Currently the city of Cleveland has a Jewish population of about 80,000, which has remained relatively stable over the past decade or so. Perhaps its most famous Jews are the Cleveland native Jerry Siegler and the Canadian-born Joe Shuster (who moved to the city as a child), who together created the original Superman comics. Becky Raspe speaks with the local historian Sean Martin about the city’s Jewish history and current demography:
There were Jews who were in and out of Cleveland in the 1830s, and there isn’t really any evidence of a Jewish presence earlier than that,” [Martin] said. “But by the 1830s, Jews were coming in and out of the community. One in particular, Simson Thorman, a fur trapper and trader from a small town in Bavaria, chose to settle in the city of Cleveland and brought his friends and family with him.”
That group settled in 1839, Martin said, essentially founding the community that would become the one we know today almost 200 years later. Within 25 years, the population of Jews in Cleveland grew to 1,200.
“They brought with them the people they needed for a complete community, including a ritual slaughterer, for example,” he said. “And from there, the community grew. Until that point, there were no permanent Jewish settlements.”