Facts & Trivia

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Albert Von Tilzer (born Albert Gumm), Born In Indianapolis to a Jewish family that immigrated from Poland. Von Tilzer wrote music to many hit songs, including, most notably, “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.”

Minnette Baum, a trailblazing Jewish Social Worker, was instrumental in establishing several organizations in Fort Wayne. This included helping to create the Allen Co. Children’s Home, the Wheatley Center, Fort Wayne Women’s Club, and the League for the Blind.

Rabbi Issac Mayer Wise founded Hebrew Union College (HUC), The first Rabbinical School in American History, in 1875. With a gracious $10,000 donation by Merchant Henry Adler of Lawrenceburg, Indiana, an Orthodox Jewish Immigrant from Alsalce-Lorraine who had given a considerable amount of his wealth HUC’s first classes were offered in 1875, housed in two of Cincinnati’s synagogues. In 1881, HUC moved into its building, and four years later, its first graduates received a formal ceremony for ordination.

In 1860 Lafayette, Indiana, hosted the first known Jewish Egalitarian Prayer Quorum (Minyan), with Jewish women counting equally with Jewish men.

Jewish Rock Star David Lee Roth was born October 10, 1954, in Bloomington, Indiana. For the most part, Roth grew up in New Castle, Indiana. In a 2019 interview with Q95’s “Stuck and Gunner,” he explained: “My grandparents moved to New Castle in 1913.”

Born in Indianapolis, Emma Messing, one of the first women to enter American diplomatic service, served in the U.S. Embassy in Berlin from 1921 to 1939.

In 1870: “A petition by Jews living in Indianapolis, Indiana (Local B’nai Brith chapter) urging President Grant to Intervene on behalf of Romanian Jews was referred to the Senate’s Committee on Foreign Relations.” This sparked. The United States Senate spent an hour that morning discussing the recent massacre of Jews in Romania. Senator Morton of Indiana requested President Grant intervene to “save the Jews of” Romania “from further persecutions.”

In The Founder of a film from 2016, Harry J. Sonneborn, born in Evansville, Indiana, was portrayed by actor B. J. Novak, who said, “You’re not in the burger business; you’re in the real estate business.”

Rabbi Milton Steinberg became the first Rabbi of Congregation Beth El Zedeck in Indianapolis. Later, he wrote Jewish classics such as “As a Driven Leaf” and “Basic Judaism.”

World-renowned Jewish violinist and conductor Joshua Bell was born in Bloomington, Indiana.

Samuel Judah from Vincennes, Indiana, was elected Indiana’s first and only Speaker of the Indiana House of Representatives in 1840.

The Indiana Governor’s Mansion from 1919 to 1945 in Indianapolis was built initially for Henry Kahn in 1908. A Bloomington, Indiana native, Kahn (1860-1934) was a very successful manufacturer, and his Kahn Tailoring Company had more than 2000 dealers and 12 retail stores across the country. The building was sold to the Marriott Hotel and demolished in 1962.

Thelma “Tiby” Eisen (May 11, 1922 – May 11, 2014) was an outfielder from 1944 through 1952 in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. She was born and raised by an Orthodox Jewish family in LA and played for the Fort Wayne Daisies (1947–’52).

Simon Wile (1830-1907) was a representative in the State Legislature from La Porte, Indiana, and in 1869 sponsored the first child labor law in the United States.

Indianapolis-born Rabbi Abraham Cronbach would serve as the Rabbi of Temple Beth El in South Bend. Years later, Rabbi Cronbach appeared with Julius Rosenberg’s mother and the Rosenbergs’ two small sons at a protest meeting in front of the White House after the Rosenbergs had been found guilty. Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed at Sing Sing prison in New York on June 19, 1953, more than two years after being found guilty of conspiracy to commit espionage. Cronbach gave a eulogy at Rosenberg’s funeral on June 21, 1953.

Dr. Chaim Weizmann, who developed synthetic acetone for the British in WWII, used the royalties from producing the product in Commercial Solvents Corporation in Terre Haute to fulfill his dream of Israel. He later became the first President of the modern state of Israel. He was posthumously honored by Governor Mike Pence as a Sagamore of the Wabash on May 30, 2013, at CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Terre Haute, Indiana.

Sydney Pollack (July 1, 1934 – May 26, 2008) was an American film director, producer, and actor. Pollack was born in Lafayette, Indiana, to a family of Russian Jewish immigrants, the son of Rebecca (née Miller) and David Pollack, a semi-professional boxer and pharmacist. The family relocated to South Bend; Pollack directed over 20 films and ten television shows, acted in over 30 movies or shows and produced over 44 films. For his film Out of Africa (1985), Pollack won the Academy Award for Best Director and Best Picture.

Bertha Beitman Herzog was born in Washington, Indiana, and grew up in Wabash, Indiana. She helped found several local organizations, including the Cleveland Federation of Jewish Women’s Organizations and the Jewish Big Sister Association.

Astronaut David Wolf was born and raised in Indianapolis. He holds degrees from Purdue and Indiana University.

The child of Russian Jewish Immigrants, Ray Archel was born in Terre Haute, Indiana, a boxing trainer who worked with twenty-two world champions, including Benny Leonard, Barney Ross, Jim Braddock, Tony Zale, Billy Soose, Ezzard Charles, and Roberto Duran.

Amy Eilberg was the first woman ordained to be a Rabbi in Conservative Judaism. Eilberg’s first rabbinic position was as a chaplain at Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Congregation Achduth Vesholom in Fort Wayne was founded as the first Synagogue in Indiana founded the same year in 1848 as the first Synagogue was founded in Brooklyn, New York.

Hebrew National Kosher Sausage Factory, Inc., had a manufacturing plant in Indianapolis from 1989 until 2004.

Only one year after Gary, Indiana, was founded in 1907, Menachem Mendel Sensibar and his son Jacob helped to form the city’s first Jewish Prayer Group. He was born in Czarist, Lithuania, in 1860. He arrived in America in 1903.  after a short stint in the town of Rishon l’Zion in Ottoman Palestine, Mendel soon supervised the building of the Park in Aetna, which is now part of Gary, Indiana. His son Jacob Sensibar leveled dunes to help create parts of Gary, Indiana, and was famous for creating much of the beach area around Chicago.

Actor Abraham Benrubi, from the TV show ER, attended Broad Ripple High School in Indianapolis.

John Jacob Hays was the first known Jewish resident of Fort Wayne, Indiana, in 1820.

Samuel Herschel Schulman (July 8, 1928 – July 5, 2019) was born to Jewish immigrants from Poland in Terre Haute, Indiana. Schulman was the last surviving American crew member of the ship Exodus 1947, which tried to bring thousands of Holocaust survivors from Europe to Mandatory Palestine.

Singer Adam Lambert from Indianapolis was the runner-up on the TV show’s eighth season, “American Idol,” in 2009.

Saul Bellow’s Novel Ravelstein was based on his friend and colleague, The Indianapolis, born and raised Jewish Philosopher Allan Bloom who grew up at Congregation Beth El-Zedeck and was part of the debate team.

Hubert L. Dreyfus was born in Terre Haute, Indiana, and was an expert in phenomenology, existentialism, and philosophical implications of AI and his explanation of Heidegger, which critics labeled “Dreydegger.” And was the inspiration for the Futurama character“Professor Hubert Farnsworth.

Hamilton Nussbaum co-founded the Conservatory of Music in Marion, Indiana, with his brother Percy Nussbaum in 1898, and it was run by the Nussbaum brothers until 1917. Both Brothers were born in LaPorte, Indiana, to immigrant Jewish parents from Sachsen, Prussia (Germany). The Conservatory was famous for turning out legendary musical phenom Cole Porter.

Paul Samuelson was born in Gary, Indiana. He was the first Jewish American to receive the Nobel Prize for Economics (1970) to contribute to economics. Samuelson is considered by many to be the founder of neoclassical economics.

The World’s First Home Gaming System Was Made In Fort Wayne, Indiana, by a German-born Jewish Immigrant Ralph Baer, later known as the Magnavox Odyssey.

Gen. Frederick Knefler, a Hungarian Jewish Immigrant to Indianapolis, became one of the highest-ranking Jews in the Union Army during the Civil War. As president of the board of regents of Indiana’s Soldiers and Sailors Monument, he oversaw the cornerstone laying in the center of Indianapolis on August 22, 1889, but sadly died before its completion in 1902.

Milton Kraus, a Republican member of Indiana’s House of Representatives, was born in Kokomo, Indiana. He organized a company of volunteers for the Spanish-American War. He served in the 65th, 66th, and 67th Congresses. His defeat in Congress was partly due to an aggressive press campaign from the Indiana Klan.

Actor Michael Rosenbaum (Smallville) was raised in Newburg and attended Castle High School there. Best known for portraying Lex Luthor on the Superman TV series Smallville, he was celebrated by TV Guide in 2013 as one of the 60 Nastiest Villians of All Time.

Isadore Levine (1897-1963) of La Porte, Indiana, was the first Jewish justice on the Indiana Supreme Court.

The small town of Attica, Indiana, in Fountain County, had a Jewish population of 138 residents in 1878, 33 in 1919, 51 in 1928, and 41 in 1937.

Bernard Sobel, the son of Polish Jewish Immigrants Nathan L. and Hattie Levy Sobel. Born on March 13, 1887, in Attica, Indiana was known as a publicist, American playwright, and historian of American entertainment in later years. He helped Eddie Cantor, Will Rogers, Len Errol, Vivienne Segal, Billie Burke, and many other famous, talented performers.

Rabbi David Philipson, born in 1862 in Wabash, Indiana, co-wrote the Union Prayer Book, the central prayer book for Reform Judaism, and presided over the first few of its re-publishings. He also became the leader of the Reform Movement after Rabbi Issac Mayer Wises’ death.

Max Nirdlinger was born in Fort Wayne and owned the original National Association of Pro Baseball Players franchises in 1871. Playing against Teams from New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Boston, his Fort Wayne Kekiongas team did not fare well. Still, they played the first game in pro history on May 4, 1871, with a 2 to 0 win at Kekionga Ballpark over the Cleveland Forest Citys. In the 1880s, he owned a baseball bat-making company in Fort Wayne.

Indianapolis Born Larry Frisch Directed Ma’aseh B’Monit (Tel Aviv Taxi). The latter, released in 1956, was the first Hebrew feature film in History to be produced entirely in Israel.

One of the world’s largest multinational banking firms Kuhn, Loeb & Co.was, was started in Lafayette, Indiana. In 1849, Abraham Kuhn, a Jewish Immigrant born in Rhineland-Palatinate, married Regina Loeb, a sister of his future partner, Solomon Loeb. In 1849 he was initially a peddler. In 1850, he formed a general partnership in a merchandising firm in Lafayette, Indiana, with his brother-in-law Solomon Loeb.

Jewish Indiana native, legendary retailer, and Vincennes University graduate Jacob Gimbel. In August of 1910, Jake financed an expedition to Georgetown, British Guiana, in South America, to search for a mysterious electric fish of the Order Gymnotiformes. Fish within this Order possess organs that generate electrical discharges. The electric eel is the only species of this Order that can generate enough electricity to stun prey–860 volts for two milliseconds. Shots from other species can produce only a few millivolts and are used for navigation, communication, and mating. The search for this mystery fish was successful, and it was named Porotergus gimbeli after the expedition’s sponsor.”

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