Menu JTA Search

J.D.B. News Letter

Download PDF for this date

(By our Fargo Correspondent)

North Dakota is a new State, admitted to the Union in 1889. Its principal industry is agriculture. It is very difficult to give an accurate estimate of how many Jews there are in the State.

In the city of Fargo, the largest and cosmopolitan center of the State, there are about ninety Jewish families. One learns that the Jews have come here in the territorial days. The oldest Jewish family, the Sterns, are very influential. Alex Stern, who has been in the State for over forty years, is the head of one of the largest banks and trust companies in the city, and with multitudinous interests of an industrial character all over the State. On several occasions, he has been honored with public office, and at one time he was a trustee of the North Dakota Agricultural College. He was also in the State Legislature. About ten years or so ago, when they changed the city form of government in the City of Fargo from the aldermanic to that of the commission, he was elected as the first financial commissioner and later became the Mayor of the city.

Fargo has several Jewish organizations – the B’nai Brith being the outstanding one. It has a synagogue, an Orthodox Rabbi, and during the past two years a Sunday School has been organized through the efforts of the local Jewish Women’s Council. There is also a strong Zionist Organization in the City. Recently a small group in this community have successfully organized a Community Center. The Center was dedicated several days ago.

The City of Grand Forks is next in line of importance. This city is one of the oldest in the State. The Jewish population consists of about fifty families, with a Zionist Organization, a Sunday School and a B’nai Brith Lodge. Their synagogue is the oldest in the State. Max Rabinovich, Isadore Papermaster and Louis Rosoff, are among the outstanding community leaders. Mr. Rabinovich was, for several years, a member of the Park Board of that City, and at one time on the Governor’s Staffs Louis Rosoff has been time and again elected as a member of the school board, and Isadore Papermaster is one of the most active and enthusiastic workers for Jewish causes.

In the Northwestern part of the State, is the city of Minot, where there are about thirty Jewish families. Every Jew there is a member of the B’nai Brith and every Jewess is a member of the organization’s ladies auxiliary. The instruction of the children is not overlooked. It can be justly stated that where you will find a handful of Jews in this prairie state, there you will find a little synagogue with a Rabbi. It would appear that it is a hardship on a good many of these smaller communities to maintain their religious institutions, still they seem to meet with no difficulties in that respect. Take for instance, the capital of the State, Bismarck-there are only about twenty Jewish families there and they are just as well organized Jewishly as in some of the biggest cities of the country. Many Jewish families are scattered in different parts of the State. In the early days of statehood, a number of Jews in North Dakota homasteaded and in the course of time, gave up their farms and settled in the cities, where they went into business. There are still a scattered few farming in the southern part of the State.

Many North Dakota Jews have achieved political honors, enjoying a high standing in this far western part of the country. Several Jews have been in the Legislature in addition to Mr. Stem. Herbert Mackoff, a lawyer of Dickinson, North Dakota, was an influential member of the State Legislature a few years ago. At one time, Julius Sgutt of Harvey was also a member. David Schwartz of Golden Valley was the State’s Attorney of Mercer County for two terms. William Stern of Fargo was one of the Vice Commanders of the National American Legion. Several years ago Harry Lashkowitz, of Fargo, was offered the nomination for Attorney General but he refused. Last fall he was aspiring for the office of State’s Attorney of Cass County and succeeded in eliminating the Klan candidate in the primaries.

When we speak of drives here in North Dakota, we always think of the name of David Naftalin of Fargo. He has been Chairman of several of them. Since 1915 this handful of North Dakota Jews raised over two hundred fortv thousand dollars for the Joint Distribution Committee. In the campaign for the Infirmary Building of the National Jewish Hospital at Denver, they raised five thousand dollars. The B’nai Brith Wider Scone Camoaign is now on with Harry Lashkowitz as its Chairman, and it is expected that the sum of ten thousand dollars will he raised in the State. Approximately eleven thousand dollars has been raised for the United Palestine Appeal since 1917.

Dr. Nathan Sinal, for five, years professor of hygiene and public health at the University of Michigan, will leave March 1 for Washington, where he will begin a study of medical economics being made by a special committee on the cost of medical care.

Professor Sinai was also in charge of the State educational health program during the past three years.

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund