One of the Central States of the American Union; admitted 1816. The earliest Jewish congregation, the Achduth Vesholom congregation, was established at Fort Wayne in 1848. Fort Wayne now (1903) has a second congregation, Shearith Israel, founded in 1878, and a social club. Congregation Ahavath Achim was established at Lafayette in 1849 (present rabbi, Morris Feuerlicht, his predecessor having been Joseph Leiser). Lafayette has a second congregation and a social club.
In 1853 the Congregation Bnai Israel was established at Evansville (Israel Klein, present rabbi). The first Jewish inhabitants were Abraham Oppenheimer and Sigmund Redelsheimer, who took up their residence there in July, 1840. The first birth occurred in 1846, and the first marriage a year later. In 1848 the congregation Acheluth Veshalum was founded, with twelve members, and in the same year the Broadway Cemetery was purchased, though the first burial did not occur for two years. The present cemetery was purchased in 1885. In 1856 the first temple was dedicated, and the corner-stone of the present temple was laid in 1874, the dedication taking place a year later.
Among the communal societies are the Bikkur Cholim and Kevurath Methim; the Hebrew Relief Society, the Emek Berucha Lodge (founded in 1865), and the Standard Club. Evansville has another congregation, B'nai Moshe (founded 1880); a ladies' Hebrew benevolent society (founded 1859), a cemetery, and a social club. The rabbis of Evansville have been: Joseph Solomon, 1848; Rosenthal, Edward Rubin, 1864-81; Duschner, Israel Aaron, 1883-86; Tobias Schanfarber, 1887-88; Adolph Gutmacher, 1889-91; Samuel Hirshberg, 1891-95; Frederick Cohn, 1896. Among the local celebrities have been Charles Nirdlinger, author, and Mrs. Leopold Levy, wife of the ex-state treasurer. The occupations pursued by the community are commerce, manufactures, banking, and medicine.
Indianapolis, the capital of the state, has a Jewish population of about 4,000. Its first Jewish settlers were Moses Woolf, and Alexander and Daniel Franco, who went there from London about 1850. Its principal congregation was organized in 1856; services were held at first, under Rabbi M. Berman, in a rented room; before 1858 a hall was fitted up, in which, until 1861, Rabbi J. Wechsler officiated. In 1863 Isidore Kalish entered upon the rabbinate, which he occupied for one year. The corner-stone of the new temple was laid in 1865; in 1867 Rabbi M. Messing, the present incumbent, was elected. The building was dedicated Oct. 31, 1868. A new building, rendered necessary by the growth of the congregation, was dedicated Nov. 3, 1899. Indianapolis has four other congregations and various charitable societies, among them a ladies' benevolent society (founded 1859).
Of the other towns in the state, Anderson has holy day services; Attica, a congregation and burial-ground; Columbia City, holy day services; Elwood, holy day services and a ladies' Hebrew benevolent society; Goshen has a congregation, founded in 1878; Kendallville, holy day services; Kokomo, a small congregation; Ligonier, a congregation, founded in 1864 (present rabbi, Henry Englander, whose predecessor was Julius M. Magil; there are several benevolent and social organizations in Ligonier); Logansport, a congregation, founded in 1900; Madison, a congregation and a burial-ground; Marion, a congregation and a club; Michigan City, Mount Vernon, and Muncie, a congregation each; Muncie has also a ladies' aid society and a literary association; Peru, a congregation, founded in 1870; South Bend, a congregation and a ladies' benevolent society; Terre Haute, two congregations—Temple Israel (founded in 1890; Emil W. Leipziger, rabbi) and B'nai Abraham (Reuben Horwitz, rabbi); Vincennes and Wabash, a congregation each.
The Jewish population of the state is estimated at 25,000.
- American Jewish Year-Book, 5661 (1900-01).