Historical Timeline of Baltimore Jewry

Baltimore Jewish history goes back several hundred years. In this timeline we present some of the highlights of a rich past.

The story is one of diversity: Baltimore’s Jews come from many different religious traditions and parts of the world. Through the years, they have evolved various ways of being Jewish in Baltimore. Sometimes diversity has led to conflict, as in the early struggles of Reform versus Orthodoxy or the labor struggles that once pitted Jewish workers against Jewish employers.

It’s a story of mobility: geographic, economic, and social. From the waves of immigrants who journeyed here from overseas to later generations who advanced out of the East Baltimore ghetto into a series of neighborhoods and suburbs, Baltimore’s Jews have been on the move. From sweatshop workers to shopkeepers to professionals, from cab drivers to computer programmers, their journey has been one of economic as well as geographic progress.

It’s a story of community: In the midst of constant movement and occasional conflict, Baltimore’s Jews have created strong institutions that have provided the stability and direction needed to forge a close-knit, sometimes insular Baltimore Jewish community. These institutions have constantly evolved to meet the ever-changing needs of diverse Jewish Baltimoreans.

Finally, it’s a story of attachment: to a place that has enabled community to flourish and individuals to achieve their goals. Baltimore has provided opportunity, and in turn, Jews have contributed to their city as neighbors; as civic, cultural, political, and business leaders; as supporters of local institutions. Though relations with non-Jews have at times been strained, Jews have been among the most enthusiastic of Baltimoreans, participating in city life in myriad ways.