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  • Seeing and Celebrating Jewish Life in the Ohio Valley
  • David Stradling, Coeditor

This special issue helps celebrate the bicentennial of Cincinnati's Jewish community, which dates to the creation of the Chestnut Street Cemetery in 1821. That West End cemetery, now more visible and better interpreted than it has been in decades, represents the first organized Jewish presence in the city and reminds us how integral the Jewish story is to the story of the city as a whole. With this issue, Ohio Valley History gathers new scholarship on Cincinnati's Jews, not just at the community's founding but over the course of those two hundred years. We also take this opportunity to acknowledge the Jewish presence throughout the valley and invite scholars to help us learn more about Jews who made a home in cities and towns across the region.

This issue includes three research articles, beginning with "A New Resting Place for the Scattered Sons of Israel," by Carrie Rhodus, Operations Manager at Jewish Cemeteries of Greater Cincinnati, who helped organize the bicentennial celebration. She has deeply researched the creation of the first cemetery, and here she sets that story in context, using new information to describe early Jewish life in Cincinnati. Second, in "Cincinnati's Best Citizens," Karla Goldman revisits some of Cincinnati's most well-known contributions to the broader American Jewish culture, including Isaac M. Wise's creation of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, the publication of the American Israelite, and the creation of Hebrew Union College. Wise and his colleagues were instrumental in the development of Reform Judaism, but the focus of Goldman's article is the next generation of Cincinnati Jews. Many of these men, including Murray Seasongood and Irwin Krone, are well known in the city, but they are seldom described as part of Cincinnati's Jewish story. Here they are. The third article comes from Alayna Gould, who examines the post–World War II suburbanization of Cincinnati's Jews, using synagogue architecture to make the case for Jewish inclusion in middle-class culture. In "Suburban Sanctuaries," Gould describes a largely native-born Jewish community, economically successful, and increasingly accepted as part of mainstream American culture. The construction of three synagogues, each adopting a modern architectural style but retaining a Jewish distinctiveness, helped establish Jews comfortably in the suburbs.

Two collections essays complement the three research articles. Christine Schmid Engels describes the creation of the Cincinnati Museum Center's special exhibit celebrating Jewish life in Cincinnati, Our Shared Story. The exhibit includes artifacts and documents that together convey the richness of the city's Jewish culture and its many contributions not just to Cincinnati but to the nation. In the Filson Collections essay, Abby Glogower examines the early records of Louisville's B'nai B'rith lodges, setting the local story in the context of the national B'nai B'rith movement and demonstrating the important connections between the Jewish communities in the two largest midriver cities. Glogower describes how the strategies of Benevolence, Brotherly Love, and Harmony at the heart of B'nai B'rith well served Louisville's Jewish community. [End Page 3]

David Stradling, Coeditor
Ohio Valley History