Held at: University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts [Contact Us]3420 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6206
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
The Adas Kodesch Congregation of Wilmington, Delaware, founded by mainly eastern European Jewish immigrants, was organized in 1885, and officially incorporated in 1889. It merged with Ahavath Achim in 1890 to form Adas Kodesch K'nesseth Israel.
In 1893, Adas Kodesch K'nesseth Israel (Adas Kodesch) started a traditional Hebrew school that was available to all Hebrew children regardless of synagogue affiliation. The program sought to give children more education in the language and religion of their parents. The school was free to all Jewish children but all Jewish members of the community were asked to pledge monthly gifts to the school.
J. Harry Gordon started a separate Sunday school around the same time. The Sunday School Association ran the Free Hebrew Sunday School but Adas Kodesch had a supervisory role and supported it financially. By 1903, it was the only Sunday school in the City of Wilmington with an enrollment of 300 students.
Adas Kodesch established a permanent congregational Hebrew school in 1904, the first in the State of Delaware. Rabbi Jacob Abramowitz was principal and one of three teachers at the Adas Kodesch Hebrew School. Attendance increased to over 100 students by 1917. The students attended class every afternoon, Monday through Thursday, Kabbalat Shabbat services Friday evening and Junior Congregation on Saturday mornings. There were classes in Yiddish and Hebrew. The curriculum expanded in the 1920s to include Hebrew, grammar, Jewish history, the Bible and a cantillation class for Bar Mitzvah students.
By 1943, Wilmington had three congregational Hebrew schools and one Sunday school, but enrollment was declining. That year, Adas Kodesch Hebrew School and Chesed Shel Emeth School merged to form the Associated Hebrew School (non-congregational) and hired Dr. Philip Birnbaum of Camden, NJ as principal. He and two teachers comprised the teaching staff. Adas Kodesch withdrew from the Associated Hebrew School in 1953 and reverted to a congregational school as proposed by Adas Kodesch Rabbi Leonard Gerwitz. Now known as the Adas Kodesch Talmud Torah, Gerwitz served as principal and a teacher.
The congregational school continued to function well after the congregations of Adas Kodesch and Chesed Shel Emeth merged in 1957 but a declining school-age population forced the formation of a Community Hebrew School with Beth Shalom in 2000. Beth Shalom severed its relationship with the school in 2005. Adas Kodesch Shel Emeth decided to retain a Community Hebrew School and was renamed Adas Kodesch Shel Emeth Community Hebrew School. It was open to all Jewish children and continued to offer students the best possible Jewish education.
The AKSE Community Hebrew School. Accessed 11 July 2022.
Bluestone, Harry. A Historical Review of a Century of Jewish Education in Delaware (1876-1976). Wilmington, Delaware, Jewish Historical Society of Delaware, 1976.
Young, Toni. Becoming American, Remaining Jewish: the Story of Wilmington, Delaware's First Jewish Community, 1879-1924. Newark, Delaware, University of Delaware Press, 1999.
This collection contains publications, textiles, games, flashcards, catalogues, manuals, posters, workbooks, examinations, transparencies, programs, CD-ROMs, and songbooks. It includes items in Hebrew and Yiddish and details the school's mission to teach students Hebrew as well as Jewish history, culture and customs. While the bulk of the material in the collection is from the Hebrew school, there are a few items that provide some historical context on the congregation of Adas Kodesch Shel Emeth.
The collection is arranged in three series: I. Adas Kodesch Shel Emeth Congregation; II. Hebrew School; and III. Adas Kodesch Shel Emeth Hebrew Community School classroom posters. The material is arranged alphabetically by subject.
Gift of Adas Kodesch Shel Emeth, 2019. Presented to the Penn Libraries by the Board of Governors of Adas Kodesch Shel Emeth in memory of the late Rabbi Leonard B. Gewirtz and Rebbetzin Gladys Kerstein Gewirtz.
Books from this collection were catalogued separately and are searchable in Franklin under the Library of Adas Kodesch Shel Emeth.
- University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
- Finding Aid Author
- Kristine McGee
- Finding Aid Date
- 2022 June 27
- Access Restrictions
This collection is open for research use.
- Use Restrictions
Copyright restrictions may exist. For most library holdings, the Trustees of the University of Pennsyvlania do not hold copyright. It is the responsibility of the requester to seek permission from the holder of the copyright to reproduce material from the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts.