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The Rabbi Samuel Langer Database

Extracted and Compiled by his daughter Judith Shulamith Langer-Surnamer Caplan

Including Births, Bar & Bas Mitzvahs, Hebrew School Students, Graduations, Marriages, Installation of Officers, Funerals & Unveilings

I have a special legacy: my mother's paintings, embroidered tablecloths, and crocheted afghans to warm the esthetic spirit, and my father's sermons, rabbinic files, and Judaic library to enrich the religious soul.

For a long time I have wanted to create a database from my father's files. Unfortunately, when I could not readily find any lists that he might have kept of the people he married or the boys he bar mitzvahed I had to table the idea. Then, in December of 2001, Howard Lewis in England contacted me for help researching his relatives who had belonged to a synagogue in Ozone Park, Queens, New York, where my father had once been the rabbi. This time, as I started searching anew through my father's scrapbook and the four drawers of his filing cabinet, filled with sermons, eulogies, synagogue bulletins, and Hebrew school curriculums, it dawned on me that if I extracted the names and dates and events and titles from the papers there he had bequeathed me, I would be able to devise a database that would provide a very unique snapshot of Jewish life up and down the Eastern seaboard from 1929 to the 1960's. Thus, as 2002 began, I set to work on this ambitious new database project by mining my father's personal archives for genealogically rich data. I then keyed in the names, titles, events, synagogues, geographic locations, and dates (plus occasionally other data such as the street where a person lived in a comments field) I saw listed in the printed newspaper clippings in his personal scrapbook as well the various typed and printed papers in the rabbinic files of my late father, Rabbi Samuel Langer Z"L. Since my Abba was a rabbi and educational director along the Eastern Seaboard from the 1930's onward, his scrapbook and files provide a remarkable glimpse into American Jewish community life in places as diverse as Salisbury, Maryland, and Peabody, Massachusetts, and Atlanta, Georgia, as well places in the metropolitan New York City area.

There are a total of 5,650 entries in this database, extracted from the published newspaper clippings in his personal scrapbook, as well as the names mentioned in the various papers, both printed and handwritten, in his files. While some of the names found at the top of typed sermons and eulogies were handwritten my father had a clear, legible script, and certainly it was a handwriting well familiar to me. From Rabbi Langer's own personal scrapbook, which begins with two newspaper clippings - one in English, one in Yiddish - of his ordination at the Jewish Theological Seminary, I gleaned over 1800 entries. I then slowly wended my way through the various synagogue bulletins, installation addresses, eulogies, bar mitzvah sermons, and other records in his congregational and sermonic files to unearth all possible other potential genealogical data. I also drew upon his autograph book from when he graduated the eighth grade at P.S. 97 on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, and his 1928 college yearbook, the Microcosm, for his fellow members of the Menorah Society at the College of the City of New York, as well as from some papers that had migrated during his lifetime from his files to my files once I began my extensive genealogical research into the Langer family.

The final result, the Rabbi Samuel Langer Database, is an eclectic cornucopia of the people and life cycle events that my father interacted with in his rabbinic capacity:

PEOPLE:
  • Congregants
  • Congregational officers
  • Rabbis
  • Cantors
  • Hebrew School teachers
  • Communal Leaders
  • Jewish Organizational Leaders
  • Guest Speakers
  • Visitors
LIFE CYCLE EVENTS:
  • Births, Pidyon HaBens
  • Bar and Bas Mitzvahs
  • Confirmations
  • Hebrew School and Religious School Graduations
  • Aufrufs and Weddings
  • Funerals and Unveilings
  • Cornerstone Laying
  • Selling of Chometz
  • Installation of Officers
  • Rosh HaShonah Greetings

This database also includes people from the synagogues my father belonged to and the communities my father resided in after his retirement. Even a few relatives are included for there are "Jewish Notes" and "Jewish Paragraphs" clippings from The Peabody Times in his scrapbook that mention that his brother Hyman had passed away, or that his mother-in-law, Bertha Surnamer, was visiting her granddaughter, Judy, in Peabody...

In a way, the various box taxes, electors lists, and other supplemental lists LitvakSIG has obtained to create the "All Lithuania Database" (ALD) have been a partial inspiration or guideline in the creation of this rabbinic database. While I wanted to create a database from the weddings and bar mitzvahs and funerals my father had officiated at, since he did not seem to have maintained any official overall lists I did not at first see how I could really proceed. But thanks to my exposure to the ALD's admixture of Revision Lists, Rabbi's Electors Lists, Directories, Vital Records, and other records it dawned on me that a Mega Rabbi Langer Database could be created if I were to extract all the Births, Bar/Bas Mitzvahs, Confirmations, Graduations, Hebrew School Students, Weddings, Funerals, Unveilings, New Members, Rosh HaShonah Greetings, Passover Chometz Sellers, Cornerstone Layers and more that could be found on the pages of his scrapbook and inside the folders of his files in the archives of the memorabilia of his rabbinic career.

Fortunately, the vast majority of the newspaper clippings from his scrapbook are dated, either with a specific month, day, and year, or else a month and year, though there were some clippings that do not have a date, just a written in reference point in a heading at the top of the page alluding to a congregation and a year span. There is a similar situation with the eulogies he wrote for funerals and unveilings. Some eulogies had the name of the person for whom they were given along with the date, but some did not have a date. The ones that do not have a date were dated as "undated."

Two of the biggest, most unexpected finds came towards the end of the extraction process. Amongst the marriage files I had moved years ago to my Rabbi Langer genealogy file I found an unexpected manila envelope containing entries for over 50 different weddings, many of them with the Hebrew name for the bride and groom, plus the names of the parents, and sometimes even the names of the civil witnesses. Then, as I doubletracked through some files during the proofreading process, I realized that two of the papers in a slim second Passover file were the very forms my father had used for selling Chametz and that the back of these pages contained the names of some of the people he had once sold Chametz for.

The following are the fields included in the Rabbi Samuel Langer Database:

SURNAME Person's Family or Last Name
FIRST NAME This field also includes any middle name or title, including Miss, Dr., Rabbi
EVENT or TITLE This field is used to describe either the "event" such as a bar mitzvah or the installation of officers, or this field might give the role a person played in a synagogue or institution, such as Trustee or Sisterhood President.
SYNAGOGUE or ORGANIZATION This field gives the name of the synagogue or other organization
DATE Most of the items I worked with had a date connected to them, but where there was no date given or suggested, usually a time period corresponding to when Rabbi Langer served in that community was given, or else it was left as "undated". The date is set up as three separate fields for DAY, MONTH, and YEAR.
PLACE There are three place or location fields:
* CITY or NEIGHBORHOOD
* GEOGRAPHIC DESIGNATION - any additional description that might occasionally be used, such as Long Island or Queens
* STATE
SOURCE Ninety nine percent of the data comes from either Rabbi Langerís personal scrapbook or his various rabbinic files. The other one percent comes from my files, for over the years, as I have done genealogy, invariably some of what was once in my fatherís files migrated, with his permission, to my files.
COMMENT This field might contain a Hebrew name, a date of death, a date of burial, how the person participated in a program, the name(s) of other family members -- any data that would not readily fit in the other fields

One might say my father (and mother) are alive and well and living on in his scrapbook and filing cabinet drawers -- and making their unique contribution to genealogy, just as they made their unique contribution to the perpetuation of Judaism in America.

About Rabbi Langer

Rabbi Samuel Langer, a son of Jacob and Yetta Weber Langer, was the first member of his family to be born in the United States. He was born May 21, 1905, and he grew up in New York City, on Manhattan's Lower East Side. His love for Judaica was legendary, best exemplified by the family lore that he registered himself for Hebrew School when he was about five or six. He was a graduate of the Downtown Talmud Torah in 1919 and later the Hebrew High School of Manhattan and the High School of Commerce in 1923. He attended the College of the City of New York (CCNY) and the Teachers Institute of the Jewish Theological Seminary simultaneously. While in college, he was very active in the Menorah Society, and he was a President of the CCNY chapter. He graduated from the Teachers Institute in 1926, when it was then located in Stuyvesant Square, and Mordechai Kaplan was the principal. In 1928 he applied and was admitted to the Jewish Theological Seminary, from which he graduated with the degree of Rabbi, Teacher, and Preacher in 1933.

He served many various congregations along the Eastern Seaboard as a rabbi and an educational director, including Shenandoah, Penn; Morristown, New Jersey; Salisbury, Maryland; Caldwell, New Jersey; Temple Sons of Jacob, Ozone Park, New York; Congregation Sons of Israel, Peabody, Massachusetts; Congregation B'nai Abraham, Meriden, Connecticut; Beth Israel Center, St. Albans, Queens, New York; Westbury Hebrew Congregation, Westbury, Long Island, New York; Ahavath Achim Congregation, Atlanta, Georgia; the Rosedale Jewish Center, Rosedale, Queens, New York; and the Woodruff Avenue Temple ~ Congregation Ahavath Achim, Brooklyn, New York.

One of his sermons, entitled "From Slavery to Freedom -- A Jewish Formula" was included among the Best Sermons of the Year 5733-5734 (edited by Rabbi Saul Teplitz). In his later years Rabbi Langer worked on two talks on Jewish research projects of which he was very proud: "The Kittel" and "The Shalshelet."

Rabbi Samuel Langer passed away over Shabbes, on the first day of Chol HaMoed Pesach, on April 6, 1996.

The following is a table of the institutions and synagogues with which Rabbi Langer was connected during his active rabbinate, as well the shuls Rabbi Langer belonged to after he retired:

Position Congregation Address City State From To
President, Administrative Council The League of Junior Congregations Jewish Center Building, 128 Stanton Street New York New York Circa late 1920's  
Rabbi     Rumford Maine 1932  
Rabbi Jewish Community Center-Kehillath Israel Synagogue   Shenandoah Pennsylvania 1933  
Rabbi The Jewish Community Center and House of Israel 159 Mills Street Morristown New Jersey 9/1933 8/1935
Rabbi Congregation Kehilath Israel   Salisbury Maryland 9/1935 6/1936
Rabbi Jewish League of Caldwell 6 Washburn Place Caldwell New Jersey 9/1936 1938
Rabbi Northside Hebrew Congregation of Corona 100-05 34th Avenue Corona (Queens) New York 9/1938 1939
  Sabbatical Year       1939 1940
Rabbi Temple Sons of Jacob 75th Street and 101st Avenue Ozone Park (Queens) New York 9/1941 11/1946
Rabbi Congregation Sons of Israel & Peabody Hebrew Community Center 42 Washington Street Peabody Massachusetts 11/1946 6/1950
Rabbi Congregation Bnai Abraham 38 Cedar Street Meriden Connecticut 9/1950 1951
Rabbi Temple Sinai Arlington Ave. & Bradford St. Brooklyn New York 9/1951 6/1952
Rabbi The Beth Israel Center of St. Albans 115-62 Farmers Blvd St. Albans New York 9/1952 1954
Rabbi Westbury Hebrew Congregation 275 Ellison Avenue and Whitney Street Westbury New York 9/1954 1957
Educational Director Congregation Ahavath Achim 600 Peachtree Battle Avenue, N.W. Atlanta Georgia 11/1957 1959
Rabbi Rosedale Jewish Center 247-11 Frances Lewis Blvd. Rosedale (Queens) New York 9/1959 7/1961
  Sabbatical       7/1961 9/1962
Rabbi Woodruff Avenue Temple ~ Congregation Ahavath Achim 151-153 Woodruff Ave. Brooklyn New York 9/1962 7/1964
Educational Director Temple Emanuel El 111 Washington Ave. Westwood New Jersey 9/1964 7/1965
Principal Community Hebrew School of Port Chester and the Town of Rye, Congregation Kneses Tifereth Synagogue, 575 King Street Port Chester New York 9/1965 8/1966
Retired Rabbi Member Congregation Shaare Torah of Flatbush Albemarle Road & East 21st Street Brooklyn New York 1966 1975
Retired Rabbi Member Judea Center 2059 Bedford Avenue Brooklyn New York 1966 1975
Retired Rabbi Member Congregation Beth Jacob 1855 LaVista Road, Northeast Atlanta Georgia 1976 1984
Retired Rabbi Member Temple Israel 305 Riverside Blvd. Long Beach New York 1984 1996

The following are among the communities and places mentioned in this database:

  • Acolo, Mississippi
  • Atlanta, Georgia
  • Bellerose, Queens, New York
  • Bellville, New Jersey
  • Beverly, Massachusetts
  • Brest-Litovsk, Russia
  • Brooklyn, New York
  • Caldwell, New Jersey
  • Cambria Heights, Queens, New York
  • Cedarhurst, New York
  • Chelsea, Massachusetts
  • Chattanooga, Tennessee
  • Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts
  • Chicago, Illinois
  • Corona, Queens, New York
  • East Orange, New Jersey
  • Elizabeth, New Jersey
  • Elmont, New Jersey
  • East Elmhurst, Queens, New York
  • East Orange, New Jersey
  • East Rockaway, New York
  • Elkins Park, Pennsylvania
  • Far Rockaway, Queens, New York
  • Farmingdale, Long Island, New York
  • Fitchburg, Massachusetts
  • Flushing, Queens, New York
  • Forest Hills, Queens
  • Freeport, Long Island, NY
  • Great Neck, New York
  • Griffith, Georgia
  • Halesite, New York
  • Haifa, Israel
  • Hartford, Connecticut
  • Highland Park, New Jersey
  • Hollis, Queens, New York
  • Jackson Heights, New York
  • Houston, Texas
  • Jamaica, New York
  • Jacksonville, Florida
  • Laurelton, Queens, New York
  • Jerusalem, Israel
  • Long Beach, New York
  • Los Angeles, California
  • Lower East Side, New York
  • Lynbrook, Long Island, New York
  • Lynn, Massachusetts
  • Malden, Mass.
  • McKeesport, Pennsylvania
  • Meriden, Connecticut
  • Miami Beach, Florida,
  • Middletown, Conn.
  • Morristown, New Jersey
  • Minsk, Ukraine
  • New York, New York
  • Neptune, New Jersey
  • Newton, Mass.
  • Newark, New Jersey
  • Ozone Park, Queens, New York
  • Pautuxie, Maryland
  • Peabody, Massachusetts
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Port Chester, New York
  • Queens, New York
  • Richmond Hill, Queens, New York
  • Riverdale, New York
  • Rosedale, Queens, New York
  • Salem, Massachusetts
  • Savannah, Georgia
  • Scranton, Pennsylvania
  • Seattle, Washington
  • Shenandoah, Pennsylvania
  • South Orange, New Jersey
  • Springfield, Queens, New York
  • St. Albans, Queens, New York
  • Sumter, South Carolina
  • Syracuse, New York
  • Tel Aviv, Israel
  • Toronto, Canada
  • Waltham, Massachusetts
  • Weehawken, New Jersey
  • West End, New Jersey
  • West New York, New Jersey
  • Westbury, New York
  • Westwood, New Jersey
  • Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania
  • Wilmington, Delaware
  • Vilna, Lithuania

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