville, Maine, by Eric Bloom for the Levine Family Reunion, July 2009 (Waterville)
People The questions unavoidably arise: Who is a Jew? And who is a Mainer? On the former, the project takes no position. On the latter, we have used a broad definition including not only those who were born, grew up, or lived here, but also those who are buried here.
Organizations DWJ is also building a community-based history around the 20 religious and secular institutions that were or are the lifeblood of the Waterville Jewish community ï¿½ as well as the source of quite regular souris (headaches). The project is creating 'family trees' of those often-interconnected local institutions: some 180 Jewish service organizations, 94 Jewish religious bodies, 18 Chevra Kaddisha and cemeteries, 15 Jewish camps, and 240 businesses crucial to the economic survival of Maine Jews.
Places The state-wide database has information on Maine Jews from over 90 cities and towns . Users can seek information in a particular town or city or can select a wider area to search on the state map index . Each option allows users to find organizations and people either in these key cities/towns or by county.
Oral Histories The DWJ project is also collecting oral histories. Currently there are X oral histories by Waterville-connected Jews.
Sources The Documenting Maine Jewry methodology is basically a jigsaw approach. We take whatever community, municipal, and cemetery records we have and merge them into a common database. As a result, we face problems of duplication and incompleteness. To minimize those problems, we try to name-match only when we have at least two factual sources for a given name. Ultimately, we feel it is better to have duplicate records than inaccurate information linking two unrelated people with the same names; Jews do love to repeat certain family names. In the name of historic accuracy, we ask families to supplement/correct their information using the on-line edit function on their page, or by emailing correct information to email@example.com.
For security reasons, complete access to the database is available only on request. A full index of all burials , however, is publicly available.
Volunteers The Waterville Documenting Maine Jewry effort is largely a volunteer effort; we always welcome more help. Volunteers interested in photographing older Jewish headstones, collecting information on a particular town or organization, transferring data from print to electronic records, or upgrading software should email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finances Financial contributions supplement the volunteer effort by supporting data collection and outreach. DMJ is under the financial supervision of Jewish Community Alliance of Southern Maine(JCA), a 501(c)3 organization. Donations are welcome using the Tzedakah box below or by sending a gift (marked DOMJ) to the JCA, 57 Ashmont St., Portland, Maine 04103. Major donors can select a range of contributions to honor their own Maine immigrant family or to inspire and inform the next generation of Maine Jews.
Heart and Soul The core of the project is the addition of new information by Maine Jews, whether online through the website, by email, or by old-fashioned mail. We encourage all registered users to supplement or correct existing information on individuals using the edit function on each person's page. Historical documents, oral accounts, photographs of community activities, and print articles can be emailed to David at Colby College. To get a mailing address, please email describing the materials you would like to share.
Recent additions to the Documenting Waterville Jewry database include
Last Updated : 17 January 2010
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