From Cleveland Jewish History.net
Vintage photo gallery of some of Cleveland’s early synagogues Cleveland.com 4.29.2016
Sharp-eyed Clevelanders can still spot John Anisfield’s name on the side of his old garment factory, which employed more than 700 workers a century ago. The clothing manufacturer at E. 22nd and Superior Avenue has been shuttered long decades, but the imprint of Anisfield, his fortune, and his progressive notions carry briskly into the 21st century.
John Anisfield was 16 and nearly penniless when he arrived in Cleveland in 1876, but he had an uncle, Dr. James Horowitz, who was able to place his Viennese nephew into the employ of the D. Black Cloak Company. Young John proved a quick study, rose to become a manager, quit and struck out into garment making on his own, just six years after he set foot in Cleveland.
The Civil War had remade the way Americans clothed themselves, as it remade so much of the country. The U.S. Army had taken millions of measurements of boys and men, begetting a system for sizing men’s clothing. This system and increasing mechanization fueled the ready-to-wear market from the 1860s through the 1880s, which coincided with young John’s arrival.
For approximately a half century after the 1890s, seven percent of Cleveland’s workforce toiled in the city’s garment factories, according to the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History.
Many of the founders and owners were Jews of German or Austrian-Hungarian extraction. Four of the nine founders of the Jewish Federation – the Federation of Jewish Welfare Charities of 1903 – led the local garment-making firms, said Dr. Sean Martin, curator for Jewish History at the Western Reserve Historical Society.
During this fertile period, John Anisfield began inviting his only child, Edith, downtown to his office on Saturdays, where the two would consider the family’s philanthropy. She was just 12 in 1901 when this consultation began – a full 19 years before the country decided to give women the right to vote with the 19th Amendment.
The forward-looking father and precocious daughter (Edith could read French, German, and English) sent money to Mount Sinai Hospital, the first such Cleveland institution to accept patients regardless of creed or color. When John Anisfield died in 1929, his daughter took five years to decide how to honor him: a literary prize that became the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards.
“The most important legacy of the garment industry is its philanthropic legacy,” historian Martin told a packed audience at the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage. “The wealth they generated – not just for themselves but for their employees – is still with us.”
Jewish immigration to Cleveland, as elsewhere in America, can be divided into 2 distinct, overlapping periods. The German era (1837-1900) witnessed the settlement of Jewish GERMANS; the principal years of immigration ran to ca. 1875. In the East European era (1870-1924), Cleveland Jews increased from 3,500 in 1880 to approx. 85,000 in 1925, as Jewish RUSSIANS, POLES, Galicians, and ROMANIANS settled in the city. The social and cultural character of the two groups differed markedly, and through the mid-1930s they most often developed parallel and separate institutions and communities. The first Jews to make their home in Cleveland arrived in 1839 from Unsleben, Bavaria; among them was SIMSON THORMAN†, whose son Samuel was the first Jewish child born in the city. By 1840 there were 20 families and probably 20 single males residing in the city. The nascent community settled near the CENTRAL MARKET, generally east of the river, where it built its first institutions. In 1839 the Israelitic Society of Cleveland was established, which soon evolved into ANSHE CHESED (later called Fairmount Temple). The congregation erected a synagogue in 1846 on Eagle St. across from the market. Four years later, following a doctrinal dispute, a second congregation formed, TIFERETH ISRAEL. The occupational background of the immigrants was in the petty trades and artisan pools of Central Europe. The Jews who settled in Cleveland were primarily shopkeepers and peddlers, although a few were skilled craftsmen. Peddling was a common avenue for entrance into a more stable commercial pursuit. By the 1870s the community had grown and businesses expanded: young or newly arrived Jews no longer peddled goods, but received their business training as clerks or bookkeepers in the firms of relatives or landsmen. Jewish businessmen were involved in retail and wholesale dry goods, hides and furs, and grocery and clothing establishments, and, to a lesser degree, as commission merchants, shippers, and bankers. Still others, upon accumulating sufficient capital, became interested in manufacturing, especially clothing and textiles. By 1900 Cleveland’s largely Jewish-owned GARMENT INDUSTRY was among the most important in America.
As this community’s population increased and gained greater wealth, Jews moved eastward along Woodland and Central. By 1875 many Jews already lived east of Perry St. (E. 22nd), with several residing in the fashionable neighborhoods around Case Ave. (E. 40th). During the 1890s, Willson Ave (E. 55th) became the center of the German Jewish population and its array of new organizations and institutions. While small cultural societies such as the Young Men’s Hebrew Literary Society and the ZION MUSICAL SOCIETY (1861-73) were short-lived, fraternal organizations such as B’NAI B’RITH (1853) and clubs such as EXCELSIOR (1872) and the Hungarian Benevolent & Social Union endured. In 1864 B’nai B’rith District Lodges Nos. 2 and 6 chose Cleveland as the site for an orphan asylum to serve 16 states. Dedicated in 1868, the Jewish Orphan Asylum was located at E. 51st and Woodland, presaging the community’s move there. In 1882 the Order Kesher Shel Barzel established the Kesher Home for the Aged. Both agencies evolved into important service institutions, BELLEFAIRE and the MONTEFIORE HOME, respectively, and eventually came completely under Cleveland Jewish community auspices.
The most important institutions for 19th-century Cleveland Jewry remained congregations Anshe Chesed and Tifereth Israel for the Germans, and to a lesser extent, B’NAI JESHURUN for the Jewish HUNGARIANS. As the temples grew and members moved eastward, each erected new synagogues. In 1926 B’nai Jeshurun dedicated its Temple on the Heights, the first established Jewish congregation to move to CLEVELAND HEIGHTS Changes in appearance and ritual were also effected during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. To minimize the differences between themselves and their non-Jewish neighbors, German Jews introduced family pews, organs and choirs, removed hats and prayer shawls, and hired rabbis who could preach in English on secular subjects.
In the 1870s Reform Judaism began adopting a liberal theological view that was embraced almost immediately by Tifereth Israel, and somewhat later by Anshe Chesed. The former adopted a Reform prayerbook in 1866, and in 1873 joined the newly established Reform umbrella organization, the Union of American Hebrew Congregations. Under the direction of Rabbi MOSES J. GRIES†, Tifereth Israel departed radically from traditional Judaism, and even from the mainstream of the Reform movement. During his tenure the Temple, as it was popularly called, adopted the Union Prayer Book, eliminated Hebrew from the Sunday school curriculum and from religious services, substituted an English translation of the Torah to be placed in the synagogue’s Ark, and changed Sabbath services from Saturday to Sunday. Less radical, Anshe Chesed embraced what became known as Classical Reform during the rabbinate of LOUIS WOLSEY† (1907-25).
When East European Jews fled the pogroms, restrictive social legislation, and economic dislocation of Eastern Europe and emigrated to America, they often discovered an affluent, entrenched German Jewish community that in most cases had more in common with its Protestant neighbors than with its newly arrived co-religionists. In Cleveland, the differences between the two groups embarrassed the German Jewish leadership and enraged the new immigrants. A handful of East European Jews lived in Cleveland as early as the late 1850s, and by 1880 there were 4 or 5 Orthodox congregations. They were joined by thousands who immigrated to Cleveland, especially during the peak years, 1904-14. The new immigrants settled in the areas that had been abandoned by the German and Hungarian Jews, and in the 1880s and 1890s resided side-by-side with other non-Jewish immigrants, particularly ITALIANS around Berg St., and Hungarians and CZECHS along lower Broadway. Like their German predecessors, the early East European Jews soon moved out of the Central Market area.
German Jews made several attempts to address immigrant charitable needs in the 1880s and 1890s, but with limited success. The most important such agency was the Hebrew Relief Society (est. 1875), which provided case-by-case aid. German Jewish aid combined self-interest, humane concern for fellow Jews, and paternalism. Seeing the foreignness of the East Europeans as a threat to their social standing, German Jews attempted to Americanize the new immigrants. To this end, the local NATIONAL COUNCIL OF JEWISH WOMEN (NCJW), CLEVELAND SECTION created the Council Educational Alliance in 1899. The council offered a variety of classes designed to help the immigrants’ transition to an American way of life and served as the meeting place for the plethora of East European clubs and societies. Among the most important immigrant organizations were the social/benevolent societies, usually formed as landsmanshaften, groups of Jews from a common locale who banded together for social reasons and to aid and comfort members and assist newly arrived landsman in obtaining work. In addition to these functions, several landsmanshaften formed the nuclei for immigrant ethnic congregations, such as Anshe Grodno and TETIEVER AHAVATH ACHIM ANSHE SFARD.
Between 1895-1920 at least 25 Orthodox congregations were established in Cleveland. However, none approached the importance of the older ANSHE EMETH (PARK SYNAGOGUE). Before 1904, the Orthodox community had no rabbinical leader, although Rabbi BENJAMIN GITTELSOHN† was internally important for his scholarship and spiritual guidance. Rabbi SAMUEL MARGOLIES†, who came to the city in 1904, became the most influential Orthodox Jewish leader during the first quarter of the 20th century. His preeminence was based on his traditional Judaism, his appeal to Zionists, and his belief that Jews needed to Americanize as quickly as possible. The latter view led to the creation nationally of an American form of traditional Judaism–Conservative Judaism–that was embraced by Anshe Emeth in the 1920s and by B’nai Jeshurun somewhat earlier. Those two congregations by the mid-1920s ranked 3rd and 4th in membership behind the two Reform temples. None of the Orthodox congregations, which were primarily ethnic or landsmen shuls, could approximate the size of these 4 until after World War II.
East European Jewish immigrants, like the Germans, tended to enter mercantile occupations when possible. However, the opportunities available in the wide-open economy of the 19th century did not exist for the early 20th century immigrants. Over 15% of the East European Jews were engaged as peddlers or hucksters during the century’s first decades, while 25-33% operated small stores or worked as clerks in Jewish-owned establishments. The single most striking occupational difference between East European and German Jews was that 40-50% of the former worked in the skilled and semiskilled trades, especially as cigarmakers and in the building and needle trades. Fully 20% of the employed Jews in Woodland were found in the clothing industry, generally with large Jewish manufacturing firms such as JOSEPH & FEISS CO., PRINTZ-BIEDERMAN CO., and D. Black & Co. Despite the lack of opportunity to accumulate wealth on the same scale as the German Jews, the East Europeans did attain enough money to move to newer and more commodious areas. At the turn of the century, Lower Woodland was dilapidated, unsanitary, and unsafe. Most Jews had moved to the area around E. 35th St., and a decade later the center of the community had again pushed toward E. 55th St.
The Woodland district supported a vibrant Jewish culture from the late 1890s through 1915. Yiddish and Hebrew literary societies and debating societies abounded, the Yiddish theater flourished at the Perry and then the People’s theaters, and in 1908 Samuel Rocker founded the Yiddishe Tegliche Presse, followed by his Die YIDDISHE VELT (1911-58). However, the community lacked the size and insulation of others, such as New York’s Lower East Side; Woodland’s Yiddish life could not survive amid the pull and lure of Americanization or the migration outward. One Americanizing influence was public EDUCATION, which Jews supported almost without concession. Yet Jewish education was recognized as the only way to ensure that children did not stray from Judaism. During the first half of the 20th century, the afternoon Hebrew school was the preferred local form of Jewish education. In 1883 the East European immigrants founded a Talmud Torah (later the CLEVELAND HEBREW SCHOOLS) that offered traditional Jewish education in the cheder style (emphasizing religious study and originally using Yiddish only except for Hebrew and Aramaic texts). After 1904 Rabbi Margolies, Joshua Flock, and Aaron Garber emphasized Hebrew and Jewish nationalism. In the 1920s and 1930s, Talmud Torah director ABRAHAM H. FRIEDLAND† infused it with an even more pronounced Hebraist and Zionist philosophy. In 1924 the BUREAU OF JEWISH EDUCATION was created, with Friedland as director, to coordinate resources and provide direction.
The vast charitable and philanthropic need coupled with the competition for monies led the German Jewish leadership in 1903 to establish the Federation of Jewish Charities. This umbrella organization raised and disbursed funds to its beneficiary agencies, freeing them to concentrate on service. Initial recipients were the MONTEFIORE HOME, the Jewish Orphan Home, the Council of Jewish Women, Infant Orphan Mothers Society, Hebrew Relief Society, Mt. Sinai Hospital (later MT. SINAI MEDICAL CENTER), Council Educational Alliance, and Denver Consumptives Hospital. None of these were immigrant charities, reflecting federation policy of funding only “mature” organizations. This angered the East European Jewish leadership and led to the creation of 2 organizations that hoped to represent the entire community. TheUNION OF JEWISH ORGANIZATIONS (1906-09) experienced some success in ridding the public school system of some anti-Semitic practices. However, the lack of adequate financial support and opposition from the federation and the Reform congregations ensured its demise. In 1913 the shorter-lived Cleveland KEHILLAH was created by the former union leadership, but it suffered the same fate. Other immigrant institutions that paralleled those of the German Jews were longer-lived. The Orthodox Old Home, established in 1906 in reaction to the Montefiore Home’s refusal to maintain a kosher kitchen, has evolved into one of the largest and most advanced Jewish homes for the aged in the U.S., MENORAH PARK CENTER FOR THE AGING. And the Orthodox Orphan Home, created in 1920, ran a small but successful independent program until 1959, when it merged with the JEWISH CHILDREN’S BUREAU and later moved to Bellefaire.
The most divisive Jewish issue was Zionism. Small Zionist societies existed in Cleveland as early as 1897, but it was after the turn of the century, with increased immigration, that Zionism became the central force in the East European Jewish community. Zionist organizations proliferated in the early 1900s, from the Orthodox Mizrachi to the socialist Poale Zion and Farband. Rabbi Margolies, a well-known Zionist when he arrived in Cleveland, Rabbi Nachman Ebin, and ABRAHAM KOLINSKY† were among the principal leaders of Cleveland Zionism during the first 2 decades of the 20th century. Reform rabbis Gries and Wolsey opposed Zionism as separatist and as contradicting Reform ideology. However, in the 1920s Reform congregations came under the leadership of Rabbis ABBA HILLEL SILVER† (the Temple) and BARNETT ROBERT BRICKNER† (Anshe Chesed). Both rabbis were raised in the East European and Zionist milieu of the Lower East Side of New York, and both attained national and international stature in the Zionist movement.
Cleveland Jews began to desert Woodland and move eastward to GLENVILLE (28.5% by 1922) and to the Mt. Pleasant/Kinsman district (14% by 1922). By 1926 the Jewish population of Woodland decreased from 35,000 to 17,000, and 3 years later, to 1,400. The migrations had a slight class character. The Jews who moved to Glenville appear to have been the emerging European Jewish middle class, while the Jews of Mt. Pleasant/Kinsman have been characterized as proletarian, heavily concentrated in the trades. Many Jewish unions and Jewish socialist groups, most notably the WORKMEN’S CIRCLE, relocated in Kinsman.
Glenville was far more densely populated than Woodland. Its main thoroughfares were lined with small shops, kosher butchers, and delicatessens. Mt. Sinai Hospital was the first major social-service institution to relocate to Glenville (1916), followed by the Jewish Orthodox Old Home (1921). During the same year, Anshe Emeth moved to Glenville and dedicated the Jewish Center, the first such center west of the Alleghenies. By the early 1920s this Conservative congregation was the area’s most important social and recreational institution, the focal point of intellectual ferment and Zionist activity. Just as Woodland served as the birthplace of several German Jewish fortunes, Glenville provided a similar setting for some East European Jews, such as LEONARD RATNER† (FOREST CITY ENTERPRISES, INC.) and Julie Kravitz (the Pick-N-Pay food chain).
Kinsman was almost twice the geographic size of Glenville but held only about half as many Jews. Its John Adams High School was never more than 25% Jewish, compared to Glenville High School, which ran as high as 90%. The Jews who moved out of Woodland to Kinsman in the early 1920s settled between E. 118th and E. 123rd streets. By the early 1930s, the center of the population was between E. 135th and 147th, on the streets adjacent to Kinsman Ave. The Jews of Kinsman were relative newcomers to the city, as reflected in the development of the area’s congregations. Many Kinsman synagogues had existed for only a few years before moving from Woodland, and even more were established in Kinsman initially. Neveh Zedek on Union (est. 1920) was the largest area congregation, and the KINSMAN JEWISH CENTER (1930, synagogue dedicated in 1933) was smaller but of equal importance. Two other important institutions were the Council Educational Alliance and the Workmen’s Circle. The alliance, originally at E. 118th St., moved to E. 135th St. and Kinsman in 1928, across from the Carpenters Auditorium, which offered social activities. Workmen’s Hall, erected by Workmen’s Circle in 1927 at E. 147th and Kinsman, became the center of socialist and fraternal activity in the neighborhood as well as for the preservation of Yiddish culture, with lectures, entertainment, and a day school.
A small number of Jews lived on Cleveland’s west side before the turn of the century. By 1910 there were enough to form a congregation, B’nai Israel, known as the West Side Jewish Center in the 1940s. Most of the west-side Jews owned small shops during this period. In 1954 a group of Jews formed Beth Israel, a Reform congregation which merged with the West Side Jewish Center 3 years later to form BETH ISRAEL-WEST TEMPLE. Several members of Beth Israel formed the CLEVELAND COUNCIL ON SOVIET ANTI-SEMITISM (1963) to conduct activities on behalf of Soviet Jewry.
The Federation of Jewish Charities changed its name to the Jewish Welfare Federation in 1926. It implemented recommendations of a 1923 community study and admitted several immigrant institutions to constituent status in a move to patch up differences with East European Jews. A reorganization in 1930 created the Jewish Welfare Fund, and the Jewish Community Council was established in 1935. The former provided a more directed and systematic approach to community fundraising, and the latter addressed demands for democratization of community leadership. The council mediated internal community disputes, monitored anti-Semitism, and acted as the Jewish representative body to the general public. In 1951 the council merged with the Jewish Welfare Federation to form the JEWISH COMMUNITY FEDERATION, the community’s fundraising and policy arm.
Following World War II, the Jewish community began to push into the Heights and eastern suburbs. A small number of Jews settled in the Heights during the first decade of the 20th century. In 1905 wealthy German Jews established the OAKWOOD CLUB near Mayfield and Taylor roads. A few Orthodox Jews founded the Heights Orthodox Congregation (later the HEIGHTS JEWISH CENTER) in 1923, and B’nai Jeshurun dedicated the Temple on the Heights on Mayfield in 1925. Due to hostility from non-Jews, new residents often fought court battles to set aside restrictive covenants and to secure building rights for Jewish institutions, particularly in SHAKER HEIGHTS,BEACHWOOD, and PEPPER PIKE. The fear that exposure to American culture and the lack of intensive Jewish education would estrange 2nd- and 3rd-generation Jews from traditional Judaism was well-founded. Although congregations often boasted large memberships in the 1930s and 1940s, synagogues were all but empty on the Sabbath; few Jews took an active interest. Orthodox congregations, despite the dynamic and scholarly leadership of rabbis such as ISRAEL PORATH† and DAVID GENUTH†, were losing their hold on the children of members. However, following World War II Orthodoxy in Cleveland, as in America generally, experienced a resurgence that continued into the 1980s. In part, increased membership and activity resulted from societal alienation and a search for personal identity. In Cleveland, the Young Israel, Chabad Lubavitch, and the religiously tinged Betar Youth appealed to young Jews on dual religious and Zionist planes. Other factors–the proliferation of Orthodox day schools such as the HEBREW ACADEMY, the consolidation of congregations, and wealthy Orthodox philanthropists who freely supported religious causes–contributed to the increasing strength of the movement.
The postwar migration introduced an era of consolidation, especially among Orthodox congregations. The cost of relocating was more than small congregations could afford. The Jewish Community Federation effected mergers within the Orthodox community to increase memberships and treasuries, resulting in the creation of the TAYLOR ROAD SYNAGOGUE and WARRENSVILLE CENTER SYNAGOGUE, and the Heights Jewish Center. The area between Coventry Rd. and South Green Rd. in Cleveland Hts. became the heart of the Jewish community in the 1950s. Taylor Rd., the focal point by the late 1950s and early 1960s, witnessed the greatest concentration of Jewish institutions in the community’s history: the JEWISH COMMUNITY CENTER, PARK SYNAGOGUE, Montefiore Home, Council Gardens, Taylor Rd. Synagogue, Bureau of Jewish Education, Hebrew Academy, JEWISH FAMILY SERVICE ASSN., and a host of smaller synagogues and institutions. Yet Jews continued to move eastward, populating Beachwood, Pepper Pike, and even HUNTING VALLEY. Estimating conservatively that another wholesale move of institutions would cost the community $100 million, in 1969 the federation extracted promises from all major Jewish institutions to remain in the Heights. Only the Temple on the Heights, which had already purchased land near Brainard Rd., failed to agree. The federation established the HEIGHTS AREA PROJECT to encourage Jews to remain in the Heights and worked with community organizations, the police, and local government to ensure that the Heights remain socially, residentially, and politically stable. The federation also built new offices at E. 18th St. and Euclid Ave. in 1965 to symbolize its commitment to the welfare of the inner city.
The Reform movement also experienced a surge following World War II. In 1948 TEMPLE EMANU EL was created with the assistance of Anshe Chesed, the Temple, and the Union of American Hebrew Congregations to reach out to the unaffiliated. Under the direction of Rabbi Alan S. Green, the concept was immediately successful, and Emanu El in the 1980s was a large and growing congregation. Soon after its founding, a group of Jews who were dissatisfied with Reform’s return to Hebrew education and support of Zionism formed Suburban Temple, along ideological lines common to late 19th and early 20th century Reform. Reform, nationally in the 1970s and 1980s, established an aggressive outreach program to unaffiliated intermarried Jews. Many of its tenets, particularly recent decisions on issues such as patrilineal descent as a determinant of whether one is Jewish, have brought Reform into direct and bitter conflict with the Orthodox. The deep divisions remain evident in the Cleveland Jewish community, yet the Jewish Community Fed., per capita the most successful in the U.S., enjoyed unprecedented financial support from the Orthodox. Despite religious divisions, in the 1980s the Cleveland Jewish community was probably better organized and more united than at any previous time.
Seattle Municipal Archives
Gartner, Lloyd P. History of the Jews of Cleveland (1978).
Pike, Kermit J., ed. A Guide to Jewish History Sources in the History Library of the Western Reserve Historical Society (1983).
Vincent, Sidney Z., and Judah Rubinstein. Merging Traditions: Jewish Life in Cleveland (1978).
Courtesy of the Jewish Virtual Library and the Encyclopaedia Judaica
CLEVELAND, city situated in Northeast Ohio on Lake Erie. Its metropolitan area has the largest Jewish population in the state (81,500 in 1996). Jewish settlement began in the 1830s, when Daniel Maduro Peixotto (1800–43) joined the faculty of Willoughby Medical College in 1836 and Simson Thorman (1812–1881), a trader in hides, came from Unsleben, Bavaria, settling permanently in Cleveland in 1837. The opening of the Ohio and Erie canals and the development of stage routes provided countless economic opportunities for new immigrants, and Thorman must have written to his family in Unsleben; in 1839 a group of 19 departed on the sailing shipHoward and 15 made the trip to Cleveland, arriving in July of that year, joining two other men who had emigrated from Unsleben.
Community Life to 1865
The Unsleben group arrived in America prepared to continue Jewish observance. They carried with them an ethical testament, known as the Alsbacher Ethical Testament, written by their teacher in Unsleben, who implored them not to forsake their heritage. Simson Hopferman (later Hoffman) served as a ḥazzan and shoḥet.They had a Sefer Torah, and with enough men to form a minyan, established the Israelitic Society in 1839. In 1840 the group purchased land on Willett Street for a cemetery, and more Jewish settlers arrived. There were two married and five single women with the Howard group, and marriages and births quickly followed.
In 1841 internal divisions led to the formation of a second congregation, Anshe Chesed (today known as Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple). The two groups reunited temporarily, but split again in 1850, when a group of some 20 dissidents left to establish Tifereth Israel (today known as The Temple – Tifereth Israel). Rabbi Isadore Kalisch (1816–1886), later coauthor with Isaac Mayer *Wise of the first American Reform prayer book, Minhag America, led the new congregation. Both congregations moved towards reform before the Civil War.
In addition to the congregations, there were six communal organizations that were established before the end of the Civil War, including a local chapter of B’nai B’rith (1853), the Hebrew Benevolent Society (1855), the Young Men’s Literary Society (1860), the Jewish Ladies Benevolent Society (1860), the Zion Singing Society (1861), and the Hungarian Aid Society (1863). These reflected the growth of the Jewish community to approximately 1,000 individuals, 78% from German states (primarily Bavaria), and 19% from the Austrian Empire (primarily Bohemia). Benjamin Franklin Peixotto (1834–1890) was a founder of some of these organizations; while living in Cleveland, he owned a clothing factory and wrote for the local newspaper, The Plain Dealer, before leaving the area.
Most of Cleveland’s Jews through the Civil War were laborers, peddlers, or small merchants, but even then they were gravitating toward the garment industry, which was to become the nation’s second largest concentration of such businesses. Several Jewish firms made uniforms for Civil War soldiers, including Sigmund Mann and Davis and Peixotto & Co. Some 38 men from Cleveland served in the Civil War, including Joseph A. Joel, later known for his comic description of a wartime Passoverseder published in the Jewish Messenger in 1862.
From 1865 to the 1890s
The Cleveland Jewish population grew from approximately 1,000 at the close of the Civil War to 3,500 in 1880. During this period the pioneering families and newer settlers established congregations and cultural institutions, built businesses, and were active in public affairs and politics. B’nai Jeshurun and Anshe Emeth (both still in existence in 2004 with the latter known today as Park Synagogue) were founded, respectively, by Hungarian and Polish immigrants in 1866 and 1869, while the earlier congregations, Anshe Chesed and Tifereth Israel, continued to grow. The Jewish Orphan Asylum (today known as Bellefaire) was established by B’nai B’rith in 1868 to care for the region’s Civil War orphans. The Hebrew Immigration Aid Society (1875) and Montefiore Home to serve the aged (1881) were formed to complete services to a growing community. The Jewish elite enjoyed the Excelsior Club (1872). The Anglo-Jewish press began with the Hebrew Observer in 1889; four years later the Jewish Review appeared, and the two merged as The Jewish Review and Observer in 1899. The Jewish Independent was founded in 1906.
Members of the community were successful in business and public affairs. Kaufman Hays (1835–1916) began as a peddler, and in 1894 took over the Cleveland Worsted Mills. Other major clothing manufacturers were Joseph and Feiss, Richman Brothers, Printz-Biederman, and Kaynee. The major department stores, Halles, The May Company, and Sterling Lindner, were owned or managed by Jews.
Jewish participation in general community life took many directions. By 1892 a number of Jewish merchants were members of the Cleveland Board of Trade, whose president that year was Frederick Mulhauser, a mill owner. Rabbi Moses J. Gries (1868–1918) was a trustee member of the Society of Organized Charities, founded in 1881. Baruch Mahler and Peter Zucker were presidents of the Board of Education (1884–85 and 1887–88), and Kaufman Hays was vice president of the City Council in 1888. Louis Black, of Hungarian origin, served as United States consul in Budapest under presidents Cleveland and Harrison. Joseph C. Bloch became the first Jewish judge in Cleveland.
The 1890s through World War I: The Impact of East European Immigration
The Jewish population of Cleveland increased greatly from the 1880s on, as East Europeans fled pogroms and economic hardships. In 1890 the Jewish population was over 5,000 and by 1900 it was 20,000; at the end of the immigration period the estimated Jewish population of Cleveland was between 90,000 and 100,000. Clustered in the Woodland Avenue/55th Street neighborhood, the East Europeans worked as peddlers, in small businesses, and as employees in the clothing industry dominated by the established firms of the preceding immigrant generation. The new settlers were more attached to Orthodox traditions, and decidedly poorer, putting a strain on the existing social institutions. The Cleveland Section of the National Council of Jewish Women (founded in 1894) created an ambitious social settlement house through the Council Educational Alliance in 1899. To prevent duplication of efforts in activities and fundraising, in 1903 the established leadership created the Federation of Jewish Charities. In spite of these efforts, there were tensions between the newcomers and the earlier settlers. The East Europeans created their own institutions, including the Yiddishe Velt, a newspaper established by Samuel Rocker in 1911, a Jewish Relief Society (1895), an Orthodox Home for the Aged (1906, today known as Menorah Park Center for Senior Living), and the Orthodox Orphan Home. An attempt to create an Orthodox hospital failed when the existing Mt. Sinai Hospital (founded in 1903) agreed to provide kosher food. Numerous landsmanshaften also helped new immigrants adjust to Cleveland life, and at least 25 small Orthodox congregations could be found in the neighborhood, often associated with their members’ place of origin in Europe. Yiddish theater flourished in the community; one of the theater owners, Harry “Czar” Bernstein (1856–1920), was also a colorful Republican ward boss.
Many of the East European immigrants brought with them a trade-union outlook. The years before World War I were the high point of Jewish labor activity, particularly in the garment industries, where a series of strikes, not all successful, took place. A notable example of Jewish trade unionism was the Jewish Carpenters’ Union Local No. 1750, chartered in 1903. In 1910 William Goldberg began his lifelong leadership of the union and became a prominent figure in Ohio labor circles. Years later the garment workers’ union and the carpenters’ local lost their Jewish character as Jewish occupations shifted to the professions, service industries, and business enterprises. Unique expressions of Jewish economic activity were the Cleveland Jewish Peddlers’ Association, formed in 1896, and the Hebrew Working Men’s Sick Benefit Association.
Jewish Life through World War II
With the East European influx into Cleveland also came enthusiasm for Zionism. While Reform rabbis Moses Gries and Louis Wolsey opposed the movement, Zionist groups of all political persuasions proliferated, especially after two new rabbis were installed at the Reform congregations, Abba Hillel *Silver (1893–1963) andBarnett R. *Brickner (1892–1958). Many national conferences were held in Cleveland, notably the 1921 meeting that led to a schism between the factions headed byLouis *Brandeis and Chaim *Weizmann. *Hadassah, the women’s Zionist organization, was established in Cleveland in 1913, and a Cleveland nurse, Rachel (Rae) Landy (1884–1952), along with New Yorker Rose Kaplan began visiting nurse services in Palestine that year. Zionism also affected Jewish education. Abraham H. *Friedland (1892–1939), brought from New York to direct the Talmud Torah supplementary school system, infused Hebrew language and Zionist philosophy into its educational curriculum. He also headed the Bureau of Jewish Education (founded in 1924) until his death in 1939.
After World War I, the Jewish community migrated east of the Woodland neighborhood: Glenville, a city neighborhood northeast, became a center of middle-class life with Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform congregations, and boasted a much admired public school system which had illustrious graduates such as U.S. Senator Howard Metzenbaum (b. 1917) (D-Ohio) and Joe *Shuster (1914–92) and Jerome *Siegel (1914–1996), creators of the comic hero Superman. Mt. Pleasant-Kinsman, to the southeast, larger geographically but less densely Jewish, had only an Orthodox synagogue and was noted for its working-class and Yiddish-language atmosphere, with trade union headquarters and organizations such as the Workmen’s Circle. The more affluent began settling in the eastern suburbs of Cleveland Heights and Shaker Heights, and in 1926 B’nai Jeshurun, which had joined the Conservative movement, built an impressive structure in Cleveland Heights, where it was known for the next 55 years as Temple on the Heights.
The events of the 1930s – economic depression and increased local and international antisemitism – moved the Jewish community in various ways. First, the Federation of Jewish Charities underwent an effective reorganization, creating a Welfare Fund to coordinate fundraising and a Community Council to mediate local disputes and represent the Jewish community to the general public. Second, the nonsectarian League for Human Rights, led behind the scenes by Abba Hillel Silver, strongly reacted to events in Europe by boycotting German-made products, monitoring the German-American Bund and other such organizations’ local activities, and providing an organized response to German student exchange in Cleveland. Several Jewish Clevelanders, including David Miller (1908–1977) and Morris Stamm (1904–2000), served in the Abraham Lincoln Brigade during the Spanish Civil War.
By the eve of World War II, Cleveland Jewry had fewer internal disagreements as the more recent immigrants had acculturated and the leadership of major organizations was no longer exclusively in the hands of the earlier families’ descendants. Although there was never a Jewish mayor of Cleveland, Jews were active in local politics and in the judiciary. Alfred A. *Benesch (1879–1973) served for 37 years on the Cleveland Board of Education, Maurice Maschke (1868–1936) was a Republican leader between 1900 and 1940, and judges Samuel H. *Silbert (1883–1976) and Mary Belle Grossman (1879–1977) had long periods of service on the bench.
World War II and the Establishment of the State of Israel
Of the 8,500 Cleveland men and women who served in the armed forces during World War II, over 200 lost their lives. In 1943 Rabbi Barnett Brickner was selected by the National Jewish Welfare Board to serve as executive chairman of the Committee on Army and Navy Religious Activities and traveled throughout the war theaters. The Telshe Yeshiva was relocated in Cleveland, its rabbis escaping Europe prior to its destruction. Several thousand Holocaust survivors settled in the metropolitan area after the war was over.
In 1945 David *Ben-Gurion met with 17 Americans at the Sonneborn Institute to discuss strategies in anticipation of establishing the State of Israel. Among them was former Cleveland law director Ezra Z. *Shapiro (1903–1971), who would later immigrate to Israel to head *Keren Hayesod. Continuing his activist role in rallying the community to the Zionist cause, Abba Hillel Silver dramatically addressed the United Nations in 1947 calling for a Jewish state. Over the years, after the establishment of the state, the Israeli landscape would become dotted with schools, synagogues, community centers, parks, and businesses bearing the names of Cleveland-area philanthropists and Zionists, including Max Apple, the Mandel, Ratner, and Stone families, and the Cleveland sections of ZOA, Hadassah, Na’amat USA, Amit Women, and the Histadrut.
Post–World War II through the 1970s
The trickle of families into the Eastern suburbs accelerated after World War II, and the bulk of the population relocated to Cleveland Heights, Shaker Heights, South Euclid, University Heights, and Beachwood despite some restrictive covenants that were overturned. Institutions quickly followed, leading to the merger of no fewer than 15 smaller Orthodox congregations into Taylor Road Synagogue, Warrensville Center Synagogue, Green Road Synagogue, and Heights Jewish Center. The massive Cleveland Jewish Center, originally Anshe Emeth, relocated from Glenville into an architecturally notable building in Cleveland Heights designed by Eric Mendelsohn, and became known as Park Synagogue. This congregation had joined the Conservative movement earlier in the century after a fierce legal battle. The Reform movement experienced growth in the suburbs as well. Two new congregations, Emanu El and Suburban Temple, were founded. Arthur J. *Lelyveld (1913–1996) led Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple from 1958 to 1986. Active in the civil rights movement, Lelyveld was severely beaten in Mississippi in 1964, and also officiated at the funeral of slain civil rights worker Andrew Goodman. At the Temple-Tifereth Israel, Daniel Jeremy Silver (1928–1989) became senior rabbi upon the death of his father, Abba Hillel Silver; he oversaw that congregation’s building of a satellite structure in the suburbs, published several scholarly works, and was instrumental in establishing the National Foundation for Jewish Culture.
Although a 1962 book called Cleveland “a city without Jews,” this was not strictly accurate, as Beth Israel-The West Temple served the Jews living on Cleveland’s West Side. This small congregation made several important contributions to Cleveland’s Jewish history. Scientists were important in its founding, among them Abe Silverstein (1920–2002), who worked at the nearby NASA Lewis Research Station and contributed to the Mercury and Apollo programs of the U.S. space effort. One of the congregation’s students, Sally *Priesand, went on to become the nation’s first female rabbi, and in 1963 three of its members founded the Cleveland Council on Soviet Antisemitism, the first known advocacy group in the Soviet Jewry movement which would eventually lead to some 6,000 Jews from the former Soviet Union settling in Northeast Ohio.
This was an extremely productive time for the Jewish Community Federation, which in 1951 merged its two divisions, the Jewish Welfare Federation and the Jewish Community Council. Under the leadership of Sidney Z. Vincent (1912–1982) and Henry L. Zucker (1910–1998), the Federation was the first in the nation to directly fund day school education (to the Orthodox Hebrew Academy), pioneered leadership training courses, and developed a comprehensive approach to building endowment funds. Cleveland was subsequently known as the most successful city in the United States in per capita fundraising as well as a training ground for future federation directors. In later years, Boston, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Seattle, and New York, among others, would be headed by individuals who started their careers in Cleveland.
The workforce moved from the labor unions into the professions, service industries, light manufacturing, and banking. Fewer spoke Yiddish, and the longtime Yiddish newspaper ceased publication in 1952. In 1964 the two English-language newspapers became the Cleveland Jewish News, which continues as an independent publication.
1975 to 2006
In the last quarter of the 20th century and into the 21st, the Cleveland Jewish community has been concerned with geography and identity. The numbers appear to have remained constant; although a 1987 population survey showed a decline to 65,000, the 1996 survey estimated the population to be 81,500, casting some doubts on the previous survey’s methodology. The inner ring eastern suburbs house nearly half of this population, yet movement to more affluent areas farther east continues, including institutions. A concerted effort by the Jewish Community Federation to slow population movement from Cleveland Heights has succeeded to some extent in keeping several centers of Jewish life viable. In Cleveland Heights, the Taylor Road area is home to kosher stores, the Jewish Education Center of Cleveland (a reconfigured Bureau of Jewish Education, founded earlier in the century), several Orthodox synagogues, including a Taylor Road Synagogue with a much smaller membership, and two large Orthodox day schools. Hebrew Academy, Cleveland’s first day school, continues to thrive in its Taylor Road location, while the ultra-Orthodox-built Mosdos Ohr Hatorah’s girl’s division is close by. Park Synagogue (Conservative) has its main sanctuary several blocks away, and a new egalitarian traditional congregation purchased Sinai Synagogue, whose members now meet farther east in University Heights. Chevrei Tikva, a congregation reaching out to gays and lesbians (founded in 1983), also meets in Cleveland Heights. In University Heights, Fuchs Mizrachi School (founded in 1983) has grown rapidly to over 300 students, from preschool through high school in a Zionist, Orthodox setting.
Another center of Orthodox life flourishes in the Green Road area, the border between Beachwood and University Heights. Green Road Synagogue moved here in 1972, later joined by Chabad of Beachwood and Young Israel in reconverted houses. In the late 1990s, Chabad, Young Israel, and the Hebrew Academy proposed building plans for an Orthodox campus in this location, which were accepted, rejected, and then accepted with modifications during a period of contentious discussions noted nationally as an example of dissension within the Jewish community. The Jewish Federation created a task force, B’Yachad/Together, to try to heal some of these rifts. The Beatrice Stone Yavne School for Girls has since been built, as has the new Young Israel building, with Chabad under construction at this writing. The Green Road area also has kosher food stores, restaurants, and gift shops.
The Laura and Alvin Siegal College of Jewish Studies, formerly housed on Taylor Road, moved to a new building in Beachwood, which it shares with the Agnon School, a community day school. This campus also houses the Mandel Jewish Community Center in its only remaining building now that the Cleveland Heights JCChas been sold; the eastern satellite of Temple-Tifereth Israel; and the new (2005) Milton and Tamar Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage, a collaborative effort of the Temple-Tifereth Israel, the Jewish Community Federation, and the Maltz family, with many artifacts and documents from the Cleveland Jewish Archives collections of the Western Reserve Historical Society. Slightly to the east in Pepper Pike are B’nai Jeshurun and the Gross Schechter School, both associated with the Conservative movement.
Despite continued strength in the inner suburbs, buildings housing Jewish institutions continue to be constructed in suburbs farther east, with a new branch of the Cleveland Hebrew Schools under construction in Solon, Montefiore Home’s assisted living facility in Bainbridge, along with several small congregations.
Mt. Sinai Hospital, after a near century of providing outstanding health care, research breakthroughs, and opportunities for Jewish physicians, was sold to a for-profit health care system that eventually dissolved the hospital. Jewish physicians and scientists have increasingly made their mark at the Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals, and Case Western Reserve University, where earlier Albert *Michelson (1852–1931) won a Nobel Prize in 1907, and Harry Goldblatt (1891–1977) made notable contributions in the field of renal hypertension. Philanthropic dollars have constructed major buildings at each of these facilities, including the Lerner Research Building and the Sam and Maria Miller Emergency Room at the Cleveland Clinic, the Mandel School of Advanced Social Services, the Peter B. Lewis Building of the Weatherhead Business School and the Wolstein Research Building at Case Western Reserve University, and the Horvitz Tower at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital. In the business world, the Stone and Weiss families continue to lead the American Greetings Corporation, the Ratner family heads Forest City Enterprises, a major construction firm, and Peter Lewis’ Progressive Insurance Company employs over 14,000 workers.
In politics, Beryl Rothschild, Harvey Friedman, and Merle Gordon served as mayors of University Heights and Beachwood; in addition to Howard Metzenbaum in the U.S. Senate, Eric Fingerhut has represented the district in Ohio state government. Milton A. Wolf served as ambassador to Austria during the Carter administration.
Contributions to the Arts and Popular Culture
Cleveland Jews have enriched the cultural life of the community in many areas. In literature, Martha Wolfenstein, Jo *Sinclair, Herbert *Gold, Jerome Lawrence, and more recently, Alix Kates Shulman, Susan Orlean, and Harvey Pekar worked in Northeast Ohio. David Dietz was a noted science writer, while David B. Guralnik (1920–2001) was the chief editor of Webster’s New World Dictionary for more than 40 years. Abraham H. Friedland, Libbie Braverman (1900–1990), and Bea Stadtler (1921–2000) wrote in the field of Jewish education. In the visual arts, Max Kalish (1891–1945), William *Zorach (1887–1966), and Louis Loeb were sculptors, Abel and Alex Warshawsky were painters, and Louis Rorimer (1872–1939) was influential in interior design. In music, Nikolai Sokoloff (1886–1965) was the first conductor of the Cleveland Orchestra; composer Ernest *Bloch (1880–1959) was the first director of the Cleveland School of Music and Arthur *Loesser(1894–1969) and Beryl *Rubinstein (1898–1952) led the piano departments at the school. Cleveland has also been called the birthplace of rock and roll music, beginning with the 1952 Moondog Coronation Ball, led by disk jockey Alan *Freed (1922–1965). Dorothy Fuldheim (1893–1989) was the first woman in America with her own television news program. Some Cleveland Jewish individuals and families have long been interested in professional sports. Max Rosenblum founded a professional basketball team in the 1920s. Members of the Gries family, Art *Modell, and Alfred Lerner all owned or shared in the ownership of the Cleveland Browns football team.
The Garment Industry in Northeast Ohio from the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History
GARMENT INDUSTRY. As early as 1860 the manufacture of ready-to-wear clothing became one of Cleveland’s leading industries. The garment industry probably reached its peak during the 1920s, when Cleveland ranked close to New York as one of the country’s leading centers for garment production. During the Depression and continuing after World War II, the garment industry in Cleveland declined. Scores of plants moved out of the area, were sold, or closed their doors. Local factors certainly played their part, but the rise of the ready-to-wear industry in Cleveland, as well as its decline, paralleled the growth and decline of the industry nationwide. Thus the story of the garment industry in Cleveland is a local or regional variant of a much broader phenomenon.
In the early 19th century clothing was still handmade, produced for the family by women in the household or custom-made for the more well-to-do by tailors and seamstresses. The first production of ready-to-wear garments was stimulated by the needs of sailors, slaves, and miners. Although still hand-produced, this early ready-to-wear industry laid the foundations for the vast expansion and mechanization of the industry. The ready-to-wear industry grew enormously from the 1860s to the 1880s for a variety of reasons. Increasing mechanization was one factor. In addition, systems for sizing men’s and boys’ clothing were highly developed, based on millions of measurements obtained by the U.S. Army during the Civil War. Eventually, accurate sizing for women’s clothing was also developed. The Depression of 1873 contributed to the growth and growing acceptance of men’s ready-to-wear, because men found in off-the-rack garments a satisfactory and less costly alternative to custom-made clothing. The production of ready-made men’s trousers or “pants,” separate from suits, stimulated during the depression of the 1870s, allowed men to supplement their outfit without having to purchase a complete suit. In general, however, the great expansion of the ready-to-wear industry coincided with and was partly the result of the tremendous urbanization and the great wave of immigrants that came to the U.S. in the last decades of the 19th century and early decades of the 20th. Industrial cities such as Cleveland also experienced rapid growth, and it was during this period that Cleveland’s ready-to-wear clothing industry blossomed.
The early entrepreneurs of the clothing industry in Cleveland were often JEWS & JUDAISM of German or Austro-Hungarian extraction. Their previous experience in retailing prepared them for the transition to manufacturing and wholesaling ready-to-wear clothing. One example was Kaufman Koch, a clothing retailer whose firm eventually evolved into the JOSEPH & FEISS CO., a leading manufacturer of men’s clothing. The company still exists in the early 1990s, although it is no longer locally owned. The entry-level manufacturer needed relatively little capital to launch a garment factory. H. Black & Co., which would become a major Cleveland manufacturer of women’s suits and cloaks, started out as a notions house. The Black family, Jews of Hungarian origin, decided to produce ready-to-wear clothing based on European patterns in their own home. Later, fabric was contracted out to home sewers and then returned to the factory for final assembly. This system of contracting was widely practiced at this stage of the garment industry’s development, but by the close of the 19th century home work had been generally superseded by factory production. Garment manufacturing started in the FLATS, but in the early 20th century, it was concentrated in what is now called the WAREHOUSE DISTRICT, an area bounded by W. 6th and W. 9th streets and Lakeside and Superior avenues. L. N. Gross Co., founded in 1900, was one such firm in the growing garment district, specializing in the production of women’s shirtwaists. Many women wore suits, and the separate shirtwaist provided a relatively inexpensive way to modify and vary their wardrobe. L. N. Gross also pioneered in the specialization and division of labor in the manufacturing process. Instead of having one person produce an entire garment, each garment worker specialized in one procedure, and then the entire garment was assembled.
As the garment industry spread to other areas of the city, the CLEVELAND WORSTED MILL CO. dominated the skyline on Broadway near E. 55th St. First organized in the 1870s and controlled after 1893 by KAUFMAN HAYS†, the Worsted Mills produced fabric for Cleveland manufacturers, as well as for garment manufacturers in other parts of the country. The company owned and operated a total of 11 mills in Ohio and on the East Coast. During the first 3 decades of the 20th century, the garment industry spread from downtown to the east side along Superior Ave. between E. 22nd and E. 26th streets. The RICHMAN BROTHERS CO. built a large plant on E. 55th. near St. Clair. Founded in Portsmouth, OH, the company moved to Cleveland in the late 1890s, specializing in the production of men’s suits and coats–an activity in which Cleveland was a close runner-up to New York. In order to reduce the risk of large cancellations by wholesalers, Richman distributed its product directly to the customer in its own retail outlets. The plants of other garment manufacturers dotted the east side well into the 1960s, including BOBBIE BROOKS, INC. on Perkins Ave. and the Dalton Co. at E 66th and Euclid. The PRINTZ-BIEDERMAN CO.was founded in 1893 by Moritz Printz, for many years the chief designer for H. Black & Co. Printz-Biederman specialized in the production of women’s suits and coats, a branch of the garment industry in which Cleveland ranked second to New York. In 1934 the company left the St. Clair area to build a modern factory on E. 61st between Euclid and Chester avenues. The large knitwear firm of Bamberger-Reinthal built a plant on Kinsman at E. 61st St.; Joseph & Feiss was located on the west side on W. 53rd St.; Federal Knitting had a plant on W. 28th and Detroit,; and the Phoenix Dye Works was still located on W. 150th St. in 1993.
For approximately 50 years after the 1890s, about 7% of Cleveland’s workforce toiled in the garment factories. The ethnic origins of those who worked in the industry were as varied as the immigrants who flowed to the U.S. in the early decades of the 20th century. Although Jewish workers played a prominent role, other immigrant groups such as CZECHS, POLES, GERMANS, and ITALIANS were also employed in large numbers, and many of the garment factories were located in the ethnic neighborhoods from which they drew their workforce. Small workshops also proliferated in the ethnic neighborhoods, and many garment workers labored in sweatshop conditions. Unlike in New York, however, where the majority of shops employed 5 or fewer workers, 80% of Cleveland’s approximately 10,000 apparel workers were employed in large and well-equipped factories by 1910. Although working conditions were somewhat better in Cleveland than in New York, Cleveland garment workers generally received low wages and worked long hours with few, if any, benefits. Like garment workers elsewhere, they sought to improve their wages and working conditions by organizing. In 1900 a number of small craft and trade unions joined together in New York City to form the INTERNATIONAL LADIES GARMENT WORKERS UNION, and in 1911 Cleveland garment workers staged a massive strike. On 6 June the employees of H. Black & Co. walked out, and up to 6,000 of Cleveland’s garment workers followed them. The ILGWU sent officials from New York to encourage the strikers, but in spite of considerable support for the workers in the community at large, the owners resisted. Attempts to negotiate a settlement failed, and by October those who could returned to work. The strike had been lost (see GARMENT WORKERS’ STRIKE OF 1911).
During World War I, the garment industry produced a variety of apparel for the armed forces, and in 1918 wartime inflation and prosperity prompted the ILGWU to organize another strike in Cleveland, involving approximately 5,000 workers. To avoid the disruption of local production of military uniforms, secretary of war and former Cleveland mayor NEWTON D. BAKER† intervened, prevailing on both sides to accept a board of referees, which gave the workers a substantial increase in wages. This event marked a watershed in relations between management and labor in Cleveland’s garment industry. The threat of unionization and the influence of “Taylorism” or “Scientific Management” persuaded the large Cleveland garment factories to provide increased amenities for their workers, which reached a peak in the 1920s. PAUL FEISS†, of Joseph & Feiss, was a convinced exponent of scientific management, and time and motion studies were implemented in order to make production more efficient and cost-effective. Working conditions also were improved in order to reduce employee turnover and to provide the best possible environment for maximum productivity. The local garment factories began to provide clean and well-run cafeterias, clinics, libraries, and nurseries for children. Employees of both sexes were urged to participate in sports, theatricals, and other activities, and the factory was also a place where immigrants learned English and a variety of homemaking skills. One consequence of paternalism was a brake on the growth of unionism.
The Depression and the New Deal had a major impact on the garment industry. Those manufacturers who survived the Depression were faced with a powerful new labor movement bent on organizing the unorganized garment industry. Bolstered by the provisions of the NRA and the National Labor Relations Act, both the ILGWU and the Amalgamated Clothing Workers, which represented workers in the men’s garment factories, successfully waged organizing campaigns (see AMALGAMATED CLOTHING AND TEXTILE WORKERS UNION). Some owners acquiesced; others resisted or simply closed their doors. The process of decline in Cleveland’s garment industry began during the 1930s. During World War II, the industry was once again geared for war production. Factories produced uniforms, knit scarves, and parachutes. LION KNITTING MILLS was famous for its production of the knitted Navy watch cap. Following the war, a number of garment manufacturers were unable to adjust to new market conditions and to new price levels. But while some companies fell by the way, new and vigorous garment factories grew, especially in the 1950s. Among them was Bobbie Brooks, founded by MAURICE SALTZMAN†, and the Dalton Co., organized by Arthur Dery. In fact, the Cleveland garment industry was still so large and influential in the 1950s that Cleveland manufacturers were able to convince the Phoenix Dye Works of Chicago to relocate in Cleveland, where many of its customers were located. Throughout the years other businesses ancillary to garment manufacturing also flourished in Cleveland.
Since World War II, the once-vigorous Cleveland garment industry has dwindled considerably, especially since the 1960s and 1970s when the decline accelerated. In some instances, management has transferred manufacturing operations elsewhere while retaining offices in Cleveland. In some cases an entire operation moved from the Cleveland area, usually to the South. Many companies sold off all or part of their businesses or simply closed. The reasons for this shift are complex and varied, some deriving from local conditions and some from conditions that are national or even global in nature, affecting the industry as a whole throughout the U.S.
The garment industry is traditionally a low-paying industry, and rising labor costs aggravated the industry’s problems. Although most of the large Cleveland manufacturers were unionized, unionization itself did not necessarily mean that one company had an unfair advantage over another. The city’s garment unions, however, generally sought and received wage settlements above the national minimum. Labor costs were considerably less in the South, and Cleveland manufacturers as well as garment and textile workers throughout the U.S. faced growing competition from lower-paid workers in other parts of the world. For example, knitwear and other textile products produced in South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, or Singapore could be sold in the U.S. at substantially less than the same products manufactured in this country. Another factor that may have discouraged some Cleveland manufacturers was the changing workforce. Until the 1950s and 1960s, many women workers had a limited number of employment opportunities, particularly the European immigrant women who dominated the workforce of the garment industry. During the postwar period, there was a new generation of women working who had many more employment opportunities at wages much higher than could be earned in the garment industry. However, while labor costs in Cleveland were relatively high in comparison with some regions, there were some industry authorities who contended that additional factors contributed to the industry’s decline. For example, some family-owned concerns were sold or simply dissolved when family shareholders could no longer agree on management decisions. In other cases, the heirs preferred some profession or occupation outside the garment industry.
The apparel industry was also subject to changes in technology and to the rapidly changing conditions of the marketplace. Cleveland firms often did not or could not respond with sufficient alacrity or astuteness to such changing conditions. Cleveland was perhaps too divorced from the center of the market in New York. It lacked a regional market of importance, and thus many manufacturers lost touch with what consumers wanted, and when the competitive price structure changed after World War II, some companies could not adapt to a shifting and rapidly changing marketplace. In the 1980s New York came to dominate the industry as both a marketplace and a manufacturing center, and substantial Cleveland manufacturers must constantly study and test the marketplace trends in New York City. In addition, there are other important regional markets, such as Dallas and Los Angeles, which served to move the focus of the industry away from Cleveland. Perhaps that is part of a larger underlying transformation of the American economy resulting in the loss of preeminence of the older industrial centers of the Great Lakes region and Middle West. On the other hand, Cleveland garment manufacturers who take advantage of new technologies, who learn to cut costs, and who learn to respond effectively to the marketplace may still survive and even flourish.
Kent State Univ.
Abba Hillel Silver (1893-1963)
Abba Hillel Silver by Rafael Medoff
“Silver, Abba Hillel (28 Jan. 1893-28 Nov. 1963), rabbi and Zionist leader, was born Abraham Silver in the Lithuanian village of Neustadt-Schirwindt, the son of Rabbi Moses Silver, a proprietor of a soap business, and Dina Seaman. The family immigrated to the United States in stages, settling on New York City’s Lower East Side in 1902, when Silver was nine years old. He attended public school in the mornings and Jewish religious seminaries in the afternoons yet still made time for his growing interest in the fledgling Zionist movement. He and his brother Maxwell founded the Dr. Herzl Zion Club, one of the first Zionist youth groups in America, in 1904. On Friday evenings, Silver attended the mesmerizing lectures of Zvi Hirsch Masliansky, the most influential Zionist preacher of that era. “I can still taste the sweet honey of his words,” Silver remarked many years later. Inspired by Masliansky, Silver soon developed a reputation of his own as an orator, equally eloquent in Yiddish, Hebrew, and English. He addressed the national Federation of American Zionists convention when he was just fourteen.
During his high school years, Silver excelled in secular studies and increasingly moved away from his Orthodox religious upbringing. Upon graduation, in 1911, he enrolled at the University of Cincinnati and the Hebrew Union College, the rabbinical seminary of Reform Judaism. He was not fazed by the Reform movement’s anti-Zionism; indeed, it may have whetted his appetite. He organized Zionist activity on campus, edited student publications, won prizes in public speaking contests, and graduated in 1915 as valedictorian of his class.
At his first pulpit, in Wheeling, West Virginia, Silver soon earned a local and regional reputation as an orator. He also earned the enmity of more than a few Wheeling residents by his involvement in controversial causes, especially his sponsorship of a lecture in 1917 by Senator Robert M. La Follette, who opposed U.S. entry into World War I. That summer, Silver was lured away from Wheeling to Cleveland, Ohio, to become the spiritual leader of the Temple (Tifereth Israel), one of the country’s most prominent Reform congregations. In Cleveland he continued to attract public attention, usually as an outspoken defender of labor unions, and frequently sparred with groups such as the Daughters of the American Revolution, which denounced him as a dangerous radical.
Still, it was the cause of Zionism that was closest to Silver’s heart, reinvigorated by a visit to British-administered Palestine in the summer of 1919. Soon he was speaking throughout the United States on behalf of the Zionist movement, attracting large audiences and rave reviews. “Many who heard him last night pronounced him as one of the greatest orators the
Jews possess,” a newspaper in Texas declared after one of Silver’s addresses. In 1923 he married Virginia Horkheimer; they had two sons. While two assistant rabbis handled the bulk of the Temple’s routine rabbinical duties, Silver rose to prominence on the national Jewish scene. As leader of Cleveland’s Zionists – who comprised one of the largest districts of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) – he spearheaded protests against British restrictions on Jewish immigration to Palestine and organized boycotts of products from Nazi Germany.
The escalating Nazi persecution of Jews, the apathetic response of the Roosevelt administration to news of Hitler’s atrocities, and England’s refusal to open Palestine to refugees from Hitler, stimulated a mood of growing militancy in the American Jewish community during the late 1930s and early 1940s. Silver both symbolized American Jewish militancy and helped encourage its spread. In August 1943, he was appointed co-chair of the American Zionist Emergency Council (AZEC), a coalition of the leading U.S. Zionist groups, alongside Rabbi Stephen Wise. Until then Wise had been widely regarded as the most powerful leader of the American Jewish community. Silver’s elevation to the co-chairmanship of AZEC launched a bitter political and personal rivalry between the two men that would endure for years.
While Wise, a loyal Democrat, was reluctant to criticize the Roosevelt administration’s hands-off attitude toward Palestine and European Jewry, Silver did not hesitate to speak his mind. Silver’s followers characterized the contrast between the two as “Aggressive Zionism” versus “the Politics of the Green Light [from the White House].” Within weeks of assuming the AZEC co-chairmanship, Silver spoiled Wise’s plan to downplay the Palestine issue at that year’s American Jewish Conference. Wise had hoped to mollify Washington and London, as well as Jewish critics of Zionism, by skirting the Jewish statehood issue, but Silver electrified the delegates with an unannounced address in which he vigorously demanded Jewish national independence. The “thunderous applause” that greeted his speech said as much about Silver’s new prominence as it did about the American Jewish mood.
Under Silver’s leadership, American Zionism assumed a vocal new role in Washington, D.C. Mobilized by AZEC, grassroots Zionists deluged Capitol Hill with calls and letters in early 1943 and late 1944, urging the passage of a congressional resolution declaring U.S. support for creation of a Jewish national home in Palestine. The opposition of the War and State Departments stalled the resolution in committee but did not deter Silver from campaigning in the summer of 1944 for the inclusion of pro-Zionist planks in the election platforms of the Republican and Democratic parties
that summer. Silver’s ability to maneuver the two parties into competition for Jewish electoral support was a testimony to his political sophistication even if, much to Wise’s chagrin, the Republican platform went beyond what AZEC requested by denouncing FDR for not challenging England’s pro-Arab tilt in Palestine.
While successfully usurping Wise’s leadership role in the Jewish community, Silver took care to guard his own right flank. He quietly hired several militant Revisionist Zionists to help shape AZEC policy and guide its public information campaigns. He also engineered a public reconciliation between the Revisionists’ U.S. wing and the mainstream Zionist movement.
During the postwar period, Silver and AZEC stepped up their pressure on the Truman administration with a fresh barrage of protest rallies, newspaper advertisements, and educational campaigns. Silver’s effort in early 1946 to link postwar U.S. loans to British policy in Palestine collapsed when Wise broke ranks to lobby against linkage. More successful were Silver’s behind-the-scenes efforts to mobilize non-Jewish Americans on behalf of the Zionist cause. AZEC sponsored the American Christian Palestine Committee, which activated grassroots Christian Zionists nationwide, and the Christian Council on Palestine, which spoke for nearly 3,000 pro-Zionist Christian clergymen.
Although the Truman administration wavered in its support for the 1947 United Nations plan to partition Palestine into Jewish and Arab states, a torrent of protest activity spearheaded by Silver and AZEC helped convince the president to recognize the new State of Israel just minutes after its creation. Silver’s protests against the U.S. arms embargo on the Middle East, however, were consistently rebuffed by the administration.
In the aftermath of Israel’s birth, Silver pressed for a clear separation between the new state and the Zionist movement, insisting that Israel should not control the World Zionist Organization or other Diaspora agencies. The leaders of the ruling Israeli Labor party had always viewed Silver with some suspicion because he preferred the free market advocates of the General Zionist party to the socialists of Labor. His effort to break Israeli hegemony over the Diaspora enraged Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion. The Labor leadership threw its support behind a faction of disgruntled ZOA members who resented Silver’s prominence, and together they forced Silver and his followers from power in 1949.
Silver resumed full-time rabbinical duties at the Temple, with only an occasional and brief foray into the political arena when he could utilize his Republican contacts to lobby on Israel’s behalf. He turned his attention to
religious scholarship, reading voraciously and authoring several well- received books on Judaism. He died suddenly at a family Thanksgiving celebration in Cleveland.
Silver’s reign marked a political coming of age for American Jewry. His lobbying victories infused the Jewish community with confidence and a sense that their agenda was a legitimate part of American political culture– no mean feat for a community comprised largely of immigrants and children of immigrants. The Silver years left their mark on the American political scene as well. After the inclusion of Palestine in the 1944 party platforms, Zionist concerns assumed a permanent place in American electoral politics. Additionally, the swift U.S. recognition of Israel in 1948, a decision made, in large measure, with an eye toward American Jewish opinion, was a first major step in cementing the America-Israel friendship that has endured ever since.”
60 Years Ago This Week: Abba Hillel Silver’s
Rise to Zionist Leadership
by Dr. Rafael Medoff
Sixty years ago this week, Jewish leaders gathered in New York City for a conference that was supposed to be a display of unity–but instead turned into the scene of a bitter struggle that helped catapult Cleveland’s Abba Hillel Silver to national leadership and revolutionized the American Jewish community.
Leaders of B’nai B’rith, the American Jewish Congress, and other groups organized the conference in pursuit of an old but elusive Jewish goal: to overcome political and religious differences and reach a consensus on issues of Jewish concern. The effort was given added urgency by the ongoing Nazi slaughter of European Jewry and Britain’s shutdown of Palestine to Jewish refugees.
American Jews were divided over how to respond to the Holocaust and the Palestine problem. Some wanted an activist approach, but the most prominent Jewish leader, Rabbi Stephen Wise, urged caution. An ardent supporter of President Roosevelt, Wise opposed any Jewish criticism of FDR’s refusal to rescue Europe’s Jews.
The rescue issue was not even included on the conference’s original agenda. A handful of students from the Jewish Theological Seminary stood outside the hotel on the first day of the conference and handed the delegates a leaflet pleading with them to make rescue a priority. In response to criticism from grassroots activists and the Jewish press, a committee on rescue was indeed added at the last moment. But it was the issue of Zionism that would dominate the proceedings.
World Zionist Organization president Chaim Weizmann, although sympathetic to Wise’s outlook, feared that Wise’s low-key approach was gutting American Zionism, leaving it dispirited and apathetic. To energize the movement, Weizmann, in early 1943, turned to the dynamic Abba Hillel Silver, spiritual leader of Cleveland’s The Temple. He asked Silver to join Wise as co-chair of the American Zionist Emergency Council, the umbrella group for all major U.S. Zionist organizations.
The Wise-Silver power-sharing agreement was finalized in August, just before the American Jewish Conference opened. It seemed fitting that the conference, with its theme of unity, would be the first event featuring appearances by the unlikely new team of Wise, the fervent Democrat who favored ‘the politics of caution’, and Silver, the outstpoken activist who was close to the Republicans.
It seemed unity was finally at hand. But trouble was brewing.
The State Department had been quietly urging FDR to issue a statement demanding that all Jewish “agitation” for a Palestine homeland be suspended until the end of the war. State argued that Zionist activity undermined the war effort by irritating the Arabs and thereby endangering the Allies’ position in the Mideast.
When word of the proposal leaked out and Wise and other Jewish leaders protested, State Department officials threatened that the statement would be issued unless Wise prevented the American Jewish Conference from speaking out on Palestine.
Wise, intimidated by the State Department and hoping to keep the anti-Zionist American Jewish Committee from quitting the conference, omitted Jewish statehood from his keynote address. To keep Dr. Silver from leading a rebellion, the conference schedule was arranged so there would be no time for Silver to speak.
But it was the delegates from Wise’s own American Jewish Congress who led the revolt. Feeling betrayed by Wise’s backtracking on Palestine, they maneuvered to give Silver the time slot that they had been alloted to their own delegation’s spokesman.
This was Silver’s moment. He rose to the podium and delivered a rip-roaring appeal for Jewish statehood, which “swept the conference like a hurricane,” as one delegate put it. “There was repeated and stormy applause, the delegates rising to their feet in a remarkable ovation,” followed by the repeated singing of Hatikvah, the Zionist anthem.
The “electric excitement” generated by Silver’s speech forced the statehood resolution to a vote. Wise was helpless to stop it–as his close ally Nahum Goldmann put it, “we would be torn limb from limb if were now to defer action on the Palestine resolution.” It passed by 498 to 4–an overwhelming vote of American Jewish support for Silver’s line and, in effect, a repudiation of Wise.
(The repercussions from the State Department that Wise feared, never materialized. The proposed ban on Zionist “agitation” in America was shelved by FDR, who decided that such a gag order would be too controversial.)
Silver quickly transformed American Zionism into a vigorous activist movement. He mobilized both grassroots Jews and pro-Zionist Christians to demonstrate, write, and pressure Congress and the White House to support Jewish statehood–the beginnings of the Jewish-Christian alliance that continues to this day. Silver convinced the Republican Party to include a pro-Palestine plank in its 1944 platform, which forced the Democrats to do likewise–a precedent that assured Zionist concerns a permanent place in American electoral politics. And Silver’s nationwide protest campaign in1948 helped secure swift U.S. recognition of the new State of Israel–the first step in cementing the America-Israel friendship that has endured ever since.
The dramatic leadership change that took place at the American Jewish Conference in August 1943 would, within the space of just five years, changed American Jewry, and American politics, forever.
Courtesy of archive.com. The link is here
Written in 1962 by Sidney Vincent, then leader of the Cleveland Jewish Federation
CLEVELAND City without Jews By Sidney Vincent (1962)
“CLEVELAND: THE BEST LOCATION IN THE NATION.”
That boast is by all odds the best-known “commercial” in the Cleveland area. For years industry and newspapers have made it the central theme for promoting Ohio’s metropolis. And though the slogan was designed to highlight the geographic and industrial advantages of Cleveland’s central location, workers in the field of human relations have tended to adopt it as their own.
With justifiable pride (as many Clevelanders believe) or with unjustified smugness (as others are quick to point out), the claim is often made that Cleveland is the best location in the nation in terms of good community relationships.
Some fairly impressive evidence can be mustered to support the contention. Cleveland has perhaps the richest variety of ethnic and cultural groups of any city in the country. Here is America’s largest settlement of Slovenians, and one of the leading centers of Hungarian life; Slovaks, Czechs, Poles, Germans, Irish, Rumanians, and Italians have all been attracted to Cleveland in large numbers by the city’s heavy industries but no one ethnic group predominates. Four consecutive mayors in recent years were of British, Slovenian, Irish, and Italian backgrounds.
The city’s white population is almost equally divided between Catholics and Protestants (about a third of a million each), and the Negro population of 250,000 is among the highest of northern cities in percentage terms. The Jewish community of 85,000 (in the county) is probably the sixth largest in the country.
Not a single major outbreak of religious or racial violence has resulted from this colorful mingling. Cleveland has had no race riots or cemetery desecrations. Schoolboy fights along religious or racial lines and “swastika incidents” have been rare enough so that they shock the community conscience. There has been little hostility or even ill- tempered joining of issues in the local religious press.
Cleveland was the third city in the nation to pass a municipal FEPC; it has been cited frequently by various national organizations for its outstanding record in human relations; it has elected three Negroes to judicial posts; it accepted matter-of-factly the selection of a Jew as chairman of the board of lay advisers (Board of Trustees) of the local Catholic university. It is probably the only city in the country with a Negro as the (elected) president of the Board of Education and a Jew as superintendent of schools. Visitors to the city are often taken on a tour of the Cultural Gardens, where twenty-seven nationality and religious groups have developed attractive centers of ethnic culture, honoring the contributions of poets, statesmen, and scientists to their own culture and to mankind. All military figures are strictly excluded.
But slogans are not reality, and a visitor who decides to study Cleveland in depth, rather than being contented with a surface (though undoubtedly significant) show of amity, will have no difficulty in discovering that the picture is not all rosy. The most casual observation will, for example, reveal a strong tendency toward self- segregation by most of these ethnic groups.
The Jewish community is merely the most classic example of an almost universal tendency. Since the turn of the century, five neighborhoods have been centers of Jewish settlement each progressively further east from the center of the city. (The western half of the city has never had more than 500 Jewish families.) When these neighborhoods have been left, they have been totally abandoned, to the point where today, perhaps uniquely among American cities, Cleveland proper is almost literally a city without Jews. (At a recent Jewish affair a candidate for state office remarked not-so-facetiously to the mayor of Cleveland, “What in hell are you doing here?”} Over 90 per cent of the Jews of Cuyahoga County, in which Cleveland is located, live in the suburbs and only two of the twenty-five synagogues are still in the city itself. Of the estimated 1000 Jewish graduates of public high schools of the county in June, 1961, a maximum of half a dozen received diplomas from Cleveland’s schools and the number will soon disappear almost entirely. Only some 250 of the 140,000 children attending Cleveland’s public schools are Jewish. All but three of the Jewish service agencies are located in the suburbs.
Moreover, the concentration within certain specific suburbs is remarkably high, even though housing restrictions against Jews have all but disappeared everywhere. The Jewish density in a few middle and upper middle class suburbs is probably just as high as it was fifty years ago in the downtown, rundown districts, when the Jewish community was overwhelmingly immigrant and first generation and had yet to be “accommodated” to the general culture. One suburban street, surrounded by homes that are quite new, is irreverently known as the “Rue de la Pay-ess”* because it contains so many Jewish institutions, particularly Orthodox ones. Economic status has little effect on the tendency to cluster; those who purchase homes in the $50,000 class tend to concentrate in Jewish neighborhoods about as much as those on the $20,000 level. And a 1961 Yom Kippur census indicates that the concentration continues within the suburbs. Two older suburbs are well on the way to losing their Jewish population completely; another is becoming almost completely Jewish.
Although the “mother city” has completely disappeared, the line of Jewish settlement runs in an unbroken rough crescent, swinging north and then east through eight contiguous suburbs. One of the suburbs is primarily the home of newly-married or relatively young couples and another tends to have somewhat more status than the rest, but the similarities among the suburbs are far greater than their differences. Jews continue to think of themselves as a single community rather than as a series of separate neighborhoods. Attempts by national agencies to organize along distinctive suburban lines are frequently resisted.
The Roman Catholic community has had a somewhat similar history since the end of the Second World War.
* Payyos are the ritual earlocks worn by some groups of Orthodox Jews.
The population of the local diocese has grown in unprecedented fashion, but the number of Catholics in the city proper is about the same as it was in 1945 a third of a million. All the rapid growth has been suburban, with the result that less than half of the diocesan population now lives in Cleveland proper, whereas only thirteen years ago more than two out of three Catholics lived in the city. And the outward movement of Catholics is far from complete. “The Catholic diocese is not following the shift to the suburbs,” its paper points out. “It is ahead of it. It owns twenty-five properties in rural areas for future expansion.” It is worth noting, however, that though the Catholic growth has been all suburban, Catholics have, unlike the Jews, held their own in the city.
The astonishing recent growth of parochial schools almost all of them suburban is another harbinger of things to come. The post-war years have been a period of swift increase in the child population, and it it therefore not surprising that the parochial schools have increased in numbers.
But the increase has been vastly greater than the normal growth expected for the period. The percentage of Roman Catholic children in the diocese who attend Catholic schools has risen from 50 per cent to 67 per cent, so that the diocesan school system now numbers over 125,000, making it the largest school system in the state except for the Cleveland public schools. The goal of “every Catholic child in a Catholic school” may be soon substantially within reach, thus contributing to the growing tendency of public schools to be one-group, racially and religiously.
The birth rate for Catholics in the diocese is thirty-three for each 1,000 people, as contrasted with twenty-four for non-Catholics, and it is therefore probable that the future will bring an even heavier Catholic concentration in the county than the present 34 per cent.
Easily lost sight of in the wide attention given to these highly visible Jewish and Roman Catholic migrations outward is the fact that the first group to move to the suburbs was the old line, long-established Protestant. Almost without exception, every suburb was developed and settled by Protestants, and the problems of suburban accommodation (to be spelled out in some detail later) are to a major degree the result of the impact of Catholic and Jewish (and just now beginning, Negro) out-migration upon conservative, middle-class, long- established Protestant communities.
Who then is left in the central city? The fact is that in the past twenty years, during a time of dynamic population growth, the central city has actually decreased in numbers. All the dramatic increase of population has been suburban. As a matter of fact, the white population of the city has in the past ten years dropped dramatically despite the recent markedly increased birth rate, the significant immigration of southern whites to help man Cleveland’s heavy industry, and the fairly substantial migration from overseas following World War 2, all tending to increase the white population of the city. The places of the whites have been taken by the Negro community which has grown during this period from approximately 85,000 to close to 250,000.
In summary, then, as contrasted with 1940, the central city has far more Negroes; it is almost completely emptied of Jews, and its white population is somewhat more Catholic since the out-migration of Protestants to the suburbs has been at an even more rapid rate than has been the case among Catholics.
One obvious result of these changes can be seen in the political life of the city. Negro political awareness has grown markedly, with the Negro newspapers on almost a weekly basis stressing the need to elect Negro candidates. (As one editorial pointed out: “Particularly if they are well qualified.”) The major concrete result of this militancy has been the steady increase of Negro councilmen in the central city to the point where there were, in 1961, eight Negroes (out of thirty- three) as contrasted with two at the end of the war. In each case but one, the addition of a Negro to council has been at the expense of a Jewish representative, and at a recent election the last remaining Jewish Cleveland councilman was defeated, thus ending an era when Jews played an outstanding role in Cleveland’s political life.
Somewhat the same process can be seen in the (elected) Board of Education where the single remaining Jewish representative has served for almost three decades and will undoubtedly be the last Jewish member to serve on that important public body. When the Board of Education considers released time proposals or the city council considers legislation enforcing Good Friday closings, it makes a difference that not a single Jew is involved in the debate and even more important that the Jewish constituency has been completely eliminated. And policies arrived at in the central city often have a powerful effect on suburban schools and councils.
Religiously speaking, the decisive influence in Cleveland’s political life in recent years has been Roman Catholic. For more than two decades, Cleveland has had only Catholic mayors and it seems unlikely that the foreseeable future will change this pattern. Religion has in practice if not in theory become a test for high office in the city. During the same period of time there has never been more than a handful of white Protestants among the city’s thirty-three councilmen, and city council at present is almost exclusively either Catholic or Negro.
The dominance by Roman Catholics of the Democratic party machinery has its effect on certain county elections as well. The delegation to the State Legislature from Cuyahoga County is for all practical purposes chosen at the Democratic party primaries from a long list of names, often over 100 in number, largely of political unknowns. Party endorsement and a “good” name therefore become crucial, and the result has been that the delegation has been almost solidly Catholic. In 1961, for example, not a single Negro or Jew held any of the twenty- three places, and white Protestant representation was limited to one.
However, county elections involving national office, where candidates are far better known, present a significantly different picture. Cuyahoga County’s four Congressmen in 1959 included two Republicans both Protestant and both from the suburbs and two Democrats both from the city proper and both Catholic. This would seem to reflect rather accurately how the population movements of recent years have affected political patterns in the city and the county. Cleveland is overwhelmingly Democratic and elects Catholics. The county outside the city is (though far less decisively) Republican and elects Protestants.
Religion had a strong effect upon the 1960 election in Ohio. Many observers attributed Senator Kennedy’s loss of Ohio to the “Catholic issue.” In Cuyahoga County (Cleveland) itself, the Democratic standard-bearer ran up a majority of 150,000 but this was 75,000 below expectations. A precinct breakdown suggests that Kennedy scored strongly among Roman Catholic, Jewish, and Negro voters; and Nixon was overwhelmingly ahead in Protestant areas. Despite the stratification of voting along faith lines, religious tension was not markedly overt in the campaign, perhaps because evangelical Protestantism is weak in Cleveland. Considerable anti-Catholic literature poured in from out-of-town but no organized campaign of bigotry developed in Cleveland.
The Catholic archdiocesan newspaper reported, more in sorrow than in anger, the incidents of anti-Catholicism in other parts of the country. At no time was Kennedy endorsed. Even after his victory, Roman Catholic leaders permitted no gloating to disturb the serious dignity with which they met the test of the strange and historic campaign of 1960.
The intense concentration of Jews in certain of the suburbs has led only slowly to the assumption of political responsibility. Although Jews constitute 70 per cent of the population in one of the eight suburbs in which most of them live, and form more than a majority in two others, there has never been a Jewish mayor in any community. With two exceptions, there is no more than a single Jew on any Board of Education. In the suburb where Jews have lived for the longest period of time since before the First World War there has never been a Jewish councilman who came to office originally through election. Both present representatives on city council, as well as their few predecessors, were appointed to fill vacancies by the administration in power and have subsequently been elected as “members of the team.”
The only real breakthrough has been in the past two years when the suburb with the highest Jewish density finally elected Jews to the majority of councilmanic posts. It may be significant that this community, as will be indicated below, subsequently almost split into two sections, with the non-Jewish section seeking through a long process to secede from the northern “Jewish” section.
In general, the “old settlers” retain a firm grip on the administration of suburban communities, and the incoming Jewish group makes inroads, if at all, slowly and fearfully, with a constant desire to include non- Jewish candidates on any slate that appears to be too strongly Jewish. The point of view of the newcomers (mostly Jewish) tends to be liberal and Democratic; the original group (mostly Protestant) tends to be conservative and Republican. No wonder tensions develop! The best symbol of the determination of the entrenched group to hold on to the machinery of power is to be found in the various appointive bodies which often remain almost completely Christian even in communities that are overwhelmingly Jewish. Not a single Jew serves on the Zoning Commission and only two of seven on the Library Board both appointive of the suburbs with the largest Jewish population, although, particularly in the former case, they make decisions which vitally affect Jewish institutions.
On the other hand, it is common to find Jews leaning over backward not to assume positions of responsibility too hastily. P.T.A. officers, for example, tend to remain overwhelmingly or predominantly Christian long after the school population has become mostly Jewish. In two instances, an unwritten rule is observed: one year a Christian president, the next year a Jewish one and all without public discussion. It is simply understood that such topics are for the closed conference of top leadership, not the public platform of general debate.
The few suburbs that have, even more recently, become predominantly Catholic, reflect no comparable reluctance to assume power. Roman Catholic mayors and councilmen are frequent in these circumstances.
Ethnic patterns often reinforce religious segregation. A recent survey of mailing addresses of local foreign language newspapers revealed that the movement out from the original nationality islands has not gone haphazardly into the suburbs. Particular ethnic groups almost all Roman Catholic move to specific new settlements. In Cleveland, if you name your ethnic background, it is not difficult to venture a well educated guess about where you live and into which suburb you are likely to move. But unlike Jews, the nationality groups do not totally abandon the old neighborhoods. Usually, they spread outward from a home base that remains identifiably and substantially Hungarian or Polish or whatever; the Jewish withdrawal is total and rapid. A Jewish leader recently took his children to see the house he lived in until the late thirties in what was then an overwhelmingly Jewish neighborhood. There was not a single Jewish family left on the entire street. Italian or Slovenian parents who have moved out of the old neighborhoods have no need to take their children on nostalgic tours of the past. In most cases, grandparents or an uncle or cousins newly arrived from the old country still live in the original family home.
Even within suburbs with strong Jewish or Catholic components, there is nearly always a clustering in certain areas rather than a general dispersal into the new neighborhood. A recent Yom Kippur survey of one of the suburbs, for example, revealed that of its ten elementary schools, four had Jewish populations well in excess of 90 per cent while two had virtually no Jewish students. Real estate agents accept as a perfectly normal part of their daily operations that Catholics will want to settle only near new suburban parochial schools, Jews around the many new institutions they have built, and Protestants in “their” neighborhoods.
Certainly, the pattern of housing and voting, both in the suburbs and in the central city, makes any claim that Cleveland has solved its interreligious problems seem shallow and incomplete. Conflict is rare, but so is integration, no matter how one interprets that all-inclusive term.
THE NEGRO COMMUNITY
Increasingly, a kind of high-level irritation with problems of Negro- white relationships breaks through the overlay of good feeling. The dramatic migration from the South in recent years of rural Negroes (and whites) unprepared for city living has resulted in a growing number of crimes of violence. One paper, reviewing 1958, reported that 55 per cent of all convictions for crimes in the Common Pleas courts of the county involved Negroes.
Much lively discussion has resulted on the question of group responsibility. Who should “educate” the newcomers? Does the Negro community as a whole have any responsibility for colored malefactors? Negro leadership rejects any such idea. It stresses that both Negro and white newcomers to the city are victims of inadequate housing and schooling and services. The problem is one for the total community, they claim.
Liberal white leadership agrees, but a sensational murder or rape by a Negro inevitably raises anew the question in the press, on the air, or in private conversation: “Why don’t they (Negro leaders) do something about conditions?”
Negro irritability and militancy also seem to be growing. A recent widely-heralded, privately-financed urban renewal project turned sour when the rents $105 a month proved too high, A “rent strike” flared up and the neighborhood was rocked by demonstrations. A reporter who interviewed the tenants found massive resentment of white owners, despite an inability to point out a single specific ground for complaint. Significantly the most bitter charge was: “They treat us like boys. We want to be treated like men.”
Negro-Jewish relationships are particularly complicated. Every morning at the bus stops in the central city, there are knots of Negro women waiting for buses to transport them from their ghettos to suburban homes often Jewish where they spend the day making white homes clean and comfortable. At the same hour, dozens of Jewish businessmen will be passing them going the other way from the suburbs to all sorts of business establishments in the city that serve the Negro trade. A substantial share of housing in the Negro area with all the attendant irritations is owned by Jews, partly because the neighborhoods are largely formerly Jewish.
Mistress and servant storekeeper and client landlord and tenant. Some of these relationships can be and are warm and creative. But the tendency is the other way. There are no peer relationships, few opportunities for meeting as equal to equal.
The picture is radically different, however, on the leadership level. The NAACP and the Urban League have always worked in close association with various Jewish agencies, in addition to the fact that a substan- tial number of Jews belong to both. There are few community relations questions where the leaders of the two minorities do not work together with considerable harmony and mutual respect. But this holds true only on the leadership level. Three new Negro organizations have come into being in the past two years sharply challenging the NAACP, Urban League, and the churches for being too “soft.” There is every reason to believe these groups will grow in influence, with an inevitable unsettling of Negro-white relationships.
In addition, a few Negro professionals and businessmen have succeeded in making the leap into the suburbs. In almost every case, it has been a leap into a Jewish neighborhood. One Negro social worker put it, “I wouldn’t think of moving anywhere except into a Jewish suburb. It’s the only place I’d feel safe.” Despite the official positions adopted by Protestant and Roman Catholic churches, and although fear and prejudice against the Negro is a Jewish as well as a Christian phenomenon, the Negro feels he has a far better prospect of acceptance in a Jewish neighborhood than anywhere else.
So the Negro-Jewish pattern is a strange mixture. Negro anti-Semitism co-exists with feelings of warmth toward Jews. The immediate symbol of the white hostile world too often happens to be a Jewish merchant or landlord, but at the same time, the opener of closed doors in employment or housing is also likely to be Jewish.
At least equally complicated is the feeling of Jews towards Negroes, compounded as it is of active support and understanding of a fellow minority, and uneasiness at the constant pressures on each successive neighborhood to which Jews move. The entire relationship presents a tremendous challenge to sober and objective social, economic, and psychological study.
What of religious relationships?
On the formal level a rather good report could be made despite such irritations as the exclusion of Jews from the higher Masonic degrees and a few other status organizations. The annual drives of the Catholic Charities, Jewish Welfare Fund, or the YMCA’s attract contributions from individuals of all groups. Bequests are frequently reported designating as beneficiaries the charitable institutions of all three faiths.
There are projects on which the three religious communities or more precisely, their leadership work closely together. The Cleveland Committee on Immigration, for example, is primarily composed of representatives, official and semi-official, of the three religious faiths.
All three faiths are on record as being profoundly concerned with problems of housing for minorities (euphemism, for the most part, for Negroes). The Auxiliary Bishop of the Roman Catholic diocese and a Presbyterian minister have won civic awards and many kudos for their joint efforts in rehabilitating parts of the community. This Catholic- Protestant partnership has been highlighted regularly in news items; it is a rare enough occurrence to warrant feature treatment. Two tense neighborhood situations that developed because of the first purchase of a home by a Negro in a hitherto all-white neighborhood resulted in all three religious groups working actively to secure acceptance of the new neighbors by their constituents.
Hearings on civil rights proposals nearly always feature a Roman Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish spokesman, and some kind of secular instrument is usually formed for interreligious consultation. It is significant that such secular instrumentalities are necessary for this purpose.
These kinds of cooperation, however, are a long way from creating strong and permanent bonds of association. Particularly in the case of the Roman Catholic community, activities are likely to be on a “separate but equal” basis. In each of the housing situations described above, there was no joint statement or shared program of attack on the problem as between the Catholic and the other two religious groups. Contact with the parish priest resulted in his undertaking to interview certain key parishioners and to speak on the problem at Sunday services. Attempts by the other two groups to involve Catholic leadership in an ongoing program of interpretation and consultation were fruitless.
Similarly, although the vast majority of refugees from abroad have been Roman Catholic, there has been a strong tendency by Catholics to view modification of the McCarran-Walter Act as a “Jewish” interest primarily. When Jewish representatives on the city’s Immigration Committee decided not to continue in the role of prime leadership, there was no assumption of responsibility by the Catholic groups. This was evidently not an issue that “counted.” Despite strong official backing by the Roman Catholic bishops of the state for FEPC, almost all the planning and activity for city and state campaigns for legislation (and proper enforcement after a bin was passed in 1959) was the result of the cooperation of Protestant and Jewish organizations with interested secular groups. Almost never has there been more Catholic involvement than the appearance of a spokesman at a hearing. Representation from Protestant churches and from synagogues and other Jewish organizations has not been paralleled by comparable support from Catholics. They are rarely “on the team.” Even a television program on “The Moral Viewpoint” could be initiated only with the understanding that Catholics would have their exclusive hour every third week with the rabbis and ministers joining to produce together the other two programs.
Deeper than the contacts in the area of community relations are the relationships that have developed in the health and welfare field. Cleveland has a reputation for being a highly-organized (or overorganized) community. Certainly, the innumerable committees of the Community Chest and the Welfare Federation of Cleveland with its six councils (for hospitals, children’s services, group work services, case work services, problems of the aged, and area councils) provide almost daily opportunities for staffs and lay leadership of various agencies, religious and non-sectarian, to work together on problems of services and finances in which they are all mutually involved.
The links between the Welfare Federation and the Jewish Federation are particularly close. The same building houses both agencies; the staffs hold joint meetings on regular occasion; Jewish health and welfare agencies place a high priority on work in their respective welfare federation councils. The immediate past president of the Community Fund was simultaneously a vice-president of the Jewish Community Federation.
The Area Council movement has its origin in Cleveland and is probably more fully developed there than anywhere else in the country. It seeks through its seventeen councils to bring together organizations and individuals in a given neighborhood to work on problems of immediate local significance traffic control, liquor control, zoning, lighting and policing, juvenile delinquency, and general neighborhood improvement. Churches and synagogues are basic members of these organizations and important interreligious cooperation has at times developed out of the shared absorption in common problems. Three councils have given considerable importance to intergroup relations problems, and colorful intercultural programs have been held, featuring the cultural diversities in the neighborhood. Unfortunately, area councils have had the least success in the sophisticated suburbs, and since the Jewish community has largely withdrawn from the central city, there is a decreasing impact of Jewish organizations and individuals on this important grass roots development.
Other formal interreligious contacts are moderately frequent. In addition to the program of the National Conference of Christians and Jews, which is of course based on equal formal representation from the three faiths, exchanges of pulpits between rabbis and Protestant ministers occasionally take place and neighborhood interreligious Thanksgiving celebrations have become more common. The annual Institute on Judaism sponsored by a local congregation results in a fine attendance of Protestant ministers. The Catholic university has in recent years become more of a center for consideration of intergroup relations problems.
There is considerable question, however, as to the depth of many of these contacts. The Ministerial Alliance is exclusively Protestant and there is no medium of any kind for regular exchange of views by the clergy. Indeed, except for the leading figures, rabbis and ministers scarcely know one another. On the lay level, however, the staffs of the Church Federation, the over-all Protestant group, and the Jewish Community Federation consult frequently and are part of an over-all clearing house in intergroup relations that meets monthly and involves all agencies in the community except the Roman Catholic ones. The women’s organizations have a forum involving official representation from all three groups, but they are constantly bedeviled in program planning by the problem of addressing themselves to questions that are within the scope of all. A recent institute on housing, originally sponsored jointly by the Protestant, Jewish, and Catholic women’s organizations, led to the somewhat embarrassed withdrawal of the last group on instructions of church officials who felt that matters of faith might somehow be injected into the programs. A subsequent program on religious music of the various faiths was “unsponsored” by the Orthodox Jewish women as well as by the Catholic group.
Vital interreligious relations seem to result least out of directly religious concerns. They would seem to grow if at all from sweating out the numerous problems of daily living housing, education, employment.
What are the formal issues that divide the community religiously? A reading of the religious press would indicate that they are chiefly Sunday closings, the campaign against “indecent” literature and films, and problems of separation of church and state. The most space given to any single local issue during the past two years in the local diocesan paper is the need for some control of the mass media. “Art theaters and condemned movies are spreading like crabgrass in Cleveland,” pronounced the Roman Catholic bishop recently, and it is certainly true that, in an industry which has been generally de- pressed, the art theaters have shown remarkable vitality.
In the summer of 1958 a parish priest in a Catholic neighborhood announced to the general press that he had “lost all patience” with attempts to persuade the owner of an art theater in a Catholic neighborhood to modify his booking policy, and he was therefore instructing his parishioners that they must refuse to attend all movies at the theater until the owner agreed to conform more closely to Roman Catholic standards of decency. Ironically, the week he issued the statement the theater was playing Peter Pan. The boycott announcement led to a lively debate in the general press, but there is no indication that such official pronouncements have had much effect one way or another on the attendance at the offending theater. Although the organized Jewish community has refrained from adopting any position on the boycott issue, there can be no doubt that the fact that almost all the theater owners in question are Jewish injects a religious irritation into the situation.
Ohio was one of the last states to be forced by court decisions to abandon pre-censorship of films. The Roman Catholic diocesan papers of the state have for the past four years led vigorous campaigns in the Legislature to recreate an Ohio Film Censorship Board. Although token support has been given by the Protestant church women, no position of any kind has been adopted by the Jewish group, with the result that the campaign remains almost exclusively Roman Catholic.
Recently, attention shifted to attempts to police literature in drug stores and similar establishments. A Committee for Decent Literature was established on both the local and state level and considerable prominence in the Catholic press is given to any Protestant or Jew who joins the movement or publicly stresses the need to combat “smut and obscenity.” Considerable impatience is displayed with the American Civil Liberties Union or any other organization that raises questions as to the wisdom of censorship or the means by which it can properly be exerted. In general, civil liberties as contrasted with civil rights get little or negative attention in official Roman Catholic organs.
The leadership of campaigns to enforce Sunday closings has primarily been Protestant, with active support from the Catholic community. Unlike New York and many other states, Ohio enjoys full Sabbatarian rights and Jewish store owners in communities that enforce the state’s blue laws are given the option (which sometimes is an advantage) of closing Saturday or Sunday. Partly for this reason and partly because of the sensitivity of the issue, the Jewish leaders of the state, in- cluding Cleveland, have chosen not to participate in the campaigns for (or against) enforced Sabbath closings of business, although in principle their position is opposed to that of Catholics and Protestants. On these two issues censorship and Sunday closings Jews officially tend to be on the sidelines about as completely as the Catholics are when civil rights are involved, with this difference: Jewish leaders feel strongly they should be in the battle opposing censorship and Sunday closings, but are often not prepared to pay the price of opposition. Catholics feel mildly they should be in the battle for civil rights but usually are not sufficiently interested to enlist with enthusiasm in the various campaigns.
The real drive behind recent activities aimed at enforcing the state law on Sunday closings that has for years been unobserved is, however, economic rather than religious. More and more places of business, particularly in the suburban areas, have opened on Sunday and have begun to cut seriously into the business of the large downtown stores. In retaliation, an organization has been formed called “Sunday, Inc.,” which is an unusual combination of business and religious leadership. Its president has stated, “We have not approached this problem on religious lines. We have as our common bond a desire to keep merchants from doing unnecessary business on Sunday. The laws are on the books.” But the same article announces the officers of the organization: a number of key businessmen, the executive director of the Cleveland Church Federation “representing Protestants,” a leading Catholic official “representing Catholics,” and a Jewish businessman “representing Jews.” Here again almost all of the “offending” merchants are Jewish. Religious tension sometimes results, but as in the case of the art theaters, there would seem to be relatively little mass support by their constituencies of the official stands taken by the authoritative Christian groups, if one is to judge from the volume of Sunday sales in many neighborhoods that are certainly not Jewish.
Problems of church-state relationships occur most frequently in the public schools. This is an issue that strikes home. Every Christmas season the irritations break out with renewed vigor in Jewish neighborhoods.
On the one hand there is the organized Jewish community, committed to the separation of church and state, determined to resist tactfully butfirmly the annual Christological invasion of the schools. On the other hand, there are the Christian parents, some seeking to “put Christ back into Christmas,” others outraged that there should be resistance to “the perfectly beautiful celebration our children always enjoyed so much until. . . .” Still others warn of the terrible and certain dangers of juvenile delinquency and even Communism “if religion is banished from the classroom.”
Some liberal Christians are firm separationists and others plead the case for using the season for joint understanding. To complicate matters further, there are many Jewish parents who cheer every introduction of Chanuko despite the stern warnings of Jewish leaders. In a mixed suburban school, a teacher’s lot is not a happy one in December; many dread facing the annual problem of just what they are supposed to do anyway. In one overwhelmingly Jewish school, a parent violently objected to her son’s bringing home a red-striped candy cane because it was a religious symbol while another parent gathered money to buy the school an electric menorah!
Separation in general seems to be a fluid concept capable of a variety of meanings sometimes strangely contradictory. At a conference in the Church Federation office, a brochure was prominently displayed stressing the need to preserve separation of church and state by actively campaigning against an ambassador to the Vatican. The conference itself was devoted to the desire of the Church Federation office to conduct a religious census of school children under public school auspices. In one case separation was proper and “good”; in the other it was irrelevant and “bad.”
A Roman Catholic official vigorously denounced separation as a “shibboleth” when Christian celebrations in the public schools were being opposed on that basis; but when a Methodist minister told Protestant students at a high school that they had no obligation to keep a promise to raise children as Catholic if they intermarried, he commented, “Considering separation of church and state, is it proper for a minister to go into a public school even to conduct a counseling course?” The YMCA holds a position of official status in many public high schools, and at least one priest has forbidden his parishioners to join the Y, since it is a means of spreading the Protestant position.
Jewish community organizations, unlike some Jewish parents, have consistently adhered to a strict separationist policy. As a result, school superintendents in the suburbs with significant Jewish enrollments have, ia recent years, become sensitive to problems of Bible reading, prayers, grace before meals, and scheduling of school events on religious holidays. The rapid turnover of faculty in the elementary schools, and the need during the desperate shortage to import teachers from small communities where religion is accepted as an unquestioned part of the curriculum have, however, led to repeated classroom intrusions of religion despite official attitudes of the administration. One superintendent raised the interesting question as to whether the school calendar, which is obviously designed to accommodate Christian holidays, ought not to be revised to avoid conflict with Jewish observances since the community has become primarily Jewish. Although Jewish parents and the community insist upon the right of children to observe religious holidays, they avoid carefully any suggestion of tailoring school calendars or procedures along “Jewish” lines.
All these issues, however, paled in 1961 in compareson to the struggle over federal aid to parochial schools. Here is a real “bread and butter” issue that the local Catholic diocese has begun to feature far more than any other. The Protestant church for once was united; every spokesman has vigorously opposed such aid. A number of Orthodox rabbis for the first time broke the solid Jewish “separation front” by endorsing government aid, but the Federation overwhelmingly repeated its traditional support of the separation principle. There can be little doubt that this will for years to come constitute the most controversial of interreligious issues.
Problems which in other cities seem to raise interreligious blood pressures, have made little impact in Cleveland. Warm expressions of sympathy for Israel from the Christian clergy are not too frequent, for example, but on the other hand there is an almost complete absence of hostile comment, even when the Middle East situation is tense. Occasionally, newspaper stories will feature disputes arising out of adoptions across religious lines, but at no time has any real controversy developed. The general bland attitude toward issues in this area may well be a reflection of a certain absence of emotion connected with issues in general. Civic problems, war and peace, recession and recovery, are often conversation pieces, but rarely lead to stirring debate. Even the attitude toward the local baseball team is remarkably low pressured in recent years!
Considerably greater emotional involvement is seen when the issues touch home directly, rather than being concerned with philosophical differences. Almost any Jewish institution seeking to build for the first time in a new suburb is likely to encounter resistance. Twice in the past decade, cases involving the right of synagogues to build in suburban areas had to be carried to the Ohio Supreme Court.
One of the cases had an ironic ending. For years, counsel for the suburb fought through three courts with unprecedented tenacity to prevent the building of a synagogue. Despite all sorts of guarantees and assurances, it was alleged that the town would suffer from increased traffic problems, difficulties in providing services, and other similar situations. But the temple was hardly completed when the city fathers, faced by a desperate shortage of public school facilities, requested (and were granted) space in the new synagogue’s school until a new public school could be built.
Religious exclusions practiced in a number of the suburbs by the company that developed the area were broken in the mid-fifties only after a bitter campaign and threats of taxpayer suits that would have depressed land values considerably. One suburb enforces a complicated 25 per cent quota on Jews, and the northern section of a suburb that is half- Jewish has developed a neighborhood compact that has succeeded so far in keeping out all but a single Jew. One community was almost torn apart by a campaign for a second high school, which many contended was motivated primarily by the desire of the northern half of the community (strongly Christian) to have “their” school, while resigning the original high school to the southern, “Jewish” section. In another suburb, an election was held on the question of dividing into two villages, one overwhelmingly Christian, the other just as strongly Jewish. Both efforts failed but only after bitter campaigns. Permission to build a Jewish community center in a suburb was secured only after a long struggle, although a Lutheran high school was approved far more easily on an adjoining parcel of land.
In each of these cases there were more factors involved than religious differences. But no one who attended the various meetings of zoning commissions, city and village councils, or neighborhood town halls could escape the conclusion that, although problems of zoning and traffic and taxes were involved, religious hostility or unfriendliness were also powerful determinants of attitudes. Few situations present “clean” examples of bigotry; there is almost always a complicated intermingling of economic, sociological, psychological, and religious interests.
Sometimes, hostile attitudes are expressed crudely and in the unmistakable accents of the bigot, as in the case of the man who wrote in explanation of why neighborhoods run down: “In the first instance the Negro follows the Jew in housing; no Jews, no Negroes to follow. . . . The Jew is too greedy when it comes to the almighty dollar. You will think this man is prejudiced and biased who is writing this letter, but I am not! These are the facts; it is food for thought.”
Much more significant and typical, perhaps, is the attitude revealed in a tribute in the Roman Catholic diocesan paper to a converted Jew who had just died. “Dad always saw to it that we children did not miss mass on Sunday,” the daughter proudly writes. “If we were reluctant, Dad would threaten, ‘All right, then, we will go to temple.’ You never saw children hurry to church as we did.” That homely vignette reveals an attitude that may well be just beneath the surface of much of the “tolerance” that is so wide-spread.
Sometimes neighborhoods change so completely as to create religious problems where there is no bigotry at all. One worried Christian mother, whose daughter attended a junior high school that is overwhelmingly Jewish, described in a thoroughly rational and unpunishing manner how her child was treated with perfect fairness and friendship during school hours, but was increasingly excluded from the social contacts that were becoming important to her. The family subsequently and regretfully moved from the neighborhood since dating possibilities had become virtually impossible for the daughter!
Despite the occasional highly dramatic cases where Jews have achieved top leadership in various civic roles, the community as a whole is, in a quiet and undramatic fashion, divided along religious lines. Cleveland has an FEPC, but evidence indicates that perhaps one out of every four job orders filed with private employment agencies is discriminatory against Jews. Perhaps equally significant is the increasing self-segregation in employment. A leading utility in Cleveland, which had been closed to Jews for years, changed its policy and freely accepted Jewish clerical help. The local Jewish Vocational Service soon found itself encountering substantial difficulties in filling job orders, because the girls wanted to work in places “where they could meet Jewish fellows”!
Any observation that social life in Cleveland tends to follow rather closely along religious lines is often greeted with indignant instancing of various parties and gatherings of Jews and non-Jews. Nevertheless, these are overwhelmingly the exception and the so-called “5 o’clock shadow” is clearly visible in the community’s social life. Jews socialize for the most part with Jews; Catholics with Catholics; Protestants with Protestants.
In 1958 the executives of two well-established women’s civic organizations requested help in increasing Jewish participation in their work. The fact that these organizations contained few Jews could not be ascribed to discrimination; both have been eager for some time to expand their Jewish membership. Why, they asked, do Jewish women join so enthusiastically in the work of Hadassah, Council of Jewish Women, Sisterhoods, the Welfare Fund Appeal, and many other Jewish organizations, but are often so hard to interest in non-secta- rian groups? Surely Jewish women are civic minded; surely they have much to contribute.
An easy and truthful answer would be that opportunities for advancement to top leadership are best in one’s “own” organization. But like most easy answers, that explanation is only part of the truth. Over and over again, leaders of Jewish organizations described their impatience as they sat at meetings of a number of non-sectarian organizations, where the issues being discussed were “piddling” a budget item of a few dollars or a minor, unexciting program detail. The really successful Jewish organizations, they claim, present far bolder challenges. What is to be avoided at all costs is dullness. And, they conclude, those non-sectarian organizations that are truly not perfunctorily open to all women and that grapple with basic community needs do attract Jewish women. Unspoken is what may well be the most important factor: Jewish women in Cleveland are more comfortable with Jewish women. But in any case, the fact remains unchallengeably true that the overwhelming majority of Jewish (or, for that matter, Catholic and Protestant) women are “club ladies” within their own religious groups.
Although the world of business necessarily involves more contact across religious lines, it is nevertheless true that the husbands, too, eat lunch (when there is no business appointment), play golf, and attend committee meetings most frequently with men who are of the same religious faith. If they are Jewish, they are very likely to have a Jewish insurance man, a Jewish lawyer, a Jewish doctor except in the case of specialists. And, with variations, the same generalizations could be made about the other religious groups.
In summary, then, interreligious relationships in Cleveland might be characterized by the following generalizations:
1. Little overt conflict exists, and there is a pervasive atmosphere of avoiding tension situations. As a result, there is little “dialogue” among the religious groups, and the price of relatively little conflict is relatively shallow interreligious contacts. Blandness is the key everywhere.
2. Close interreligious cooperation, where it exists, is rarely on specifically religious projects. It is more likely to occur on civic, philanthropic, and business levels.
3. The Roman Catholic community is the most isolated of the three major faith groups. The Archbishop explains the withdrawal: “Our inferiority complex reveals itself even today in the tendency to isolate ourselves from the community as a whole.” There is only now, with the beginning of an interreligious dialogue, faint stirring toward increasing participation. These efforts are sparked by Catholic laymen.
4. Each religious group has issues in which it is primarily interested: the Catholic priority is increased policing of the mass media and gaining support for their schools; the Protestant, changing neighborhoods; the Jewish, church-state relationships. Closest cooperation exists, particularly between liberal Protestants and Jews, in the area of civil rights.
5. Almost all areas of daily living reflect an increasing sifting down into religious compartments. Churches and synagogues have become more central institutions; schools, housing, and social satisfactions are likely to follow religious lines. Even employment and (to a lesser degree) business patterns have increasingly an element of religious self- segregation. Weekly ads in the diocesan paper seem to symbolize the strange ways of this apartness: “Low cost hospitalization,” it emphasizes in large headlines, “available only to Ohio Catholics.”
6. The white population of all three religious groups is becoming increasingly suburban. Despite the growth of religious institutions and the separateness that has been described, religious issues and values seem to count less than the absorbing interest in material satisfactions that characterize all three groups. The “things” of suburban living outweigh religious values or differentiation.
Is Cleveland, then, the best location in the nation? If the negative test of absence of conflict is applied, the boast can be very largely madegood. But if the aim is a culturally diverse community where creative living of cultural groups is balanced by full and easy communication across religious lines, Cleveland, like most cities, still has a long road to travel.