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BJ History

Beth Jacob was founded in 1913 in Montpelier. A documented hangs in our community room which reads in Yiddish, "These are the laws and rules of Congregation Bais Yaakov [Beth Jacob] in Montpelier and Barre, Vermont, established in the year 1913."

Beth Jacob was named for a Montpelier youth who died in a tragic accident on his tenth birthday in 1908. Jacob Yett, son of Isaac Yett of Fuller Street, a co-owner of the American Clothing Company in Montpelier, was hit in the head by ice falling off the roof of the Union School. Jacob was the oldest of six children and a member of the extended Yett family of Montpelier that included his uncle, Harris Yett, who was instrumental in obtaining the building for the congregation.

On October 14, 1914, Harris Yett, I. Hendelman, and E.L. Segel filed articles of association for "Congregation Base Yaucove." A month later, on November 30, 1914, the three leaders as trustees for the congregation purchased the land and premises from Oughtney and Basiles Jangraw on Harrison Avenue. 

There are no records that document the conversion of the house at 10 Harrison Avenue, but it became the house of worship for the Jews of Montpelier and Barre. It also housed living quarters under the eaves for a rabbi when the congregation could afford one. There was even a mikvah in the backyard as is evidenced by two chunks of concrete that are still on the property.

According to a 1972 article in the Times-Argus, an addition was built onto the building to house a community room in 1967. Tradition holds that this space was originally a shed or barn, and indeed maps from as early as 1909 show a structure off the back of the main building.

For many years the sanctuary was furnished with theater seats that had been reclaimed from a local movie theater that being renovated. In 1987 the theater seats were removed and replaced by comfortable moveable chairs that permitted the religious school to rearrange the space for classes.

The back room was eventually named for Daughly Gould, a local businessman and the first Jewish mayor of Montpelier. In 1990 the Daughly Gould room underwent extensive renovations. At that time an enclosed entryway was added that consolidated the two previous entrances to the building and simplified access to the sanctuary and community room.  That portion of the building remained standing during the rebuilding of the synagogue in 2010. In 2015 this portion of the building was replaced by the current community room and kitchen. 

Wed, May 29 2024 21 Iyyar 5784