Capital of Cook county, Illinois; the second largest city of the United States. It was incorporated as a city in 1837, and a year later the first Jewish settler, J. Gottlieb, arrived. Whence he came, and what his business was, are not known. In 1840 Gottlieb was followed by Isaac Ziegler, the brothers Benedict and Jacob Schubert, and Philip Newberg. Ziegler was for a number of years a pedler in the city and vicinity. Benedict Schubert was the first Jew to establish a merchant-tailoring business in Chicago. He prospered, and became one of the leading men in his trade. The first brick house in the city was built for him on Lake street, and he carried on business there for a number of years. Philip Newberg was the first Jewish tobacco-dealer. The first Jewish child born in Chicago was a son of Jacob Rosenberg, whose wife was Hannah Reese.
About twenty German Jews arrived between 1840 and 1844, and the community was slowly augmented by incoming settlers up to 1849, in which year a strong tide of Jewish immigration set in, following the completion of the Galena and Chicago Railway to Elgin. Most of the early settlers were German Jews, principally from Bavaria and the Rhenish Palatinate.
Religious services were held for the first time in the Jewish settlement on the Day of Atonement, 1845. The congregation met in a private room on a street now known as Fifth avenue. Only ten men were present; Mayer Klein and Philip Newberg officiated as readers. The following year services were again held on the Day of Atonement, the attendance being, however, no larger than on the previous occasion.
The first Jewish organization, the Jewish Burial-Ground Society, was established in 1846. It purchased from the city for $46 one acre of ground, to be used as a cemetery; and this was the first public act by which the Jews of Chicago demonstrated their existence as an integral portion of the body corporate. This first Jewish burial-ground was located east of the city limits, toward the north along the shore of Lake Michigan.First Congregation.
Kehillat Anshe Ma'arab, the first Jewish congregation, was established Nov. 3, 1847, when a constitution was adopted and signed by fourteen members. Morris L. Leopold, a young man of twenty-six, born in Laubheim, Württemberg, was elected president. The Jewish Burial-Ground Society turned over to the congregation all its property, including the cemetery, and dissolved. Kehillat Anshe Ma'arab held its first regular service in a private room on the second floor of a building on the southwest corner of Lake and Wells streets, and in 1849 leased a lot on Clark street, between Adams and Quincy streets where the post-office now stands), on which it erected a frame synagogue.
In 1853 this congregation established a day-school, where Hebrew was taught in addition to the regular common-school curriculum. This school was in operation for twenty years. In 1856 a new cemetery on Green Bay road (now North Clark street) and Belmont avenue was purchased. In 1857 the old burial-ground, having been included in the city extensions, had to be abandoned. In 1882 the ground was sold to the park commissioners, and it is now merged in Lincoln Park. On the date of the closing of the old burial-ground (June 11, 1857) the first interment in the new cemetery took place.
In 1868 the congregation purchased the northwest corner of Wabash avenue and Peck court, with the church standing upon it. The latter was converted into a synagogue. In the great fire of 1871 the synagogue escaped destruction, but all the records, which had been placed by Joseph Pollak, the secretary of the congregation, and at that time clerk of Cook county, in a vault of the court-house, were lost. In 1873 Dr. Merzbacher's prayer-book was adopted. An organ, choir, and family pews had been introduced several years before. In the fire of1874, Kehillat Anshe Ma'arab lost the synagogue on Wabash avenue, and in December of that year it purchased the church and site on the corner of Indiana avenue and Twenty-sixth street. The church was converted into a synagogue, and the property on Wabash avenue and Peck court was sold. In 1888 Jacob Rosenberg, then vice-president, presented to the congregation twenty acres of land in the town of Jefferson, to be used as a burial-ground. This is now called ."Mount Ma'arab Cemetery." The bodies in the North Clark street cemetery were transferred to Mount Ma'arab, and the vacated property was sold. The latter is now completely built over, and all traces of the former cemetery have vanished.
In 1889 Kehillat Anshe Ma'arab found that most of its members had moved farther south. The location of the synagogue being, therefore, no longer convenient for the majority, a plot on the southeast corner of Indiana avenue and Thirty-third street was purchased, and the temple now in use was erected. The latter has a seating capacity of 1,500 persons. The membership is 175. In 1902 the Einhorn ritual, in the English version, was adopted.Early Rabbis.
The first rabbi was the Rev. Ignatz Kunreuther, who was called from New York in 1847. He was born in 1811, in Gelnhausen, near Frankfort-on-the-Main. He remained with the congregation six years, and then retired to private life. He died in Chicago June 27, 1884. Dr. S. Friedlander, who was called from New York in 1855, was but a short time in Chicago, when he died suddenly. In 1861 the Rev. Liebmann Adler was called from Detroit. During his long and eventful ministration, M. M. Gerstley was president of Kehillat Anshe Ma'arab; and the influence of these two leaders was most beneficial to the Jewish community, especially to the younger generation. Adler was succeeded by Dr. M. Machol. Dr. Samuel Sale was his successor, and was followed successively by Dr. Isaac S. Moses, the Rev. M. P. Jacobson, and Dr. Tobias Schanfarber, the present incumbent (1902).Congregations Before the Great Fire.
B'nai Sholom, the second oldest congregation, was organized May 25, 1852, by fourteen members. Its first temple was built in 1864, on the corner of Harrison street and Fourth avenue. It was at that time the handsomest Jewish house of worship in Chicago. This temple was destroyed by the fire of 1871. A new one was erected on Michigan avenue near Fourteenth street; but this property was sold in 1889, and B'nai Sholom purchased the synagogue of Kehillat Anshe Ma'arab, on the corner of Indiana avenue and Twenty-sixth street. The Rev. A. J. Messing is the present rabbi.
Sinai Congregation, the third oldest, was the result of the Reform movement started in Chicago in 1858. In that year the ritual question agitated the minds of the members of Kehillat Anshe Ma'arab. The younger element was dissatisfied with the conservatism of the older members, and demanded sweeping reforms. Dr. Bernhard Felsenthal, a young Jewish teacher who had just arrived in Chicago, became the leader of the Progressives. He published a pamphlet entitled "Ḳol Ḳore ba-Midbar" (A Voice Crying in the Wilderness), in which he strongly advocated Reform. This publication encouraged the Progressives, and they organized a Reform-Verein, of which Dr. Felsenthal was elected secretary. This Reform-Verein was thefoundation upon which four years later the Sinai congregation was built by twenty-six members who had seceded from the parent organization.
Sinai congregation was established April 7, 1861. B. Schoeneman was the first president, and Dr. B. Felsenthal the first rabbi. Its first house of worship was a frame building, formerly a church, on Monroe street, between Clark and La Salle streets. At the dedication of this temple, June 21, 1861, the Einhorn ritual was used for the first time in a Western congregation. In 1863 Dr. Felsenthal declined reelection, and Dr. Chronic was elected rabbi, upon the recommendation of Dr. Abraham Geiger. Dr. Chronic founded in Chicago "Zeichen der Zeit" (Signs of the Times), a German monthly in the interest of Jewish Reform. At the rabbinical conference held in Philadelphia in 1869, Dr. Chronic, the delegate of Sinai, moved to transfer the celebration of the Sabbath to Sunday; but no action was taken upon the motion. In 1867 Sinai made a contract with the Rosehill Cemetery Company for a burial plot. This was the first instance in Chicago of a Jewish congregation securing a burial-plot in a non-Jewish cemetery.
The great fire of 1871 destroyed Sinai temple. Dr. Chronic had gone back to Europe, and Dr. K. Kohler, then minister of Beth-El congregation in Detroit, Mich., was elected rabbi. Sunday services were held for the first time by the Sinai congregation in Martin's Hall, corner Twenty-second street and Indiana avenue, on Jan. 15, 1874. The site of their temple, on the corner of Indiana avenue and Twenty-first street, had been purchased in 1872, and the structure was finished in 1876. In 1879 Dr. Kohler was called to New York; and in 1880 Dr. Emil G. Hirsch, then at Louisville, Ky., was elected rabbi. In 1885 Dr. Hirsch was relieved from preaching on Saturdays. In 1892 the temple was remodeled and enlarged. Sinai is by far the largest Jewish congregation in Chicago, having a membership of nearly 600. It maintains a Jewish mission-school—the Sinai West Side Sabbath-School—where over 300 children, boys and girls, are instructed in Jewish history and religion.
Zion Congregation, the fourth oldest in Chicago, was organized on the West Side in 1864; Henry Greenebaum being the first president, and Dr. B. Felsenthal the first rabbi. The first house of worship was on Desplaines street, between Madison street and Washington boulevard. The present temple is located on Ogden avenue, opposite Union Park. In 1886 Dr. Felsenthal retired on account of old age, and Dr. Joseph Stolz was elected his successor. For many years Zion was a prominent factor in the spiritual and educational development of the Jewish community; but during the last decade it has suffered considerably through the migration of its members to the South Side. The present rabbi is Dr. Jacob S. Jacobson.
The North Side Hebrew Congregation was established in 1867. Its first house of worship was dedicated Sept. 27 in that year by the Rev. A. Ollendorf, who had been called to the rabbinate. In 1870 the Rev. A. Norden was elected rabbi. The fire of 1871 destroyed the synagogue, and the existence of the congregation was temporarily suspended. It was reorganized, however, in 1875, and the Rev. A. Norden was reelected; but the synagogue was not rebuilt until 1884. In 1898 Rabbi Norden retired, and the Rev. Abraham Hirschberg became his successor.
B'nai Abraham was organized on the West Side in 1870. The first rabbi was the Rev. Isaac Fall. In 1888 Dr. A. R. Levy, the present incumbent, was elected.
Of these six congregations, that of Sinai is the most radical, and B'nai Sholom and B'nal Abraham are the most conservative. The others belong to the class comprising the majority of American Jewish Reform congregations. A number of ultra-Orthodox congregations were also established before the great fire. In several instances a number of small "ḥebrahs" among the Jews of Slavonic parentage amalgamated and formed congregations. The most prominent among these congregations are Bet ha-Midrash Hagadol u-Benai Jacob, a charter for which was obtained in March, 1867, and Ohabai Shalom Mariampole, established in 1870. The latter has an extensive library of Hebrew books in its large synagogue. The congregation has instituted a loan association, and is in many other ways a beneficently active factor in the community.Congregations After the Great Fire.
After the fire the number ot congregations increased rapidly. The most prominent among the younger congregations are Isaiah, Emanuel, and Beth-El. Beth-El Congregation, on the northwest side of the city, was organized Oct. 7, 1871, immediately after the fire. The first services were held in the home of one of the members, but in the following week a hall was rented at the corner of Peoria and Ohio streets, where regular services were held every Friday night and Saturday morning. D. Gottlieb and Ignatz Kunreuther officiated. Six months later the congregationbought some ground at the corner of May and Huron streets, to which they moved a frame church building which they had purchased from a Norwegian congregation. Herman Eliassof was elected in 1873 as the regular minister and teacher of Beth-El. On Sunday, June 22, 1873, a cyclone destroyed the synagogue.
But the same evening a meeting of the congregation was called, and a fund was raised sufficient to start the building of a new synagogue, a modest frame structure, still standing on the site of the old building. It now serves as a Lutheran church, having been sold by Beth-El in 1901. The ministers succeeding Rabbi Eliassof were Bonheim Lippmansohn, Bien, and Jacob Dansk, the last of whom officiated from 1881 to 1891, dying in the prime of life. The present incumbent, Rabbi Julius Rappaport, took charge of the congregation in July, 1891. To-day (1902) there are 100 members, partly Germans and partly Bohemians. A new synagogue was erected on Crystal and Hoyne avenues, and was dedicated Sept. 28, 1902. The tendency of the congregation is toward Reform, and the "Minhag America" ritual is used. Family pews, an organ, and a choir have been introduced, mostly during the ministry of the present rabbi; Friday services are likewise a recent innovation, prayers and lectures being delivered in the English language. The Saturday morning services are held in German. There are a ladies' society—Sisters of Beth-El—numbering 120 members, and a Young People's Auxiliary Society, connected with the congregation.
Congregation Emanuel was founded in 1880, in a hall at the corner of Sedgwick and Blackhawk streets; the church of the Swedish congregation at No. 280 Franklin street being purchased three years afterward. In 1889 moderate Reform and the prayerbook "Minhag America" were adopted, and later the cause of advanced Reform was further strengthened by the introduction of the German (Einhorn) prayerbook and the practise of worshiping with uncovered head. The majority of the members having moved farther north, in the spring of 1897 the congregation rented the Baptist church at the corner of Belden avenue and Halsted street, where services are now (1902) held, though in 1900 a site for a synagogue was purchased at Belden avenue and Burling street. The congregation owns a cemetery at Waldheim. Connected with the congregation are the Emanuel Gemeinde Frauenverein, established in 1897, and the Emanuel Auxiliary Society, founded in 1900 by the younger members of the congregation.
The names of the successive rabbis of Congregation Emanuel are: Austrian E. Brown, Julius Newman, and Dr. Emanuel Schreiber, the incumbency of the last-named dating from 1899.
The Reform Congregation of Isaiah Temple was organized Oct. 24, 1895, by members from Zion congregation who had moved to the South Side. At the first meeting Dr. Joseph Stolz was chosen rabbi and still (1902) holds that position. The first services were held Jan. 4, 1896, at the Oakland Club Hall, Ellis avenue and 39th street, which continued to be used in this capacity for three years.
In May, 1898, some ground was purchased on the corner of Vincennes avenue and 45th street, and on Sept. 11 following Dr. Isaac. M. Wise laid the corner-stone of a synagogue designed by Dankmar Adler. The schoolhouse attached to the synagogue was dedicated on Jan. 14, 1899, and two months later (March 17) Dr. Wise dedicated the synagogue. Its membership numbers 228, and the Sabbath-school has 383 children enrolled. The Sabbath-school holds Saturday and Sunday sessions, teaches Hebrew, and has a class for the deaf, at present composed of three pupils. Affiliated with the congregation are the Isaiah Woman's Club and the Isaac M. Wise Auxiliary Lodge I. O. B. B.
The principal Jewish charitable institutions of Chicago are the following: (1) The United Hebrew Charities of Chicago, organized in 1859 as the United Hebrew Relief Association, for the purpose of providing an asylum for widows and orphans, and a hospital. The present name of the association was adopted in 1888. The first hospital was erected on La Salle avenue, and opened to patients Aug. 9, 1868. It was destroyed by the fire of 1871. In 1879 Henry L. Frank and his brother Joseph, as the trustees of a fund bequeathed by Michael Reese of San Francisco, Cal., offered the sum of $30,000 for the building of a hospital, on condition that it should be known as (2) "The Michael Reese Hospital." Jacob Rosenberg and Mrs. Henrietta Rosenfeld, also trustees of a fund bequeathed by the same Michael Reese, offeredon the same condition $50,000 as an endowment for the maintenance of the new hospital. The United Hebrew Relief Association accepted both offers. The new hospital was built, and opened to patients in 1881. The Michael Reese Hospital is one of the best equipped in Chicago.Charitable Institutions.
(3) The Jewish Training-School, opened on Judd street near Clinton street, in 1890, in the heart of the district inhabited by the poorest of the Jewish population. It is a manual-training school, not a trade-school, where pupils receive an excellent general education also. Prof. G. Bamberger is the superintendent. (4) The Home for Aged Jews, established in 1891. Abraham Slimmer of Waverly, Iowa, donated $50,000 for such a home in Chicago, on condition that the Jews of Chicago raise an equal amount. The money was obtained without difficulty. (5) The Chicago Home for Jewish Orphans, opened Oct. 7, 1894, in a rented house on Vernon avenue. Two years later a piece of property was donated by Henry Siegel and others. Mr. Slimmer again came forward with a donation of $25,000 toward the erection of a suitable building, on condition that a like sum was collected in Chicago. The amount was raised, and the home was dedicated April 23, 1899. (6) The Beth Moshav Z'keinim (Orthodox Home for Aged Jews), organized Sept. 7, 1899. In 1901 Mr. Slimmer promised the society which undertook to establish the home the sum of $20,000, on conditions similar to those accompanying his previous donations. The conditions were of course accepted; and the building is now in course of construction on the corner of Ogden and Albany avenues. (7) The Jewish Agriculturists' Aid Society of America, established in 1888 by three Chicago rabbis, Dr. Hirsch, Dr. Moses, and Dr. Levi. The society has its headquarters in Chicago, but it is national in aim and scope. The object of the society is to assist able-bodied poor Jews who are willing to establish themselves as farmers, in obtaining land on favorable terms. (8) The Home for Jewish Friendless and Working Girls, the youngest Jewish charitable institution in Chicago, established by a number of ladies' societies Oct. 15, 1901.
Besides these there are a great number of Jewish societies for various benevolent, educational, and social purposes. The United Hebrew Charities of Chicago maintains a number of branch institutions, such as an employment bureau, a free dispensary, and a training-school for nurses. All charities are now federated in the Associated Jewish Charities, founded in 1900, through which all collections are made.
The total number of Jewish congregations is fifty-five. Thirty cemeteries are owned and managed by Jewish congregations and societies, and five Jewish clubs minister to the social needs of the community. The Jewish population of Chicago is fully eighty thousand.
As in other large cities of the United States, there exist several social clubs, which, though nominally not restricted in their membership, are practically recruited exclusively from Jewish circles. The first club so organized was named "Concordia," and may be considered the parent of the present Standard Club, which, founded in 1872, is now located in a club-house at Twenty-fourth street and Michigan avenue. The Lake-Side, at Forty-second street and Grand boulevard; the Ideal, on Lasalle avenue; the Unity, and the West-Side are clubs similar in character to the Standard. The latest of these social clubs is the Ravisloe, recently established (1901). It is a country club, devoted to athletics.
From the earliest days of the municipality the Jews of Chicago have taken an honorable part in public life. On the two municipal boards, the board of education and the directory of the Public Library, Jews have distinguished themselves, the president's chair having been often occupied by one of their number, Adolf Kraus was president of the board of education for several terms, while Berthold Loewenthal has served as president of the Public Library board—an honor also conferred on Dr. Emil G. Hirsch, who was a director for nine years and president for six. Under Dr. Hirsch's administration the present splendid home of the Public Library was erected, while another Jew, Bernard Moos, acted as chairman of the building committee, rendering in this capacity the most signal services. Among the other Jewish members on the board of the library at various times may be mentioned Julius Rosenthal (founder and librarian of the Law Institute), Adolf Moses, and Jacob Franks. The following Jews have served on the school board: Herman Felsenthal, David Kohn, B. J. Rosenthal, James Rosenthal, Edward Rose, Charles Kozminski, and Dr. Joseph Stolz. Schools have been named after Herman Felsenthal and Charles Kozminski, in recognition of their services; while another public school, not in a Jewish district, has been named after Sir Moses Montefiore.
Among the charter members of the civic federation was Dr. Emil G. Hirsch; while Adolf Nathan, a member of the Columbian Fair executive committee, was president. Dr. Hirsch is also president of the Rabida Fresh Air Sanitarium. The following Jews have held other offices: corporation counsel, Adolf Kraus, Siegmund Zeisler; county clerk, Joseph Pollak, General Solomon; presidential elector, Henry Greenebaum, Emil G. Hirsch; county commissioner, Isa Monheimer, Jacob L. Cahn, Morris Rosenfeld; city alderman, Henry Greenebaum, Jacob Rosenberg, Abe Ballenberg, David Horner, Milton J. Foreman; South Park commissioner, Henry G. Foreman, Henry Greenebaum; judge of the circuit court, Philip Stein; justice of the peace, E. C. Hamburgher, Adolph J. Sabath, Max L. Wolf; city clerk, William Loeffler; controller of the city, Charles M. Schwab.
In the militia, may be mentioned Major Milton J. Foreman (cavalry); Lieut. Robert Hart (1st Ill. Infantry); and Emil G. Hirsch, the chaplain of the Illinois Naval Militia, with rank of lieutenant-commander.
The Jews have been contributors to the endowment fund of the Chicago University. Their original contribution of $35,000 saved the first donation by J. D. Rockefeller of $600,000, being made at a time when it seemed impossible to fulfil the conditions attaching to that gift, Sinai congregationlater donated $5,000 for a Semitic library. Eli B. Felsenthal is a member of the board of trustees of the university, while the following Jews belong to the faculty: Professor Michaelson, head of the department of physics; Julius Stieglitz and Felix Lengfeld (the latter resigned), professors of chemistry; Ernst Freund, professor of jurisprudence; Julian W. Mack, professor of law; Emil G. Hirsch, professor of rabbinical literature and philosophy; S. H. Clark, professor of elocution. Dr. Joseph Zeisler holds the chair of dermatology in the North-Western Medical School.
- Felsenthal, On the History of the Jews of Chicago, in Publications of the Am. Jew. Hist. Soc. No. 2, 1894;
- idem, The Beginnings of the Chicago Sinai Congregation, Chicago, 1898;
- Felsenthal and Eliassof, History of Kehillat Anshe Ma'arab, Chicago, 1897;
- Eliassof, The Jews of Illinois, in Reform Advocate, Chicago, May 4, 1901.