Virtual Jewish World: South Dakota, United States
As a result of the gold rush, Jews settled in the Dakota territory as early as 1876. Two utopian agricultural communities, Cremieux and Bethlehem Yehudah, were founded in 1882 by the Am Olam . They were defunct by 1885. Other Jewish homesteaders, particularly in the western part of the state stayed on the land longer. Movement to towns and to commercial activity was common.
There were once congregations in Deadwood, Lead, Sioux Falls, Aberdeen, and at Ellsworth Air Force Base in Rapid City. Today there are two: Mt. Zion in Sioux Falls and the newer Synagogue of the Hills in Rapid City, both served by student rabbis. Blanche Colman, a native of Deadwood, became the first woman to practice law in the state and worked as legal counsel for the Homestake Mining Company. She is buried, along with her family and other Jewish gold seekers, in the "Hebrew Hill" section of the communal Mt. Moriah Cemetery, where Wild Bill Hickock and Calamity Jane are also interred. Other noteworthy South Dakota Jews include agronomist Sam Bober, who in the 1920s and 1930s developed rust resistant strains of wheat and the Adelstein family of Rapid City whose Northwestern Engineering Company is one of the largest private civil engineering firms in America.
As of 2017, South Dakota's Jewish population was approximately 250 people.
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.