Jewish community of Greater Waterville.

3 candid Camp Low snapshots
4 candid Camp Lown snapshots
4 candid Camp Lown snapshots 1954 t0 1958
4 candid Camp Lown snapshots I
8 Camp Lown campers and their counselor

This section of the Documenting Maine Jewry project has information on the communities of Fairfield, Oakland, Waterville.

The coordinators of this site are Peter and Joan Beckerman of Waterville and David Friedenreich at Colby College. They would welcome additional photographs, documents and oral histories sent to them at dmj @

All the dropdown menus above display data for just Greater Waterville

Local Jewish Organizations

Beth Israel Synagogue (Waterville) Main St Waterville 207-872-7551 -
Center for Small Town Jewish Life Colby College Waterville -
Colby College Waterville -
Hillel at Colby College Colby College , 4000 Mayflower Hill. 252 Pugh Center, Cotter Union Waterville 207-859-4086 -
Jewish cemetery in Waterville Waterville -
Maine Jewish History Project, Colby College Jewish Studies Program 350 Lovejoy, Colby College Waterville 207-859-4646 -

Brief History of Waterville Jewry

Shortly after the turn of the century, in the days of the horse and wagon and the itinerant peddler, seven men of the Jewish faith settled in Waterville. These men, who earned their livelihood by peddling various wares, soon were faced with the need to band together in an effort to foster Judaism for themselves and their families. The Beth Israel Congregation was chartered June 16, 1902. The seven founding fathers included Julius Levine, William Levine, Louis Wolman, John Paikowsky, Phillip Levine, Moses Silver and John Williams. Their ultimate goal was to build a House of Worship for the Jewish residents of Waterville.

Before this dream could become reality, however, they found it necessary to conduct religious services at various private homes in the community. High Holy Day Services were conducted at Hose No. 4 Fire Station on Ticonic Street. On August 21, 1903, a barn, situated on the corner of Kelsey and Ticonic Streets, was purchased by the Congregation. This barn was dismantled, and by securing additional new lumber, work was begun on the new building. The project was accomplished under the direction and guidance of Mr. Charles Fitzgerald of Winslow.

In 1905, the Beth Israel Synagogue on Kelsey Street was completed. This was unique in that it was wholly supported from dues of members, which at that time, were ten cents a week, or $5.00 per year. There was a substantial mortgage however, and 20 years later, in 1925, the balance of the mortgage was paid by William Levine, in memory of his son, Theodore N. Levine.

Mr. Moses Silver, who emigrated to Waterville in 1900, became the first "Shochet" or ritual leader, even before the completion of the Synagogue. Mr. Hyman L. Shenson became the spiritual leader in the years that followed until about 1914, at which time there was a succession of different rabbis

DATABASE RESOURCES : Information is available on

  • 1,070 individual Jew with strong ties to Greater Waterville of which 234 records has the Old Country origin of first generation immigrants
  • 164 records of burial in Jewish cemeteries for which there are 137 headstone images
  • 92 organizations important to the Greater Waterville Jewish community of which 24 are Jewish community institutions and 35 are businesses important to the Greater Waterville Jewish community
  • 517 bibliographic citations and sources pertaining to Greater Waterville of which 270 are photographs and 30 are oral histories

Recent additions to the Documenting Greater Waterville Jewry database include

  • Nov 2017

The Documenting Waterville Jewry (DWJ) site is a part of the state-wide Documenting Maine Jewry (DMJ) project. Honoring the Jewish tradition of remembrance, the Documenting Maine Jewry project seeks to tell the story, not just of those individuals, but of the communities they shaped. DMJ's goal is to collect short histories of the many people and organizations that have contributed, over time, to the lives of Maine Jews. Currently the state-wide index has records on over 25,000 Jewish Mainers and 200 Maine Jewish organizations.

People    The questions unavoidably arise: Who is a Jew? And who is a Mainer? On the former, the project takes no position. On the latter, we have used a broad definition including not only those who were born, grew up, or lived here, but also those who are buried here.

Organizations    DWJ is also building a community-based history around the 20 religious and secular institutions that were or are the lifeblood of the Waterville Jewish community � as well as the source of quite regular souris (headaches). The project is creating 'family trees' of those often-interconnected local institutions: some 180 Jewish service organizations, 94 Jewish religious bodies, 18 Chevra Kaddisha and cemeteries, 15 Jewish camps, and 240 businesses crucial to the economic survival of Maine Jews.

Places    The state-wide database has information on Maine Jews from over 90 cities and towns . Users can seek information in a particular town or city or can select a wider area to search on the state map index . Each option allows users to find organizations and people either in these key cities/towns or by county.

Oral Histories    The DWJ project is also collecting oral histories. Currently there are X oral histories by Waterville-connected Jews.

Sources    The Documenting Maine Jewry methodology is basically a jigsaw approach. We take whatever community, municipal, and cemetery records we have and merge them into a common database. As a result, we face problems of duplication and incompleteness. To minimize those problems, we try to name-match only when we have at least two factual sources for a given name. Ultimately, we feel it is better to have duplicate records than inaccurate information linking two unrelated people with the same names; Jews do love to repeat certain family names. In the name of historic accuracy, we ask families to supplement/correct their information using the on-line edit function on their page, or by emailing correct information to

For security reasons, complete access to the database is available only on request. A full index of all burials , however, is publicly available.

Volunteers    The Waterville Documenting Maine Jewry effort is largely a volunteer effort; we always welcome more help. Volunteers interested in photographing older Jewish headstones, collecting information on a particular town or organization, transferring data from print to electronic records, or upgrading software should email to

Finances    Financial contributions supplement the volunteer effort by supporting data collection and outreach. DMJ is under the financial supervision of Jewish Community Alliance of Southern Maine(JCA), a 501(c)3 organization. Donations are welcome using the Tzedakah box below or by sending a gift (marked DOMJ) to the JCA, 57 Ashmont St., Portland, Maine 04103. Major donors can select a range of contributions to honor their own Maine immigrant family or to inspire and inform the next generation of Maine Jews.

Heart and Soul    The core of the project is the addition of new information by Maine Jews, whether online through the website, by email, or by old-fashioned mail. We encourage all registered users to supplement or correct existing information on individuals using the edit function on each person's page. Historical documents, oral accounts, photographs of community activities, and print articles can be emailed to David at Colby College. To get a mailing address, please email describing the materials you would like to share.

Recent additions to the Documenting Waterville Jewry database include

  • Journey of William and Sarah Levine, from Vilna, Lithuania to Waterville, Maine, by Eric Bloom for the Levine Family Reunion, July 2009 (Waterville)

Last Updated : 17 January 2010

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Last Updated : Oct 5, 2017