Local authors speak on Jewish history in Youngstown


The St. Charles Parish Library Committee will sponsor a free presentation on local Jewish history at 7 p.m. Thursday at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church, 7345 Westview Drive.

Speakers Thomas Welsh, Joshua Foster and Gordon Morgan, co-authors of “A History of Jewish Youngstown and the Steel Valley” (History Press, 2017), will share highlights of their recently released book. The 208-page narrative, which features dozens of images, was produced in collaboration with the Mahoning Valley Historical Society.

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. 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.

Many are aware of the international celebrities who once resided in the Steel Valley, including the Warner brothers, pioneers in the U.S. film industry, and the Raffel brothers, co-founders of Arby’s fast-food chain. Older residents look back fondly on an era when Jewish-owned businesses studded Youngstown’s glittering retail district.

Indeed, family-owned enterprises such as Strouss-Hirshberg Department Store, Livingston’s Women’s Wear, Lustig’s Shoes and Haber Furniture became household names throughout the region.

Few Valley residents, however, are aware of the pivotal role that Jewish entrepreneurs played in the development of industrial firms such as Youngstown Sheet & Tube, Truscon Steel and Commercial Shearing.

For information, call St. Charles at 330-758-2325.

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