South Bend, Ind (Sep. 1)
Jewish Activities in Central Indianna Towns Slowing Down (By our South Bend Correspondent)
Through recent investigation it has been found here that the Jewish activities are slowing down in various parts of the State.
In cities and towns in Central Indiana, throughout the corn belt, Jewish education is declining. Intermarriage although infrequent, has increased, especially in the urban population. Activities in the rural centers are practically at a standstill.
On the whole, cities in Northern Indiana seem to show a greater apptitude for Jewish activities than those in Central Indiana. Gary, with its fast-growing population, noticeably heterogeneous has several with fine synagogues. Hammond, much smaller, ranks well. South Bend, largest center in the north section, is experiencing a new activity led by the active Young Judaea. Three synagogues and a Hebrew institute hardly suffice the needs and the erection of a new synagogue and Y building is contemplated.
Mishawaka built a synagogue last year, and new organizations have sprung up.
Goshen, which years ago used to be the center of Jewish culture between Chicago and the Ohio River, is now almost deserted by Jews. Once the people from the country around, pioneers, were accustomed to journey to Goshen for learning and the High Holidays. A fine synagogue has been erected, but now were it not for the splendid work of an old pioneer Orthodox couple it would be non-existent.
Rabbi Weinstein attempted to revive the services recently but he failed. The synagogue is only used on the Day of Atonement and even then a “minyan” from South Bend is usually transported for that purpose.
Whether this slackening of interest is due to the constant flow to the larger cities or whether the Jews are merely being engulfed by the non-Jewish environment is a question for debate.
Then comes the case of Muncie, Ind. Muncie was the cradle of the Ku Klux Klan and it was there that one of the first klan groups in the country began operations. The Jews in Muncie number a few hundred families. They have a synagogue. Recently their synagogue was mortgaged and Mr. Ball, a Gentile, president of the Ball Glass Jarring Company, donated $5,000 to release the mortgage on the building.
Shortly afterward the synagogue again was turned over to other hands, this time to a Christian Science denomination. The synagogue, now vacant, is used by the Christian Science Church.
On the Day of Atonement the Jews attend services. If Yom Kippur falls on a Sunday the Christians use the synagogue in the morning and the Jews in the afternoon. Although Jews do nothing to incite prejudice they do nothing to advance Jewish learning. Jewish education is neglected and the Jewish boys and girls are reared in complete ignorance of things Jewish.
Lafayette, although its first congregation was founded as early as 1857, has also been neglecting Hebrew education, but the Jews in that city are at least maintaining their individuality and their religion. Lafayette is also obviously influenced by the Klan. Fort Wayne, with its first congregation in the early 60′s, has long built a fine synagogue and has about two hundred families. Local organizations have increased, last to be formed the Young Judaea.
Terra Haute is largely an industrial city. Its Jewish population is progressive but not vigorous in the field of Jewish activities.
Evansville, on the southern tip of Indiana, is the center of Judaism in the South and is favorably reported to be alive with events.
Indianapolis, Indiana’s metropolis, of course influences the neighboring towns with its many thousand Jews and its numerous synagogues and its Jewish Federation.
One of the features this summer adopted by many cities, among them South Bend, Indianapolis, and Evansville, was a summer camp for the Jewish boys and girls. This was an immediate step in view of the fact that Jewish boys and girls were unable to secure Kosher meals at other camps and resorts.