Brockton, Massachusetts, USA

 

A Shoe Store on Brockton's Crescent Street, around 1915

This web site is devoted to the history of the Jewish community of Brockton, Massachusetts with an emphasis on the genealogical resources available for the Brockton researcher.  Articles on the history of Brockton's Jewish community,  information on Brockton's Jewish cemeteries and the availability of directories, naturalization records, and voters registration records and more can be found here.

HISTORY

Brockton, Massachusetts is a small city located 20 miles South of Boston.  From the mid-1750s through the 1920s, Brockton was a center for SHOE MANUFACTURING.  Brockton's shoemaking industry attracted many East European Jews familiar with the shoemaking craft practiced in their shtetls.  Most of Brockton's residents were connected to the shoemaking industry at the turn of the 20th century when immigrants began to make Brockton their home.  The Jewish population of Brockton was at its height in the 1940s and 1950s when it was estimated to be between 4,000 and 5,000.

The Jewish neighborhood of Brockton developed around Bay Street and Crescent Street located East of Brockton's downtown.



In 1899 the Agudas Achim Orthodox Synagogue was founded.  Agudas Achim served as the main  synagogue for Brockton's Jews through the 1950s.  In 1934 a history of the Agudas Achim synagogue was prepared for a 35th anniversary program.  This history contains all of the names of those involved in founding the Agudas Achim Shul:

Agudas Achim at 35

The Young Men and Young Women's Hebrew Association (YM and YWHA) was a vital part of Brockton's Jewish community in the first half of the 20th century.  In 1949 a long-time Brockton newspaper columnist wrote an article remembering the founders and early days of the YM and YWHA:

History of the YM and YWHA

In May of 1999 Agudas Achim Synagogue celebrated its centennial.  Two newspaper articles covered this event listing the many people active throughout the years in Brockton's Jewish community:

Agudas Achim Centennial

Anshei Sfard, the Rusische or Russian Congregation

Brockton's Anshei Sfard synagogue merged with Agudas Achim in 1903. The Anshei Sfard shul came back to life over the next five decades in a sporadic fashion. It served disgruntled members of the other Brockton shuls as well as serving overflow High Holiday crowds of the other shuls. Former Brockton resident Jim Katz is the grandson of Jacob Levin, the 'Rabbi and Janitor' of Anshei Sfard from the 1940's to the 1960's when the building was demolished in an urban renewal project. Please contact Jim for further information.. Rusische shuls were usually founded by Jews from the Ukraine. Anshe Sfard refers to a prayer style adopted by the mostly Chassidic Jews who lived in the Ukraine. It does not designate a Sephardic congregation.

 

RECORDS

Naturalization records for Brockton are available from 1885-1906:

Naturalization records
 

Brockton Street Directories are available from 1874-1935:

Directories

Voters Registration Cards are available from the first half of the 20th Century:

Voters Registration Cards

Labor League and Labor Lyceum Papers are available from 1914-1931:

Labor Papers

Information on Brockton's Jewish cemeteries:

Cemeteries

THE COMMUNITY TODAY

The Jewish Community of Brockton is estimated to be around 1500 as of 2000.  Most Jews who live in Brockton and in neighboring towns attend the Conservative Temple Beth Emunah Synagogue which you can learn about by visiting their web site.  Agudas Achim Synagogue (Orthodox) closed in 2005.Temple Israel (Reform) moved to North Easton, contact:

Temple Israel, P. O. Box 10, North Easton, MA 02356
(508) 587-4130

Temple Beth Emunah’s Preservation project to save city’s Jewish history

LIBRARY

The Brockton Public Library can help you in your research.  The reference department will locate obituaries for a small fee.  The BPL web site has a page devoted to Brockton history and genealogy resources. Contact the Library at:

Brockton Public Library
304 Main St.
Brockton, MA 02301
-5300
(508) 580-7890

 

The Boston Jewish Advocate Obituary Database

Index to over 23,000 obituary notices from this Massachusetts newspaper, 1905-2003.

This database lists 67 persons born in Brockton.

 

The Boston Jewish Advocate Wedding Announcements Database

Index to over 27,000 wedding announcements from this Massachusetts newspaper, 1905-2003.

This database lists 495 persons, bride or groom, that hailed from Brockton

 

Rabbi Aaron Gorovitz Marriages

This database contains records of 971 marriages, 1910 to 1956, performed by Rabbi Aaron Gorovitz of Boston, as extracted from his personal notebooks.

This database lists 9 persons, bride or groom, that hailed from Brockton.

 

Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS), Boston Arrivals

Records of over 24,000 Jewish immigrant arrivals via Boston, 1882-1929

This database lists 101 persons whose destination was Brockton.   Lists ship name arrival date.


World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918

These cards can be viewed at Ancestry.com.  A subscription is required.  Your local library may have access to Ancestry's databases.

 

All researchers should be encouraged to list their surname/town interests in the JewishGen Family Finder 

Find Brockton researchers by registering on the Family Finder and then entering “Brockton” for town name.

Read about Washington attorney and Brockton native Kenneth Feinberg

Biography for Brockton native Herbert Warren Wind

LINKS

Brockton community profile

http://www.state.ma.us/cc/brockton.html

The Brockton Historical Society

http://www.brocktonma.com

Temple Beth Emunah home page

http://uscj.org/neweng/brockttb

Jewish Cemeteries Association of Massachusetts

http://jcam.org/
 

Whitman

Whitman, Massachusetts is a small town located east of Brockton down the road from Crescent Street.  Jewish families that settled in Whitman were considered part of Brockton's Jewish Community.  The Whitman Public Library can help you in your research.  Contact the library at:

Whitman Public Library
100 Webster Street
Whitman, MA 02382

(781) 447-7613

Whitman community profile
http://www.state.ma.us/cc/whitman.html

 

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I am indebted to Rena Hurwitz, a life long resident of Brockton for helping me in my research.  Rena's HURWITZ family settled in Brockton around 1900, the same time as my own HURWITZ family settled in Brockton.  Though we do not appear to be related, Rena treated me "like family" and hosted me while I visited the place where my great-grandparents and grandparents lived in the first three decades of the 20th Century.  Rena helped me learn about Brockton's rich Jewish history.  I also want to thank Morton Feinberg of Agudas Achim for providing me the documents which revealed my great-grandfather's contribution to the founding of Brockton's oldest synagogue.  Thank you also to Steve Hollman for supplying me with a map of Brockton which shows the streets where the Jewish Community first existed.  Some of these streets no longer exist.

For more information on the Jewish community of Brockton, contact Steven Weiss

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Updated July 27, 2005

Copyright © Steven Weiss, 2000