History of South Bend, Ind., Jewish Community Traced From 1856 To Present Day (By our South Bend Correspondent)
South Bend, Ind., a growing city situated on the south bend of the St. Joseph River, has every righ to be proud of its Jewish population. Back of difficult circumstances is a romantic story of how a few scattered Jews helped in the growth of South Bend.
The earliest migration to Indiana began in 1763, and in 1780 the immigrants had begun to come in fairly large numbers. Moses Henry was one of the most important figures in this early period. He acted as interpreter for the members of the George Rogers Clark expedition, and knew many Indian languages. In 1778 he and Father Gibault were sent by Clark to make a peace treaty with the French at Vincennes. Henry died soon after and colonization was halted temporarily.
Another pioneer and statesman was Samuel Judah, who came from New York to Indiana in 1818. He was a brilliant lawyer and in 1828 he was elected a state legislator. He was elected speaker of the 25th assembly and United States Attorney in 1830. He was an important figure in the early history of the Jews in Indiana.
About 1840 Jews began to settle in Indiana in sufficient numbers to start communal organizations. The first Jewish congregation that was formally organized was started at Fort Wayne in 1848. Lafayette followed in 1849 and Evansville in 1853. Indianapolis had its first Jewish congregation in 1856.
The earliest settlement in South Bend had its beginning in the year 1856, when Meyer Livinston came to South Bend, which then had only one Jewish inhabitant. F. Seizas, founder of the St. Joseph County Savings Bank and one of the most important of the early business men. Soon these were joined by Moses Livingston, Abraham Hanauer, A. Barth, Jacob Mish, Dan and Dave Holland, Dave Pollock, and Wolk Livingston.
In 1875 Samuel Adler, Moses Adler, Abraham Kahn, and Isaac Kahn joined the miniature community and added greatly to its growth and prosperity. This small community suffered many hardships. Religious services were conducted by students of the Hebrew Union College among them Dr. David Philipson, Dr. Louis Grossman, now of Cincinnati, Dr. Max Heller, now of New Orleans, and others.
In 1901 a synagogue was built. Soon afterwards the Hebrew Congregation of Israel was founded and a small synagogue erected. In 1923 a much larger synagogue was erected on the site of the old one. This building is one of the finest synagogues in Northern Indiana and was built at a cost of $50,000. Its present rabbi is Dr. Schur. The present rabbi of the Sons of Israel Congregation is Dr. I. Siegel.
Temple Beth El, the Reform congregation was founded in 1905. The Temple building was dedicated in March, 1906. Rabbi William Stern is rabbi.
The Jewish people of South Bend number about 3 per cent of the entire population.
One of the most important communal centers in the city is the Hebrew Institute. This institution was organized in 1917, and in 1920 was erected at a cost of $25,000.
The B’nai Brith lodge was organized in 1918. The Louis Sandock Lodge, a fraternal order, was founded in 1918. The Sinai Society, organized in March, 1916, is a social and literary organization. Similar work is done by the Hebrew Educational and Athletic Association. Several sisterhoods were organized among them: the Temple Beth El Sisterhood, the Sons of Israel Sisterhood, the Temple Beth El Council of Social Service, the Daughters of Israel, the Hebrew Ladies’ Loan Society. The Workman’s Circle, The Jewish National Workingman’s Alliance, and the South Bend Jewish Workingman’s Association are all industrial orders for social and fraternal functions.
The Hebrew Culture Forum was founded recently and with it came the Zionist organization.
S. Greenbaum was appointed on the South Bend Park Board. Samuel P. Swartz is prosecuting attorney. Ralph S. Feig is judge of the city of Mishawaka. Lazarus Altfeld is councilman of the third ward and was elected in 1924 on the Democratic ticket. Ligonier, Ind. has had two Jewish mayors, Simon Straus and Sol Henoch.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.