New Book Details History of Valley’s Jewish Community

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — A History of Jewish Youngstown and the Steel Valley, a new book by local authors Thomas Welsh, Joshua Foster, and Gordon F. Morgan, will be released May 1 by the Charleston, S.C.-based History Press.

The 208-page narrative, which features dozens of images, was produced in collaboration with the Mahoning Valley Historical Society. The book draws upon previous historical accounts, volumes of archival data, and scores of interviews with members of the Jewish community.

“By the time the Mahoning Valley’s first Jewish congregation, Rodef Sholom, was organized in 1867, the area’s small Jewish community was almost three decades old,” states a news release announcing the book’s publication. “Various historical accounts indicate the community’s first Jewish resident, Jacob Spiegle, arrived in 1837, only to be joined within a year by fellow European immigrants Emanuel Hartzell and Simon Lowenstein. No less surprising is the breathtaking range of contributions Jewish residents have made over the past 180 years.”

That legacy includes the Warner brothers, pioneers in the film industry, and the Raffel brothers, co-founders of the Arby’s fast-food chain. Family-owned enterprises such as Strouss-Hirshberg Department Store, Livingston’s Women’s Wear, Lustig’s Shoes, and Haber’s Furniture became household names throughout the region. And Jewish entrepreneurs played pivotal roles in the development of Youngstown Sheet & Tube, Truscon Steel, and Commercial Shearing.

The official launch of A History of Jewish Youngstown and the Steel Valley will take place at 5 p.m May 22, at the Tyler Mahoning Valley History Center in downtown Youngstown. For more information, contact the Mahoning Valley Historical Society at 330 743 2589.

Pictured above: A photo taken outside Strouss-Hirshberg’s, which is on the book’s cover.

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