MS 43 Congregation Beth Israel Records

Summary Information

San Diego History Center Document Collection
Congregation Beth Israel (San Diego, Calif.).
Congregation Beth Israel Records
MS 43
Date [inclusive]
0.25 Linear feet (1 box)
This collection consists of documents from Congregation Beth Israel related to their land purchases and projects.

Preferred Citation

Congregation Beth Israel Records, MS 43, San Diego History Center Document Collection, San Diego, CA.

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Biographical / Historical Notes

Congregation Beth Israel, with roots in San Diego dating back to 1861, was officially incorporated in 1886. Since its inception, it has built and occupied three synagogues in San Diego, all of which are still standing. The Congregation’s first temple was completed in 1889 at 2nd Avenue and Beech Street (1502 2nd Avenue), largely due to the efforts of Samuel I. Fox and Adolph Levi. In this same time period, the Congregation established a Jewish burial ground called Home of Peace Cemetery as part of Mount Hope Cemetery.

In 1926, outgrowing its synagogue building, the Congregation purchased lots G, H and I on Block 286 of the “Horton’s Addition” area of San Diego, on 3rd and Laurel Streets. There they built a new synagogue, Temple Beth Israel, which was designed by noted San Diego architect William Henry Wheeler and built by M. Trepte & Son. The synagogue was mortgaged in 1931. The Congregation continued to purchase land on Block 286, and it soon owned the entire block, including an apartment complex and house that were demolished in 1968 to make way for a parking lot for the Temple. In 1967, Congregation Beth Israel merged with Temple Solel, whose five blocks of property located between Juan Street and Harney Court came under the care of the Congregation.

In 2001, the Congregation built a new temple and surrounding complex in University City, and sold Block 286 to Peter J. Block Companies, who agreed to preserve the building. It is currently occupied by Ohr Shalom Synagogue. The first and original temple, which had been owned and used by the Fraternal Spiritualist Church, was made a San Diego Historic Site in 1973. Congregation Beth Israel repurchased this building and donated it to the county in 1978; in that year it was moved to Heritage Park in Old Town, where it stands today and serves as a public meeting place and religious museum after a long period of restoration, funded in part by both the Congregation and the Save Our Heritage Organization.

This collection was donated by Richard C. Levi, grandson of one of the early leaders of Congregation Beth Israel, Adolph Levi. Adolph (1858-1943) immigrated to California from Bohemia in 1877 to join his brother Simon (1850-1918) in San Diego. Both became successful businessmen and prominent members of San Diego. Adolph was instrumental in building the first synagogue, and both Adolph and Simon served terms as president of Congregation Beth Israel. Richard Levi (1918 – ) was an active leader of the Congregation, serving as Treasurer for many years.

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Scope and Content

The collection contains documents relating to the administration, land purchases and building projects of Congregation Beth Israel, including its temple on 3rd and Laurel Streets. Highlights include administrative resolutions, court petitions, legal agreements and contracts, correspondence, maps and property deeds.

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Items in the collection are arranged by subject.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

San Diego History Center Document Collection December 7, 2011

1649 El Prado, Suite 3
San Diego, CA, 92101

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The San Diego History Center (SDHC) holds the copyright to any unpublished materials. SDHC Library regulations do apply.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession number 830729A.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Jennifer Ho on December 7, 2011.

Collection processed as part of grant project supported by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) with generous funding from The Andrew Mellon Foundation.

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Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • Congregation Beth Israel (San Diego, Calif.).
  • F.E. Young Investment Co..
  • Home of Peace Cemetery.
  • Temple Beth Israel (San Diego, Calif.).
  • Trepte Construction Company.

Geographic Name(s)

  • San Diego (Calif.)

Personal Name(s)

  • Albert, David
  • Fox, Samuel I.
  • Levi, Adolph
  • Levi, Richard C.
  • Price, Alan
  • Rabin, Seymour
  • Samisch, E. H.
  • Stacy, Mary Duffy
  • Wheeler, William Henry


  • Real property
  • Synagogues

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Collection Inventory

Administration, 1923 October 1–1969 May 28 and undated


Correspondence relating to increase in number of directors

Resolution granting authority to officers in financial matters

Sale of Lots G and H (Block 207) and purchase of Lots G, H, and I (Block 286) to build temple on 3rd and Laurel Streets, 1923–1926 April 2 and undated


Legal agreements

Court petitions

Temple Beth Israel on 3rd and Laurel: construction, 1925 August 22–September 12 and undated


Correspondence from contractor, M. Trepte and Sons (Trepte Construction Company)


Builder’s Bond to Owner

Temple Beth Israel on 3rd and Laurel: mortgage, 1931 July-August 26


Notice of special meeting

Copy of proposed resolution

Temple Beth Israel on 3rd and Laurel: purchase of Lots D-F, Block 286, 1962 October 15 and undated


Deed of Trust

Legal agreement

Temple Beth Israel on 3rd and Laurel: purchase of Lots A-F, Block 286, 1964 March 10–1967 October 12 and undated


Correspondence from bank

Sale information with tax assessment values

Escrow documents

Corporation grant deed

Temple Beth Israel on 3rd and Laurel: loan to purchase Lots A-F, Block 286, 1967 August 29–1969 August 1 and undated


Promissory note and correspondence regarding loan from Beth Israel Cemetery and Mausoleum Association, Inc.

Temple Beth Israel on 3rd and Laurel: parking lot (built on lots A-F, Block 286), 1968 July 30–December 24 and undated


Proposed parking lot in Block 286-Horton’s Addition for Temple Beth Israel (diagram) (in Oversize Collections D3)

Handwritten notes


Application for conditional use

Building demolition contract

Juan Street property and Temple Solel, 1964 June 4–1968 October 7 and undated


Promissory note

Deed of Trust

Schedule of expenses

Notices of public hearing

Topographic maps

Property appraisals, 1968 June 10–1969 December 4 and undated


Correspondence from appraisers

List of Real Estate Appraisers

Property maintenance and improvements, 1968 February 12–June 11 and undated


Correspondence from architect

Miscellanea, 1921–1969 October 6 and undated


New Temple Beth Israel Dedication Services program

Save Our Heritage Organization member letter

Comparable Land Costs chart – Pill Hill Area

Horton’s Addition maps

Grading plan for the proposed fill site in a portion of lot 35, Rancho Mission (diagram), 1969 (in Oversize Collections D3)

Agreement to allocate portion of Home of Peace Cemetery to Congregregation Tiffereth Israel


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