Some American Midwest cities with important Jewish presence

Some American Midwest cities with important Jewish presence

The Midwestern America is considered one of the most important areas in the United States, especially for the Jewish community established there. Since many years ago, these communities have created different businesses and institutions, which are currently crucial for the country’s economy and for the commercial trades with other nations.

In other posts, we have talked about some Jewish businessmen in the Midwest cities and their contribution to the American society through their organizations. We have also shown some of the most important insights of the principal towns in the Midwest region, but it is time to see other key towns where the Jewish community has played an essential role in the last years.

Before talking about these places, it is important to know briefly some aspects of the Jewish society in the American Midwest. The first Jewish communities, arrived from Germany before 1800, working as merchants or in doing manufacturing labors. Years later, more Jewish arrived from other places around Europe, like Russia or Central Europe, making this community bigger. Over time, these people formed different institutions and organizations, in addition, they started to participate in politics and other social activities, which consolidated them as the significant group existing today.


The first Jew in Detroit was Chapman Abraham, from Montreal, Canada. He, established in this city thanks to his fur business, trading this with other merchants from Detroit. After his death in 1873, Jews from Germany and Central Europe arrived in Detroit, establishing in the Hasting Street Area, working and managing different businesses and participating in politics and other activities. In addition, these Jewish groups built some religious places for their creed and traditions.

By 1900, Jews from Eastern Europe, arrived in Detroit, forming groups in the north and western area of the city, where some German Jews had presence. For 1930, Jews from other European countries, came to Detroit running away from Adolf Hitler, consolidating these established Jewish communities in the city. Over time, they worked and developed multiple activities and ventures, giving origin to the Jewish society that we know today.

Some of the most important Jewish businessmen from Detroit are Steve Ballmer, who was the CEO of Microsoft for 14 years and is considered one of the richest person in the world. Debbie Schlussel, a well-known writer and political commentator, who has published different articles for the New York Post, The Wall Street Journal, and The Jerusalem Post. Carl Levin, who is a former United States Senator, serving to this country for more than 30 years. Sander Levin, a well-known politician who has been a member of the United States House of Representatives for more than 30 years.

Related: The Jewish community contribution in Detroit by Yosef Meystel


The main Jewish society is located in Central Ohio, where there are more than 150.000 Jews. Since 1830, the first groups of Jews started to coming to this town from different European countries, mainly Germany and Russia. For some historians, the first Jewish immigrant in Cleveland was Simson Thorman, who came from Europe looking for a better future. The first Jewish groups settled in Hough and Glenville, where this population growth significantly, reaching the 90.000 persons.

For 1940, the principal Jewish neighborhoods besides Glenville and Hough, were Shaker Heights and Cleveland Heights, but over the time, these Jewish groups moved to other areas like Solon, Beachwood, Pepper Pike, Cleveland Heights, Orange, Moreland Hills, Shaker Heights, turning these areas into the places where the largest Jewish community lives today. In addition, it is important to say that Cleveland has the second major Soviet-Jewish community in the United States, just after New York City.

Some of the most significant Jews from Cleveland are Gary Cohn, who is one of the most important investment bankers in the United States, and the chief economic advisor to President Donald Trump. Al Lerner, who was one of the biggest businessmen in Cleveland, being the owner of the NFL team the Cleveland Browns. Peter B. Lewis, who was the CEO of Progressive Insurance Company.


Image courtesy of joãokẽdal at

This city is considered one of the most important for the Jewish community in the Midwest Region, not only for having one of the oldest Jewish societies in the United States but also for being the principal city for the American Reform Judaism.

The first Jew in Cincinnati was Joseph Jonas, an Englishman who came to this region looking for new opportunities. Years later, German Jews came to the city, bringing different working ideas and business initiatives to develop in Cincinnati. One of the first Jewish organizations was The B. Manischewitz Company, founded by the Rabbi Dov Behr Manischewitz in 1888, opening the way for other Jewish companies from that time to our days.

Cincinnati has notable Jewish figures, like Steven Spielberg, who is considered one of the best movie directors in history or Albert Sabin, the developer of the oral polio vaccine.

* Featured Image courtesy of Carlos Javier at