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1923 - A Good Year for Confirmations


1923 was a good year for Cleveland and its Jewish community. Though restrictive Federal laws had choked off the flow of immigrants from Eastern Europe, those who had arrived since the Great Wave began in 1881 were steadily improving their lot. Their now-English speaking adult children were forming families of their own and joining synagogues. Many opted to join synagogues where English would be spoken and where families could sit together. Conservative and Reform synagogues enjoyed rapid growth.

Cleveland's Central neighborhood, home to most of city's Jews, began to change racially before World War I. By 1910 many Jewish families had moved to the East 70s, 80s and 90s. The movement to newer housing in the rapidly developing Glenville neighborhood began.

In 1922 Oheb Zedek and Anshe Emeth - Beth Tifilo (today Park Synagogue) moved to Glenville. In 1923 the last two large "shuls" on East 55th were moving east: Tifereth Israel (The Temple) was building its new home at University Circle; B'nai Jeshurun had bought land near Mayfield and Lee in Cleveland Heights.

In May 1923 our two Jewish newspapers reported on Confirmation ceremonies, with the largest classes ever, in the two Reform congregations. Also having Confirmations were the two Conservative congregations: B'nai Jeshurun and the Cleveland Jewish Center, and two Orthodox synagogues: Oheb Zedek in Glenville and B'nai Israel on the west side.


Confirmation at Anshe Chesed - May 21, 1923

This notice was in May 18, 1923 Jewish Review and Observer.


Confirmation at Euclid Avenue Temple 1923

A walk down the hall between the sanctuary - social area and the library - school area of Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple in Beachwood, is a walk through history. On display are photographs of confirmations, back to the 1890s. (They may have begun in the late 1850s. The 1864 ceremony was reported in the Plain Dealer.)

Below, a photo of the 1923 class, with Rabbi Louis Wolsey.

The Euclid Avenue Temple Confirmation class of 1908

Lower left: Dr Michaelis Machol, Rabbi Emeritus Lower right: Rabbi Louis Wolsey, its first American-born, American-educated rabbi, and the 16 confirmands (compared to 99 15 years later).

To engage Rabbi Wolsey, who had been ordained at the Hebrew Union College in 1899, the congregation, already Reform in its practices, agreed to join the Reform movement and to use the Union Prayer Book.


The columns and  steps in the above photo show that it was taken on the front steps of the synagogue on Scovill Avenue and East 37th Street.

The move to Euclid Avenue and East 82nd Street, where it would be known as the Euclid Avenue Temple, would be four years later, in 1912.  

Learn more
Confirmation Class photos by Robert N. Brown.
Thanks also to Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple

6/25/2021  rev 7/06/2021

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