Ryhim Ahoovim, which translates to "beloved friends," began in 1851 as a Hebrew benevolent society in Stockton, Calif., and shortly thereafter acquired a cemetery. The cemetery, which was formally deeded to the society in 1854, was declared a California Historic Landmark (1961) and is the oldest western Jewish cemetery in continuous use. Congregation Ryhim Ahoovim was founded in 1855 by Simon R. Rosenthal, who became its first president. Within a year, a synagogue building was completed and Ryhim Ahoovim became Temple Israel. It originally had forty-three members, was traditional in its observance, and followed the Polish order of service. In the 1890s, following a decline in membership, the congregation veered toward Reform Judaism and later joined the Union of American Hebrew Congregations. In 1905, a new synagogue building was completed. Herman Davidson, a San Francisco opera singer, served as the congregation's cantor (1876-1896). Ida Safferhill, the congregation's organist for many years, and who was in charge of the synagogue's choir, organized Temple Israel's first modern Sunday school. Before his departure to Los Angeles, in 1915, Rabbi Edgar Magnin held the congregation's pulpit for a brief time.
Histories of Temple Israel; bulletins; membership and burial lists (mostly photocopies); and photographs of the congregation's historic cemetery.