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Virtual Jewish World: Gary, Indiana

GARY, "The Steel City," founded in 1906 by the United States Steel Corporation; situated on the southern tip of Lake Michigan; the second largest city in Indiana. Gary has a population of approximately 120,000, less than 1,000 of them Jewish. Jewish families made their way into Gary's sand dunes and swamps along with the earliest pioneers, and in September 1908 the first Orthodox Jewish house of worship was dedicated. Subsequent years brought a series of ever larger structures, and in 1955 the modern Temple Israel was completed. The Reform Congregation was incorporated in 1910, and services are now conducted in the large, fifty-year-old Temple Israel in the Miller Section of Gary.

Gary's Jewish community is active in government, business, civic, and philanthropic circles. During most of the time from 1964 to 1968 the mayor, city attorney, superintendent of schools, health commissioner, and municipal judge were Jewish. There was little overt antisemitism, but Jews were excluded from the all-white Gary Country Club and the University Club. The Gary Jewish community continues to be involved in social justice issues but with the change in demographics it is not as involved politically as it once was. The Gary Jewish Welfare Federation was formed in 1941. Enlarged in 1958–59 to include East Chicago and Hammond, the name was changed to the Northwest Indiana Jewish Welfare Federation. This Federation possesses archives which include historical material on the Jewish communities in the area.


Sources:[Ida Kay Sacks / Stanley Halpern (2nd ed.)]

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