By Austin Reid

 

Beth Israel of Steubenville circa 2012
(Photo courtesy of the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle).

 

Introduction

While separated by the Ohio River, Steubenville, Ohio, and Weirton, West Virginia are considered part of the same metropolitan area. This interconnectivity has existed since at least 1928 when the two cities were first joined by a bridge. The Fort Steuben Bridge and the later Veterans Memorial Bridge allowed for the easy exchange of goods and people between the two municipalities. This exchange influenced the Jewish communities of both cities, which shared some communal services, including a cemetery along Ohio State Route 43, and close familial and social ties. While the early history of Weirton’s Jewish community was documented in the book West Virginia Jewry: Origins and History 1850-1958 by Abraham Shinedling, much of the early Jewish history of Steubenville has gone unrecorded. Further, many developments in each community since 1958 have not been documented publicly and, with the closing of the area’s last synagogue in 2013, the history of a once vibrant Jewish community, that numbered over 1,000 people by 1937, risks being forgotten.

The need to preserve this history becomes even more critical as some of the physical reminders of the area’s Jewish presence fade. Since the late-1990s, the site of Weirton’s former synagogue, Beth Israel, has been occupied by an empty grass lot. Further, as of July 2018, the former Beth El Temple on N 5th Street in Steubenville is in a state of significant disrepair. Water damage has also taken a particularly significant tole on the once vibrant sanctuary. While this work is too limited in its scope to profile every Jewish family that has lived in the Steubenville-Weirton area, it is hoped that it will provide a sense of how the area’s Jewish community developed and the contributions its members made to the region’s civic, economic, and social life.

 

Steubenville’s Early Jewish Families

        While this work profiles both Steubenville and Weirton, it is necessary to begin by considering Steubenville alone as there is evidence that Jews lived in Jefferson County over fifty years earlier than in Weirton. Although Jewish peddlers were likely in the area earlier, the first Jew known to have established residency in Steubenville is M. Frohman. While no references to an M. Frohman could be found outside of local newspaper records, a merchant named Edward Frohman is listed as living in Steubenville by the time of the 1850 federal census. Contemporary newspaper advertisements for the M. Frohman store commonly employ the phrase, “Jew store”. Frohman likely chose to adopt a moniker that was placed on him by other residents as a way to distinguish his store from competitors. By the mid-1850s there is evidence that other Jews had settled in Steubenville. The Occident, a monthly Jewish newspaper based out of Philadelphia, reported in December 1856 that more than one Jewish household was found in Steubenville.[1] The earliest evidence of Jews in Steubenville organizing as a community dates to 1854 when $110.18 was collected to support a national fund to aid Jews in Palestine who were suffering from a famine.[2] Non-Jews are also believed to have contributed to this fund. By 1859, Steubenville was home to other Jewish-owned stores and this development was reflected in Frohman’s advertising. On September 7, 1859, Frohman declared in one ad, “for bargains call at the original Jew store of M. Frohman, corner of Third and Market Streets, Steubenville.[3]” The use of the word “original” implies that business competition from coreligionists existed and Frohman urged customers to not abandon their first supplier.

One competitor was William May. An immigrant from Baden, William arrived in Steubenville in 1858 and soon established a clothing store, William May & Company. A relative, C. M. May was also a business partner until 1866.[4] After this date, C. M. May went into business for himself, first operating a hat store and later a tailoring business. At around the same time as C. M. May left to embark on his own business venture, William was joined by his younger brother, Joseph. With the addition of Joseph as a business partner, the clothing company was renamed May Brothers. May Brothers was located on Market Street and it would remain in operation until 1907 when Joseph retired. Both Joseph and William were charter members of Steubenville’s first Jewish congregation, B’nai Israel, which was established in the mid-1880s and incorporated in 1892.[5] It is also known that C. M. May was Jewish since he on occasion referenced his Jewish identity in ads placed during the early 1860s.[6]  At this same time, however, other merchants were employing anti-Jewish messages to draw customers. One hat seller, J. G. Davidson advertised in 1861 that he would supply blue or gray caps to home guards at his shop and that “Jew houses and Jew goods not accepted.”[7] Davidson’s ads are not the only contemporary evidence of anti-Jewish sentiment in Jefferson County. One local newspaper, True American, occasionally ran anti-Jewish articles. For example, on December 03, 1856, the paper carried on its front page a lengthy piece about the anti-Jewish medieval European legend of the “Wandering Jew”.[8]

Despite the existence of anti-Jewish sentiment locally, Jewish immigrants, who were coming from regions of Europe in which Jews suffered under intense civil and religious discrimination, continued to settle in Jefferson County. Jones Munker was another early Jewish entrepreneur in Steubenville who, like Frohman and May, was active in the clothing business. By 1860, Jones lived in Steubenville and found work with Frohman & Company. In 1862, Jones became a business partner at Frohman’s and four years later its sole owner. Under the new ownership, the store was renamed Munker’s, and it would remain a fixture on 3rd and Market for over 50 years. Jones also oversaw the expansion of the store from one to three floors. By 1909 the business was referred to as “one of the finest in Eastern Ohio.”[9] In addition to his business success, Jones also began a tradition of Jews serving as leaders in local civic life. An active Republican, Jones served at least four terms on City Council and was president of the council for at least seven years.[10] These roles also point to the greater acceptance of Jews within the Steubenville community by 1900. Jones was also a charter member of B’nai Israel and a director of the Steubenville National Bank. Munker’s business competitor, Joseph May, served as director of the National Exchange Bank and he was active in both the Elks and Masons during his many decades as a resident of Steubenville.[11]

 

On the left is pictured Jones Munker, founder of Munker’s (photo source Herald-Star June 6, 1902.  On the right is Munker’s clothing store (photo source Herald-Star, April 18, 1924).

 

Jones, Joseph, and William also helped to raise families in Steubenville. Jones married Rebecca in 1870 and the couple had at least six children. Most of the Munker children, however, appear to have left Steubenville as adults. One son, Louis, did, however, serve a term on the local Board of Education. Joseph was married twice in his life and he had one child from each of his marriages. The youngest child, Harry May, would become an attorney in Steubenville and, in 1943 serve as president of the Jefferson County Bar Association. He also served Jefferson County as an Assistant Prosecutor and was active in the Masons.[12] Harry also numbered among the charter members of Steubenville’s second synagogue, Beth El, which was formed in 1922.[13] William and Blena May, who were married for 49 years, had at least four children, Bertha, Frank, Louis, and Samuel. Bertha May would be married twice in her life. In 1892 she wed Julius Rosenthal of Findlay and relocated to that city.[14] In 1898, however, Julius died and Bertha moved back to Steubenville with her young son, Gordon Rosenthal. In 1908 Bertha married Lawrence Leopold. Lawrence, who had moved to Steubenville from Cleveland in 1902 was in business with Bertha’s brother, Samuel May. This business, May and Leopold, sold furniture and it would remain a familiar store in Jefferson County for over 75 years.[15] Louis May also made a name for himself as a local entrepreneur. His business was known as the May Lumber Company. Frank May, however, did not remain in Steubenville, but rather relocated to New York City.

By 1880, large numbers of Jews from Eastern Europe were arriving in the United States. While Steubenville’s earliest Jewish families primarily traced their roots to German-speaking regions in Central Europe, families with roots in the Russian Empire would come to comprise the vast majority of Jews in both Steubenville and Weirton by 1910. This same wave of Jewish immigration to the United States, which numbered over two million people by 1920, would transform the national picture of Jewish life as more traditional forms of Judaism gained ascendancy for a time. Jews from Eastern Europe were compelled to come to the United States by many factors. Most notably, however, were the violent pogroms, which targeted Jewish communities into the twentieth century. Two of the first Jewish immigrants from Imperial Russia to arrive in Steubenville were Abraham and Annie Levine. This couple, who supported their family through a grocery business at the corner of 4th and Slack Street, lived in Steubenville by 1880. In various sources, the surname of the family is also spelled Lavine or Levin.

One early reference to the family in the Herald newspaper records an unfortunate incident at the location of the Levine’s home and store:

 

A Levin, a young Hebrew merchant at the corner of Fourth and Slack streets, was approached Wedday [sic] night last at his store by a man who began crying and said he had no place to stay and had had nothing to eat for some time, Mr. and Mrs. Levin, moved by his appeals, took him in, fed him and gave him a bed. When they arose in the morning their guest was gone and with him a satchel from the store and about $40 worth of goods. He left no clue and nothing has been heard of him since.[16]

By 1882, the Levine grocery store moved to the corner of 4th and South Street where it remained for many years. Other Jewish Eastern European families who arrived in Steubenville during the 1880s include Abraham and Dora Esakovich and Mayer and Sadie Levinson.

Abraham supported his family, which included at least eight children, through his work as a clothing merchant. He was originally in business with his brother, Moses Esakovich. Their store, Esakovich Brothers, opened in 1881 along the 400 block of Market Street. Notably, in early advertisements, Abraham and Moses informed customers that no business would be conducted from Friday evening to Saturday evening. This corresponds to the Jewish Sabbath, or Shabbat, a time in which religious Jews perform no work. Esakovich Brothers was the first Jewish-owned store in Steubenville to advertise that it would not engage in business on Shabbat. Though it is possible earlier Jewish entrepreneurs kept Shabbat, at least on occasion, Esakovich Brothers appears to have been the first store to consistently close to observe the weekly day of rest. Moses, it should be mentioned, was also married, and he and his wife, Leah raised at least five children. By the 1890s, it seems Abraham and Moses split their business into two separate stores.

 

 

Grand opening ad for the Esakovich Brothers shop with Shabat announcement (Photo source Herald March 25, 1881

 

Mayer and Sadie Levinson settled in Steubenville around 1887. Their family was supported through Mayer’s clothing store on South 4th Street, which was in business for nearly fifty years.[17] The prominence of Jewish families in local clothing retail was part of a larger national pattern that was related to the timing of mass Jewish immigration to the United States. Before the Civil War, most clothing in the United States was made by hand in private homes. During the following three decades, however, mass-produced ready-to-wear clothing became increasingly common due to technological advances in sewing. As the market for factory-produced clothes expanded, so too did job opportunities in the clothing manufacturing and retail industries. These jobs were also open to newer immigrants, such as Jews, at a time when many other professions offered only limited access.[18]  Family connections also allowed many newer immigrants to enter the clothing business. As an example, it was not uncommon for a brother to emigrate to the United States and send money back to pay for the voyage for his other siblings after establishing a stable business. These siblings would also work in the business after arriving in the United States creating a chain of immigration.

As already seen, however, for the children of immigrants more varied job opportunities were often available. One son of Mayer and Sadie, Ralph became a noted attorney in Steubenville. He practiced law for fifty years in Jefferson County, from 1910 to 1960, and from 1920 to 1924 he served the City of Steubenville as city solicitor.[19] Existing businesses also brought additional Jews with ties to Central Europe to Steubenville by 1890. These individuals include Sigmund Laubheim and Aaron Lewengood. Sigmund arrived in Steubenville in 1870 to take a position with Munker’s. He would remain at the store for fifty years. Outside of work, Sigmund was active in the local Republican Party and he was a charter member of Steubenville’s Knights of Pythias lodge, which was formed around 1874. He was also active with the German Guards, a nineteenth-century military organization, and served as president and director of the Steubenville Building and Loan Association.[20] Aaron Lewengood also worked at Munker’s for many years. He was with the company by 1890, and he remained an employee until his retirement in 1923.[21] Various sources spell Aaron’s surname Lewingood or Lowengood. By 1880, there were enough Jews residing in Steubenville that religious services could be organized in private homes.[22] In the Jewish tradition, a minyan, or quorum of ten men, is required for organized worship to be held. The individuals who gathered for these services would eventually organize themselves under the name B’nai Israel in 1884 or 1886.[23]

 

Steubenville’s First Synagogue, B’nai Israel

The members of B’nai Israel, or Children of Israel, were meeting in rented quarters at Barclay’s Hall, also called Market Hall, on the corner of 6th and Market streets by the mid-1880s.[24] By 1890, the group moved to Pearce’s Hall at 213 North 4th Street.[25] The growing Jewish religious presence in Steubenville can be observed through the pages of the Herald newspaper, which began to run announcements of Jewish holidays with increasing regularity. While similar announcements can be found as early as 1871, by the 1890s readers of the Herald were informed of Jewish holidays several times during the year.[26] Another sign of the Jewish community’s growth was the purchase of a Torah scroll. In addition to its central role in Shabbat services, a Torah is also an important sign of an organized Jewish community. While Jews in Steubenville may have borrowed Torah scrolls from nearby Jewish communities in Pittsburgh or Wheeling at an earlier date, the earliest evidence of the Steubenville community owning a Torah dates to 1890. This Torah was purchased from a sofer, or scribe in Pittsburgh at the cost of $80.[27] This sum would be equal to approximately $2,443 in 2022 after adjusting for inflation. Torah scrolls are expensive to make because of the skill and time required to write them. Each scroll must be handwritten by a trained sofer in a process that lasts approximately 18 months.

It is possible to date the arrival of the Torah scroll because of a court case that was brought by B’nai Israel against one congregant, Abraham Levin in 1896 after Abraham removed the Torah from the congregation’s rented hall, which had recently moved in 1895 to Orr’s Building at the corner of 5th and Market streets.[28] In the suit, the representatives of B’nai Israel charged that Abraham had illegally removed the Torah from the premises of the congregation. Abraham defended his actions by saying that he was the rightful owner since he was the only person remaining in Steubenville who had helped to purchase the scroll in 1890.[29] In addition to Abraham, Benjamin Adelson, Joseph J., Robert Aknovich, and Jacob Marcus had all contributed funds for the scroll. The four men who had departed Steubenville by 1896 signed over their ownership of the Torah to B’nai Israel.

While the immediate dispute was resolved in May 1897 when Abraham was ordered by the court to return the Torah to B’nai Israel, the episode helps to illustrate that by the mid-1890s disagreements over religious doctrine and ritual, which reportedly motivated Abraham to take the scroll, were apparent among the members of B’nai Israel. Just a few years earlier, in 1892, B’nai Israel was incorporated as a religious organization by Abraham Levin, Samuel Kaplan, Abraham Rothstein, Abraham Esakovich, Joseph Aknovich, and Mayer Levinson.[30] During the late 1890s, a group split away from B’nai Israel to form a new congregation called B’nai Jacob.[31] In some sources, such as the Steubenville city directory, this newer community is called B’nai Zion. By the time the two groups reunited under the old name, B’nai Israel in 1902, each congregation was supporting its own part-time rabbi. Moses Peiros served as rabbi of B’nai Israel and Max Freifeld was the rabbi of B’nai Jacob. Both congregations were located along North 4th Street, near many of Steubenville’s Jewish families.

As the Jewish population of Steubenville grew, various lifecycle events began to be celebrated in the city with greater regularity. The first Jewish wedding performed in Steubenville occurred in 1889 when Abraham Rothstein wed Sarah Weinstein at B’nai Israel.[32] Abraham and Sarah were both immigrants from Imperial Russia and, once settled in Steubenville, Abraham operated a grocery store on South 6th Street. Jewish funerals also began to be performed in Steubenville. Around 1897, the members of B’nai Israel purchased land for use as a cemetery along Wilson Avenue near the Wells Run creek.[33] Alvin Nurenberg was one of the first people to be buried at the new cemetery. In 1907, B’nai Israel relocated its cemetery to its present location at the intersection of Cleveland Avenue and Sunset Boulevard. Individuals who were buried at the older Wilson Avenue Cemetery, which seems to have frequently flooded, were relocated to the new burial ground. The first new burial conducted at the Sunset Boulevard location was of aged siddurim, or prayer books that had become too old for use.[34] A few days later, the infant child of Jacob and Libbie Glick was laid to rest at the cemetery.[35]

In 1903, shortly after Steubenville’s two Jewish congregations reunited, the members of B’nai Israel purchased the First Methodist Protestant Church, also called the Fifth Street Methodist Congregation, from its governing board for $11,000.[36] This Methodist congregation, which had been located along South 5th Street between Adam and Market streets for decades, was relocating to a larger church at the corner of North 5th and North streets. With the purchase of the building, the Jewish community of Steubenville owned, for the first time, a synagogue. Purchasing an older building for use as a synagogue was not, however, the first plan thought of by the representatives of the approximately 60 members of B’nai Israel. In January 1903, the Herald ran a story reporting that the congregation intended to build a new synagogue along South 6th Street at the site of Mulcahey & Fitzsimmons mill.[37] The congregation may even have already owned the land since an appraisal of B’nai Israel’s assets in 1902 listed a lot on South 6th Street among the congregation’s properties. While it is not known why the congregation’s plans changed, it is documented that the new 5th Street synagogue was dedicated on November 29, 1903.[38] Rabbi Aaron Ashinsky of Pittsburgh and Rabbi Harry Levi of Wheeling spoke at the ceremony.[39] The presence of both the Orthodox Rabbi Ashinsky and the Reform Rabbi Levi testified to the diversity found within B’nai Israel and the prominence of the community by the early years of the twentieth century.

 

Image of B’nai Israel as it looked from 1903 to 1949 (Photo taken from “Historic Steubenville, Ohio” Facebook)

 

Women played an important role in the new B’nai Israel synagogue. In 1902 or 1907 a Jewish Ladies’ Aid Society was established to aid B’nai Israel and support various charitable causes in the Steubenville area. The organization enjoyed rapid growth and by 1919 the organization, now under the new name Jewish Ladies’ Auxiliary, had approximately 100 members. Early members included Libbie Glick, Pearl Levine, and Ida Levinson. One important area of activity for the Ladies’ Auxiliary was supporting the religious instruction of Jewish children. The B’nai Israel Sunday school was created in 1911 and classes were first taught by Rebecca Altman and Beatrice Levinson.[40] By 1913, a daily Hebrew school was also organized and 50 students were enrolled in the older Sunday School. It is also of note that B’nai Israel supported a mikvah, or Jewish ritual bath in Steubenville. While many religious Jews visit a mikvah, it is most closely associated with Jewish women. In 1902, the mikvah was located on 7th Street and in 1905 the pool moved to the B’nai Israel synagogue.

On September 17, 1903, the wedding of Anna Levinson and Michael Levinson was solemnized at B’nai Israel. This event, which drew several hundred guests who filled all the available seats in the synagogue, was the first performed at B’nai Israel.[41] It should be noted that while Anna and Michael shared the same surname, it was reported that they were only distantly related.[42] Michael was a businessman in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, at the time of his marriage.  Frances Esakovich and Sarah Wolf were two other brides who were joined in marriage at the new B’nai Israel synagogue during its first years of existence. Frances, the daughter of Leah and Moses Esakovich, celebrated her marriage to Jacob Hepner of Pittsburgh in October 1904.[43] Sarah Wolf’s wedding to Wolf Charlson of Barnesboro, Pennsylvania, which drew 300 guests, was celebrated in November 1907.[44] During these years, Moses Peiros served as rabbi of B’nai Israel. Moses arrived in Steubenville around 1896 with his wife Rebecca. Both husband and wife were natives of Poland. While it is likely that Moses was the first rabbi to live in Steubenville, he did not work in the role full-time.[45] In addition to his duties with B’nai Israel, Moses also worked as a shochet, or kosher butcher, at the City Hall Meat Market. Moses and Rebecca also raised at least six children. Three of their sons, Charles, David, and Herman became attorneys. Charles and Herman practiced in Steubenville while David moved to Columbus. Another son, Jacob, continued to work at the City Hall Meat Market as an adult.

In 1909, another part-time rabbi, Isaac Caplan joined Moses at B’nai Israel. Isaac, whose surname is also given as Kaplan in some early sources, was an immigrant and trained shochet. It is also recorded that Isaac performed the ritual of brit milah, or circumcision, on Jewish male infants to mark their entry into the covenant. This ritual traditionally takes place when an infant is eight days old. In addition to his duties as a rabbi, Isaac operated a neighborhood grocery store with his wife, Ethel. The couple also raised at least seven children. While most of these children moved away from Steubenbville as adults, one daughter, Sara Caplan remained local. In 1926, she married Marcus Ginsburg, a native of Lithuania, who together with his brother, Alex created the U.S. Tool and Supply Company in Steubenville by 1924.

 

Weirton’s First Jewish Families and the Establishment of Beth Israel

Weirton was founded in 1909 shortly after Ernest Weir of Pittsburgh constructed a steel mill just north of a village named Hollidays Cove. Before the year’s end, a couple named Bertha and Samuel Geffner moved to the nascent town, becoming the first Jews to reside in Weirton. Bertha and Samuel, who were both immigrants from Romania, supported their household by operating a furniture business on Avenue A, which was one of Weirton’s first stores. Later Samuel created a finance and real estate business.[46] Shortly after Bertha and Samuel established themselves, two other families, Baer and Dora Rabinovitz and then Dora and Ralph Nach moved to the growing community. Baer and Dora operated the namesake Baer Department Store, which sold clothing, and Dora and Ralph opened a hardware and feed store on Avenue A. Around 1913, Dora and Ralph celebrated the birth of a daughter named Sarah, who was the first Jew to be born in Weirton.[47]

By 1916, 15 or 16 Jewish families lived in Weirton, primarily on the north side of town near the industrial mill.[48] During this same year, many of Weirton’s Jews, who numbered approximately 70 individuals, began to meet regularly for religious services in the Finnish Hall on Avenue D. The Torah for the group’s first Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services was borrowed from B’nai Israel in Steubenville, which by this time had at least four Torahs.[49] In 1917, this new religious community adopted the name Beth Israel, which translates to House of Israel. Jacob Levy, a local attorney, served as the congregation’s first president and Ralph Nach led religious services.[50] In some sources, Jacob’s name is given as Gershon.[51] Other founding members of Beth Israel were: Louis Alpert, Robert Alpert, Isadore Caplan, Samuel Caplan, Samuel Geffner, Ben Mervis, Joseph Mervis, Nathan Mervis, Aaron Nach, Ben Nach, Philip Nach, Max Nach, Bear Rabinovitz, and Reuben Wershbole.[52]  In 1922, the members of Beth Israel collected enough money to purchase a wooden building on County Road between Avenue B and Avenue C for use as a synagogue.[53] Three years later, the congregation sold this building to the Hungarian Lodge of Weirton for $7,000 and moved to a new location at the corner of Virginia Avenue and West Street.[54] Here, the congregation constructed a two-story brick building that served as both a synagogue and community center. The new building was dedicated in 1927.[55] At the time Samuel Geffner was the synagogue president and Haskel Levendorf, who came to Weirton in 1924, served as the congregation’s rabbi. Rabbi Levendorf also has the distinction of being the first full-time rabbi at Beth Israel. Under his leadership, Beth Israel created a daily Hebrew school.

 

Beth Israel Synagogue circa 1966 (Weirton Daily Times, October 29, 1966)

 

An active group within Beth Israel was a women’s organization known as the Beth Israel Ladies’ Auxiliary. Edith Levendorf, the wife of Dr. Israel Levendorf, served as the organization’s first president in 1919.[56] Edith and Israel appear to have arrived in Weirton around 1916 and they relocated to California in 1942. It is also of note that Israel Levendorf was the son of Haskel Levendorf, and two siblings, Louis and Rose, also lived in Weirton. Additional early members of Beth Israel lived in Follansbee, West Virginia. Two such individuals were Benjamin and Yetta Mervis, who were both natives of Lithuania. After serving in the Boer War in South Africa on the side of the Boers, Benjamin moved to the United States.[57] By 1906, he found his way to Follansbee and opened the Mervis Furniture Company.[58] This store, which was among the first in town, would remain in business until 1975. In 1907, Ben married Yetta Nach of Weirton.[59] It is possible that Benjamin came to the Weirton area because a brother, Joseph Mervis already lived in the area. By 1964, however, Joseph lived in Pittsburgh. Another brother of Benjamin and Joseph, named Nathan, moved to Weirton in 1914.[60]

 

The Steubenville-Weirton Jewish Community During World War I and the Roaring 20s

The 1910s and 1920s were a period of growth for both the Jewish and non-Jewish communities of Steubenville and Weirton. This growth, however, was disrupted temporarily by the entry of the United States into World War I on April 4, 1917. Like millions of Americans, residents of the Tri-State area did their part, both at home and abroad, to support the war effort. According to an article from 1919 published by the Jewish Criterion, a newspaper out of Pittsburgh, at least 36 local Jews enlisted in the service.[61] These individuals include David Alter, Jacob Bloom, Joseph Chest, Israel Fine, Israel Levendorf, Charles Levinson, Ralph Levinson, George Mirkin, Joseph Mirkin, Abraham Myers, David Peiros, Jacob Peiros, and Joseph Peiros. David Alter and Joseph Chest were both wounded in action.[62] During the war, the Herald-Star frequently published news and letters from locals who were in the service. Both Abraham Myers and David Alter spoke about Jewish experiences they had while abroad. In one letter home in 1918, Abraham discussed how he found a kosher restaurant in France and spoke Yiddish with a member of its staff.[63] It is also of note that in 1919 when Abraham was on his way back to the United States after serving alongside the United States Army Engineers, he was recognized by the British government for his efforts to repair a ship’s communications line which had become damaged during a storm.[64] David Alter wrote in 1918 about his observance of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur while near the front line in France. He reflected:

“…spent Rosh Hosannah here and my thoughts were on the folks at home, thinking you were praying and wishing the boys would soon return and we are praying for the same cause and hope our prayers soon come true. God should listen to our prayers and answer them soon. As this is the day before Yom Kippur I am sorry I cannot go to the synagogue, but I am not in the radius of any large city. We boys from different companies will form and pray and hope ours and yours be answered.”

 On the home front, Jews were also represented in efforts to support Liberty Loan Drives and the Red Cross. Rebecca Altman, the daughter of Joseph and Leah, was especially active with the Red Cross during the war. She was also a leader in the Civilian Relief Association and served on the executive committee of the Women’s Council of National Defense.[65] In addition to her civic work during the war, Rebecca was a noted translator and writer. Her pieces were featured in publications such as the American Jewish Press and Herald-Star.[66] It is also of note that Rebecca’s brother, Henry Altman was a veteran of the Spanish-American War. He served with the 2nd West Virginia Volunteer Infantry.[67]

After the end of World War I, the Jewish community of the Tri-State area, along with their coreligionists across the United States, continued to lead efforts to support refugees in Eastern Europe who had become displaced during the conflict and ensuing famine. These relief efforts began by 1915 when a Jewish Relief Association was organized. By April 1919, the group raised $35,000 to support relief efforts.[68] This sum would be equivalent to approximately $562,322 in 2022. Both Jews and non-Jews contributed to the efforts of the Jewish Relief Association. For example, the Herald-Star frequently ran updates on the campaign and urged locals of all backgrounds to participate. An estimated 125 people attended a meeting at B’nai Israel to mark the start of the 1919 relief campaign. Rabbi Jacob Marcus of Cincinnati was the principal speaker.[69] Women played an important role in fundraising efforts. Members of the Ladies’ Executive Committee included Bessie Anathan, Bertha Levinson, Jeannette May, Seville Sulzbacher, and Jennie Weinstein.[70] The last recorded reference to the Jewish Relief Association that could be found dates to 1922 when the organization raised $10,411 to support refugees.[71]

Following World War I, the United States experienced an economic boom. This development also impacted the Tri-State area. As in earlier years, many newer Jewish families in the area were active entrepreneurs. Operating neighborhood grocery stores was one common area of business. Three early Jewish grocers in the Tri-State area who have not been previously mentioned are Louis Chostkov, Thomas Greenberg and Jacob Levite. All of these men were in business by 1905. Later grocers in business by 1925 include Max Auerbach, Morris Balor, Mordechai Bendovid, Louis Bernstein, Isadore Caplan, Aaron Endich, Samuel Endich, Ralph Midler, Morris Stern, William Zeff, Harry Zeidman, and Max Ziff. Another economic activity that supported several different Jewish families was operating recycling facilities for scrap metals. These junkyards were particularly important during World War I when shortages of metals necessitated an increase in recycling. Those active in the recycling industry by 1920 included Joseph Berger, Elijah Bloom, Joseph Chest, and David Levite.

Among the largest Jewish-owned businesses in the Tri-State area during the 1920s were Sulzbacher’s and The Hub. Isidore Sulzbacher, the founder of the Sulzbacher Company, arrived in Steubenville around 1888 to establish a new clothing company. This first store was located at 328 Market Street. In 1889, the nascent business, which employed six people, moved to a space located at the corner of Court and Market streets.[72] As the store’s popularity grew, larger retail space was needed and, at around 1909, Sulzbacher’s moved to a 38,000 square feet space inside the National Exchange Bank building. By 1929, when Sulzbacher’s merged with The American Department Stores company, over 200 people were employed at the store.[73] During this same year, Sulzbacher’s moved to a larger space on Market Street. Steubenville’s Congressman, Frank Murphy spoke at the reopening festivities. Isidore and Seville Sulzbacher were also notable leaders within the Jewish community. The couple was actively involved with the Jewish War Relief Association and they were financial supporters of Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati and the Jewish Orphan Home in Cleveland. Isidore also served as the director of the Jewish Orphan Home for a time.[74]

While Sulzbacher’s merged with a national organization in 1929, The Hub continued independently until 1969.[75] Founded in 1904 by Mone and Simon Anathan of Philadelphia, The Hub would grow from modest beginnings to become the largest non-industrial employer in the Tri-State area by 1973.[76] For decades The Hub was located at the corner of 5th and Market streets. Two years after The Hub’s creation, in 1906, Eugene and Louis joined their brothers in the business. Tragedy visited the Anathan family, however, as both brothers died young. Eugene passed away in 1924 at around age 37 and Louis in 1928 at around age 38. Eugene’s death occurred especially suddenly, and he was mourned by many in Steubenville. The editors of the Herald-Star wrote:

He was sincere and frank and open in his manner and because he loved everybody, everybody loved him. While he was deeply engrossed in his business he was never too busy to lend a helping hand to others and to be interested in the things that which interest other people.[77]

 Employment opportunities at The Hub brought other Jews to Steubenville by the mid-1920s. These families included Samuel Baer, Daisy and Martin Bayersdorfer Sr., Anna and Henry Bernstein, Elias and Sara Bloch, Clara and Nathan Brown, Abraham and Sadye Lincoff, and Louis and Lenore Wachstein.

Many of these families would be involved in establishing Steubenville’s first Reform Jewish congregation, Temple Beth El, in 1922. Reform Judaism, which began to emerge as a distinct religious movement in early nineteenth-century Germany, was well established in the United States by the late 1800s. Its adherents emphasized Judaism’s ethical precepts over religious laws and sought to make Jewish practice more compatible with the realities of life in the United States. Liturgical changes advocated by many Reform Jews during the late 1800s included mixed seating in synagogues, the introduction of organs and other instruments into religious services, and the abolition of head coverings during services. While efforts to organize a Reform community in Steubenville date to at least 1919, it was not until January 22, 1922, that progress began to be made. On this day, a meeting was organized at the Steubenville Chamber of Commerce to discuss the possibility of forming a new Reform congregation in Jefferson County. Approximately 40 people are reported to have attended this gathering.[78] The objective of the group was met, and officers and trustees were soon elected to support the congregation. The first elected officers of Beth El were: Martin Bayersdorfer as president, Samuel Reiner as vice president, Morris Sugarman as secretary, and Hyman Mirkin as treasurer. Nine trustees were also selected.[79]

Like Martin, Samuel Reiner was active in the clothing retail business. He arrived in Steubenville by 1908 and in the same year opened the Reiner Department Store, which sold women’s clothing. Reiner’s, which was located for decades at 514 Market Street, would remain in business for at least 50 years.[80] Morris Sugarman and Hyman Mirkin both worked as jewelers. Morris began his time in Steubenville as an employee of Joseph Reichblum at the Reichblum Jewelry Store. This store, which was founded in 1916, remained in business until at least 1936.[81] By 1953, however, Morris went into business for himself. His store, located along Market Street, was called the Sugarman Jewelry Store.[82] Hyman Mirkin, who arrived in Steubenville by 1910, was associated with Mirkin & Company at 506 Market Street. In addition to the efforts of Steubenville locals, Rabbi Hyman Iola and Leo Wolf of Wheeling also supported the creation of Beth El. In September and October of 1922, Robert Strauss, who was a rabbinical student at Hebrew Union College, led what is recorded as the first Reform-style Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services in Steubenville.[83] Early services for Beth El’s members were held in a rented space located on the third floor of the Steubenville Building and Loan Company at the corner of 3rd and Market streets.[84] By 1923, a Sunday school was organized by Beth El members that enrolled 25 children. The initial five teachers engaged by the program were Esther Greenberger, Eva Lavine, Jennie Lavine, Rose Rothstein, and Lenore Wachstein.

Due to Beth El’s rapid growth, it quickly became apparent that the congregation’s rented space would soon be outgrown. Six individuals Mone Anathan, Jesse Cohen, Louis Friedman, Henry Greenberger, Ralph Levinson, and Jacob Needles were selected to serve on the Beth El site committee.[85] A lot at 608 North 5th Street was ultimately selected and in 1924 Temple Beth El was completed at a cost of approximately $46,000. The first service held at the new temple occurred on September 29, 1924, the first day of Rosh Hashanah.[86] Four weeks later on December 2, 1924, Temple Beth El was dedicated. A highlight of the day was an address by the influential rabbi, Abba Hillel Silver, who was associated with Temple Tifereth Israel in Cleveland.[87] Abraham Feinberg, the first rabbi at Beth El, also delivered an address. The construction of a new temple by the members of Beth El did not go unnoticed by congregants at Steubenville’s Orthodox synagogue, B’nai Israel. In 1919, B’nai Israel had around 100 members and by the mid-1920s attempts were made to find a new home for the congregation. It is possible that these efforts were motivated both by the congregation’s growing membership and a desire to compete with the new temple dedicated by Beth El. In 1926, the representatives of B’nai Israel put their building up for sale. Interested buyers were asked to contact the synagogue’s president Abraham Greenberg. The congregation, however, appears to have gotten no satisfactory offers and it remained at its South 5th Street address for another 54 years.

 

Temple Beth El at the time of its opening in 1924. Herald-Star, December 2, 1924.

 

B’nai Israel did, however, secure enough funds to hire Henry Goldberger, the congregation’s first full-time rabbi in 1922. In addition to being the first full-time rabbi at B’nai Israel, Henry was also the congregation’s first ordained religious leader.[88] While earlier rabbis at B’nai Israel were educated in Jewish law and theology, their education was not recognized by an official rabbinical college. Prior to his arrival in Steubenville, Rabbi Goldberger was a resident of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The rabbi, however, did not remain in Steubenville for long. In 1925, Rabbi Goldberger departed B’nai Israel and Rabbi Maurice Tishkin became the next religious leader at the congregation. Rabbi Tishkin continued in the role until 1929.

Jewish communal life in Steubenville and Weirton was also supported by several organizations independent of Beth El, Beth Israel, and B’nai Israel. Fraternal societies offered an additional avenue for Jews to connect with one another. Similar organizations also existed by the early twentieth century for members of other ethnic and religious groups who wished to create fellowship with one another. The first Jewish fraternal organization known to exist in Steubenville was the Independent Western Star Order. This society, which was founded in 1894, established a chapter in Steubenville in 1908. Approximately, 100 people, including out-of-town guests, attended the chapter’s first anniversary dinner.[89] After 1910, however, no recorded references to the organization can be found. In 1916, a more enduring Jewish fraternal organization was established in Steubenville, B’nai B’rith. First conceived in New York City in 1843 to promote benevolence, brotherly love, and harmony among its members, by 1919 B’nai B’rith had lodges in locations across the United States. In Steubenville, the local lodge was formed with 29 charter members.[90] The lodge enjoyed rapid growth and by 1919 it had 106 members.[91] Jewish laborers in the Tri-State area also came together in 1918 to organize a local chapter of the Workmen’s Circle. This organization, also known by its Yiddish name Der Arbeter Ring, was created in 1900 in New York City. While few records of the local organization remain, it is known that in 1919 its member partnered with B’nai B’rith to organize a protest at B’nai Israel to raise awareness of the violence being directed against Jews in Poland.[92] In 1920, 500 people were reported to have attended a picnic put on by the Workmen’s Circle at Rogers farm in Mingo Junction.[93]

Jewish youths also had their own community organizations. In 1916, a local chapter of the Young Women’s Hebrew Association was created in Steubenville with 12 members. These early members included Bertha Levinson, Ida Levinson, Esther Rothstein, and Bella Reiner. Meetings for the organization were held every other Sunday. During World War I, the Y.W.H.A. sent Passover and Purim holiday packages to Jewish servicemen from Steubenville and surrounding towns. The group also raised money to support French children who had been orphaned by the war. By 1921, the Y.W.H.A had around 50 members.[94] A major annual event for the Y.W.H.A during the early 1920s was a community picnic. This tradition continued until at least 1925. Around five years after the Y.W.H.A was created, on September 28, 1921, a local Young Men’s Hebrew Association chapter was formed to promote educational and spiritual activities among its members. Alex Ginsburg served as the group’s first president.[95] In addition to its educational and spiritual activities, the Y.M.H.A also sponsored social gatherings.[96] An arm of the Y.M.H.A. was a children’s group known as Y.M.H.A Juniors. This group was also organized in 1921. By 1924, 14 children were members. Beginning in 1923, B’nai Israel sponsored a Boy Scout Troop, which remained active into the 1940s.[97]  B’nai B’rith also sponsored a teen’s organization, Aleph Zadik Aleph, which was created in 1927.[98] This group was part of a larger national organization for teens and it sponsored various activities including intramural sports, mock trials, musicals, and an annual Yom Kippur dance.[99] The group continued to be active until at least the early-1940s.[100] Other Jewish organizations included Merrymakers, a social organization which in 1919 had 25 members, and the Lag BaOmer Society, which existed around 1921.

In 1921, the members of a Jewish men’s group known as the Harmony Club raised enough funds to rent space at the corner of 3rd and Market streets for use by the wider Jewish community as a gathering space for groups like B’nai B’rith, Merrymakers, the Lag BaOmer Society, Y.M.H.A., and Y.W.H.A. This space was known as the Jewish Community House.[101] The last published reference to the Jewish Community House in the Herald-Star is found in 1923. Another group of Jewish organizations active in the Tri-State area by the 1920s were Zionist associations. These groups centered their activities on supporting the movement to create a Jewish national state in Palestine. In 1918, a chapter of the religious Zionist organization Mizrachi was formed in Steubenville with around 60 members. Joseph Weinstein served as the organization’s first president.[102] In 1924, a chapter of the women’s Zionist organization, Hadassah was created in Steubenville. Sixty members joined before the end of the organization’s first year. Fannie Goldberg, the wife of Nathan Goldberg, served as the chapter’s first president.[103] One of the organization’s first activities was to collect sanitary products for children living in Mandate Palestine.[104] Another body created in 1924 was the Zionist District of Steubenville. This organization was formed with the assistance of Rabbi Henry Goldberger and Mendel Ginsburg. Mendel worked alongside Rabbi Goldberger as the hazzan, or cantor at B’nai Israel, and the principal of the congregation’s Hebrew school. It should also be mentioned that in some sources Mendel’s surname is given as Gunsberg. Two Zionist youth groups, Daughters of Zion and Sons of Zion also existed. The former group may also have been known as Daughters of Israel.[105]

The robust number of Jewish organizations in Steubenville and Weirton by the mid-1920s testifies to the area’s large Jewish population. An estimated 400 Jews lived in Steubenville during the late 1920s. During this same period, an additional 100 Jews resided in Weirton. Mingo Junction, located five miles south of Steubenville, was also home to a few Jewish families. The first Jewish family known to have lived in Mingo Junction were the Weisbergers. Bertha and Herman Weisberger arrived in Mingo Junction around 1897 to open a clothing store. After a time, their business expanded to include stores in Follansbee and Weirton. Both Bertha and Herman were active in the local Jewish community. Bertha was a member of Hadassah and the women’s organizations at Beth El and B’nai Israel.[106] Herman was a longtime member of B’nai Israel. In later years, it was reported that Herman walked four miles to attend services at the synagogue.[107] Bertha and Herman were also active civically and in social organizations. For example, in 1900 Herman volunteered as a translator to help Hungarian speakers complete forms for the federal census.[108] Bertha was an active member of the Order of the Eastern Star.[109] Other Jewish residents of Mingo Junction by the mid-1910s included Edwin and Mollie Klein and Mark Speizer.

Developments in the Steubenville-Weirton Jewish Community During the 1930s

During the 1930s the population of Steubenville and Weirton continued to grow and the area’s Jewish community likely reached its maximum size by the late 1930s and 1940s. Yet, despite this continued expansion in population, the 1930s brought significant challenges for the Tri-State region. In addition to the Great Depression, which began in 1929 and ran through 1933, the year 1937 brought a major flood to Steubenville. Included among the businesses that closed between 1929 and 1932 were Brown’s Shoes, The E. A. Klein Company, Quality Shop, LaBelle Clothing Company, and Reed’s shoe store. Other businesses urged customers in their advertising that they were not going out of business, further reflecting the economic condition of the times. Yet, by 1933 the worst of the Depression was over and more robust economic activity began to resume in Steubenville. The economic profile of the Steubenville-Weirton Jewish community also changed during the late 1930s and 1940s. Up until the mid-twentieth century, most Jewish families in the area were supported through small businesses, particularly in retail clothing and grocery. While entrepreneurship continued to be prominent within the Jewish community, increasing numbers of local Jews began to find work in white-color professions, including law and medicine.

One of the first doctors to live in Weirton was a Jew named Myer Bogarad. Myer was the son of Max and Sarah Bogarad, who lived in Steubenville by 1920 and supported themselves through Max’s work in a tin mill. In 1929, Myer opened a medical practice along Main Street in Weirton after attending university. He would later serve as Chief of Medical Staff at the Weirton General Hospital.[110] Mildred Bogarad, the wife of Myer, was an active member of the Weirton Hadassah chapter, which was created in 1931, and the mother of Irwin and Martin Bogarad. Irwin, like his father, also practiced medicine in Weirton, specializing in internal medicine. Martin became a noted attorney in Weirton, and from 1964 to 1968 he served as a local judge.[111] Other Jews practicing dentistry or medicine in the Steubenville-Weirton area by 1940 included Jacob Cohen, Samuel Fisher, Israel Freedman, Max Goldfein, David Greenberg, Stanford Press, and Max Rosenblum. It is also of note that Max’s brother, Earl Rosenblum, was a surgeon who opened a general surgery practice in Steubenville in 1950 after serving as a doctor in the United States Air Force during World War II. During his time in the service, Earl was awarded the Bronze Star.[112]

In the field of law, the Stern brothers, Hyman, Joseph, and Nathan, were prominent in the Tri-State for decades. Joseph Stern, the eldest brother, began to practice law in Steubenville in 1936. He was also among the founders of the Fort Steuben Metal Products Company in Weirton and he served as the company’s president for many years.[113] The company, which manufactured steel shelves, tables, toolboxes, and other products was created in 1948 and dissolved in 1986. Shortly after Joseph began to practice law in Steubenville, his twin brothers Hyman and Nathan relocated back to the city. Each operated private law practices before joining together under the name Stern, Stern, & Stern. This law firm continued to operate in Steubenville until 2006. Nathan would have an especially distinguished career in the Tri-State area. From 1940 to 1952, he served as the Assistant Prosecutor of Jefferson County, Ohio, and he was active with the Steubenville Chamber of Commerce, the Tri-County Chambers of Commerce, and many other community organizations. Nathan also played in important part in securing government funding for the construction of the Veterans Memorial Bridge, which opened in 1990.[114]

During the late 1930s, the Jewish population of Steubenville reached approximately 1,000 people.[115] Never before or since have so many Jews resided in Steubenville. In 1940, the population of Steubenville reached its largest size at 37,651 individuals. This means that Jews numbered around 2.65 percent of the city’s population during the late 1930s. In Weirton, however, the Jewish community likely did not reach its peak until the early 1950s, when around 110 Jewish families lived in the city. The 1930s witnessed the creation of three new Jewish organizations in the Steubenville-Weirton area. In 1932 a chapter of Young Judaea, a Jewish youth group, was formed in Steubenville. The organization collaborated with both the Junior and Senior Hadassah chapters, which were formed in 1929 and 1924 respectively.[116] In 1933 the B’nai Israel Brotherhood was organized. The organization’s first president was Myer Freedman.[117] At the time, Myer operated a dental clinic at 411 Market Street. Finally, in 1937 or 1938, the Steubenville Jewish Community Council was created. This organization, which operated similarly to Jewish federations found in larger communities such as Cleveland, Columbus, and Pittsburgh, provided a united structure for communal philanthropy and advocacy efforts. Joseph Denmark is credited with establishing the Jewish Community Council. A native of Poland, Joseph arrived in Steubenville in 1925 and opened a clothing store known as Denmark’s. The business was originally located at 114 South 4th Street but eventually moved to 434 Market Street. The store also expanded to include a location at 3237 Main Street in Weirton.[118] Joseph was married to Sarah, and the couple had four children, Betty, Meyer, Morris, and Samuel. Meyer and Morris would also be active in the Jewish Community Council, including filling the role of council president at different times. Other individuals active in the Jewish Community Council during its early years included Marcus and Sara Ginsburg and David Levite.

The rise of Nazism in Germany did not go unnoticed by both Jews and non-Jews living in Steubenville and Weirton. As early as 1934, efforts were made by the local Jewish community to aid coreligionists suffering persecution in Europe.[119] A notable event occurred in 1939 when Steubenville’s Mayor, Earl Applegate assisted a German refugee named Anne Marie von Steuben Rosenberg in her efforts to escape the Nazis. Anne’s husband, Hugo Rosenberg was Jewish and so the family was a target for persecution.[120] The mayor became involved in Anne’s case in part because she was a descendent of the Revolutionary War general Baron Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben, for whom Steubenville is named.[121] It does not appear, however, that Anne, her husband, or their son, Juergen, were permitted entry into the United States. Restrictive immigration laws enacted in 1924 also prevented most other European refugees from entering the United States in the years leading up to World War II. Only in 1965 would these laws be reversed. After the 1930s, there are also far fewer examples of new Jewish immigrants coming to settle in the Steubenville-Weirton area. While the growing number of American-born Jews helped to facilitate the economic changes within the Steubenville-Weirton Jewish community, the decline in immigration also ended an important source of growth for the community.

 

World War II and the Early Post War Years

After the attack on Pearl Harbor on the morning of December 7, 1941, the United States was brought into World War II. Like millions of other Americans, local residents of Steubenville, Weirton, and surrounding areas did their part to support the war effort. Within the Jewish community, approximately 100 people are estimated to have enlisted. Two individuals who grew up in Steubenville, Leslie Caplan and Morris Denmark, were taken prisoner by the Nazis during their periods of enlistment. Both survived their time in prisoner of war camps. Following the war, Caplan was awarded the Legion of Merit due to his efforts to provide for the medical needs of approximately 2,600 other prisoners of war from February 6 to April 16, 1945.[122] Caplan had been taken prisoner after the aircraft he was on was shot down while on a mission to Vienna.[123] Caplan was also a Purple Heart recipient. Other locals who received military awards during World War II include Merrill Levy, Earl Rosenblum, and Lester Zeff.

On the home front Jews also made important contributions to the local war effort. For example, the members of B’nai Israel collectively purchased approximately $13,000 in war bonds.[124] Notable individual efforts during the war included Elias Bloch, who served as the head of Steubenville’s civilian defense, and Dr. Israel Freedman who taught first aid classes to locals through the National Defense Program. Shortly after the end of World War II the Jewish community of Steubenville witnessed several important milestones. In 1948, the members of B’nai Israel voted to affiliate the congregation with the Conservative movement of Judaism. This changed the congregation’s historic status as an Orthodox Jewish synagogue. The next year B’nai Israel underwent a renovation that cost $80,500 and significantly altered the exterior of the congregation. This sum would be equal to approximately $943,000 in 2022 after adjusting for inflation. Alex Ginsburgh headed the congregation’s renovation committee.[125] The renovated building was used every day by congregants for minyanim, or religious services.  In 1949 Beth El also celebrated its 25th anniversary. At the time, around 125 households were affiliated with the temple.

In Weirton, Beth Israel welcomed the arrival of a new rabbi, Nandor Martin in 1949. Born in what is now the Czech Republic, Rabbi Martin would be the longest-serving rabbi of the congregation, occupying the post until 1962. During his tenure, the congregation would reach its largest size. His wife, Ida, was also an active member of Weirton’s Jewish community and the mother of four daughters who were named Esther, Malka, Shifrah, and Zipporah. In 1950, Beth Israel’s members renovated their building to add individual classrooms for the religious school, which met five days a week, a large kosher kitchen, and meeting rooms for the Weirton B’nai B’rith lodge, which was founded in 1946.[126] Going into the 1950s, the Tri-State area was home to a vibrant Jewish community. By the end of the decade, however, the first signs of the community’s demographic decline were beginning to emerge.

Jewish Life in the Tri-State Area From 1950 to 1964

From 1950 to 1964 the United States experienced a baby boom which was also reflected in the Tri-State area. Beth El, Beth Israel, and B’nai Israel all hosted active religious schools, and coming of age ceremonies were common across the congregations. One particularly noteworthy event was the celebration of Janet Glick’s bat mitzvah in 1952, which was the first ceremony of its kind held at B’nai Israel.[127] Generally in the Orthodox Jewish tradition, which B’nai Israel followed until 1948, only male children mark their coming of age with a public ceremony in the synagogue. Janet was the daughter of Sara and Saul Glick. Saul was associated with the Adler-Glick Insurance and Realty Agency in Steubenville and was also a member of B’nai B’rith and the Elks.[128] Saul’s business partner, David Adler was a Steubenville native and an active member of the community. In 1957, he was elected president of the local Rotary chapter, and he also served on the local School Board.[129] He was a member of B’nai B’rith and active with the Steubenville Jewish Community Council. Formal religious education for children did not end at the age of 12 or 13. For example, at B’nai Israel, a group known as the Tof Ayin Gimul Society existed for pre and post bar mitzvah boys.[130]

Women’s organizations also continued to be highly active within the Jewish community. One important event for the Beth El Sisterhood was an annual donor dinner, which the organization sponsored throughout the 1950s and 1960s. In 1951, 125 people attended the event.  In 1953, the B’nai Israel Sisterhood adopted the idea and began to organize its own annual donor dinners. By 1958, 110 people attended this event.[131] Proceeds from Sisterhood events were used to support the religious schools of Beth El and B’nai Israel and various charitable activities. Similar donor events were also organized by the Beth Israel Sisterhood in Weirton. Men’s organizations also played a role in congregation life. In 1947, the Beth El Men’s Club, later called the Beth El Brotherhood, was formed with 28 members.[132] The group existed until 1968. B’nai B’rith continued to be the largest Jewish men’s organization in the area. The Weirton B’nai B’rith lodge sponsored an annual campaign for the Heart Fund, and in 1958 Weirton was selected as the site of the spring conference for the West Virginia Council of B’nai B’rith.[133] This honor was a testament to the strength of the local Weirton chapter. It is also of note that by 1957 the Steubenville B’nai B’rith chapter included a women’s division known as B’nai B’rith Women.

 

 

Group photo of Beth Israel Sisterhood leaders (Photo source Weirton Daily Times, 1955)

 

Temple Beth El appears to have enjoyed a strong period of growth throughout the 1950s and early 1960s. Since the Jewish community of Steubenville likely peaked in the 1930s, however, most of the congregation’s growth probably came from families formerly affiliated with B’nai Israel who adopted Reform Judaism. In 1952, a section of Union Cemetery was purchased by Beth El for use as a burial ground.[134] Nine years later, in 1961, a committee was formed by members of the congregation to explore building a new temple further out from downtown. Committee members included Louis Berkman, Harvey Monheim, Nathan Stern, and Irving Berkman.[135] After about five years of discussion and exploration, a site for the new temple was selected along Lovers Lane and the cornerstone for the new building was laid. Myer Bernstein chaired the temple’s building committee. On November 18, 1966, the first Friday night Shabbat service was held at the new Temple Beth El under the direction of Rabbi Richard Safran.[136] Up to 307 people could be seated in the sanctuary, and the building also included a social hall and religious school space. The land for the new temple was donated by Louis and Sandra Berkman. The former temple building on North 5th Street was sold to a Christian congregation that converted the space into a church. As of 2022, the space is no longer being used by any congregation. Despite the successful completion of a new synagogue in Steubenville, it was clear by the mid-1960s that the Jewish community in the area was significantly smaller than it was thirty years before. The 1966 edition of the American Jewish Yearbook placed the population at 825, which was down 17.5 percent from the estimate given in 1937.[137] Even this estimate may be too high. Just three years later the Yearbook states that only 620 Jews lived in Steubenville.[138] Another possible sign of the Jewish community’s contraction is hinted at through merger discussions that took place between the leaders of Beth El and B’nai Israel as early as 1959.[139] This proposed merger, however, would not happen for another 31 years.

Members of the Beth El Building Committee.  Pictured seated L to R: Meyer Bernstein and Irving Berkman.  Pictured Standing L to R: Nathan Stern, Louis Berkman and Sidney Brody. (Photo source: Herald Star November 25, 1966)

 

Before moving into later developments it is necessary to say more about the Berkman family. Louis and Irving Berkman were both active members of the Steubenville community. Louis, a native of Cadiz, Ohio, relocated to Steubenville in the 1920s to begin working in the local scrap iron and steel industry.[140] In 1931, he, with the help of his father, Hyman, incorporated his business interests under the name The Louis Berkman Company. By 1977, the business grew to encompass interests in lumber and paper products. Louis was also associated with the Follansbee Steel Corporation. Another area of investment was communications, where Louis partnered with his brother, Jack. The elder Berkman brother, Jack, began to practice law in Steubenville during the early 1930s. His business interests expanded when he partnered with the Valley Broadcasting Company to create a local radio station, WSTV-AM in 1940. Later, under the name Friendship Group, Jack and Louis funded the creation of a Steubenville-based NBC television affiliate WTOV.[141] By the mid-1960s, it seems Jack relocated to New York City, where he was involved in creating the Jewish Center for the United Nations.[142] Louis, however, remained local, and he was later inducted into the Upper Ohio Valley Hall of Fame. Listed among Louis’ community accomplishments are his instrumental role in funding the construction of both St. John Medical Center, now known as Trinity Medical Center West, and St. John Arena.[143] In 1963, Louis was also awarded the Caritas Medal from the Diocese of Steubenville for “outstanding ecumenical spirit” and promoting the “good of his fellow men”.[144] He was also recognized for his support of the Franciscan University of Steubenville.

Irving Berkman does not appear to have arrived in Steubenville until the mid-1950s. Professionally, he was associated with Ampco-Pittsburgh, a steel production company. Irving served as the president of Beth El during the dedication of the new temple on Lovers Lane. He was also active with the Steubenville Jewish Community Council. His wife, Jeanette, was active in Hadassah, the Beth El Twig, Steubenville Women’s Club and other charities.[145] Harvey Monheim, another notable leader at Temple Beth El, worked with the Louis Berkman Company, which continues to operate as of 2022. While Irving and Louis Berkmans were major actors within the steel industry, it should be noted that Jewish small-business owners also continued to make an impact on the Tri-State area in more modest ways. In 1959, the following Jewish-owned businesses in Weirton, which have not been mentioned elsewhere, were active: A and S Food Stores, owned by William Abrams, Alpert’s Hardware and Furniture Store, owned by Charles Alpert, Ferber’s Restaurant, owned by Edward Ferber, the Home Furniture Company, owned by Benjamin Bushman, and Simon’s Furniture Store, owned by Morris and Samuel Chijner. In Steubenville, during the same year, there was: Brody Furniture, owned by Sidney Brody, Endich’s Furnishing, a flooring store owned by Jerome Endich, Greenberg Jewelers, owned by Curtis Greenberg, and Top Value Furniture, owned by Philip Brown.

 

The Merging of Beth El and B’nai Israel and the Closure of Beth Israel of Weirton

        Between 1960 and 1970, the populations of Steubenville and Weirton declined by approximately 2,790 individuals. Steubenville lost around five percent of its population during the 1960s and Weirton lost almost four percent. This general demographic decline was also felt within the Jewish community, which had never numbered more than three percent of the overall population in the Tri-State. Two factors may have further exacerbated the rate of population loss within the Jewish community. First, most young Jews who grew up in the Tri-State area during the 1950s and 1960s chose to pursue university studies after graduating high school. It became increasingly common for those who attended university to not return to the Tri-State area after completing their degrees. For many professions, there was simply a lack of jobs locally. Second, the rise of big-box stores during the 1960s spelled new challenges for the small, family-owned enterprises that had long been a means of support for many Jewish families. These trends in retail encouraged younger generations to seek new career paths that led them to other cities.

As the Jewish population of the Tri-State declined, community groups merged and some communal services were harder to obtain. By 1965, the Hadassah chapter in Weirton merged with the Beth Israel Sisterhood to form one group. By 1970, Beth El, which had so recently dedicated a modern temple, no longer supported a full-time rabbi. Rather, the temple’s members utilized the services of visiting student rabbis from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati. The Jewish community’s demographic decline during the 1960s is illustrated particularly clearly when examining the religious school enrolment at B’nai Israel. In 1962, B’nai Israel’s religious school enrolled 71 students and the synagogue supported separate children’s services through its Junior Congregation.[146] Just five years later, however, in 1967 only 32 children were enrolled and the congregation did not support a rabbi full-time.[147] Rabbi Bernard Gold was, however, retained by the congregation on a part-time basis. While it is likely that some of B’nai Israel’s attrition occurred due to the opening of the new Temple Beth El, it nevertheless hints at the increasingly untenable view that Steubenville’s Jewish community could continue to support two separate congregations. In Weirton, the last full-time rabbi of Beth Israel was Max Fox, who left the congregation around 1977. From this point until Beth Israel closed in 1990, the congregation only utilized the services of visiting rabbis on the holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. All other services were led by lay members of the congregation.[148]

While there certainly were members of the Jewish community who recognized the need to consolidate Jewish congregations, the decision to merge proved difficult. In Steubenville, members of both Beth El and B’nai Israel were proud of their unique histories. Additionally, the two congregations differed on various points of Jewish practice. Both groups also maintained membership roosters that, while significantly smaller than in years past, were still sizable. For example, during the late 1970s, approximately 93 households were affiliated with B’nai Israel.[149] Some of these households, however, were also members of Beth El. Merging even some of the two congregation’s functions proved tricky. In 1972, the Sunday schools for Beth El and B’nai Israel were combined for a time but the agreement collapsed within two years and the six students from B’nai Israel were withdrawn.[150] In Weirton, located just under six miles from Steubenville, Beth Israel continued to maintain a membership list of approximately 75 families during the late 1960s and early 1970s.[151] While Beth Israel had shifted its affiliation from Orthodox to Conservative Judaism by the late 1950s, Jewish families in Weirton wished to maintain a distinct religious presence in their hometown rather than travel downriver to Steubenville.

As members of the Tri-State Jewish community considered the pros and cons of consolidating the area’s Jewish congregations, the region’s overall demographic decline continued. Between 1970 and 1980 the federal census recorded a population loss of 4,371 for Steubenville and 2,395 for Weirton. Despite the decline in numbers, it should be noted that members of the Jewish community continued to be represented in the area’s civic, educational, and philanthropic life. For example, Michael Button served as a local judge from 1962 to 1970 and then resumed his legal practice in Toronto, Ohio. He was also a member of the Toronto Masonic lodge.[152] Samuel and Ida Cohen are also remembered by some contemporary residents of Steubenville. Samuel worked as a pharmacist and was active with the Jefferson County Academy of Pharmacists. Ida worked as an accounting teacher at Steubenville High School. Another noteworthy teacher was Harry Greenberg, who for 20 years served as the band director at Central Catholic High School.[153] In Weirton, Arthur Recht was a notable attorney from 1952 to 2015.[154] The law firm he founded, Recht Law Offices, continues to operate as of 2022. Both Arthur and Janet Recht were active members of the Jewish community. Arthur was a member of B’nai B’rith and for a time served as president of the West Virginia Council of B’nai B’rith. Janet was a life member of Hadassah.[155]

In 1978, Lillian Weis was elected as president of B’nai Israel. She was the first woman to hold the role and also the last president of B’nai Israel. Much of Lillian’s work as president centered on successfully merging Steubenville’s two Jewish congregations. This merger took place two years after Lillian assumed the B’nai Israel presidency in 1980. Now consolidated into one institution, Beth El and B’nai Israel took on the new name Beth Israel.[156] In addition to serving as B’nai Israel’s last president, Lillian was also active in B’nai B’rith Women, Hadassah, and the Chevra Kadisha, or Jewish burial society. It is notable that as late as 1973, four Jewish women’s organizations were still active in Steubenville. These organizations were B’nai B’rith Women, Hadassah, the B’nai Israel Synagogue Sisterhood, and the Temple Beth El Sisterhood.[157] Outside the Jewish community, Lillian served for a time as president of the board of trustees for Jefferson County Center of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse and she was active with the local Parent Teacher Association.[158]

The merger of Beth El and B’nai Israel did allow a full-time rabbi to again reside in Steubenville. David Kaplan was the first rabbi to serve at the congregation, which elected to occupy the newer synagogue at 300 Lovers Lane. He filled the role for about one year. By 1986, however, Steubenville was again without a full-time rabbi.[159] Around this time, the Jewish population of Steubenville and Weirton combined was likely around 250 people.[160] Morris Denmark, a longtime leader within the Jewish community, was the first president of Beth Israel. In this role, he sought to bring into greater harmony the former Beth El and B’nai Israel groups. The former B’nai Israel building on South 5th Street was sold to a Christian congregation that converted the space into a church. As of September 2015, the space was occupied by Emmanuel Church of God in Christ.

Ten years after Beth Israel of Steubenville was created through the merger of Beth El and B’nai Israel, Beth Israel of Weirton closed its doors. Its congregants joined Beth Israel of Steubenville. Sharon Bogarad, an attorney in Weirton as of 2022 and the daughter of Betty and Irwin Bogarad, described the synagogue in an interview as having three large classrooms, a stage area, and a kitchen in addition to the rabbi’s study area and sanctuary space.[161] In the sanctuary, there was seafoam green carpet and a high ceiling with wrought iron chandeliers. Stained glass windows were also found.[162] This description of the sanctuary is important because it is no longer possible to visit the former Beth Israel of Weirton building. When the congregation disbanded, the building was sold to a local nonprofit that intended to use the space as a soup kitchen. Necessary repairs to the building were not made, however, and in 1994 or 1995 the roof collapsed after a heavy snowfall. None were injured in the incident. Shortly afterward, the City of Weirton declared the building unsafe and the structure was demolished. As of 2022, an empty grass lot occupies the space formerly filled by Beth Israel of Weirton at the corner of Virginia Avenue and West Street. Miraculously, when the former synagogue building collapsed a stained glass window over the main entrance with a quote from the Book of Isaiah was undamaged. This stained glass is now in a shadowbox at the Weirton Area Museum and Cultural Center.[163] Weirton’s Hadassah chapter remained active until 1997 and the town’s B’nai B’rith chapter likely disbanded by this time as well. While there are no longer any organized Jewish groups in Weirton, a small Jewish presence does remain in town as of 2022.

 

The Closing of Beth Israel of Steubenville

While the Jewish community of the Tri-State area continued to contract during the 1990s, members persisted in organizing themselves to support charitable causes. The Steubenville  Jewish Community Council continued to be one vehicle through which these charitable efforts were sponsored. While the organization once had its own offices inside the First National Bank Building on Market Street, by 1989 the group had moved to a space within Beth Israel.[164] Lee Weisberger, the son of Mark and Melva Weisberger, was the last president of the Jewish Community Council. Dr. Weisberger, who continues his work as an anesthesiologist in Steubenville as of 2022, was interviewed by the author about his time with the organization. Among the charities Dr. Weisberger remembered the organization supporting were the Jewish Institute of the Blind and the Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem. The group also sponsored an annual Holocaust survivor lecture for many years.[165]

By 2010, the population of Steubenville had fallen to 18,659 people. Just 35 families were affiliated with Beth Israel at this time. Without the population needed to maintain the institution, in 2012 the members of Beth Israel elected to disband their congregation. Arthur Recht and Sandy Berman were the final co-presidents of Beth Israel. Myron Chijner, a past-president of Beth Israel and the son of Carol and Samuel Chijner, served as the head of the committee that distributed the synagogue’s assets. The last High Holiday services held at Beth Israel took place in September 2013.[166] By this time, Tri-State Health Services had taken ownership of the building and begun transforming it into a senior center known as the Prime Time Center. Using funds from the proceeds generated by the building’s sale, and from the congregation’s other remaining assets, the Tikkun Olam Scholarship of Temple Beth Israel was established through the Community Foundation for the Ohio Valley. This fund supports local students who wish to pursue a healing profession such as medicine, social work, counseling, or education at the university level. A fund was also created for the perpetual care of the B’nai Israel Cemetery and donations were made to charities addressing Jewish education.[167]

The synagogue’s religious articles were also donated to various congregations. One of Beth Israel’s Torah scrolls was sent to Temple Am Shalom, a Reform congregation in Mentor, Ohio, along with 100 prayer books.[168] Another Torah was sent to a synagogue in the vicinity of Phoenix, Arizona.[169] A large religious sculpture that was on the grounds of Beth Israel was donated to Rodef Shalom Congregation in Pittsburgh. Jennie Bernstein, the last secretary of Beth Israel, helped to transfer much of the congregation’s archives to Beth El Congregation, located in Mount Lebanon Pennsylvania. Many congregants from Beth Israel also joined Beth El after Steubenville’s synagogue closed and a room at the congregation was dedicated to the former Beth Israel synagogue.[170]

While Steubenville is no longer home to a synagogue, a Jewish presence remains in the area. Despite never comprising more than three percent of the area’s overall population Jews have made significant contributions to the civic, cultural, and economic history of the Tri-State area. Today’s local Jewish families continue a legacy that began in the mid-nineteenth century of Judaism being practiced and lived in Jefferson County. This legacy merits remembering. While this work has not profiled every Jewish family that has lived in the Tri-State area, an effort has been made to provide a comprehensive overview of how the local Jewish community first emerged, changed through the years, and what lives its members led. It is hoped that this work joins with others that seek to preserve the diverse and unique history of the Tri-State area.

 

 

 

 

Bibliography 

Primary Sources

Tabachnick, Toby. “Steubenville Synagogue to Close; Sale Completed on Building.” Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle. June 26, 2013. https://jewishchronicle.timesofisrael.com/steubenville-synagogue-to-close-sale-completed-on-building/.

Temple Beth El, 25th Silver Anniversary, 1924-1949.” Public Library of Steubenville and Jefferson County.” http://www.digitalshoebox.org/digital/collection/books/id/75724/rec/7.

Temple Beth El Golden Anniversary, 1924 – 1974 Booklet. Public Library of Steubenville and Jefferson County. http://www.digitalshoebox.org/digital/collection/books/id/75816.

Wittenberg, Ed. “Temple Am Shalom Receives Torahs from Closing Synagogue.” Cleveland Jewish News. August 09, 2013.

Newspapers Utilized

American Israelite (Cincinnati, OH).

American Jewish World (Minneapolis, MN).

Cleveland Jewish News (Cleveland, OH).

Detroit Jewish News (Detroit, MI).

Herald (Steubenville, OH).

Herald-Star (Steubenville, OH).

Jewish Criterion (Pittsburgh, PA).

Jewish Review and Observer (Cleveland, OH).

Occident (Philadelphia, PA).

Ohio Jewish Chronicle (Columbus, OH).

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA).

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (Pittsburgh, PA).

Sentinel (Chicago, IL).

True American (Steubenville, OH).

Valley News (West Lebanon, NH).

Weirton Daily Times (Weirton, WV).

Secondary Sources   

Alpert, Charles and Harry Caplan. “Beth Israel Congregation Dates to 1917.” Weirton Daily Times. July 30, 1976.

Blum, Arthur. “History of Congregation B’nai Israel to 1976.” Public Library of Steubenville and Jefferson County. http://www.digitalshoebox.org/digital/collection/books/id/60638/rec/59.

Doyle, Joseph., 20th Century of Steubenville and Jefferson County, Ohio Vol 1 Chicago: Richmond-Arnold Publishing Company. 1910.

“Jewish Population of the United States, 1965.” American Jewish Yearbook. http://www.ajcarchives.org/AJC_DATA/Files/1966_4_USDemographic.pdf.

“Jewish Population of the United States.” American Jewish Yearbook, 1969. http://www.ajcarchives.org/AJC_DATA/Files/1969_6_USDemographic.pdf.

“Jewish Population in the United States, 1988.” The American Jewish Yearbook. http://www.ajcarchives.org/AJC_DATA/Files/1989_6_USDemographic.pdf.

Kearns, Susan. “First of Jewish Religion Settled in Weirton in 1909.” Weirton Daily Times. October 29, 1966.

“Louis Berkman Industry.” Lou Holtz Upper Ohio Valley Hall of Fame. 2017. http://www.louholtzhalloffame.com/berkman.html.

Marton, Nandoor. “History of the Jewish Community of Weirton, West Virginia.” in West Virginia Jewry: Origins and History 1850-1958. Abraham Shinedling (Philadelphia: Maurice Jacobs Incorporated. 1963).

Neuman, Johanna. “Modern Jewish History: From Ghetto to Glamour – How Jews Redesigned the Fashion Business.” Jewish Virtual Library. https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/from-ghetto-to-glamour-how-jews-redesigned-the-fashion-business.

Milhander, Kenneth., “The Steubenville Jewish Community Unity Through Diversity.” Public Library of Steubenville and Jefferson County. http://www.digitalshoebox.org/digital/collection/books/id/60668/rec/1.

“Statistics of Jews.” The American Jewish Yearbook 1943-1944. http://www.ajcarchives.org/AJC_DATA/Files/1943_1944_13_Statistics.pdf.

Weissbach, Lee. Jewish Life in Small-Town American: A History (New Haven: Yale University Press. 2005).

“The Berkman Family.” Rauh Jewish Archives. 2022. https://rauhjewisharchives.org/entry/berkman-family/.

 

Footnotes

[1] “Congregations,” Occident (Philadelphia), December 01, 1856.

[2] “Palestine Relief Fund,” Occident, September 01, 1854.

[3] “New Arrival of Ready Made Clothing at Frohman’s,” Herald (Steubenville), September 07, 1859.

[4] “Dissolution of Co-Partnership,” Herald, January 31, 1866.

[5] Arthur Blum, “History of Congregation B’nai Israel to 1976,” Public Library of Steubenville and Jefferson County, http://www.digitalshoebox.org/digital/collection/books/id/60638/rec/59.

[6] Herald, August 21, 1861, p 3.

[7] Herald, July 03, 1861, p 2.

[8] “The Legend of the Wandering Jew,” True American (Steubenville), December 03, 1856.

[9] Profile of Jones Munker, Herald-Star (Steubenville), June 06, 1902, p 9.

[10] Profile of Jones Munker, Herald-Star, June 06, 1902, p 9.

[11] Obituary of Joseph May, Herald-Star, February 15, 1923.

[12] “Steubenville Masons Observe 150th Anniversary,” Herald-Star, September 30, 1967.

[13] “Temple Given Home as Gift,” Herald-Star, September 23, 1959.

[14] “Mrs. L M Leopold Dies at Cleveland,” Herald-Star, January 11, 1926.

[15] “May and Leopold Marks 75th Year,” Herald-Star, October 23, 1977.

[16] “He Took Him In,” Herald, September 03, 1880.

[17] “Mayer Levinson Dies in Hospital,” Herald-Star, April 09, 1934.

[18] Johanna Neuman, “Modern Jewish History: From Ghetto to Glamour – How Jews Redesigned the Fashion Business,” Jewish Virtual Library, https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/from-ghetto-to-glamour-how-jews-redesigned-the-fashion-business.

[19] “Ralph Levinson, Lawyer for 50 Years, Dies Here,” Herald-Star, November 30, 1960.

[20] “S. A. Laubheim, Merchant, Dies at Home Here,” Herald-Star, March 05, 1929.

[21] “Aaron Lewengood Retires from the Munker Company,” Herald-Star, April 06, 1923.

[22] Joseph Doyle, 20th Century of Steubenville and Jefferson County, Ohio Vol 1 Chicago: Richmond-Arnold Publishing Company, 1910, p 418.

[23] “Steubenville In Proportion to the Size its Jewish Community Has an Amazing Record of Activity,” Jewish Criterion (Pittsburgh), April 31, 1919.

[24] Ibid.

[25] Ibid.

[26] Herald, May 12, 1871, p 3.

[27] “Mosaic Law,” Herald, May 21, 1897.

[28]  “Court of Common Pleas,” Herald, February 21, 1896.

[29] “Mosaic Law,” Herald, May 21, 1897.

[30] Kenneth Milhander, “The Steubenville Jewish Community Unity Through Diversity,” Public Library of Steubenville and Jefferson County, p 2, http://www.digitalshoebox.org/digital/collection/books/id/60668/rec/1.

[31] Joseph Doyle, 20th Century of Steubenville and Jefferson County, Ohio Vol 1, p 418.

[32] Arthur Blum, “History of Congregation B’nai Israel to 1976”.

[33] “Snap Shots,” Herald, December 06, 1897.

[34] “Old Custom,”Herald-Star, August 06, 1907.

[35] “First Burial,” Herald-Star, August 09, 1907.

[36] Arthur Blum, “History of Congregation B’nai Israel to 1976”.

[37] “New Synagogue,” Herald-Star, January 09, 1903.

[38] Arthur Blum, “History of Congregation B’nai Israel to 1976.”

[39] Ibid.

[40] Kenneth Milhander, “The Steubenville Jewish Community Unity Through Diversity,” p 3.

[41] “Brilliant Nuptials at the Synagogue,” Herald-Star, September 18, 1903.

[42] Ibid.

[43] “Hepner-Eskovich,” Herald-Star, October 25, 1904.

[44] “Nuptials of Mr. Wolf Charlson and Miss Wolf,” Herald-Star, November 13, 1907.

[45] “Steubenville In Proportion to the Size its Jewish Community Has an Amazing Record of Activity,” Jewish Criterion, April 31, 1919.

[46] Obituary of Sam Geffner, Weirton Daily Times, November 02, 1965.

[47] Nandoor Marton, “History of the Jewish Community of Weirton, West Virginia,” in West Virginia Jewry: Origins and History 1850-1958, Abraham Shinedling (Philadelphia: Maurice Jacobs Incorporated,  1963), p 1259. 

[48] Susan Kearns, “First of Jewish Religion Settled in Weirton in 1909,” Weirton Daily Times, October 29, 1966.

[49] Arthur Blum, “History of Congregation B’nai Israel to 1976”.

[50] Nandoor Marton, “History of the Jewish Community of Weirton, West Virginia,” 1963, p 1259.

[51] Charles Alpert and Harry Caplan, “Beth Israel Congregation Dates to 1917,” Weirton Daily Times, July 30, 1976.

[52] Ibid.

[53] Ibid.

[54] “New Synagogue Planned for Cove,” Herald-Star, November 19, 1925.

[55] Nandoor Marton, “History of the Jewish Community of Weirton, West Virginia,” 1963, p 1260.

[56] Nandoor Marton, “History of the Jewish Community of Weirton, West Virginia,” 1963, p 1260.

[57] “Former Soldiers Compare Notes,” Herald-Star, April 21, 1908.

[58] “Death Claims Ben Mirvis,” Herald-Star, April 13, 1965.

[59] Obituary of Mrs. Ben Mervis, Herald-Star, September 19, 1964.

[60] “Nathan Mervis Dies at Home in Weirton,” Herald-Star, June 13, 1935.

[61] “Steubenville In Proportion to the Size its Jewish Community Has an Amazing Record of Activity,” Jewish Criterion, April 31, 1919.

[62] Ibid.

[63] “Soldier Letters,” Herald-Star, December 17, 1918.

[64] “Personal Mention,” Herald-Star, August 04, 1919.

[65] “War Worker Honored,” Sentinel (Chicago), September 14, 1917.

[66] Lee Weissbach, Jewish Life in Small-Town American: A History (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2005), p 267.

[67] “Volunteers,” Herald-Star, August 15, 1898.

[68] “Steubenville In Proportion to the Size its Jewish Community Has an Amazing Record of Activity,” Jewish Criterion, April 31, 1919.

[69] “All in Readiness for Jewish Relief Drive on Tuesday,” Herald-Star, December 29, 1919.

[70] “Steubenville In Proportion to the Size its Jewish Community Has an Amazing Record of Activity,” Jewish Criterion, April 31, 1919.

[71] “Jewish Relief Association Goes Over the Top in Relief Fund Campaign,” Herald-Star, March 02, 1922.

[72] “Store Founded Here Years Ago Greets Patrons,” Herald-Star, November 30, 1929.

[73] “Original Patrons Still Listed Among Customers at Sulzbacher’s,” Herald-Star, November 30, 1929.

[74] “Give Dinner in Honor of Steubenville Couple,” Jewish Review and Observer (Cleveland), January 13, 1928.

[75] Paul Zuros, “History in the Hills: The Hub, Gone but Not Forgotten,” Weirton Daily Times, July 11, 2020.

[76] “Hub Keeps Pace in Retailing,” Herald-Star, March 30, 1973.

[77] “City Shocked by Sudden Death of Eugene S Anathan,” Herald-Star, May 26, 1924.

[78] “New Congregation in Ohio Town,” Ohio Jewish Chronicle (Columbus), February 24, 1922.

[79] Ibid.

[80] “Reiner’s Department Store Observes 50th Anniversary,” Herald-Star, March 12, 1958.

[81] “Reichblum Celebrates Twentieth Birthday,” Herald-Star, May 08, 1936.

[82] “M. I. Sugarman, Veteran Jeweler, Taken by Death,” Herald-Star, May 27, 1967.

[83] Kenneth Milhander, “The Steubenville Jewish Community Unity Through Diversity,” p 6.

[84] Temple Beth El Golden Anniversary, 1924 – 1974 Booklet, Public Library of Steubenville and Jefferson County, http://www.digitalshoebox.org/digital/collection/books/id/75816.

[85] “Temple Beth El, 25th Silver Anniversary, 1924-1949,” Public Library of Steubenville and Jefferson County,” http://www.digitalshoebox.org/digital/collection/books/id/75724/rec/7.

[86] Temple Beth El Golden Anniversary, 1924 – 1974 Booklet, Public Library of Steubenville and Jefferson County, http://www.digitalshoebox.org/digital/collection/books/id/75816.

[87] Ibid.

[88] “Rabbi Goldberger is Re-elected by Unanimous Vote,” Herald-Star, August 13, 1923.

[89] “First Anniversary,” Herald-Star, February 22, 1909.

[90] “Jottings,” American Israelite (Cincinnati), May 18, 1916.

[91] “Steubenville In Proportion to the Size its Jewish Community Has an Amazing Record of Activity,” Jewish Criterion, April 31, 1919.

[92] “Meeting to Protest,” Herald-Star, May 21, 1919.

[93] “Mingo News Notes,” Herald-Star, June 28, 1920.

[94] “Personal Mention,” Herald-Star, April 01, 1921.

[95] “Y.M.H.A.,” Herald-Star, September 29, 1921.

[96] “Y.M.H.A. Meeting,” Herald-Star, December 19, 1921.

[97] “Temple Troop Scouts Receive Merit Awards,” Herald-Star, February 19, 1941.

[98] “A.Z.A. Chapter Holds Birthday Meeting Sunday,” Herald-Star, April 24, 1933.

[99] Yom Kippur Dance Arranged by A.Z.A.,” Herald-Star, September 04, 1936.

[100] “AZA Sponsored Musical Show is Tuneful Hit,” Herald-Star, March 07, 1940.

[101] “Bazaar at Jewish Community House Splendid Success,” Herald-Star, October 20, 1921.

[102] “Steubenville In Proportion to the Size its Jewish Community Has an Amazing Record of Activity,” Jewish Criterion, April 31, 1919.

[103] “Personal Mention,” Herald-Star, February 06, 1924

[104] “Shower for Children,” Herald-Star, March 29, 1924.

[105] “Personals,” Herald-Star, March 31, 1921.

[106] Obituary of Mrs. Weisberger, Herald-Star, June 03, 1961.

[107] Kenneth Milhander, “The Steubenville Jewish Community Unity Through Diversity,” p 3.

[108] “Census Enumerators,” Herald-Star, June 08, 1900.

[109] Obituary of Mrs. Weisberger, Herald-Star, June 03, 1961

[110] Interview with Sharon Bogarad, January 07, 2022.

[111] “Hinerman Named Weirton Judge,” Weirton Daily Times, April 23, 1968.

[112] Obituary of Dr. Earl Rosenblum, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, March 20, 2008.

[113] “Fort Steuben Metal in New Half Moon Plant,” Weirton Daily Times, June 16, 1960.

[114] Paul Giannamore, “Prominent Attorney Dies at 89,” Herald-Star, October 03, 2003.

[115] “Statistics of Jews,” The American Jewish Yearbook 1943-1944, p. 578, http://www.ajcarchives.org/AJC_DATA/Files/1943_1944_13_Statistics.pdf.

[116] “Judge Samuel H. Silbert Addresses Hadassah’s Anniversary Dinner,” Herald-Star, April 01, 1940.

[117] Arthur Blum, “History of Congregation B’nai Israel to 1976.”

[118] “Denmark’s Fashion Store Opens at 434 Market Street,” Herald-Star, November 13, 1959.

[119] “Jewry Gathers to Hear Appeal for Aid in Drive,” Herald-Star, October 16, 1934.

[120] “News Brevities,” Sentinel (Chicago), February 16, 1939.

[121] “Gates of U.S. Closed to Von Steuben’s Kin,” Herald-Star, March 30, 1939.

[122] “Funeral Services Held for Dr. Leslie Caplan,” Herald-Star, August 12, 1969.

[123] “Capt. Leslie Caplan Missing; Family is Assured He is Safe,” Detroit Jewish News, December 15, 1944.

[124] Arthur Blum, “History of Congregation B’nai Israel to 1976.”

[125] Arthur Blum, “History of Congregation B’nai Israel to 1976.”

[126] Charles Alpert and Harry Caplan, “Beth Israel Congregation Dates to 1917,” Weirton Daily Times, July 30, 1976.

[127] Arthur Blum, “History of Congregation B’nai Israel to 1976.”

[128] Obituary of Saul Glick, Herald-Star, May 03, 1975.

[129] “David Adler Installed Rotary Club President,” Herald-Star, July 06, 1957.

[130] Arthur Blum, “History of Congregation B’nai Israel to 1976.”

[131] “Annual Donor Program Held by Sisterhood,” Herald-Star, November 10, 1958.

[132] Temple Beth El Golden Anniversary, 1924 – 1974 Booklet, Public Library of Steubenville and Jefferson County, http://www.digitalshoebox.org/digital/collection/books/id/75816.

[133] “B’Nai B’rith to Host Conference Here in Spring,” Weirton Daily Times, January 16, 1958.

[134] Kenneth Milhander, “The Steubenville Jewish Community Unity Through Diversity,” p 7.

[135] Ibid.

[136] “Temple Beth El Begins Services at New Edifice,” Herald-Star, November 25, 1966.

[137] “Jewish Population of the United States, 1965,” American Jewish Yearbook, p. 89, http://www.ajcarchives.org/AJC_DATA/Files/1966_4_USDemographic.pdf.

[138] “Jewish Population of the United States,” American Jewish Yearbook,1969,  p. 270, http://www.ajcarchives.org/AJC_DATA/Files/1969_6_USDemographic.pdf.

[139]  Arthur Blum, “History of Congregation B’nai Israel to 1976.”

[140] “Louis Berkman Industry,” Lou Holtz Upper Ohio Valley Hall of Fame, 2017, http://www.louholtzhalloffame.com/berkman.html.

[141] “The Berkman Family,” Rauh Jewish Archives, 2022, https://rauhjewisharchives.org/entry/berkman-family/.

[142] “Heads UN Center,” American Jewish World (Minneapolis), July 16, 1965.

[143]  “Louis Berkman Industry,” Lou Holtz Upper Ohio Valley Hall of Fame, 2017.

[144] “Their Ecumenical Spirit Rewarded,” Herald-Star, June 05, 1963.

[145] “Berkman Rites Slated Friday at Temple,” Herald-Star, October 06, 1977.

[146] Arthur Blum, “History of Congregation B’nai Israel to 1976,” p 17

[147] Ibid.

[148] Interview with Sharon Bogarad, January 07, 2022.

[149] Arthur Blum, “History of Congregation B’nai Israel to 1976,” p 17

[150] Ibid.

[151]  Susan Kearns, “First of Jewish Religion Settled in Weirton in 1909,” Weirton Daily Times, October 29, 1966.

[152] Obituary of Michael Button, Cleveland Jewish News, November 25, 1988.

[153] Obituary of Harry Greenberg, Herald-Star, February 11, 2015.

[154] Obituary of Arthur Recht, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, December 31, 2015.

[155] Obituary of Janet Recht, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, April 03, 2015.

[156] Kenneth Milhander, “The Steubenville Jewish Community Unity Through Diversity,” p 5, http://www.digitalshoebox.org/digital/collection/books/id/60668/rec/1.

[157]  “Four Lights Theme of Luncheon,” Herald-Star, December 17, 1973.

[158] “Mrs. Lillian Weis Fills Board Post,” Herald-Star, June 24, 1977.

[159] Kenneth Milhander, “The Steubenville Jewish Community Unity Through Diversity,” p 9, http://www.digitalshoebox.org/digital/collection/books/id/60668/rec/1.

[160] “Jewish Population in the United States, 1988,” The American Jewish Yearbook, p. 244, http://www.ajcarchives.org/AJC_DATA/Files/1989_6_USDemographic.pdf.

[161] Interview with Sharon Bogarad, January 07, 2022.

[162] Ibid.

[163]  Interview with Sharon Bogarad, January 07, 2022.

[164] Kenneth Milhander, “The Steubenville Jewish Community Unity Through Diversity,” p 11,  http://www.digitalshoebox.org/digital/collection/books/id/60668/rec/1.

[165] Interview with Lee Weisberger, January 11, 2022.

[166] Toby Tabachnick, “Steubenville Synagogue to Close; Sale Completed on Building,” Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle, June 26, 2013, https://jewishchronicle.timesofisrael.com/steubenville-synagogue-to-close-sale-completed-on-building/.

[167] “Synagogues Struggle in Dying Mill Townsof Ohio River Valley,” Valley News, June 20, 2014, https://www.vnews.com/Archives/2014/06/Synagogues-ah-vn-062014.

[168] Ed Wittenberg, “Temple Am Shalom Receives Torahs from Closing Synagogue,” Cleveland Jewish News, August 09, 2013.

[169] Interview with Lee Weisberger, January 11, 2022.

[170] Toby Tabachnick, “Steubenville Synagogue to Close; Sale Completed on Building,” Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle, June 26, 2013, https://jewishchronicle.timesofisrael.com/steubenville-synagogue-to-close-sale-completed-on-building/.

 

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