Timeline of Baltimore Jewry: 1890 – 1912
1890: With economic success enabling more and more German Jews to move “uptown,” Baltimore Hebrew becomes the first congregation to leave East Baltimore. After selling the Lloyd Street Synagogue to a Lithuanian Catholic parish, it settles into the imposing Madison Avenue Temple in the fashionable northwest Baltimore neighborhood of Eutaw Place. All the established German Jewish congregations relocate uptown by 1903, constructing monumental temples befitting their members’ elevated status.
1890: The Hebrew Friendly Inn and Aged Home is founded. It will evolve into Levindale, the Baltimore Jewish community’s primary facility for care of the elderly and disabled.
1897: Gertrude Stein moves to Baltimore, where her parents had grown up in the German Jewish community, and enrolls in the Johns Hopkins University Medical School. She lives in Eutaw Place until 1902 when she departs for Europe and a celebrated literary career. Her debut novel Three Lives (1909) is set in a “fictionalized Baltimore.”
1898: The Baltimore branch of the Workman’s Circle is founded. The group provides sickness and death benefits to members, holds lectures, operates a library and Yiddish school, and serves as a forum and catalyst for labor activism.
1903: Thousands of Baltimore Jews gather to protest the Kishinev massacre in Russia and to raise funds for the victims.
1903: Henrietta Szold moves to New York City, where she becomes part of the national Jewish intellectual scene working as an editor, writer, and translator.
1904: Isidor Rayner, son of a leading Baltimore German Jewish family, is the first person of Jewish heritage to be elected U.S. Senator from Maryland. He serves two terms.
1904: Much of Baltimore’s business district is destroyed by fire; rebuilding is swift.
1905: After 15 years as the Church of St. John the Baptist, the Lloyd Street Synagogue once again becomes home to a Jewish congregation, Shomrei Mishmeres. Its spiritual leader, Rabbi Avraham Schwartz, becomes known as the “chief rabbi” of the Orthodox East European Jewish community. Shomrei Mishmeres occupies the Synagogue until disbanding in the 1950s.
1905: Henry Sonneborn and Co. builds the largest men’s clothing factory in the world at Paca and Pratt Streets.
1906: The city’s German Jewish charities consolidate as the Federated Jewish Charities. The following year, Russian Jewish charities consolidate as the United Hebrew Charities. Both are kept busy serving the many Jewish poor, aged, orphaned, and infirm.
1907: Some 40,000 Jews live in Baltimore.
1909: The Jewish Educational Alliance (JEA) is founded as a merger of the Daughters of Israel and the Maccabeans. In 1913 it moves into its longtime home at 1216 East Baltimore Street. Generations of Baltimore Jews participate in the JEA’s social, cultural, educational, and athletic activities until the building closes in 1951.
1910: Baltimore’s Jacob and Louis Blaustein begin selling kerosene door-to-door; their American Oil Company will become one of the country’s largest, pioneering no-knock gasoline, the visible gas pump, and the drive-in filling station.
1912: Three years after returning from a visit to Palestine, where she was appalled by poor health conditions, Henrietta Szold founds Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization. Its mission to improve health services for Palestine’s Jewish and Arab residents will lead to the creation of Hadassah Hospital. Szold moves to Palestine in 1920 and becomes a major figure in institution-building.
For a more detailed history of Jewish Baltimore, particularly 1950 – present, please check out On Middle Ground by Dr. Eric L. Goldstein and Dr. Deborah R. Weiner. Copies available online at Esther’s Place, the JMM gift shop.