Jewish Americans in the Quad Cities

Celebrate Jewish American Heritage Month 2023 at the Davenport Public Library by exploring the resources on the history of the local Jewish community available at the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center at Main|Library.

The Jews of Iowa by Simon Glazer (1904) Call No: SC 296.777 GLAZE SIM

“The Davenport Jewry, 1874-1903,” Chapter 20 of this earliest of summaries of the Jewish experience in the state, tells of the 1861 establishment of the B’nai Israel congregation and its 1874 reorganization, following the steps in the transition to Reform Judaism. The creation of Mt. Nebo Cemetery in the 1850s and the construction of Temple Emanuel in 1885 are described, as well as the spiritual leadership of Rabbi Issac Fall, the participation of women, and the controversy over Mr. Freuder. The chapter includes profiles of John Ochs and David Rothschild, and a brief overview of the Orthodox community in Rock Island.

Jews of Tri-Cities,” The Reform Advocate, Iowa Edition (1912) Call No: SC 296.0977 Jew

This special issue of the Chicago-based periodical is a set of biographical sketches of prominent members of the Jewish community in the Quad-Cities. In addition to of the names familiar from the Glazer history (Ochs, Raphael, Deutsch, Moritz, Rothschild, Petersberger), there are newer arrivals E. P. and Betty Adler, Herbert Scharff, Max Hirsch, Robert Kramer, and Rabbi Aaron Weinstein, among others. The cover features the congregation’s second synagogue building, erected in 1906 at Brady and 11th Streets.

A Century with Iowa Jewry by Jack Seymour Wolfe (1941) Call No.: SC 296 Wol

The “Tri-Cities” chapter of Wolfe’s 1941 statewide survey picks up where Glazer’s work left off, describing the building of the new temple, the healing influence of Rabbi W. H. Fineshriber’s tenure, the lay leadership, the 75th anniversary of the congregation’s founding, and the several associated Jewish organizations active on both sides of the Mississippi River in the 1920s and ’30s, including women’s groups.

The Illinois-Iowa Jewish Community on the Banks of the Mississippi River by Oscar Fleishaker (1957) Call No.: SC 301.452 Fle

By far the most detailed account of Jewish community history in the Quad Cities is Fleishaker’s 1957 dissertation for Yeshiva University. His extensive use of primary sources, including local and national newspaper articles, city directories, and the records of Temple Emanuel make for a rich portrait.

100th Anniversary: Temple Emanuel, Davenport, Iowa, 1861-1961 (1961) Call No.: SC 296 One

This 1961 anniversary booklet includes a brief history of Temple Emanuel, reminiscences of former clergymen, a membership roster, and many photographs depicting contemporary life at the synagogue.

This photograph of the 1915 Temple Emanuel confirmation class belongs to the RSSC Center’s collection of images from the J.B. Hostetler Studio (2793):

The collection also includes this 1918 image of Evelyn Scharff, daughter of Herbert E. Scharff (profiled in “Jews of Tri-Cities”) and Carrie Mayer (5536):

And a 1918 portrait of the Finkelstein sisters of Rock Island (5608)

Click on the image numbers to connect to genealogical information about these Jewish families of the Quad Cities on the Upper Mississippi River Digital Image Archive.

(posted by Katie)

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