One of the North-Central States of the United States of America; admitted to the Union in 1803. Jews did not settle there until 1817, when Joseph Jonas, the pioneer, came from England and made his home in Cincinnati. He drew after him a number of English Jews, who held divine service for the first time in Ohio in 1819, and, as the community grew, organized themselves in 1824 into the first Jewish congregation of the Ohio Valley, the B'ne Israel. This English immigration was followed in the next two decades by the coming of German immigrants. A Bavarian, Simson Thorman, settled in 1837 in Cleveland, then a considerable town, which thus became the second place in the state where Jews settled. Thorman was soon followed by countrymen of his, who in 1839 organized themselves into a congregation—the first in Cleveland, and the second in Ohio—called the Israelitish Society. The same decade saw an influx of German Jews into Cincinnati, and these in 1841 founded the Bene Yeshurun congregation. To these two communities the Jewish history of Ohio is confined for the first half of the nineteenth century.Congregations.
After the middle of the century congregations sprang up throughout the state. In 1850 it had six congregations: four in Cincinnati and two in Cleveland. In 1901 eighteen cities and towns had one or more Jewish institutions, sixteen of them having fifty regularly organized congregations (comp. "American Jewish Year Book," 5662 , p. 146).
Outside of Cincinnati, which has twelve congregations, and Cleveland, which has fourteen, the following places have Jewish organizations:
Akron has the Akron Hebrew Congregation, organized in 1865 (rabbi, Isador Philo). It has also the Francis Joseph Society, a charitable organization, and an Orthodox congregation. Bellaire has three congregations, Agudath Achim founded in 1850 (rabbi, Becker), Moses Montefiore, and Sons of Israel, the last-named organized in 1896. It has further a Young Men's Hebrew Association, and a Ladies' Auxiliary Society. Canton has a congregation and a Hebrew Ladies' Aid Society. Chillicothe has a Jewish Relief Society. Circleville has a congregation, Children of Israel.
Columbus, the capital of the state, has a Jewish population estimated at between 1,500 and 1,800. It has a Reform congregation, Benai Israel (rabbi, David Kline), and two Orthodox congregations, one of them being Agudath Achim (rabbi, Abraham Wohlkin). Dayton is also the seat of a considerable Jewish community. It has three congregations, Bnai Yeshurun, founded in 1854 (rabbi, David Lefkowitz), and two orthodox congregations, one of which, the House of Jacob, was founded in 1886. Fremont has a congregation. In Hamilton the Congregation B'nai Israel (rabbi, L. Liebman) was founded in 1866. Ironton and Mansfield have each a congregation. Lima has a Jewish community of thirty-five families. Marion has a Jewish Aid Society and a Hebrew Sabbath-school. Piqua's congregation, Anshe Emeth, was founded in 1858, and about the same time that of Portsmouth, the Congregation Bench Abraham (rabbi, Louis Kuppin), was organized. Portsmouth has also a Ladies' Hebrew Benevolent Society. Springfield has two congregations, Chesed Shel Emeth (rabbi, H. Arnofsky) and Ohev Zedakah (founded in 1866).
Toledo has one of the largest Jewish communities in Ohio. Its oldest religious institution is a ḥebra ḳaddisha, Beni Israel, founded in 1867. It has three congregations, Bnai Israel (rabbi, Joseph Levin), Bnai Jacob (rabbi, Herz Benowitz); founded in 1870), and Shomer Emonim (rabbi, Charles Freund; founded in 1870, dissolved in 1874, and reorganized in 1884). Youngstown has two congregations, Children of Israel (rabbi, J. Friedman) and Rodef Sholem (rabbi, J. B. Grossman; organized in 1867). Youngstown has also a Ladies' Aid Society and a Hebrew Charity Society. Zanesville has two congregations, Beth Abraham and K'neseth Israel. Holy day services are held in Bowling Green, Chillicothe, East Liverpool, Findlay, and Marion. Almost every town of importance has therefore some Jewish organization. In addition, five cities have sections of the Council of Jewish Women, four have nine Zionist societies, and eight have fifty-two lodges (comp. "American Jewish Year Book," 5662, p. 146).Statistics.
In the statistics of the Jews of the United States published by the Union of American Hebrew Congregations in Sept., 1880, Ohio was credited with a Jewish population of 6,581 (comp. David Sulzberger, "Growth of Jewish Population in the United States," in "Publ. Am. Jew. Hist. Soc." No. 6, p. 144), which seems to be too low an estimate. The number of Jews in Ohio is now (1904) supposed to be about 50,000 (comp. ib. p. 149; "American Jewish Year Book," 5663 , p. 144). This estimate makes the Jewish community of Ohio one of the largest in the country, surpassed in numerical strength only by New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Massachusetts. The Jews of Ohio form a little over 1 per cent of the total population, which is 4,157,545. About two-thirds of the Jews live in Cincinnati and Cleveland, the Jewish population of the former city being estimated at 15,000, and that of the latter at between 15,000 and 25,000. These two cities are not only the most important numerically; they are the seats of all Jewish educational and charitable organizations and of the Jewish press of the state.
The activity of Isaac M. Wise in Cincinnati, and the location of the Hebrew Union College there, as also the fact that it is the seat of a number of Jewish national organizations—e.g., the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the Hebrew Sabbath-School Union, and the National Jewish Charities—have made Ohio prominent in Jewish affairs.Distinguished Jews of Ohio.
The Jews of Ohio have taken their part in the life of the commonwealth. In the Civil war they responded generously to the call to arms, and 1,004 Jews were enrolled for Ohio, a number exceeded only by the Jewish contingent of New York. This fact points also to the relative size of the Jewish communityof Ohio at that time (comp. Simon Wolf, "The American Jew as Patriot, Soldier, and Citizen," p. 424, Philadelphia, 1895). One of these soldiers, Marcus M. Spiegel, rose from the ranks to a coloneley, and but for his untimely death would have become a brigadier-general, for which rank he had been recommended (ib. p. 320). Four others, David Orbansky, Henry Heller, Abraham Grunwalt, and Isaac Gans, received "medals of bravery" for their gallantry in action (ib. pp. 107, 108). In political life also the Jews have been active. Moses Alexander was elected mayor of Chillicothe in 1827, being the first Jew in the state to hold office. Joseph Jonas, Jacob Wolf, William Bloch, Daniel Wolf, Caspar Lowenstein, Harry M. Hoffheimer, Fred A. Johnson, Frederick S. Spiegel, Charles Fleischmann, James Brown, Henry Mack, Alfred M. Cohen, and Max Silverberg have served in the state legislature. Julius Freiburg was a member of the convention to change the constitution. Jews have filled also many local offices, judicial and administrative, both through election and appointment (comp. "The Jew as a Politician," in "American Jews' Annual," 1888, pp. 97 et seq.). Of federal office-holders may be mentioned: Nathaniel Newburgh, appointed by President Cleveland as appraiser of merchandise, and Bernhard Bettman, appointed by President McKinley as collector of internal revenue, a position which he still (1904) holds. See also Cincinnati; Cleveland.
- American Jewish Year Book, 5661 (1901), pp. 402-417; 5662 (1902), pp. 146-147,
- and the bibliography under Cincinnati and Cleveland.