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   The Jewish Community of Cleveland by Rabbi Moses Gries - 1910


This history of the Jewish community of Cleveland was written in 1910 by Rabbi Moses Gries of The Temple - Tifereth Israel. It was found online in the digital archives of Case Western Reserve University and only inadvertently while searching through more than 100 "hits" (search results). The document is a large (8 Mb) and not easily read pdf file, created by scanning a copy of this nearly 100 year old torn and repaired publication. We have manually transcribed the document and also show images of all pages.

Moses J Gries

Moses Jacob Gries was Cleveland's first American-born. American-educated rabbi. Born in 1868 in Newark NJ of parents who had immigrated from Central Europe before the Civil War, he was a graduate of the Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati. He came to The Temple in 1892. when it was still located downtown and helped guide the move to East 55th Street. Though he died a young man (50) he left an amazing record of accomplishment in the congregation, the Reform movement, and in Jewish and community affairs in Cleveland. For more, see the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History.

The document is of special interest in its details of the early years and the complex relationship with the Anshe Chesed congregation. Rabbi Gries took Tifereth Israel to a very "advanced" position in the Reform movement and his history proudly describes it as the first "open" congregation; one that no longer read from the Torah scrolls and whose Sunday services were attended by non Jews.

We present first the text version, followed by images of the document, then the image of the 1910 Jewish Independent story that tells us that the document was published in a three volume history of Cleveland by Samuel P. Orth.





Seventy and three years ago, 1837, the first Jewish settler, Simson Thorman, of Unsleben, Bavaria, came to Cleveland. Within the next two years, a number of others from his native town, some with families, followed him to the New World and to the Western Reserve.

Political unrest in Europe and unfavorable conditions of life in the Old World, seem to have been the causes which impelled these pioneers to seek opportunity in the unknown western world. Thus, one year after Cleveland was chartered as a city, the Jewish settlement began. Four generations, descendants of these first pioneers, have been born and are now living in Cleveland.


In 1839, it seems that the first permanent religious organization was established, under the name of the Israelitic Society. In 1840, a burial ground was purchased in Ohio City, at a cost of $100. To worship God, to unite the living, to care for the sick and the poor, and to bury the dead, the little community formed its definite organization.

The Israelitic Society was not destined to a long life. Though small in number, it was divided in 1842, and the seceders formed the Anshe Chesed Society. The Israelitic Society worshiped in a hall on South Water Street and Vineyard Lane, and the Anshe Chesed Society in Farmers Block, on Prospect Street.


The wounds were healed and the two societies were reunited in 1846 and received a charter under the name of The Israelitic Anshe Chesed Society of the City of Cleveland. This marks the real beginning of the oldest Jewish congregation in Cleveland.

It is an interesting revelation of the spirit of the times to note that Leonard Case presented to the Anshe Chesed Society, a lot on Ohio Street, for the building of a synagogue. This lot was exchanged for the one on Eagle Street, on which the first synagogue in Cleveland was built, at a cost of $1,500.

Again dissension split the congregation in 1848, resulting in the formation of the Tifereth Israel Congregation, in 1850.

The Anshe Chesed Congregation, by reason of growth, enlarged its synagogue, which was rededicated April 14, i860, by Dr. Wise of Cincinnati. Questions of ritual, strife concerning the prayer book and the form of service, and personal differences, caused repeated dissensions. In 1866, the Rabbi, G. M. Cohen, withdrew, and with him went twenty-one members, all of whom joined the Tifereth Israel Congregation.

The Jewish population continued to increase and the congregation continued to grow. On October 21, 1886, the cornerstone was laid for its new temple on Scovill Avenue and Henry Street (now East 25th Street). This building was dedicated September 2, 1887, and has been the home of the congregation until this time.

The Presidents of Anshe Chesed Congregation have been: Abraham Strauss, 1857; Simon Thorman, 1858; Simon Newmark, 1859-1860; S. Goodhart, 1861; J. Rohrheimer, 1862; A. Schwarz, 1863; M. Loeser, 1864; S. Newmark, 1865-1868; Nathan New, 1869; M. J. Moses, 1870-1871; Nathan New, 1872-1875; S. Newmark, 1876-1878; I. Reinthal, 1879-1881; S. Skall, 1882-1890; I. Reinthai, 1891-1893; Moses Halle, 1894-1895; Isaac Levy, 1896.

The following Rabbis have served Anshe Chesed Congregation: E. Hertzman, i860; G. M. Cohen, 1861-1866; Nathan, 1866; G. M. Cohen, 1867-1874; M. Tintner, 1875.

In 1876, Dr. M. Machol was chosen Rabbi and continued in active service thirty years. In 1901, the congregation celebrated the silver anniversary of his ministry. He was elected Rabbi Emeritus in 1907.

In September, 1906, Rabbi Louis Wolsey of Little Rock, Arkansas, was elected as Rabbi, and was installed in Office August 30, 1907.

The Euclid Avenue Temple League of young men and the Euclid Avenue Temple Sisterhood are new activities of the congregation.

The Anshe Chesed Congregation now has 385 members. In July, 1907, the congregation purchased a lot on the southeast corner of Euclid and East 82nd Street, on which they plan to erect a new temple.


Tifereth Israel Congregation was organized May 26, 1850, with forty-seven charter members. Its first worship was conducted in a house on Lake Street, and later in other homes. From 1851 to 1855, its services were held in a hall in Kelley's Block on Main Street, now Superior Street.

In 1854, the Congregation received a bequest of $3,000 from Judah Touro, the distinguished patriot and Jewish philanthropist. On May 11th of the same year, a lot was bought on Huron Street for $4,200. The bequest of Judah Touro made it possible for the struggling congregation to buy a permanent site and to build a temple.

Forty years thereafter, the service of Judah Touro was recognized by the erection of a memorial tablet, in his honor, in the new Temple, dedicated in 1894.

The temple on Huron Street was dedicated on or about December 14, 1855. It was remodeled in 1861, and rededicated on August 23, 1861, by Rev. Dr. Max Lilenthal of Cincinnati. It was enlarged in July, 1866; again, on May 21, 1874, there was a rededication by Rev. Dr. Isaac M. Wise of Cincinnati.

Its presidents have been: Alexander Schwab, 1850; Marks Wolf, 1852; Selig Hexter, 1853; David Kaufman, 1854; Solomon Wolf, 1856; Solomon Hyman, 1857; Mosle Ezekiel, 1860; Solomon Wolf, 1862; Solomon Hyman, 1863; Aaron Halle, 1866; Kaufman Hays, 1867; Sigmund Mann, 1871; Jacob Rohrheimer, 1874; Sigmund Mann, 1881; Jacob Rohrheimer, 1882; Simon Sampliner, 1884; Henry Richman, 1886; Morris Ullman, 1887; Marcus Grossman, 1889; Martin A. Marks, 1890; Abram Lewenthal, 1905; Martin A. Marks, 1907 to the present time. With the exception of the two years from 1905 to 1907, Mr. Lewenthal's term of office, Mr. Martin A. Marks has been president of the Congregation from 1890 to 1910.

The Rabbis of Tifereth Israel Congregation have been: Isadore Kalisch, 1850-1855; Wolf Fassbinder, 1855-1857; Jacob Cohen, 1857-1866; Gustav M. Cohen, 1866-1867; Jacob Mayer, 1867-1874; Aaron Hahn, 1874-1892; Moses J. Gries, 1892 to present time.

Dr. Aaron Hahn resigned as Rabbi of the congregation in 1892 and retired from the ministry to study and later to practice law in Cleveland.

The congregation resolved to build a new temple and in 1892 purchased the lot at the southeast corner of Willson and Central Avenues.

Rabbi Moses J. Gries of Chattanooga, Tenn., who had previously been elected as Rabbi, came to Cleveland on November 20, 1892. On July 16, 1893, the cornerstone of the new Temple was laid. Saturday, April 28th, and Sunday, April 29, 1894, the last services were held in the old temple on Huron Street. The new Temple was dedicated September 21 to 24, 1894. Dr. Isaac M. Wise of Cincinnati laid the cornerstone and preached the dedicatory sermon. The first religious service, following the dedication, was the confirmation of fifteen boys and girls. The dedicatory services were distinguished by a noteworthy "fellowship" evening, in which the representative ministers of all denominations participated, in the presence of a great assembly of people. "The Temple," as the congregation and the new house of worship were called, soon made remarkable strides in the growth of its membership and in its varied organizations. From time to time, it has established many kinds of endeavor for men and women and for boys and girls. Historically, it is the first "Open Temple" or institutional church among Jews in the United States, and in the world.

The Temple Society, established in November, 1894, conducted University Extension Classes and Popular Lectures, which, in 1896, developed into the well known "Temple Course," which continued until 1909.

Among the institutions of The Temple are a free Public Library, opened October 2, 1898. It has a fine collection of books in English on Jews and Judaism, in addition to a general library of other books and magazines. On January 22, 1904, the Cleveland Public Library assumed direction of the Temple Library, since which time it has experienced a large increase, both in circulation and attendance.

The Congregation has grown from its original membership of forty-seven in 1850, to a membership of 125 in 1892, and to a present membership of 595.

"The religious attitude of the community differs but little from that of others in the West," says Dr. Wolfenstein, in his article on Cleveland, published in the Jewish Encyclopedia, "save perhaps, that the Reform movement has advanced more rapidly in Cleveland than elsewhere. All shades and varieties of Judaism are to be found, from the most rigidly Orthodox to the ultra-Radical Reform — on the one hand, an unswerving adherence to tradition; on the other, at Tifereth Israel synagogue, now called 'The Temple,' almost an entire abolition of it. The Temple congregation worships on Sunday, a large number of its attendants being non-Jews. It has abolished the reading of the Torah and practically all Hebrew from its service and Sabbath School. Its Sabbath School session is held on Sunday afternoon."

Sunday lectures were established in the Huron Street Temple in 1886, and the first Sunday Service, under the ministry of Rabbi Gries, October 8, 1893. The Sunday afternoon sessions of the Sabbath School began September 18, 1898.

The Temple Alumni Association, the junior organization of The Temple, composed of former Confirmation boys and girls, now has a membership of 572, of which about 200 are active.


The oldest and most important of the Orthodox congregations is the Hungarian, Bene Jeshurum Congregation, organized in 1865 and reorganized in 1886. In 1865, its first worship was held in the residence of Herman Sampliner in California Alley; in 1866, on St. Clair Street; and then on Hamilton Street, and during the great Holy Days, public worship was conducted in Gallagher's Hall on Erie and Superior Streets; in 1869, in Halle's old hall; in 1878, on Michigan Street. In 1886, the Congregation bought the temple on Eagle Street from the Anshe Chesed Congregation, but did not take possession until 1887.

Its Rabbis were: Morris Klein, 1875; Sigmund Drechsler, 1887-1905; A. E. Dobrin, 1906-1908. Samuel Schwartz was installed June 18, 1909.

The Congregation has passed through many struggles, differences and divisions, but has survived them all. In 1905, it completed its new temple on the southeast corner of Willson and Scovill Avenues. It now has a membership of 454.

There are about twenty Orthodox Jewish Congregations, mainly Hungarian, Russian and Polish, in the city, the most prominent of which are: Anshe Emeth, East 37th Street near Woodland; Agudath Achim, Scovill avenue and East Thirty-first street (Rabbi Benjamin Gitelsohn) ; Beth Hamidrash Hagadol Beth Israel, Woodland Avenue and East 27th Street; Keneseth Israel, East 46th Street near Woodland; Ohave Emuno, Scovill Avenue and East 37th Street (Rabbi Nachman H. Ebin); Oheb Zedek, Scovill and East 38th Street (Rabbi H. A. Liebovitz; membership, 250). Anshe Emeth Congregation is said to have been organized in 1867, and Beth Hamidrash Hagadol Beth Israel in 1868. All of these Congregations have erected new synagogues within recent years. Anshe Emeth Synagogue was dedicated in July, 1904. Since September, 1904, Rabbi Samuel Margolies has been in charge. Its present membership numbers 300.

The religious instruction of the children, in all probability, began, from the time, the first families came to Cleveland, in 1838 and 1839. The first Hebrew School seems to have been established in a house on Lake Street, but no record has been found of a permanent Sabbath School organization until 1858. Instruction was given in the Jewish religion and in Jewish history and in Hebrew.

The Jewish community has no "parochial" schools. Its religious schools are supplementary to the public school instruction. The Religious School sessions are held on Saturday and Sunday mornings, and in The Temple on Sunday afternoons. Hebrew Schools, with almost daily instruction, are held in the afternoons after public school hours. Some of the congregations maintain Hebrew Schools. Oheb Zedek Congregation has 120 children in its Hebrew School and 200 pupils in its Sabbath School. Anshe Emeth Congregation reports 407 children in its Sabbath School. The Orthodox community has established the Sir Moses Montefiore Hebrew School Talmud Torah. The school is conducted in its own building, 2495 East 35th Street, and gives instruction to about 300 children.

Cleveland is celebrated throughout the country for its large religious schools. Bene Jeshurun in its Hebrew School has 160 children, and in its Sabbath School more than 400 children are enrolled. Anshe Chesed has 215 pupils.

The growth of The Temple Sabbath School has been remarkable. From the eighty children who were gathered for Sabbath School instruction in 1892, the school has grown, until its membership for a succession of years has been from 700 to 800. This Sabbath School, both because of its unusual membership and its new methods and its magnificent organization, has attracted the attention of the entire country.


Cleveland has the distinction of having the largest Jewish Congregational Sabbath School, viz., at The Temple; and the Council Sabbath School, which began in 1896 with about 100 children and now has a regular enrollment of 1,242, is the largest "Mission" Sabbath School.


The first burial ground was purchased in 1840 in Ohio City. In 1853, additional land was bought on Willett Street and the cemetery was again enlarged in 1862. On July 31, 1887, more than twenty acres of land, fronting on Mayfield Road, were acquired for cemetery purposes; on July 6, 1890, the Tifereth Israel Congregation and the Anshe Chesed Congregation entered into an agreement for joint control and maintenance of the United Jewish Cemeteries of Cleveland. The chapel in the new Mayfield Cemetery was dedicated on Decoration Day, May 30, 1893. The Bene Jeshurun Congregation located its cemetery in Glenville, in 1880. A number of other Jewish Cemeteries, under the control of societies and lodges, are scattered around the city.


Jews endeavor to take care of their own poor. Though they contribute to every public cause for good, it is their aim to support their own charities. The Jews in the United States have taken pride in maintaining both the letter and the spirit of the charter granted more than two hundred and fifty years ago to the Jews of New York, which provided that their poor should not be a burden to the state.


The early records of the Jewish charitable organizations of Cleveland seem to have been lost or destroyed. According to report, a benevolent society was established in 1857, with membership dues of $4 per year. The present Hebrew Relief Association is said to have been established in 1875. For many years the members of the Board of Directors did all the necessary work, both of investigation and relief—there were no paid officers or other employees. During the eighties and early nineties when, under the pressure of European persecution, immigration increased, special relief funds were raised and the Russian Refugee Committee was organized. Agents were employed to give part or whole time.

In 1894 a Personal Service Society was established. This society was merged the same year with the newly formed Council of Jewish Women. In 1895, the Relief Association welcomed the help and cooperation of the Council of Jewish Women, in the care of the sick poor—an arrangement which was not discontinued until 1910.

The year 1904 marks the reorganization of the Hebrew Relief Association and the employment of a trained superintendent. It endeavors to do all relief work for the Jewish poor. It cooperates with the City Department of Charities and Corrections, the Associated Charities, and all other philanthropic agencies. It has three paid workers, and its budget for the year 1910 amounts to $21,000. The annual meeting of 1908, held on January 7th, was the occasion of the formal presentation of its present headquarters, located at 2554 East 40th Street. The gift, valued at Five Thousand Dollars, is a memorial in honor of Isaac N. Glauber, and assures the Relief a permanent home.


Cooperating with the Hebrew Relief Association, but in nowise a part of it, is the Hebrew Free Loan Association. It was organized in 1905 as a Gemilatb Chesed Society and reorganized in 1907 under its present name. In 1909 it made 699 loans, amounting to over $20,000. These loans are free, without interest, but are secured by responsible endorsement. Although in three years the Association has loaned about $26,000, its losses have been but $168. It has an established contributing membership of nearly five hundred, paying $3 per year. Its chief purpose is to prevent the poor from asking for charity, by giving them an opportunity to maintain their self-respect and to establish their own independence.


During the Russian immigration in the eighties, a house was rented on Perry Street, to shelter incoming immigrants and the transient poor. In later years, there were other temporary quarters. But in 1904, this work was reorganized and a new and commodious building was erected at 3902 Orange Street. It is open day and night to anyone requiring shelter. During 1909, it expended about $2,000 and housed 883 inmates and furnished 2,859 days of shelter and served 8,599 meals. It is supported by small membership dues and by an appropriation from the Federation of Jewish Charities. The Society now bears the name of The Independent Montefiore Shelter Home.


No story of the Jewish charities of Cleveland would be complete without an account of the Jewish Orphan Asylum and of the Home for Aged and Infirm Israelites.

The Jewish Orphan Asylum is the pride of the Cleveland Jewish community and an enduring monument to the Independent Order of B'nai B'rith (Sons of the Covenant) who founded it. The Orphan Asylum is more than a local institution—it is partly national. It receives both children and support from many Jewish communities, in many states of the Union.

In July, 1867, District Grand Lodge No. 2, Independent Order B'nai B'rith, in session at Milwaukee, resolved to establish an orphan asylum. After due investigation, Cleveland was chosen as the location, and the Cleveland "Water Cure" was purchased for $25,000. The Orphan Asylum was dedicated on July 14, 1868. Of the original Trustees, only two survive—one being Mr. A. Wiener of Cleveland, who is still a Trustee, and who served as President for seven years. One of the original Board of Directors was Mrs. Kaufman Hays, daughter of Simson Thorman, the first Jewish settler in Cleveland—she was a member of the Board from 1868 until the year of her death, 1907. Mr. Kaufman Hays has been actively associated for many years and has been Treasurer since 1891. Mr. and Mrs. L. Aufrecht were the first Superintendent and Matron, from September, 1868, until 1878. The Orphan Asylum opened with thirty-eight children.


On July 1, 1878, Dr. S. Wolfenstein became the Superintendent, and has continued in office until the present time. It is because of his individuality that the Orphan 'Asylum has won for itself such unusual distinction as a model institution.

Concerning it, General Brinkerhoff of Mansfield, Ohio, former President of the State Board of Charities of Ohio, and a well known authority in philanthropy, said, "The Cleveland Jewish Orphan Asylum is admirably administered and is a model for imitation by all our county homes for dependent children. In fact it is not only an honor to the city of Cleveland, but it is an honor to the state and nation. I have visited hundreds of child-saving institutions, but I have never been in an institution where there was such a manifestation of affection and regard for the superintendent, as I saw in this home."

Dr. Wolfenstein has trained leaders and workers. The heads of the Orphan Asylums at Atlanta, Chicago, Philadelphia, Rochester and San Francisco were his former assistants at Cleveland.


In 1888, the new main building, fireproof and splendidly equipped, was dedicated. The quarter centennial was celebrated in 1893, and Governor William McKinley, afterward President, was a guest of honor.

The boys and girls of the Orphan Asylum have gone out into the world and have honored their former home by their remarkable record. Little more than one per cent have ever become recipients of charity, "in every instance because of sickness or death of husband, a still smaller percentage, not quite one-half per cent, have made a shady record." "A considerable number are occupying prominent positions in the professional world, as rabbis, physicians, lawyers and trained nurses. A very fair percentage are pursuing trades as machinists, electricians, printers and different other trades. The girls are milliners, dressmakers, and quite a large number stenographers." They are found in almost every walk of life.

The Orphan Asylum for a number of years has been full to its capacity— 500 children. Since its opening, 2,941 children have been admitted, and 2,410 have been discharged—only thirty-one have been lost by death.

The total expenditure to the end of the forty-first year amounts to $2,500,000.

The Orphan Asylum has a sinking fund of $475,000. Its grounds and buildings represent an investment of $350,000. There is a magnificent main building, with separate school and manual training buildings and other buildings; also two hospitals. Its property fronts 412 feet on Woodland Avenue and has a depth of 730 feet; also 165 feet front on Sawtell Avenue; comprising altogether more than seven acres.

At the present time, there is under consideration a plan to move from the heart of the city into the country adjacent to Cleveland.


The Sir Moses Montefiore Kesher Home for Aged and Infirm Israelites was established at Cleveland in 1881. Its property is at the southwest corner of Woodland and Willson Avenues, extending to Seelye Avenue, and was purchased for $25,000.

The Home was founded by District No. 4 of the Order Kesher Shel Barzel, a Jewish Fraternal Order, now out of existence. In the preamble, adopted by the Order, the purpose of the Home is declared to be: "the care, support and maintenance of aged and infirm Israelites of both sexes." The original name was "Aged and Infirm Israelites Home, of District No. 4, O. K. S. B."

It was dedicated and opened June, 1882. On March 10, 1884, the Supreme Lodge of the Order, "desiring to erect a lasting monument" to the memory of Sir Moses Montefiore, the celebrated English and Jewish philanthropist, voted an endowment of $10,000, and gave the institution the name which it now bears. On January 31, 1898, the Home was incorporated as an institution, independent of the Order.

The building was enlarged in 1889, at a cost of $20,000. It has accommodations for sixty. It receives inmates and also support from a number of states. It accepts both men and women from the age of sixty-five, and husbands and wives are permitted to spend their closing days together in peace.

The institution now has forty-six inmates. Since the opening of the Home until 1907, 192 inmates have been received, ninety-nine of whom have died at the average of nearly seventy-nine years.

The property of the Home fronts 197 feet on Woodland Avenue, 355 feet on Willson, and 412 on Seelye Avenues, comprising altogether about four acres. The building and grounds cost more than $50,000, although their present value is far higher. The Institution has a sinking fund of more than $86,000. Up to July 1, 1909, the total receipts from all sources have amounted to more than $499,000.

Within recent years, an Orthodox "Old Home" has been established, supported by the Orthodox Jewish community. It is located at 5912 Scovill Avenue.


The Jewish community offers care and protection not only to the orphan and the aged and the infirm, but also to the orphan child of tenderest age. The Infant Orphans' Home accepts children from the day of birth until they are five years old. The youngest inmate has been but two days old.

In 1899, a group of women organized, to care for homeless infant children. On August 4, 1901, a house was bought at 301 Forest Street, now East 37th, and the Home was dedicated and opened in the same year. In 1906, a large private residence, 2200 East 40th Street, was purchased and it was opened on the 13th day of March, 1897. It now has fifty-one children, and in 1909 expended about $8,000. About one year ago, the final payment was made toward the purchase of a house one door south of the Home, which is now being used as a shelter for unorphaned homeless and friendless children.

The women's organizations date back to 1860, in which year the Daughters of Israel began. This Society is still in existence, although not very active.


In 1894, the Ladies' Benevolent Society, The Ladies' Sewing Society and the Personal Service Society amalgamated and organized under the name of The Cleveland Council of Jewish Women. Its first regular meeting was held at The Temple, November 20, 1894. The Society began with 271 members. Later, a group of young women known as the Progressive Mission, became affiliated.*

Rabbi Moses J. Gries was the first President and continued in office until October 6, 1896, when Mrs. M. B. Schwab was chosen President and led the organization for ten years. On May 6, 1906, the Acting President, Mrs. A. Wiener, was elected President, and Mrs. M/*B. Schwab was made Honorary President.

The Council of Jewish Women rented a house at 297 Woodland Avenue, October 1, 1895. On February 4, 1896, it voted to become a branch of the National Council of Jewish Women, from which body it resigned on June 16, 1908.

The Council has been a pioneer in work for children and for men and women. It conducted evening classes in 1893; a public playground in 1901, and vacation schools in 1904.

"The Martha House" — a home for working girls, under the control and auspices of the Council, but governed by an independent Board, was established in 1907. In May, 1907, the Council leased a home on East 46th Street, and this same property was purchased on November 1, 1908, for $5,500. Fifteen girls are now living at the Martha House. The House accommodates sixteen.

A "Charity Fair" was held in 1898. The total proceeds were more than $13,000, of which the Hebrew Relief Association received $2,000 and the Council more than $11,000. With this fund, it was planned to purchase a permanent home. After negotiations for the purchase of the "Joseph" home at 300 Woodland Avenue (now 2104) the old homestead was offered as a gift, through the Council, to the Jewish community. The money was set aside for a building fund, and ten years after was used to help purchase the new settlement building, which now houses the work of The Council of Jewish Women and The Council Educational Alliance.

The Council conducts all manner of work, especially for women and girls and children. There are about fifty classes and clubs. Together with the Alliance, it rallies more than 200 volunteer workers. The attendance during 1909, although the building was closed for two months, due to moving and remodeling, and although the work was conducted under many difficulties, numbered 212,298.

In addition to this important philanthropic work, the Council conducts the usual activities of a woman's club, with study circles and social meetings. It is a thoroughly representative woman's organization. The membership has risen from 271 in 1894 to 1,051 in 1910.

The Council does not confine its efforts to Jewish charities, but from time to time contributes to non-sectarian organizations. It gives support to a number of Jewish National causes, and makes a special assessment for the National Jewish Hospital for Consumptives. It is affiliated with the Ohio Congress of Mothers; the Council of Women, and the Cleveland Federation of Women's Clubs. Throughout its history, it has revealed a splendid spirit of social service.


The Council Educational Alliance was incorporated in April, 1899. From its very origin, its work and its history were very closely interwoven with the Council of Jewish Women. They have always labored side by side. The Council has the right to nominate a majority of the Board of the Alliance and the two organizations and their officers have always cooperated.

To the Council Educational Alliance, on April 27, 1899, Moritz and Yetta Joseph gave the deed of their old home, 2104 Woodland Avenue. This gift marked an epoch in the history of the Jewish community, being the first large individual gift for Jewish philanthropy.

The Alliance work has always been conducted along settlement lines, but it was not a real settlement, with workers in residence, until after the dedication of its new building in 1909.

On May 30, 1899, Mrs. A. Wiener was chosen as the first President of the Alliance. She resigned on the 27th of June of the same year and Mr. B. Mahler was elected President. He continued in office until his resignation, December 7,1903. On January 11, 1904, Rabbi Moses J. Gries was elected and continues as President at this time.

The Alliance endeavors to be the "social center" for its neighborhood. It reaches more than 2,500 individuals. With the Council, it has more than 200 volunteers and a paid staff of workers, teachers and attendants, numbering twenty-six.

On June 13, 1908, it was decided to buy the property of the Excelsior Club, located on the south side of Woodland Avenue, between Forest and Putnam Streets, now 37th and 38th Streets. The purchase was consummated and possession given on January 1, 1908. The building was remodeled and its capacity increased at a cost of about $25,000. Almost $20,000 was raised by special subscriptions to the building fund. The Joseph homestead and adjoining property belonging to the Alliance were sold for $25,000.

After months of labor and expectation, the new building, remodeled, enlarged and beautified, was dedicated on September 8, 1909. It is a completely equipped settlement building, one of the best in the country. It represents an investment in land and buildings and equipment of approximately $100,000.

The dedication of the Alliance was a memorable occasion. Representatives of the City, of the Public Schools, of the Public Library, and of the Federation of Jewish Charities, participated in the public exercises. There were addresses by the President of the Council Educational Alliance and of the Council of Jewish Women. The guest of honor was the Governor of Ohio, Hon. Judson A. Harmon.


The Council of Jewish Women and the Council Educational Alliance united in the establishment of a Summer Camp for boys and girls, and, to a limited extent, for men and women. Mr. Samuel D. Wise offered the free use of his property along the east shore of Lake Erie, formerly known as Stein's, and located at Stop 133.

The Camp was opened in the summer of 1907 and proved so remarkable a success that in November of the same year it was determined to form a permanent Camp Wise Association. To this Association Mr. Samuel D. Wise tendered his property as a gift, to be used as a summer camp. He repaired and remodeled the buildings and cottages, and improved the grounds, and, on March 26, 1908, he deeded his property to the Camp Wise Association. It includes 17 acres of land, a hotel building and a group of cottages. The estimated value of the property was $25,000. Later, a special fund of about $5,000 was raised to provide better sanitation and water supply and other necessary improvements.

An Emergency Cottage, the gift of Mrs. A. E. Brown, was offered in 1909 and is now being built.

During 1909, the Camp was open ten weeks and cared for an average of 125 men, women and children per week, not including the campers. The cost was approximately $3,500.

The wonderful success of the Camp has been due to the fine spirit of the young men and young women who were in active charge through the whole summer.


The Jewish Women's Hospital Society was formed in 1900. This organization succeeded, in 1902, in purchasing a private residence at 2371 East 37th Street, formerly Forest Street, for $7,500. The residence was remodeled for hospital service, at a cost of $7,500 additional. On May 3, 1903, it was formally dedicated, and on May 4th, was opened for the reception of patients.

The hospital has been hindered by adverse conditions and the lack of public support, and by its limited facilities and capacity. It contains thirty beds, of which fourteen are in wards.

The many difficulties and struggles for the successful maintenance of the hospital, led to a complete reorganization in 1909. During this year, the hospital cared for 539 patients, with 1,446 days of charity work, and 419 days for which one-half payment was given. The total operating cost amounted to nearly $10,000, of which amount the Federation of Jewish Charities gave $4,200. The hospital also conducts a training school for nurses.

At the present writing, there is serious discussion and investigation of the need and advisability of building a modern and thoroughly equipped Jewish hospital.


The charities of the Jewish community of Cleveland, are under communal and not under congregational control. The temples and the synagogues do not maintain their own charitable societies and institutions. All the Jewish charities of the city are controlled and supported by the Jewish community in general.

In recent years, however, there has been manifest a tendency on the part of the newly arrived immigrants and the increasing Russian Jewish community, to create their own organizations and to establish their own institutions.

All of the important institutions and societies are affiliated with The Federation of Jewish Charities, chartered under the laws of the State of Ohio, November 17, 1903.

In the previous year, on November 21st, the first meeting was held for the purpose of formulating a plan and devising ways and means for the federation of the Jewish charities of Cleveland. The following persons were present: Messrs. Edward M. Baker, Charles Eisenman, Julius Feiss, Jacob Furth, Moses J. Gries, Isaac Joseph, M. J. Mandelbaum, Martin A- Marks, Sig. Shlesinger and Meyer Weil. On November 15, 1903, the constitution was adopted and he following institutions affiliated with the Federation and were enrolled as beneficiaries:

The Cleveland Council of Jewish Women, The Council Educational Alliance The Hebrew Relief Association, The Infant Orphans' Mothers Home, The Jewish Orphan Asylum, Mt. Sinai Hospital, The National Jewish Hospital for Consumptives, The Sir Moses Montefiore Kesher Home for Aged and Infirm Israelites.

The first Board of Trustees elected by the incorporators on November 30th were the following: Edward M. Baker, Herman Einstein, Charles Eisenman, Julius Feiss, Moses J. Gries, Sol. M. Hexter, Isaac Joseph, Isaac Levi, Henry A. Newman, Manuel Reinthal, Abraham Stearn, Meyer Weil.

The officers elected at this meeting were as follows: Charles Eisenman, President; Julius Feiss, Vice President; Meyer Weil, Treasurer; E. M. Baker, Secretary.

All of these have continued in office to this time. The number of Trustees was increased to fifteen at the annual meeting in 1908.

Other societies and institutions have become beneficiaries from time to time —the Free Loan Association in 1905, the Shelter Home in 1906, and the Camp Wise Association in 1908.

An Educational Endowment Fund, to aid worthy students, was founded on March 7, 1904, by the gift of $2,500 from the Mrs. H. Black estate.

During the year, the close of which marked the formation of the Federation, the total sum collected for the Jewish Orphan Asylum, the Jewish Infant Orphans' Home, the Montefiore Home, the Hebrew Relief Association, the Council Educational Alliance, and the Hospital for Consumptives amounted to approximately $20,000. This year the Federation has succeeded in collecting approximately $70,000.

Year by year, the effort has been made to increase the amounts given for charity and also to multiply the number of the givers. Prior to the formation of the Federation, six to seven hundred were enrolled as contributors. This number has been steadily increased, until now, about 1,650 are regular subscribers. The present office of the Federation is at 1028 Citizens Building.

The Federation plans to collect and distribute all the contributions for the regular maintenance of its affiliated societies and institutions. It is exercising a marked influence upon the development of the charitable work of the Jewish community and is now being held up before the whole city, as a model and as an incentive toward the federation of all the important charities of the city.


The leading social organizations are the Excelsior, the Oakwood, and the Standard clubs.

The Excelsior Club was organized on October 20, 1872. Until 1874 it had no fixed location. From 1874 to 1877 its headquarters were at Corlett's Hall, corner Erie and Sumner Streets, and for ten years, from 1877 to December 24, 1887, at Halle's Hall, corner Woodland and Erie Streets. It built its own clubhouse on Woodland Avenue, opposite Putnam Street and occupied it from December 24, 1887, to December 31, 1908. During 1908, the clubhouse was sold to the Council Educational Alliance. The club began with a membership of thirty, and at the time of the opening of its clubhouse, in 1887, had 148 members. The present membership is 315. On the eve of the New Year, 1909, the new and palatial clubhouse, located at 11111 Euclid Avenue just east of Wade Park, was formally opened.

The Oakwood Club is a country club, whose grounds, covering 106 1/2 acres, are located in East Cleveland Township, on Mayfield and Warrensville Roads. It possesses a comfortable clubhouse, splendid golf links, baseball field and tennis courts. The club began with forty-four members, July 1, 1905. The clubhouse was opened in the fall of 1906. Ninety-nine seniors and seventeen juniors constitute the present membership.

The Standard Club was organized September 30, 1907, and was formally opened January 26, 1910. Its present membership is about 150, including senior and junior members. The club holds a ninety-nine-year lease on its building at the northeast corner of Euclid Avenue and East 71st Street.

The Young Men's Hebrew Association was planned at a preliminary meeting, held on Sunday, January 6, 1889. Thirty-four young men enrolled as charter members On the following Sunday a definite organization was created, and a constitution was adopted on January 21, 1889. By July of the same year, 350 members had joined. The information and the records concerning the beginnings of the Association are not available. The chief organizers were a group of young men, formerly members of the Cleveland Literary Union.

The new association worked along social, educational and philanthropic lines. Its original headquarters were in Fix' Hall, on Scovill Avenue near Perry Street (now East 22d). Later, a building was rented, with auditorium and gymnasium, at 234 Woodland Avenue, near old Brownell Street. Efforts were made to secure a permanent building. Subscriptions were pledged, but for various reasons the building project was allowed to slumber. Temporary quarters were rented later at 299 Woodland Avenue.

Interest began to wane and the Association's days seemed to be numbered. Then followed a revival of enthusiasm, under which stimulus, in 1894, the membership was pushed to 450. On December 15, 1894, the new headquarters at "Brooks School," on Sibley Street, were dedicated. There was a notable increase of general activity. Again subscriptions were pledged for a new building, which, however, seemed destined not to be erected. The Association passed out of existence about 1899.

Within the past two years, another attempt has been made to establish a Young Men's Hebrew Association. Temporary meeting places were provided and now a private residence has been rented at 2611 East 47th Street, the present home of the Association. One hundred and sixty members constitute the new Association.

Prominent among the societies and lodges whose membership is largely or wholly Jewish, are the long established Hungarian Aid Society and the very prosperous Hungarian Benevolent and Social Union, and the Independent Aid Society. These organizations are social in character and allow some special privileges, such as sick benefit, and do some philanthropic work.

The Order Knights of Joseph, a Jewish fraternal organization for men and women, received a charter from the State of Ohio, on February 14, 1896. Its first lodge was organized in Cleveland on May 14, 1896, with a membership of twelve. Since that time the order has grown to 11,214 members. Its national headquarters are located at Cleveland.


The Cleveland community has two Jewish weeklies, published in English, and one daily paper, printed in Yiddish. The oldest of these papers, the Hebrew Observer, began publication in 1889, and was merged, in 1899, with the Jewish Review, under the name of The Jewish Review and Observer. On March 9, 1906, the Jewish Independent issued its first number. Since May 25, 1906, its editor has been Mr. Maurice Weidenthal, for many years active in the Cleveland newspaper world.

Yiddish papers have been published in Cleveland from time to time. All have ceased publication, with the exception of the Jewish Daily Press, established May 1, 1908.


The Jewish Community of Cleveland has always been identified with important Jewish movements throughout the United States.

The first American Rabbinical Conference ever held in this country, met in Cleveland October 17, 1855.

The Union of American Hebrew Congregations, organized in 1873, convened its first "Council" in Cleveland, January 14, 1874.

The Central Conference of American Rabbis, representative of the most prominent Rabbis of America, founded by Rev. Dr. Isaac M. Wise of Cincinnati, in 1889, held its first regular conference in Cleveland July 13 to 15, 1890.

The Cleveland community lends its support to the National Conference of Jewish Charities, the Jewish Publication Society of America, the Jewish Chautauqua Society, the National Farm School, and other good causes.

During the dedication services of The Temple, a "Fellowship Evening," in which representative ministers participated, took place on September 23, 1894. It marked an epoch in the religious life of the city.

The first "Union" Thanksgiving Service, was held at The Temple on November 29, 1894, in which the Anshe Chesed Congregation and the Unity Church joined.

The Educational League, for the higher education of orphans, was planned in 1896. Its first meeting was held at The Temple. It was established under the auspices of the Baron de Hirsch Lodge, now part of Cleveland Lodge, No. 16, Independent Order B'nai B'rith. At the organization meeting, July 12, 1897, Mr. Martin A. Marks was elected President. Rabbi Gries was elected July 11, 1898, and has been president until this date. The League offers help toward a higher education to orphan boys and girls of talent and genius.

The National Council of Jewish Women assembled in triennial session at The Temple, March 4, 1900.

The B'nai B'rith, District Grand Lodge No. 2, held its annual convention at The Temple, in May, 1903. The Convention was honored by the presence of the Hon. Leo N. Levi, the President of the Order.

The Knights of Joseph, a Jewish Fraternal Order, was organized in Cleveland, and Cleveland is its national headquarters.

On May 16, 1908, two important associations organized in Cleveland and held their first meetings at The Temple—The Jewish Religious Education Association of Ohio, composed of the Rabbis and teachers and superintendents of religious schools—and the Ohio Rabbinical Association. Rabbi Gries was elected President of both.


The Jews of Cleveland have not been very prominent in the political life of the city—they have not sought public office. A few individuals have been active in the political world, and some have held responsible positions in the administration of the affairs of the city. Representative Jews have been closely identified with all non-sectarian philanthropic work, and have been very active in all civic organizations for the public good.

Their business interests are most varied. They are engaged in very important industrial and commercial enterprises, particularly in the manufacture of cloaks and clothing, and all the affiliated garment industries. They control the chief brass foundries and are the chief makers of agricultural implements.

They conduct the leading department stores; many are engaged in petty trading and in small stores. Thousands are skilled workers in the garment industries; a number of the more recent immigrants are active in the building trades, as contractors, carpenters, bricklayers, plumbers, electricians, and the like.

Individuals have for many years been influential in the strongest financial institutions of Cleveland. Some have been interested in the development of the street railroad business, both urban and interurban.

According to conservative estimate, there are seventy Jewish physicians, the most prominent of whom are Dr. Marcus Rosenwasser and Dr. A. Peskind; and about 100 lawyers in Cleveland. A number of others are engaged in professional work, as architects, decorators and engineers. Cleveland has produced two artists of international reputation—Louis Loeb and George Peixotto, the son of Benjamin Franklin Peixotto. Benjamin F. Peixotto, for a number of years, was active in the Jewish life of Cleveland. He was appointed by President Grant, United States Minister to Roumania, and under President Hayes he was United States Consul General to Lyons, France.

A goodly number of the ablest and most successful men in the business and professional world have administered the affairs of the Jewish institutions and societies for a long period of years. [words missing] have [words missing] constant service for more than a quarter of a century.

The Jewish population has come from all parts of the world — chiefly from Germany, Hungary, Bohemia, Poland and Russia. There is a large American born population, and many are descendants of the pioneers who settled here at the very beginning of the Jewish community. It is impossible to give an accurate statement of the number of Jews in Cleveland. They live in all sections of the city, and no independent Jewish census has ever been taken. An estimate, based upon the number of Jewish children enrolled in the public schools, located in the large Jewish neighborhoods, figures the Jewish population of Cleveland to be about 50,000.

The few pioneers of 1837, 1838 and 1839, m the course of seventy years, have multiplied to about 50,000. The feeble congregations struggling for life for several decades, have developed into influential organizations, ranking with the best and strongest in the land. The very modest houses of worship have been transformed into large synagogues and magnificent temples. The community has grown steadily, in population, prosperity and power. The last quarter of a century has witnessed the rise and development of institutions and organizations which distinguish Cleveland as one of the most important centers of Jewish life in the United States.  ●

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Below: the document as found in Digital Case



The source of this document
A search of the CJN archive found this story in the August 26, 1910 Jewish Independent. It identifies the essay by Rabbi Gries as a chapter in a three volume history of Cleveland by Samuel P. Orth.

page created 9/1/2008    updated with source information on 5/23/2018

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