SYRACUSE

SYRACUSE, industrial and transportation center in central New York State. The city's Jewish population in 1969 was approximately 13,000 out of a total of 563,000. (For figures for the 2000s, see below.) The first Jew known to have settled in Syracuse was Hesel Rosenbach, who arrived in 1824. Following the completion of the Erie Canal a year later, additional Jews were attracted to the city, and in 1839 a group of German-Jewish immigrants from New York City formed Congregation Keneseth Sholom, whose first rabbi was Abraham Gunzenheimer. More Jews came to settle in the 1840s and a second congregation, consisting of Polish and English Jews, erected a synagogue in 1854, when 184 Jewish families were recorded living in Syracuse. In 1864 a split between Orthodox and Reform factions at Keneseth Sholom led to the formation of a third synagogue, Adath Jeshurun. A local YMHA was organized in 1861 and a chapter of B'nai B'rith in 1867. By then some Jews had already achieved positions of economic importance. Marcus Cone was elected a director of the Merchants Bank when it was founded in 1850, and Joseph Falker was named second vice president of the Syracuse Savings Bank in 1860. A special Jewish company under the command of Captain Solomon Light was formed during the Civil War and served with the 149th Onondoga Regiment from 1862 to 1865. A large influx of Lithuanian and Polish Jews in the years after 1870 swelled the Jewish population of Syracuse to five or six thousand by 1900. The new immigrants formed a number of charitable organizations such as a burial society, a wayfarers' inn, and a Jewish Ladies Aid Society, all of which were combined into a United Jewish Charities in 1901. The first local Zionist group, the Zion Society, was organized in 1896 and a Hebrew Free School, largely serving the Orthodox community, was established in 1897. The leader of Congregation Adath Jeshurun in the 1890s was joseph h. hertz , later to become Chief Rabbi of Great Britain. During these years Jews began to play an increasingly prominent role in local economic and political life; by the end of the 19th century Sol Rosenblum & Sons owned a large department store; Gates Thalheimer had one of the largest individually owned wholesale grocery businesses in the state; Moses Oberdorfer was in the process of building the Oberdorfer Foundries; and Danziger Brothers was operating a clothing factory employing over a thousand hands. Jacob Levi was elected a city councilman for four terms starting from 1870 and George Freeman for eight terms from 1880. Joseph Bondy was county supervisor from 1885 to 1890 and was later elected to the New York State Assembly. louis marshall , whose father was an early settler in Syracuse, practiced law there until 1894. Beginning with the 1900s, the early settlers began moving eastward away from the old Jewish neighborhood. The older synagogues followed them and a number of new ones were later built in the suburbs, such as Beth Israel (1962) and the Suburban Jewish Center of North Syracuse (1954). In 1968 a Jewish community center, which grew out of the original YMHA, had a membership of 5,000 and served the entire Jewish community. Fundraising was undertaken by the Syracuse Jewish Federation, whose Jewish Family Service Bureau helped settle some 200 refugee families from Europe in the city in the years before World War II. Wage-earners in the Jewish community in 1968 were heavily concentrated in the professions. A study in 1966 showed that over 15% of Syracuse's lawyers and 20% of its doctors were Jewish. Many Jews worked as engineers and scientists in Syracuse's industrial plants. Many others were connected with the faculties of Syracuse University and the Upstate Medical College, both of which also had a high percentage   of Jews in their student bodies. Jews continued to be active in local civic life as well. In early 21st century the Jewish population numbered approximately 9,000. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: Rosenstock, in: AJHSP, 54 (1964), 183–97; Provol, in: AJA, 16 (1964), 22–40; B.G. Rudolph, From a Minyan to a Community: A History of the Jews of Syracuse (1970). (Bernard G. Rudolph)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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