Reading and Berks County’s first documented Jewish settlers, Lyon Nathan, Meyer Josephson, and Israel Jacobs, arrived in the 1750s. Another wave of Jewish immigrants, mostly from Eastern Europe and Russia, came in the late 1800s to escape the Russian army draft or persecution. Many of these early settlers’ families still remain, and their established synagogues and organizations are a vital part of the community. Reform Congregation Oheb Sholom, the oldest surviving synagogue, was founded in 1864. On October 18, 1945, the Jewish Community Center of Reading was completed and dedicated. The Jewish community is committed to improving the lives of everyone in the area by sharing their time, talents, expertise, and financial resources with the larger region.
Author Bio: Laurie Grobman is a professor and the coordinator of the Laboratory for Public Scholarship and Democracy at the Pennsylvania State University, Berks. Jessica Didow, a graduate student at Alvernia University, is the program assistant for the Laboratory for Public Scholarship and Democracy at Penn State Berks. Tammy K. Mitgang is president of Jewish Federation of Reading/Jewish Cultural Center of Reading. Jewish Reading and Berks County was compiled by undergraduate students in Grobman’s course at Penn State Berks.
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