By Austin Reid
Sketch of Ohev Israel Temple circa 1953
Photo printed in the November 7, 1953, Newark Advocate
Newark’s history as a municipality can be traced to 1802 when a group led by General William Schenck founded a settlement near the Licking River. During the village’s first few decades, several churches were established representing various denominations. Included among these were congregations affiliated with the African Methodist Episcopal, Baptist, Methodist, and Presbyterian sects. In 1844, Newark’s first Catholic church, St. Francis de Sales was completed. After Newark was connected to the Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Chicago, and St. Louis Railroad in 1855, the town’s population increased significantly. Included among these newer residents were immigrants from Central Europe. The first explicit reference to Jews living in Newark, however, does not present itself until the late 1870s. In 1878, The American Israelite, a Jewish newspaper out of Cincinnati published a story about a Presbyterian minister who officiated at the funeral of an infant born into a Jewish family. The Christian minister was called upon by the bereaved family because no rabbi was available to conduct the service.
A closer examination of the Israelite’s archives hints at who Newark’s earliest Jewish residents may have been and suggests that a Jewish presence in Licking County began over two decades earlier. In 1855, a Newark resident named Jacob Wolf submitted a letter to the Israelite that spoke about his involvement with the First Zion Collegiate Association, an organization created to establish a Jewish theological school in the United States. Mr. Wolf’s involvement with such an organization likely points to him being a Jew. While few local references to Wolf survive, it is known that he was also involved with artistic efforts in Licking County. In 1857, Joseph Miller was listed as a subscriber to The Israelite, but this is not enough evidence to say with certainty that Joseph was Jewish. An immigrant from Central Europe named Joseph Miller is, however, listed in the 1850 United States Federal Census as a merchant in Newark. Ten years later, on November 08, 1867, The Israelite ran the obituary of Max Friedman, an immigrant from Bavaria, who lived in Newark for a time and died in New Orleans during a yellow fever outbreak. In 1863, a man named Max Friedman is known to have registered for the Civil War draft in Newark. These fragmentary records are collectively the earliest evidence of Jews living in Newark.
Licking County’s First Jewish Families
By the early 1880s, the names of specific local Jewish families begin to emerge, though it would still be another twenty years before the first Jewish organization was created in Licking County. In February 1883, The American Israelite reported that Charlotte Bloomberg, an 1882 graduate of Newark High School, married Louis Elbinger, a resident of Kenton, Ohio. Charlotte’s father was likely H. A. Bloomberg, a clothing merchant. While Bloomberg left Newark for Columbus in 1883, he came back to Licking County in 1904 to open the H. A. Bloomberg Company on South 3rd Street. This later store, however, closed in 1906 and H. A. Bloomberg again relocated. Another early Jewish family in Newark was the Altshools. Daniel Altshool arrived in Licking County in 1884 and made his living as a liquor salesman. By 1902, Daniel opened a wholesale wine and liquor store on 28 South Third. In 1890, Daniel wed Bertha Huttenbauer, at a wedding officiated by the famed Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise of Cincinnati. The couple had at least one child, a daughter named Hazel. In 1919, the family left Newark for Cincinnati.
Two other early Jewish families in Licking County were Frad and Kramer. Fanny and Nathan Frad lived in Granville by 1884 and, like the Altshools, they supported themselves through a liquor business. The family experienced a setback, however, in 1886 when their saloon, which was named the Blue Goose, was destroyed by a fire. Fanny and Nathan’s business was also hindered by local temperance activism, which was strong among elements of the community. In 1886 Nathan and Fanny, whose name is also spelled Fannie in some sources, were arrested on charges of helping to operate an illegal saloon in the village of Alexandria. The Frads maintained their innocence and had their primary accusers arrested for perjury and intimidation. A little over a year later, Nathan was tried for selling alcohol in Granville in defiance of a village ordinance. The case was dismissed, however, because the village failed to provide adequate jurors. Two years later in 1889, Nathan Frad was arrested on charges of selling liquor on Sunday. This case also seems to have been dismissed. By 1890, Fanny and Nathan relocated to Newark with their six children, Anna, Harry, Hattie, Jesse, Lena, and William. It is possible that this move was done because of the difficult climate the Frads found themselves in while living in Granville. Fanny and Nathan were the subjects of several other court cases not referenced above during their time in Granville.
Once in Newark, the Frads opened a new bar. The couple also had two additional children, Florence and Samuel, while living in Newark. Of their eight children, at least three, Harry, Jesse, and Samuel, would be involved in operating saloons for part of their working lives. The Kramer family did not experience such controversy while living in Licking County. Charles and Martha Kramer were, like the Frads, immigrants from Europe. While the family lived in Newark by 1880, it seems that by 1883 the household relocated to Cleveland, where one of their children, Samuel, would later become a judge. While in Licking County, Charles made a living selling dry goods. A sister of Martha, Dora Samuls, also lived with the family for a time while they were in Newark.
By the mid to late 1880s, additional Jewish families were finding their way to Licking County. These families included Esther and Louis Frankel, Bertha and Levi Hirschberg, Amelie and Moses Nye, and Michael and Toba Schonberg. Esther and Louis, who were both immigrants from Europe, arrived in Newark around 1890. Like many Jewish immigrants at the time, Louis supported himself by recycling scrap metals and other industrial products. For a time he was associated with Michael Schonberg in a scrap metal business known as Frankel & Schonberg. By 1903, however, the couple relocated to Rochester, New York, with their children, Frieda and Rose. Bertha and Levi Hirschberg moved to Newark in 1880 or 1888 from Cambridge, Ohio. Once established in Newark, Levi opened the Great Western Clothing House, which he would operate until retiring in 1919. An employee of Levi, George Pfeffer, then took over the business which would continue for at least another 19 years. During Levi’s time as head of the Great Western, chains of the business would be established in several locations across Central Ohio. Aside from his business pursuits, Levi was also an active member of the Masons and Odd Fellows and he seems to have been regarded as a popular figure around Licking County. For example, in 1912, the Newark Advocate wrote, “Mr. Hirschberg and his most interesting family hold a high place in the hearts of the people residing in this community.”
Like Levi Hirschberg, Moses Nye worked at the Great Western clothing store. The Nye family lived in Zanesville for 11 years before coming to Newark in 1883. Moses, however, would come to be defined not through his work in clothing retail, but as a Christian preacher. In 1889, Moses, who seems to have had some type of mental illness, was taken to an asylum in Columbus. Moses later reported that during his stay he came upon a copy of the New Testament and was inspired by its contents. Eventually, in 1893, he converted to Christianity. After his conversion, Moses went into the ministry and spoke to various congregations across Ohio about his faith experiences. It seems, however, that Moses was often a controversial figure and questions remain as to the condition of his mental health. Three years earlier, in 1890, it was reported in the Newark Advocate that Moses was adjudged insane. The paper went on to say:
We are very sorry to state that Mr. Moses Nye, the well known clothier, has had a recurrence of insanity in a very violent form. Mr. Nye has been troubled for the past week, but as it was thought to be only a temporary attack, no mention was made of it. This afternoon he grew rapidly worse and a warrant was placed in the hands of Deputy Sheriff G. Horton who arrested and took him before Judge Rees, where he was adjudged insane. On the way to the county jail, Mr. Nye attracted a great deal of notice by his religious speeches and it required two officers with handcuffs to manage him. It is hoped that Mr. Nye will soon recover from this distressing affliction.
In 1894, Moses was again taken to an asylum in Columbus and three years later, in 1897, Amelie filed for divorce. In her suit, Amelie charged that Moses had abandoned his family and incurred significant costs to them through his traveling ministry. The next year, Moses remarried Birdie Clemens of Findley, Ohio, and in 1901 he sold all of his remaining interests in the Great Western clothing store to begin full-time ministry efforts in Columbus. This work included sending proselytizing letters to the editors of Jewish newspapers such as The American Israelite.
Moses’ ministry work was marked by controversy, and on more than one occasion he was expelled from Christian congregations. In 1899 he was expelled from an Adventist congregation in Columbus as a result of his speeches. In 1902 he was arrested in Toledo for contempt of court. Finally, in 1904 it was reported that Moses was nearly mobbed by a congregation in Springfield, Ohio after he delivered remarks that were critical of the Masons. Amelie and Moses had three daughters, Carolyn, Ella, and Lillian. All three moved away from Licking County following their marriages.
After arriving in Newark from Cleveland in 1889, Michael and Toba Schonberg put down roots for what would become one of Licking County’s largest Jewish families. The Schonberg family would also play a key role in the establishment of the Ohev Israel synagogue in Newark in 1907. Michael was born in Saxony, and he came to the United States in 1882 at the age of 19. Toba Frankel, who was likely a relative of Esther and Louis Frankel, was born in Austria-Hungary and she married Michael in 1883 while living in Cleveland. The couple had a large family of at least seven children. As mentioned previously, Louis Frankel was in business with Michael for a time, but by 1903 Michael managed the scrap metal yard alone under the name Schonberg Scrap Iron Company. After the couple’s children grew up, at least three, Fred, Julius, and Saul worked with their father for part of their adult lives. During this time, the Schonberg Scrap Iron Company on West Railroad Street was renamed M. Schonberg & Sons.
Michael and Toba also had four daughters Bertha, Mollie, Rose, and Sadie. Each would eventually move away from Newark. Bertha, who moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico, in 1946 with her husband, Arthur Weisman, remained in town continuously for the longest period. Mollie, however, came back to Newark in 1939 from Zanesville, with her husband, Louis Regen, after Louis opened a new clothing store, the Style Shop. This store was located along South Park Place. Aside from working and helping to raise a large family, Michael was active with a variety of Jewish and secular organizations. These organizations included the Chamber of Commerce, Elks, and two Jewish fraternal societies, B’rith Abraham and B’nai B’rith. During his time with the Elks, Michael served the organization as chaplain. As more Jews came to Newark, their presence in local civic and social organizations would continue to grow.
Jewish Life in Newark in the Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries
The closing decade of the nineteenth century saw a few additional Jewish residents settle in Newark. These households included the surnames Glick, Plaine, Rattenburg, and Schiff. Abraham Glick was the manager of the Rochester Clothing Company from around 1899 to 1909. In 1900, Abraham ran into a bit of legal trouble when he was charged with conducting business on Sunday. Similar Blue laws existed throughout the United States during the twentieth century, and they frequently presented a challenge for Jewish entrepreneurs. This was particularly true for Jews in business who wished to observe the Jewish Sabbath, which falls from sunset on Friday to sunset on Saturday. Observant Jews living in areas with Blue laws would sometimes be compelled to close their shops two days out of the week. In some municipalities, however, Blue laws were amended to allow shops to be closed on either Saturday or Sunday, and in other areas, Blue laws were inconsistently enforced. These sorts of legal considerations helped to push many contemporary Jews living in the United States during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century into professions with more flexibility in scheduling, such as scrap yard operators. Additionally, scrap yards could be opened with little startup cash, and entrants to the industry did not face as much competition from native-born Americans, who were often preferred as employees to immigrants.
Philip and Rosa Plaine, however, were able to create another successful and long-term clothing company in Newark. Both husband and wife were immigrants from the Russian Empire who arrived in Newark in 1898. This same year, Plaine’s Clothing Store was established at the corner of Cedar and East Main Street. The business relocated to 8 South 2nd Street in 1925 and remained in operation through 1968. Plaine’s, however, would not be the longest-running business in Licking County to be founded by a Jewish immigrant. This honor goes to the Cornell Clothing Company, an ongoing business in Newark as of 2021, which was founded in 1898 by Arthur Weisman, who has already been mentioned previously as the husband of Bertha Schonberg.
Arthur, who was known around town as Art, was an immigrant from Eastern Europe and a member of the Chamber of Commerce, Knights of Pythias, and Masons. He was also an early leader at the Ohev Israel congregation, where he served as secretary. According to a 2007 article in the Newark Advocate, originally, the Cornell Clothing Company was located along West Main Street. Interestingly, however, no reference to the store can be found in the city directories for Newark that were published during the first decade of the 1900s. In 1910, the Cornell Clothing Company relocated to 29 South Place and it remained in this location until 1941 when the store moved to 24 North Park Place. The business remains in this location as of 2021. Art continued to manage the Cornell Store into the early 1940s. In 1946, however, Art relocated to Albuquerque with Bertha due to his poor health, and the store was sold to a new owner, Edgar Pierce.
Like the Glick, Plaine, and Weisman families, the Rattenburgs and Schiffs were also involved in clothing retail. The prominence of Jews in local clothing retail was part of a larger national pattern that was a product of the timing of the sector’s development and Jewish immigration to the United States. Clothing retail developed on a large scale due to the invention of steam-powered looms and other machinery that allowed for the rapid production of clothing. This industry began to grow in the United States by the mid-1800s just as a wave of Jewish immigration from Central Europe was entering the country. Faced with limited job prospects, Jews found work in the burgeoning clothing manufacturing and retail sectors and their descendants continued to play key roles in the area. Samuel Rattenburg, who was the brother-in-law of Philip Plaine, worked at Plaine’s by 1900. Later, around 1905, it seems Samuel went into business for himself when a Rattenburg’s Department Store was established at 390 West Main. In some sources, this business is also called Rattenburgh Shoe Store. By 1940, the business relocated to Utica, on the border of Knox and Licking counties. Adolph and Hannah Schiff established a clothing store known as The Fair by 1904. In 1915, this business was located on North 2nd Street. Both Adolph and Hannah were active members of the Newark community. Adolph was a leader in Rotary, and he served as the organization’s president for a time. In 1918, he served on a committee to plan public celebrations in Newark to mark the end of World War I. Hannah was involved with numerous charitable organizations in Newark including the Hospital Service Association of Licking County, Jewish Ladies’ Aid Society, Salvation Army, and Women’s Community League. She was also active in the Licking County Garden Club and Mother’s Association of Ohio State University.
In 1907, members of the Jewish community in Licking County began to meet regularly to organize religious services. The first Jewish services in Newark were organized in October, shortly after Yom Kippur. It is likely, however, that sporadic communal gatherings on Jewish holidays were organized as early as the late 1890s. The nascent religious group called itself Ohev Israel, which can be translated as love of Israel, and its members first met in a room rented at the YMCA, which was located at the corner of Hudson Avenue and Church Street. In its early years, the Ohev Israel congregation also rented space above the Grand Theater located at 31 South Park Place. Services organized by the congregation were originally conducted according to Orthodox Jewish customs. Michael Schonberg served as the first president of Ohev Israel and services were facilitated by lay leaders. Other early members of the congregation included Harry and Rose Horwitz, Meyer Levin, Jacob and Sadie Lichtenstein, Philip and Rosa Plaine, Bessie and Samuel Rattenburg, and Arthur and Bertha Weisman.
Harry Horwitz, who would eventually become one of Ohev Israel’s oldest members, arrived in Newark in 1915 to open a scrap metal yard with his brother Samuel. Tragedy soon struck the brothers, however, when Samuel died of pneumonia in 1916. A wife and five children were left. Horwitz Brothers was renamed Newark Auto Wrecking and the business remained on South 5th until 1958. Meyer Levin and Jacob Lichtenstein were both involved in selling food products. Meyer, who arrived in Newark in 1911, would establish Levin’s Grocery in 1920 at 100 North 11th Street. Jacob arrived in Newark in 1906 and shortly thereafter he created the Lichtenstein Fruit Company, which for many years would be located at 34 West Church Street. Both Levin’s and the Lichtenstein Fruit Company would remain in business for decades. By 1909 another Jewish organization was established in Newark, the Young People’s Hebrew Association. According to the 1909 Newark City and Licking County Directory, Fred Schonberg served as the organization’s president and Mollie Schonberg was the organization’s secretary. By 1911 the organization was located at 22 South 3rd Street. The organization appears to have continued its activities into the 1930s under the name Young Men’s Hebrew Association. In 1934 the club’s rooms moved to North Park Place. After this date, there are no recorded references to the club.
Several other Jews came to Newark before the entry of the United States into World War I. These individuals include Morris and Samuel Cohen, George Fenberg, Jennie and Samuel Goldenberg, Lee and Rebecca Hamberger, Charles Hirsch, Emil Kohn, Emil Lichtig, Louis Ostrov, Max Sachs, and Samuel Weintraub. Morris and Samuel Cohen, who were brothers from Philadelphia, only lived in Newark for a short time. During their stay in town, they operated The Union, which was a clothing store on West Main Street from around 1912 to 1915. George Fenberg arrived in Newark before 1910 and lived in town on and off until about 1927. During his time in Licking County, George, or Geo as he was known in the community, worked as a manager at the Auditorium Theater. Geo was also an active member of the Chamber of Commerce, Rotary, and he helped to create the local Kiwanis Club in 1918. Jennie and Samuel Goldenberg support their family through Samuel’s work in the junk business, which operated from around 1909 to 1912. Samuel worked with a business partner, Charles Stevens, and possibly with a relative named Morris Goldenberg. The business, however, was not successful, so Morris and Samuel left for Parkersburg, West Virginia, with their families.
Similar to the Goldenbergs, Lee and Rebecca Hamberger only lived in Newark a short time, around 1915 to 1920. During their stay, Lee found work as a bartender. Rebecca is notable as one of the earliest members of the Jewish Ladies’ Aid Society, a charitable group that was founded in 1920. Charles Hirsch and Emil Kohn both worked as businessmen in Newark. Charles Hirsch moved to Newark from Pittsburgh in 1915 to open a clothing store known as Newark Fashion. This business would remain active into the 1960s and Charles would become a noted community leader through his involvement in organizations such as Community Chest, the Newark Better Business Association, and the Retail Merchants Council. Charles was also active in the Ohev Israel congregation and served as honorary chairman for local efforts on behalf of the United Jewish Appeal for over 20 years. Emil Kohn operated the Newark Liquor Company, later called the Newark Liquor Store, from 1907 to 1915 on North Park Place. He then moved to Columbus to begin a new business venture. Emil Lichtig came to Newark to work as an optician, or eyeglass maker, around 1905. This practice, Lichtig Optical Company, would remain until 1908 when it was sold to F. C. Hunt and renamed Hunts’ Optical Parlors. Emil was the first of several Jewish opticians or ophthalmologists in Newark. Shortly after Emil departed town, David Raikin arrived from Cleveland to open an eye care practice. David would go on to work in Newark into the 1950s.
Louis Ostrov also established a long-lasting business presence in Newark. Born in Kyiv, Louis came to the United States around 1900 and by 1906 he had settled in Licking County. He made a living selling shoes and his business came to be known as the Louis Ostrov Shoe Company. In 1917, Louis moved to Akron, but he maintained the store in Newark, which would later be called the Newark Bargain Shoe Store, as part of a chain that eventually grew to at least 87 store locations across several states. Max Sachs and Samuel Weintraub both were involved in the clothing business. Max worked with Arthur Weisman from around 1910 to 1915 at Cornell Clothing Company before moving to Canton. Samuel moved to Newark from Cleveland in 1913 to open a ladies tailoring business. The enterprise remained in town until 1917.
Newark’s Jewish community grew during the early 1900s not only through new arrivals but also the children of the area’s earlier Jewish families who were growing up to create their own households. While Jesse and Samuel Frad left Newark for Chillicothe in 1908, their brothers, Harry and William, remained in town a few years longer to operate the Newark Electric Dye Works. A number of Bertha and Levi’s children remained in Newark after reaching adulthood. While Elsa Hirschberg became a noted opera singer who performed on the stages across the United States and Europe during the 1910s and 1920s, she eventually returned to Newark to work as a vocal instructor into the 1950s. Her sister, Serena Hirschberg also had a career as a singer. Max and Saul Hirschberg were involved in the Great Western clothing chain.
Changes Within Newark Jewry During World War I and the Roaring 20s
On April 6, 1917, Congress voted to declare war on Germany, marking the entry of the United States into World War I. Alongside millions of Americans, Jews and non-Jews in Licking County did their part to support the war effort. At least five local Jews are known to have served. Their names are Harry Horwitz, Joseph Plaine, Louis Plaine, Samuel Plaine, and Saul Schonberg. At around this same time, at least for a few years, the Jewish community in Newark was becoming a more visible presence in town. For example, in 1916, the Newark Advocate, and Newark American Tribune helped to raise money for the Jewish Relief Fund, which aided war refugees in Eastern Europe. Many non-Jews contributed to the fund. By 1919, Ohev Israel was listed alongside other congregations in the Newark city directory. The address for Ohev Israel was given as 4 ½ South 2nd Street. During the 1920s, however, it seems the community became less visible with its activities. Notably, Ohev Israel does not appear to be listed in city directories dating from 1921 to 1929. While the cause for this omission is not certain, the time period does coincide with the rise of the Ku Klux Klan in Licking County.
During the 1920s Licking County was a known center of Klan activity. The presence grew to be significant enough that by 1923, the positions of mayor and municipal judge were filled by Klan supporters. Nearby Buckeye Lake was the site of massive Klan rallies that drew up to half a million attendees from around the United States. In 1925, the mayor of Newark delivered a welcome address to the rally. By 1929, the Klan was visible enough in Newark to be listed as a club in the city directory. Further, according to a 2005 sketch of Ohev Israel provided for the American Jewish Archives in Cincinnati, the activities of the Klan were significant enough that many Jewish families moved closer to the center of Newark to feel more secure. No contemporary source has been found, however, to verify this claim. The Jewish Ladies’ Aid Society did, however, continue its engagement with the wider Newark community by supporting causes such as the Licking County Health Camp and Woman’s Building Fund. In 1922, the organization reported having 21 members. By the 1930s, it seems the power of the Klan in Licking County was on the decline and again, starting in 1931, Ohev Israel was listed in the city directory. By this time, the congregation was located at North Park Place in a room above a Western Union office.
During the late 1910s and 1920s, a few new Jewish families found their way to Newark. These households included Frieda and Joseph Berson, Albert and Sarah Chatiner, Herman and Rae Emerman, and Louis Werlinsky. Frieda and Joseph were involved with the Boston Store, a clothing business located at 809 West Main Street. This store would remain in business until 1943. Frieda was highly active with the Jewish Ladies’ Aid Society and she sometimes represented the chapter at national meetings. Albert and Sarah Chatiner appear to have lived in Newark for only a short time. During their stay, Albert found work as a cigar manufacturer. Herman and Rae Emerman’s family was supported by Herman’s business, the Newark Iron & Metal Company. Louis Werlinsky also found work in the scrap metal recycling business.
Another couple, Bertha and Max Rothstein, are of note due to the impact they had on the Newark community. Shortly after arriving in Newark in 1903, Max opened a grocery called Star Market on West Main Street. By 1930, this grocery grew into a chain called Star Markets with six stores in Newark and one location in both Granville and Mount Vernon. An estimated 50 people were employed by the business at this time. Max and Bertha’s son, Isadore, would follow his father into the grocery business, and, at around 1942, he renamed the chain Super Duper. In 1993, Super Duper changed its name again to Jamboree Foods. Jamboree Foods remained in business until the mid-2000s. Newark’s economic vitality was, however, impacted by the arrival of the Great Depression in 1929, which nationally put millions of Americans out of work. The offices of at least two local employers, the National Cash Register Company and the Standard Malt Company, closed and other businesses put out announcements to reassure residents they were not closing, reflecting the mood of the times. While the economic situation would improve after 1933, the Depression did not truly end until the beginning of World War II.
Developments in the Newark Jewish Community during the 1930s and World War II
In 1937 it was estimated that Ohev Israel had around 60 members. During this time the most active group with the congregation was the Jewish Ladies’ Aid Society. In addition to sponsoring religious education for youths, the organizations hosted social events such as dances and helped to maintain social ties between Newark Jewry and Jewish communities in areas such as Columbus, Mount Vernon, and Zanesville. Interestingly, the Jewish women’s organization in Mount Vernon, which was founded in 1928, was officially a chapter of the Newark Jewish Ladies’ Aid Society during its early years. This relationship resulted from the fact that the organization in Mount Vernon did not have a congregation to attach itself to. In practice, however, the Mount Vernon organization operated largely independently. In 1933, four children, Alice Berson, Frances Lichtenstein, Jean Teder, and Jean Weisman, were confirmed at the Ohev Israel congregation rooms. The officiating rabbi at the service, Philip Jaffa was brought to Newark from the Hebrew Union College (HUC) in Cincinnati. For many decades after, HUC students would continue to provide spiritual support to the Jews of Newark. Jean Teder was a member of one of the newer Jewish families to settle in Licking County. Her parents, Claire and John, arrived in Newark around 1929 when John took up a position at the Columbia Bargain Store, which sold clothing. Other new families in town by 1939 included Herman and Sarah Art, Harold and Esther Cohen, Kay Klineman, Robert Rubin, Freda and William Rivitz, and Arthur and Jeanne Tronstein.
Herman and Sarah Art arrived in Newark around 1936 to open Art’s Jewelry store, which was located at 20 North Park Place. This business would remain in operation until at least 1973. Harold Cohen came to Newark by 1939 to take a position with the advertising department at the Newark Advocate. He married Esther by 1946 and the couple moved to Columbus by 1953. During his time in Newark, Harold helped to form a theatrical group known as the Community Arts Players. Kay Klineman, Freda Rivitz, and her husband, William moved to Newark in 1936 after Kay and William took ownership of the King’s Department Store. Before the sale, the store was owned by the Marshall Fields Company out of Chicago. King’s existed by 1929 under the full name King’s Dry Goods Company. This store was the successor of an earlier dry goods business, Meyer & Lindorf. King’s would remain active in Newark until at least the mid-1970s. The store encountered several challenges during its history, however, including fires on site in 1951, 1963, and 1966. The 1966 fire led to the business declaring bankruptcy, but the firm was able to reconstitute itself. Robert Rubin arrived in Newark by 1937 to work as an advertising manager at King’s. He was married to Florence, who was a relative of Kay Klineman. By 1943, Kay had married Dorothy Davis, who would also help to run the King’s store.
Arthur and Jeanne Tronstein settled in Newark by 1937 after Arthur began to practice dermatology locally. This practice continued until 1980 when Arthur retired. Both Arthur and Jeanne were highly active in the Newark community. Arthur was a member of the Licking County Medical Society and he was active with organizations that supported disadvantaged youths. Additionally, for a time he represented Ohev Israel on the Licking County Ministerial Association. Jeanne was active with the Licking County Council for Retarded Children and the Women’s Auxiliary to the Licking County Medical Society. She also volunteered with Newark Hospital Twigs and the Jewish Ladies’ Aid Society. In 1939 another Jewish communal organization was created in Licking County. This organization was known as the Coordinating Council, and it functioned similarly to Jewish federations in larger cities. The council appears to have only been active between 1939 and 1949. Among the events sponsored by the organization was a Purim dance in March 1940 which drew attendees from other nearby Jewish communities including Columbus. Representatives were sent to the council from the Jewish Ladies’ Aid Society, Ohev Israel, and the Newark Junior Congregation, which appears to have been a Jewish youth group sponsored by Ohev Israel. Individuals who were active on the Council included Harold Cohen, Charles Hirsch, Meyer Levin, Sara Plaine, William Rivitz, and James Schiff. 1939 also marked what was possibly the first known effort to build a synagogue in Newark. Since its inception, Ohev Israel utilized rented spaces, and never in its history did Newark have a purpose-built synagogue. In 1939, however, the Ohev Israel board of trustees purchased property on Fourth street. Efforts appear to have stopped here, however, and it would be another 11 years before a synagogue would be created in Newark.
On December 7, 1941, the United States was attacked by the Empire of Japan at Pearl Harbor. Soon millions of Americans would enlist in the armed forces. At least seven local Jews are known to have served. Their names are William Berson, Harold Cohen, Herbert Kriegshaber, Leopold Lichtenstein, Marian Rothstein, Richard Schiff, and Emil Schonberg. Emil, who served in the Pacific, was awarded the Purple Heart. Marian was a lieutenant in the Army Nurse Corps On the homefront Jews also made a noted contribution. For example, Charles Hirsch served on the local War Savings Committee and the members of the Jewish Ladies’ Aid Society helped to sell war bonds. Herbert Kriegshaber was a recent arrival in Newark along with his brother, Edward. The brothers came to Newark in 1938 to open the Green Bay Fur Company, which would remain in business until the mid-1970s. After the end of World War II, additional Jewish families found their way to Newark. It is estimated that the community peaked in numbers during the 1960s and 1970s.
The Dedication of Ohev Israel and the Peak Years of Newark’s Jewish Community
The post-war years brought additional growth within Newark’s Jewish community. In 1946, a local B’nai B’rith lodge was established with the help of the Zion Lodge out of Columbus. This fraternal organization sponsored charitable and social events and was active into the 1960s. One example of these events was an annual Newark B’nai B’rith Good Citizenship Award which was awarded to one graduating senior at Newark High School. In 1947 the Newark Lodge 1661 had 36 members. Over the years lodge presidents would include Edward Kriegshaber, Herbert Kriegshaber, Anthony Regen, Emil Schonberg, Samuel Shapiro, and Arthur Symons. Samuel and Arthur were both recent arrivals in Newark who came after World War II. Samuel Shapiro, who was a lieutenant during World War II, moved to Newark from Wooster after his marriage to Frances Levin. Frances was the daughter of Meyer and Mollie, owners of Levin’s Grocery. Arthur Symons moved to Newark around 1948 with his brother, Robert, and wife, Florence. Once settled in Newark, the two brothers opened Symons Best Jewelry on North 3rd Street. This store remained in business for decades.
In 1950, Newark’s Jewish community was sufficiently organized to begin building what would be the city’s first synagogue at the corner of Woods Avenue and Selby Street. The groundbreaking ceremony took place on April 3, 1950. A highlight of the service was an address delivered by Rabbi Jerome Folkman of Temple Israel in Columbus. At the time, Herman Art was president of the congregation, and 23 to 25 families were members. Non-Jews also contributed to the congregation’s building fund. On September 4, 1950, Labor Day, the new synagogue was dedicated. Its address would be 320 Woods Avenue. A key supporter of the synagogue’s construction was Leo Yassenoff of Columbus, a noted leader in the Central Ohio Jewish community. Yassenoff’s construction company, F. and Y. Building Services, also designed and built the new synagogue. Rabbi Samuel Rubenstein of Agudas Achim in Columbus officiated at the dedication service. After the construction of the synagogue, the members of Ohev Israel elected to affiliate themselves with the Conservative movement of Judaism. This movement is often described as a middle ground between Orthodox and Reform Judaism. It should be noted, however, that Ohev Israel continued to secure student rabbis for the congregation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, which was the leading Reform theological school. Stanley Chyet was the first student rabbi to officiate at the new synagogue when he came to Newark in 1954. At this time, services were held every Friday and on Jewish holidays. Chyet, who would later become a noted scholar of American Jewish history, visited every two weeks to lead services and teach the congregation’s religious school on both Saturday and Sunday.
In addition to organizing services for the Jewish community, the members of Ohev Israel also participated in interfaith programs in Newark including Fellowship Day. This annual event was a collaborative effort by the religious institutions in Newark intended to allow members of different congregations to get to know one another and better understand various religious traditions. Despite efforts to promote religious tolerance in Newark, it should be noted that antisemitic prejudice continued to have a presence locally. For example, as of 1958, it was reported that Jews were not permitted to join the local county club. Events focusing on addressing local instances of racism and antisemitism were organized into the 1960s. Jewish women played an important role in these events and in the congregational life of Ohev Israel. Around 1952, the Jewish Ladies’ Aid Society was renamed the Ohev Israel Sisterhood. Its members continued to support the religious education of youths at the congregation and they organized visits to Newark by notable speakers. The Sisterhood also sponsored annual events such as a communal break-the-fast meal at the end of Yom Kippur and conducted fundraisers for the congregation. These fundraisers included bake sales, card parties, and yard sales. Additionally, members also volunteered with organizations such as the Newark Hospital and Red Cross.
In 1958, Ohev Israel celebrated its fiftieth anniversary at a dinner organized at the Granville Inn. Fifty people, including guests from outside Licking County, attended the event. Rabbi Rubenstein of Columbus again delivered an address to the community.  At the time, Anthony Regen, the son of Louis and Mollie, served as president of Ohev Israel. By 1960, around 30 families were members of the congregation. Newer Jewish residents in town included Elsie and Joseph Bachman, Helen and Walter Deutsch, Nathan Groban, Jerry and Selma Markowitz, Barbara and Charles Maslekoff, Earl and Marjorie Sharff, and Fred Wollins. Elsie and Joseph Bachman moved to Newark from Cleveland around 1945 after Joseph opened a branch of the Arcade Drug Store. Arcade was part of a larger chain of pharmacies incorporated in 1945. During his 13 years as a resident of Newark, Joseph was active in the Druggists Association of Licking County, including serving the organization as president, and he was a member of B’nai B’rith, the Chamber of Commerce, Elks, Masons, and Newark Exchange Club.
Like Joseph Bachman, Helen and Walter Deutsch were also involved with the Arcade pharmacy. The couple moved to Newark in 1950 to work with the local store, Helen was the president and director of Arcade Drugs. Additionally, she was active with the Newark Business and Professional Women’s Club and was listed in the 1969 edition of Who’s Who in American Women, With World Notables. Along with his business interest in Arcade, Walter was also the owner of Newark’s Postal Printing Company. He purchased this company in 1950 from the family of the previous owner, Harry Lytle. Like Helen, Walter was active in the wider Licking County community. His memberships included the American Legion. Chamber of Commerce, Kiwanis, Masons, Retail Merchant’s Council, and YMCA. It is also of note that Stanley Deutsch, the son of Helen and Walter, was among the first to mark his bar mitzvah at the new Ohev Israel synagogue. After attending university, Stanley would work as a pharmacist at Arcade Drugs. He also created Licking County’s first crisis hotline through his volunteer work with the Licking County Crisis Center. Another early bar mitzvah at Ohev Israel occurred in 1954 when Joel Lichtenstein, the son of Carolyn and Joseph, was celebrated. Joel later went on to serve in the United States Air Force Medical Corps.
Nathan Groban, who lived in Newark by 1954, was associated with Dresden Mills. In 1955, his wife Lillian died and in 1956 he remarried. His newlywed wife, Nettie, would become highly active in the Licking County Council for Retarded Children and the Ohev Israel Sisterhood. Jerry Markowitz and Selma Coleman were wed in 1959. By this time, Jerry had lived in Newark for four years and operated a store, Jerry’s Fabric Center. This business would eventually expand to include locations in Marion and Zanesville. Selma was greatly involved in her new community as a member of the Newark Hospital Twigs, Ohev Israel Sisterhood, where she served as president, and, in 1981, she founded the Hospice of Licking County. Later this organization would merge into Hospice of Central Ohio, and the group continues to exist as of 2021. Jerry and Selma were also active in the Licking County Mental Health Association, and Selma served on the organization’s board for 15 years. Charles Maslekoff, who worked as a pharmacist in Newark beginning in 1964, was also active in the Licking County Mental Health Association. His wife, Barbara, was an active member of the Ohev Israel Sisterhood and a librarian at St. Francis de Sales School. Later she would work at the Ohioana Library Association.
Earl and Marjorie Sharff moved to Newark in 1952 after Earl purchased the Newark Fashion store from Charles Hirsch, its founder. Charles had managed the store for over 35 years. Earl renamed the business Sharff’s Fashion and he eventually opened another local business, The Budget Shop, which also sold clothing. Sharff’s Fashion was part of Sharff’s Stores Incorporated, which had eight locations across three towns, Circleville, Logan, and Newark. The clothing chain was founded by Earl’s father, Samuel Sharff. Fred Wollins, a native of Akron and a veteran of the Korean War, moved to Newark in 1955 to work with Herman and Sarah Art at Art’s Jewelry store. In 1976 he purchased the store from Sarah Art, who by this time was a widow, but retained the name H. L. Art Jewelers. The store continues to be in business as of 2021. Fred also had business interests in the Central Trust Company, Englefield Oil Company, Mid-Ohio Development Corporation, and the Newark Asphalt Paving Company. His civic involvement included serving as president of the Downtown Newark Association, tenure as vice president of Licking County Chamber of Commerce, and terms as president of both B’nai B’rith and Ohev Israel. He was also active with the Licking County Heart Association and Rotary.
In 1962, the members of Ohev Israel expanded their building to meet the needs of their growing congregation. This new space served as both Sunday School classrooms when room dividers were in place and, when the dividers were removed, the space was transformed into an assembly room. During the early 1960s, around 19 children were enrolled in the Sunday School. In 1963, Ohev Israel’s visiting student rabbi was named Tovia Ben Chorin. Tovia had previously served as a tank commander in the Israeli Defense Forces during the Sinai Campaign of 1956. In addition to expanding their synagogue, Newark’s Jewish community also continued to organize to support charitable causes such as the United Jewish Appeal. In 1967, the community was recognized by the national governing organization of the United Jewish Appeal with an Award of Honor for having the highest contributions to the charity per capita in the State of Ohio. This recognition testified to the strength of Newark’s Jewish community at the time. The community continued to grow with the addition of a few new Jewish families who came to Licking County during the 1960s. These households included Bernice and Emanuel Berger, June and Richard Kraus, and Alex and Ernestine Shore. Bernice and Emanuel Berger moved to Newark after Emanuel took a position as manager of product research at Holophane, a manufacturer of lighting systems. June and Richard Kraus arrived in Granville in 1961 or 1966 after Richard took a position as an English professor at Denison University. June was active in the Licking County Mental Health Association. Alex and Ernestine Shore came to Newark around 1965 after Alex took a job with Sharff’s.
The growth of the Owens Corning company brought several other Jews to Licking County during the 1970s. These families or individuals include David and Kathy Dropkin, Arnold and Bae Eisenberg, Steven Katz, Steve Stahl. Arnold Eisenberg is notable for serving as Mayor of Granville from around 1987 to 1995. This makes Arnold the first Jewish mayor known in Licking County. Steven Katz and Steve Stahl both served as presidents of Ohev Israel. Steve Stahl would serve the congregation for over ten years, including in 2012 when Ohev Israel merged with Beth Tikvah in Worthington, Ohio. A few other Jewish families, including Caryn and Leroy Bloomberg, Eugene and Joy Binkovitz, Bernard and Marilyn Phillips, and Jules and Rochelle Steinberg moved to Licking County to take jobs outside of Owens Corning. Caryn and Leroy came to Newark after Leroy opened an eye care practice in 1970. Eugene and Joy Binkovitz moved to Granville in 1974. The couple invested in local fast food establishments, and they owned four McDonald’s restaurants by the time they relocated to Florida in 1988. During her time in Licking County, Joy served as a volunteer with the Family Counseling Services and the Licking Memorial Hospital. Bernard and Marilyn Phillips lived in Licking County by 1979. Bernard worked at the Shatterproof Glass Company and Marilyn was active with the Licking County Art Association and other local community organizations. Jules and Rochelle Steinberg arrived in Licking County after Jules took a position as a political science professor at Denison University. Jules remained at the university until 2005. Rochelle worked with Licking County Children Services.
Ohev Israel’s Closing Decades
In 1981, the Ohev Israel Sunday School enrolled 39 students. This period between the mid-1970s and mid-1980s was likely when the Sunday School reached its largest size. Synagogue members during this time included a mix of old and new families. Some descendants of Ohev Israel’s founders, such as Joseph Lichtenstein, Morris Plaine, and Emil Schonberg, continued to be affiliated with the congregation. The 1980s were a time of transformation for Newark as whole, however, as many businesses were shifting, or would soon shift, from downtown to points further out. The rise of big-box stores also presented new challenges for many of the smaller, family-owned businesses established by Jewish entrepreneurs in earlier times. Newark’s population stagnated between 1960 and 1980, revealing some of the economic challenges the municipality was facing at the time. This was the first time in Newark’s history that the population had failed to grow over the decades between federal censuses. Congregational life at Ohev Israel remained vibrant, however, and organizations like the Sisterhood continued their charitable and religious activities.
In 1985, Caryn Bloomberg was elected the first female president of Ohev Israel. Several months before Caryn’s installation, Ohev Israel was closed after it was discovered that the synagogue’s ceiling contained asbestos. During the building’s renovation, religious school classes and services were held at the Bloomberg Eye Center. After the renovation was complete the sanctuary of Ohev Israel was rededicated in the spring of 1984. At the time, around 35 to 40 families were members of the congregation. Another source places the congregation’s membership at about 100 individuals. Members who have not been mentioned elsewhere include Elliot and Marjorie Davidoff and Barbara and Martin Schuster.
Elliot worked as an ophthalmologist at the Bloomberg Eye Center beginning in 1977. He continues to practice in Newark as of 2021 at the Licking Memorial Medical Campus Center for Sight. Elliot and Marjorie’s civic involvement includes funding a scholarship at the Central Ohio Technical College for students living in Licking County. Martin Schuster wed Barbara Deutsch, the daughter of Helen and Walter, in 1965. While the couple relocated to Ann Arbor, Michigan for a time, they moved back to Licking County after Martin took a position with the Arcade Drug Company. In addition to his professional work, Martin volunteered with the Licking County Crisis Center, which he helped to establish, and he served as president of Ohev Israel. By the late 1980s, services were held at Ohev Israel once a month from June to September, when student rabbis could not as easily be obtained from Hebrew Union College, and bi-weekly from October to May. In 1990 services shifted to being held every third Friday of the month for a time before resuming the bi-weekly schedule during part of the year. By 1992, Ohev Israel changed its affiliation from Conservative to Reform Judaism. In doing so it also affiliated itself with the Union of American Hebrew Congregations. In 2003, this organization was renamed the Union for Reform Judaism. In 1995, the Ohev Israel Community Service Fund was established by members to fund charitable activities. Around this time the Sisterhood may have changed its name to the Women of Ohev Israel Temple.
In the early 2000s, Ohev Israel’s Sunday School remained active with around 10 to 15 students, and in 2005 it seems there was enough interest in the congregation to organize an adult education program. Yet, by this point, Ohev Israel’s membership number had fallen significantly. In 2008, there were around 25 member families at the congregation. Services were again held every three weeks and on major holidays. In 2012, Ohev Israel merged with Beth Tikvah in Worthington, Ohio. At the time, Newark’s synagogue had around 17 or 18 member families. The congregation’s two Torah scrolls found new homes after the merger. One went to Beth Tikvah and the other went to Denison University in Granville. As of 2021 Hillel, a Jewish campus organization, estimates that around 125 Jewish students are enrolled at Denison. This total comprises five percent of the student population. Other religious articles, including the congregation’s ner tamid, or eternal light, and yahrzeit, or memorial, plaques were installed at Beth Tikvah. In 2013, the former Ohev Israel synagogue was put up for sale and purchased by the nonprofit organization which turned the space into a community center. While Licking County is no longer home to a synagogue, a Jewish presence in the area remains. Despite their modest numbers, over the past 170 years, Jews have made a measurable impact on the civic, economic, and social fabric of Licking County. This impact merits preservation and remembrance.
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