“Jews came to Chicago from virtually every country in Europe and the Middle East, but especially from Germany and Eastern Europe,” says the Encyclopedia of Chicago. Jews immigrated to the United States to escape poverty, discrimination, and hate crimes. To say some Jews didn’t have “fond memories” of their homelands is an understatement.
Chicago was incorporated in 1833; by 1933, Chicago Jews were only outnumbered by New York City and Warsaw, Poland Jewish populations. Early Jewish settlers included Henry Horner, an ancestor to the first Jewish mayor of Chicago.
Selling – peddling – as a profession enabled the Jewish settlers to quickly acquire language skills and led to many successful business ventures. Russian and Polish Jews from small, rural villages began immigrating to Chicago in large numbers circa 1870. By 1930, they numbered over 80% of Chicago’s Jewish community. They settled mainly in the westside and labored as artisans, factory workers, garment industry workers, peddlers, and merchants.
The first synagogue was Kehilath Anshe Mayriv (KAM), established in 1847 by German Jews. By 1852, disgruntled Polish Jews broke off and founded Kehilath B’nai Sholom, Chicago’s second congregation. In 1861, the Sinai Reform synagogue was established near the corner of LaSalle and Monroe streets. Other Chicago-area “firsts” include:
- 1859 – United Hebrew Relief Association (UHRA)
- 1890 – Jewish Training School
- 1895 – Chicago Maternity Center
- 1903 – Chicago Hebrew Institute
- 1908 – Maot Chitim
Your History, Your Legacy
The Jewish history is rich with inheritance metaphors; terms meaning “inheritance” are mentioned over 200 times in the Old Testament. “The Scriptures transform the concept of inheritance to include the acquisition of spiritual blessings and promises from God,” says Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary.
We often have instructions for what we leave behind. When you leave a legacy of love with a financial donation to Maot Chitim, those who benefit from your inheritance can pay those blessings forward, and your history begins. Learn more about leaving a legacy! When you contact us, we’ll explain some of the ways a legacy gift can be established (assets, cash, charitable trust/annuity, IRA funds, life insurance, will bequest).