Some of the most notable Jewish in Chicago’s history

Some of the most notable Jewish in Chicago’s history

Chicago could be one of the most important cities for Jewish in the United States and the world, due to the great Jewish community it has. Since 1833, this city has been the home for thousands of Jews, most of them from Germany and Russia. This community has been increasing since their arrival, making a lot of significant contributions to the Windy City in many fields, like business, sports, architecture, education, music, among other areas.

In addition, Chicago’s Jewish community has made a lot of social contributions for the city, like hospitals, schools, museums, parks and many other things, helping the people from Chicago to have better life conditions and improving their lives. This article will talk about some of the most prominent Jews in Chicago’s history, more specifically politicians, businessmen, and philanthropists.

Bernard Stone

He was born in Illinois in 1927 and died in 2014. Stone is considered one of the most important Jews in Chicago’s political history, being for more than 30 years the alderman of the 50th Ward in Illinois city (from 1973 to 2011). Besides his more than 30 years in Chicago’s council, Stone was the Vice Mayor of the city for more than ten years (from 1998 to 2011).

In 1956, Stone launched his candidature for being the alderman of the 50th Ward, but he was defeated on a voting day. For the next elections, he was a candidate and defeated again, but ten years later he became the alderman for the 50th Ward to fill the vacant for that position.

During his career as the alderman for the 50th Ward, Stone was better known for taking care of the people who supported him, besides, he was part of multiple committees, like the Budget and Government Operations or the Historical Landmark Preservation. Moreover, he was the chairman of the Chicago’s Council Committee on Buildings.

Jacob Arvey

Avery was better known for being a vital key to the eradication of corruption in the Chicago Democratic organization. He was born in 1895 and died in 1977 and during his public career, Arvey was considered a great and influential political leader. In 1923, he was elected to the Chicago’s city council, being an important member of Ed Kelly’s team, who was Chicago’s Mayor at that time.

Arvey also served in the U.S. Army as a colonel in the World War II. During this time, he put aside his political career and fought for the United States in the Pacific battles. In 1945, he resumes his public career, being the commissioner of the Chicago Park District for more than 20 years. In this time, Arvey supported the candidacies of important politicians, like Adlai Stevenson II for Governor of Illinois, Paul Douglas for being U.S. Senator, among other political leaders.

Julius Rosenwald

Image courtesy of Terence Faircloth at
Image courtesy of Terence Faircloth at

He was born in Illinois in 1862 and died in 1932. Rosenwald was one of the most important businessmen in Chicago at that time, being the co-founder in 1886 of Sears, Roebuck and Company, an American stores chain. Before Sears foundation, Rosenwald worked in the clothes industry, learning about this business and its functioning. In 1878 he started his first manufacturing clothing company, but years later the organization broke. Some years later, he co-founded another clothing company called Rosenwald and Weil Clothiers, producing standardized size cloth, which was a new concept for that time.

Besides his clothing businesses, Rosenwald was a notable philanthropist, founding in Chicago the Rosenwald Fund and the Museum of Science and Industry.

The Rosenwald Fund was founded in 1917 for supporting African American children in rural areas, helping them with education, food, and healthcare. Rosenwald donated more than $5 million dollars for this institution.

At Julius Rosenwald death, his wealth amounted more than $80 million dollars. In 1992, he was included in the U.S. Business Hall of Fame and a Chicago Public School was named after Rosenwald. He has also a commemorative bronze bust in downtown Chicago, Illinois.

Saul Alinsky

Alinsky is better known for being a great writer but also for being a political activist and a community organizer. He was born in 1909 in Illinois and died in 1972. His supreme literary achievement was his book Rules for Radicals, which was focused on community leaders for teaching them how to gain social, political, legal and economic power.

As a community coordinator, Alinsky focused his efforts on helping poor and needed people, trying to improve their living conditions. A lot of his work was dedicated to African American people across all the United States, more specifically in Chicago, New York City, California, and Michigan.

Through his political activism and literature, Alinsky tried to transmit all their ideas and teach to future generations how to help needed persons. After his death, he has been recognized by many political leaders as one of the most influential community leaders in the Chicago’s history for his contributions in society development. In 1969, Saul Alinsky received the Pacem in Terris Peace and Freedom Award.

Related: Cultural Heritage at the Service of Success by Yosef Meystel