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.”

Comedian David Steinberg was a religious school teacher at Temple Beth El in Gary, Indiana, in the 1960s.

The Indiana Governor’s Mansion from 1919 to 1945 in Indianapolis was originally built 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.

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.

Dr. Chaim Weizmann, who developed synthetic acetone for the British in WWII, used the royalties from the production of the product in Commercial Solvents Corporation in Terre Haute toward fulfilling 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.

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

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

Hebrew Society of Brotherly Love of South Bend established a Jewish cemetery in 1859. In partnership with the Indiana Historical Bureau and Michiana Jewish Historical Society, the Jewish Cemetery Site installed a sign in 2002 to mark this Civil War-era cemetery in St. Joseph County.

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

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

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

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

Rabbi Sue Laikin Silberberg from Indianapolis attended Indiana University and is currently the Executive Director of the Indiana University Helene G Simon Hillel Center.

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.

Actor Michael Rosenbaum (Smallville) was raised in Newburg and attended Castle High School there. Best know 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.

Gerald Kraft from Indianapolis was the International President of B’nai B’rith men in 1982.

Ron Klain of Indianapolis served as Vice President Joe Biden’s first chief of staff. He previously served as associate counsel for President Bill Clinton. And he was a top debate preparer for President Barack Obama.

David Zipes, MD of Indianapolis, became the first pediatric hospitalist in Indiana in 1998. David is a 1985 graduate of North Central High School in Indianapolis and attended Indiana University School of Medicine.

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 residents in 1919, 51 Jewish residents in 1928, and 41 Jewish residents in 1937.

Choreographer Brian Honigbaum grew up in Indianapolis and has trained with some of the best-known teachers of the era. He danced professionally with Louisville Ballet, Dance Kaleidoscope, and the Corpus Christi Ballet, where he is currently the Ballet Master.

Indiana Jewish Trivia is updated often. Bookmark this page for more fun facts about Jews in the Hoosier state!