History of Akron's Jewish Community

excerpted from Dr. Helga Kaplan's history, with timeline additions by JCBA


In the year that Akron received its charter, a small group of Jewish men established the Akron Hebrew Association to meet their religious, educational and social needs. These German-speaking people, many of whom were prominent Akron merchants, laid the groundwork for Jewish community life in Akron in the pioneering period between 1865 and 1885. 

The following four decades marked the period of greatest expansion and institutional development within the local Jewish community. The dramatic influx of Eastern European Jews increased population figures some forty-fold to estimates ranging from 6,500 to 7,500. 

The Jewish organizational life evolved, including numerous synagogues, schools, fraternal and self-help lodges, women’s groups and such major institutions as the Jewish Social Service Federation and the Akron Jewish Center. 

This period of preoccupation with internal adjustment was followed by a time of concern for communal survival in the face of the external pressures produced by the Depression and World War II. 

Finally, the post-war period has been characterized by widespread movement to the outskirts and suburbs of the city, consolidation of religious institutions and the general incorporation into the community. 

Throughout its history, the Akron Jewish community has made many choices regarding its religious and communal life styles. Religion has retained its role as a central identifying principle of the community. 

Ethnic bases of religious affiliation however, have been supplanted by denominational ties (Reform, Orthodox and Conservative). While orthodoxy is less visible and the total number of synagogues has been reduced, overall membership figures have increased and encompassed a large proportion of the community. 

For the most part, institutional coverage has increased to serve every younger and older clients. Today the Jewish community operates under the umbrella of the Jewish Community Board of Akron, Inc. 

Both Jewish and American, members of the community have maintained primary group associations and supported their own institutions, while at the same time actively participating in the work, political, civic and cultural worlds of the greater Akron community.




Koch-Levey & Co, establish Hoffman & Moss


American Hebrew Association (forerunner of Temple Israel)


Schwester Bund (Sisterhood)


Jewish population is 175



A. Polsky arrives in Akron

Orthodox congregation is established


 Sons of Peace (Bowery Street) Synagogue


Talmud Torah (Hebrew School)


Temple Israel Building created-- on Merriman Road


30 founders sign document, creating "an organized Jewish federation"
-- Jewish Social Service (forerunner of Jewish Family Service)


Anshe Sfard Congregation


Workmen's Circle
1917 Ahavas Zedek Congregation




​Rosemont Country Club

1924 Farband School
1928 Akron Jewish Observer-, first Jewish newspaper
1929 Akron Jewish Center built on Balch St.
1930 Pioneer Women (forerunner of NA’AMAT)
1935 Jewish Welfare Fund
1944 Beth El Congregation built on Hawkins Avenue
1946 Akron Jewish News-community-wide Jewish newspaper
1955 Merging of schools to form Unity Community Talmud Torah
1958 Jewish Family Service
1965 Hillel
1970 Akron Jewish Community Federation
1973 Akron Jewish Center moves to White Pond Drive
1976 Akron Jewish Community High School (Hebrew High)
1977 Temple Beth Shalom established
1986 Chabad of Akron
1987 Campus Project building expansion
1988 Hillel Academy becomes Jerome Lippman Jewish Community Day School
1992 ALEF, Akron Legacy & Endowment Fund
1996 Lippman Middle School expansion



Jewish Community Board of Akron, Inc. established, absorbing the Akron Jewish Community Federation and acting as an umbrella to the JCC, Lippman Day School and Jewish Family Service



Through the Renaissance for Jewish Life campaign and the lead gift from Jerry and Patsy Shaw, the JCC building undergoes renovation and expansion. The result is the Shaw JCC, which now also houses Jewish Family Service and a Summa Rehab satellite facility.



The JCBA receives a $10 million dollar gift from the late Albert and Janet Schultz. The 750 White Pond campus is named the Albert L. and Janet A. Schultz Campus for Jewish Life in their honor.