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Of Max Baer, Joe Lelyveld and 8 Other Things About Jewish Nebraska

  1. Six thousand one hundred Jews live in Nebraska with the majority concentrated in Omaha and Lincoln.

  2. The Jewish Press, Omaha’s weekly Jewish newspaper, has served Nebraska and western Iowa since 1916.

  3. The Reform Temple Israel, established downtown in 1871, moved to midtown and, in 2013, to the western suburbs, where it occupies the grounds of the former Jewish Highland Country Club.

  4. Nebraska’s sisterhoods, B’nai B’rith, and the Jewish Community Center have published over 20 Jewish cookbooks.

  5. Omaha was home to Jewish peddlers, scores of mom and pop grocery stores and retailers of clothing, hardware and other goods.The Brandeis flagship department store was also here from 1881 to 1987.

  6. The 1923 Omaha reception for Israeli president Chaim Weizmann included a long cortège from the train station to the hotel where he was staying.

  7. Former Mayor Johnny Rosenblatt had a baseball stadium named for him that hosted the College World Series from 1950 to 2010. The stadium was imploded in 2012.

  8. Notable Omahans include Tillie Lerner Olsen, feminist novelist and short story writer; Louis Wirth, University of Chicago sociologist and author of “The Ghetto”; Howard Chudacoff, Brown University historian; Joseph Lelyveld, New York Times editor and author of “Omaha Blues: A Memory Loop” ; Hannah Logasa, who professionalized children’s school libraries; Joan Micklin Silver, director of “Crossing Delancey”; and philosopher Saul Kripke.

  9. Alvin Johnson, child of Danish immigrants, born near Homer, Nebraska, was director of the New School for Social Research. During the 1930s he rescued German and French Jewish intellectuals creating the “University in Exile,” partly funded by the Rockefeller Foundation. He entered the Nebraska Hall of Fame in 2014 in great part for his humanitarian activities.

  10. Omaha-born Max Baer was the onetime heavyweight champion of the world. He had a Jewish father, a Christian mother and an Orthodox boxing stance.


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